Breaking Up: The Nice Way

Probably the only thing worse than being dumped is being the person about to do the dumping. If you’re the one breaking up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, there’s the guilt, the indecision, AND you have to figure out when, where, and how to pull the trigger. A question I hear all the time is: “What’s a nice way to break up with someone?”

Honestly, the majority of the time break ups aren’t nice, and I’m not going to lie to you and say there’s something you can do to make everything go really smoothly. That being said, there is a lot that you can do to make your break up fair. And at the end of the day, that’s all anyone can ask for. If you are thinking of getting out of a relationship, keep these things in mind:

  1. It’s Worse to Stay With Someone You Don’t Like.  On the outside it may seem like you’re doing the “nice” thing by staying with someone you’re just not that into. But really, that’s one of the worst things you can do. Some advice my dad gave me recently: “everyone deserves to be with someone they adore, and to be adored by the someone they’re with.” You deserve to find someone you really like, but more than that, the guy or girl you’re with deserves to be with someone who really likes them. And if that’s not you, you’re not doing them any favors by sticking around.
  2. Don’t make your partner do your dirty work.  I remember my first few boyfriends were big fans of this move: “I’ll just be a jerk, so she’ll dump me.”  And you guessed it, that move was super lame. Although tempting, it’s not fair to just stop calling someone, make excuses to not see someone, or just generally be rude or standoffish because you aren’t happy in your relationship. Don’t try to make yourself so hard to deal with that your partner has to dump you. If you want to end a relationship, grow a pair and do it yourself.
  3. When you do it, be honest (ish).  Anyone you’ve been dating deserves a certain amount of truth about why you’re breaking up with them. This is not to say that you can’t sugarcoat it a little bit (you don’t always have to be brutally honest), but don’t feel like you have to fall back on excuses like “I just want to spend more time with my friends” if the real reason is “I just don’t feel the same way about you that I used to.”
  4. Initially your ex may hate you, but that’s okay.  Be prepared for the fact that initially your ex may be upset and not want to talk to you. That’s okay, and that’s totally normal. If they need space, give them space. If you give them time to be mad at you, get over you, and heal, it’s WAY more likely that you’ll have a chance of being friends with them in the long run.
  5. I promise, eventually you’ll be fine.  When you end a relationship, even if you’re the one who wanted to end it, it can feel like a giant sinking hole in your stomach mixed with the worse barf flu you’ve ever had. But even though at the time it feels like you’ll never feel whole again, you will. Trust me. As someone who has been through many a break up, it does get better—cliché as it sounds, it just takes time.  

Most of all though, don’t feel guilty. People get into relationships knowing that they might end. The possibility that things won’t work out is clear from the very beginning, so when you start dating, they know what they’re signing up for. So don’t feel bad about having to break up with someone. Feel bad about going about it the wrong way. Being fair and honest with your partner, and doing your best to give them whatever closure they need, is all anyone can ask for out of a break up.


Amber Madison has been writing about sex, love, and relationships since college (she went to Tufts University) when she wrote for her school newspaper's sex ed column. Since graduating, she's published two books: Hooking Up: A Girl's All-Out Guide to Sex and Sexuality and Talking Sex With Your Kids and has been quoted in a ton of different media outlets from Seventeen magazine to MTV to NPR. Have a question for Amber? Send us an email!


 

WHAT OTHER TEENS ARE SAYING:

ON NOVEMBER 21, 2014 AT 11:28 AM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

My boyfriend doesn't talk to me the way he talks to his friends. His all bubbly around them, but when his around me his quiet and he always wants me to talk

ON NOVEMBER 20, 2014 AT 6:28 PM, ANONYMOUSLY DISTRESSED SAID:

I want to break up with my bf but he is just a "fragile" guy an it's so hard cuz I'm not cold hearted I still care for him I just need me time I like to be alone most of the time and he deserves someone who gives him their all and right now that's not me but telling him that isn't easy he thinks I'm the greatest thing and I know he's heartbroken even though we're not technically broken up

ON NOVEMBER 10, 2014 AT 3:40 AM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

I don't feel the Same way I used to with him but he is realy sweet so I don't know if I want to break up with him. This is really hard on me and is the only thing I thing about. We have been dating for a month and my best friend says that she knows me better than him and that truly deep down I don't like him anymore. I'm only 12 what do I do

ON NOVEMBER 9, 2014 AT 11:21 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

im 13 and I started dating someone and we've gone out for 4 months but I don't think I'm quite ready for a relationship but he is really sweet and nice and everything so I just don't want to hurt him.

ON OCTOBER 27, 2014 AT 11:39 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

This was very useful thanks

ON OCTOBER 19, 2014 AT 2:31 PM, STEPHANIE SAID:

Hey, I'm 12 and Ive been datiing HIM for 5 months and I want to break up without breaking his heart. His a dear but im just not ready for such a seirous relationship.

ON OCTOBER 15, 2014 AT 6:53 PM, KITTY MILLER SAID:

Thanks u helped so much

ON OCTOBER 5, 2014 AT 5:29 AM, CYANNI SAID:

So we have been dating for a year and 5 months and I'm still not ready for sex but yet I think he doesn't care because he's still messing with his ex...I'm 16 by the way but I ask him all time is he but he just gets made and storms out...I don't feel the connection we once had its like its not there anymore... and to top it off he hit me but I don't know what to do..I tell my mom everything but I just don't know what to do in this situation... my parents over him but its breaking my heart to stay in this relationship... what should I do

ON OCTOBER 2, 2014 AT 9:32 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

I really hope this helps me too. I've been stuck with mine for about 4 years and I'm sick of him

ON SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 AT 3:01 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

I'm afraid they won't want to be my friend

ON SEPTEMBER 26, 2014 AT 3:08 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

This is honestly probably going to help me a lot. I started dating a guy at my school, and I thought I had a crush on him. It's been a week, and I now realize I really can't see us going anywhere in the future. Thanks for writing this article, this really will help.

ON SEPTEMBER 24, 2014 AT 11:46 PM, BRANDY SAID:

Me and my boyfriend have been dating for a year and a half now, but he is ignoring me and pretending I don't exist. I want to break up with him but I don't know how.I'm only 10.Plus I like this other guy, his best friend, and he likes me. So I know that if I'm noticing somebody else that I should probaly be with somebody else.I just don't want to hurt him,because he's really sweet and nice,but it's just not working out! Help?

ON SEPTEMBER 21, 2014 AT 3:14 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

I want to break up with him I just cant stand to hurt him I feel like he would never do this to me but he makes promises to make this work and he never does ik nobody really anwsers these ...I just..I cant do this anymore I cant stay with him and be miserouble but I cant hurt him it will kill me and I have nothing and nobody to help me :'(

ON SEPTEMBER 12, 2014 AT 5:17 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

Me and my bf started dating last year right before school ended and we didn't talk to each other for the summer... Well school is back on and I keep asking him if we are still dating and he will say I don't know then walk away. I don't even have his number and he is ignoring me,.. But I'm only 11... Help

ON SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 AT 3:07 PM, BRIDGIT SAID:

This really helped looks like i have 2 end my relationship with my boyfriend

ON JULY 19, 2014 AT 12:35 AM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

Well I've been dating my bf for around a year or so & I just don't feel the same way for him as I did before . I don't wanna break his heart he's a sweetheart. Which is why I'm scared to break up with him . advice or examples on how I should tell him in a nice way??????

ON JULY 16, 2014 AT 4:08 AM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

How can this help BY breaking up with him

ON JULY 2, 2014 AT 11:37 AM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

So me and my boyfriend have been dating for almost two months and I'm moving to Florida in less than a week. He knows I'm moving, but he doesn't know that I'm going to break up with him. It hurts me inside because I feel like I'm going to break his heart. I wanna do long distance, buts it's going to be so hard not seeing, hugging, and kissing him. I'm just so confused.

ON JULY 2, 2014 AT 1:54 AM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

Sometimes my bf acts all tough and makes it complicated for us to communicate a lot often. Worst part of it is he often doesn't know what to say next while talking on the phone. I am sick of it. I wish to dump him but I just don't have the heart to do it.
Any Advice?

ON JULY 2, 2014 AT 1:46 AM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

Hey, umm so I'm 13 in 8 grade and I like this guy like I'm crazy for him but then we start to date when the school year is bot and now it's sorta weird between us I mean we haven't rely seen each other since last day of school and we barley talk
So one day he says I have a surprise for u I'm gonna kiss you but I'm not rely for that...
He also says how much he loves me but I don't think I feel the same way anymore but my BFF tells me I should still date him because it's worth it

She says that because on the 2nd to last day of school he slapped my ass and I was happy that I started to date him but now I don't really feel the connection that we had so can someone please help me figure this out???

ON JULY 2, 2014 AT 1:39 AM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

I want to break up with this boy because we never saw each other since the last day of school and we haven't been really talking to one another
I really don't know what to do

ON JUNE 23, 2014 AT 2:54 PM, LUNARIAN SAID:

I've had a boyfriend for only a week, and he's flirting with other guys on fb on a photo I was tagged in! Then my friend confronted him, he said that guy was his best friend... Idk how I'm going to break up with him, it's true he's hurt me enough but I don't want to make him hate me.

ON JUNE 21, 2014 AT 1:36 AM, ERIN SAID:

I went to the beach the other day and a few hours after I got home I was on skype with my boyfriend and he told me he wanted me to be honest with him and asked if I saw anyone hotter than him and I jokingly told him yes. So he took it seriously and got really mad and ended up ignoring me for 5-10 mins then listed off four girls he thinks are hotter than me, so i've been ignoring him. He's been sending me really sweet texts about how he loves me and stuff but I haven't answered them. I don't want to be in a relationship where i'm mentally and emotionally abused. He sent me a text asking if I wanted to break up and I really don't know what to say. Help?

ON JUNE 17, 2014 AT 11:19 AM, KARABO MKHWANAZI SAID:

I think breaking up with your partner is not a bad thing coz every has aright of what he want and what he doesnt want

ON JUNE 14, 2014 AT 8:27 AM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

im 14 and have been with my boyfriend for 4 months and i dont feel in love with him! he loves me so much though and he says it all the time! Do i break up through text? im aftaid of how his friends will react and will i get bullied at school? please help me..

ON JUNE 1, 2014 AT 5:00 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

I just feel really bad about having to break up with them. Is it OK to ask my friend to break up with them for me or do I just need to grow up and talk to them myself?

ON MAY 31, 2014 AT 9:11 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

How do i break up with him? he says he still has true feelings for me and hes going with someone else. i got feelings for him too but i dont need people holding me back what should i do?

ON MAY 25, 2014 AT 2:24 PM, TIMOTHY SAID:

So, im a guy and i am the "Nice guy" and our school.. I'm dating this gurl i don't like her (Like as a girl friend) and i think we would to better as just friends. help pls?

ON MAY 21, 2014 AT 2:35 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

I need some help. Big time. I love the guy but its not the same. I have been with this guy for two years and three months. We have been fighting non stop here recently he makes me happy one second and miserable the next. please help me! Im in love with my best friend of 5 years and he is everything i could possibly want even though Im 19 and he is 28. the guy im with is like connected to me or something I really dont want to hurt him because i still love him. I have changed and the girl I used to be still loves him. What should I do?

ON MAY 18, 2014 AT 8:21 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

I really need help breaking up with this guy but I'm afraid he will commit self harm

ON MAY 14, 2014 AT 1:09 AM, GRACE SAID:

Hi I really need help here!! SO there is this guy named Micheil and we have been dating for 5 months and I really cared about him ALOT in the beginning but the more I think about it I just don't talk to him, I'll see him in the hallways and he will wave and thats all I get NOTHING ELSE! But he asked me to prom and I said yes I'd go with him and so I am gonna go but I don't think our relationship is gonna work out much after that... Plus I have just been interested in other guys that are interested in me and I figured well if I'm looking at other guys theres not much of a relationship here... Any advice would help me out please and thank you <3

ON MAY 8, 2014 AT 12:05 AM, SAM SAID:

I've been in a committed relationship for about a year and a half now with my girlfriend, things just aren't quite the same on my end, I think I'm falling out of love with her, or have been for quite some time. Promises were made that I couldn't and can't keep, I just need help from someone please. Anything at this point will help.

ON MAY 1, 2014 AT 1:28 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

Hi ok so I'm 13 and I need some help. I'm dating this guy and he's really nice but i sort of like this other guy and my friend is after him so i wanna get there first so i dont want to dump him but in a way i do. And I really need some help!! :/

ON APRIL 27, 2014 AT 8:47 PM, ASHLY SAID:

I want to dump my bff but I don't wanna hurt him what do I do

ON APRIL 26, 2014 AT 4:38 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

Idk how I don't wanna hurt his feeling I don't know how to do and he has ADHD but how do I do it v.v

ON APRIL 13, 2014 AT 4:07 AM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

So my gf dumped me after 9 month's made me think we could work it out then she dose it. I look on Facebook and she is in bed with three other guy's the day before. Then she had said things like I am going to drink and you know how i get.... and she's at college. What a good girl I had.

ON APRIL 8, 2014 AT 7:18 PM, PAGE SNOW SAID:

Thank you this helped I said -I need a break I like you as a friend and let's keep it that way cuz I don't want to ruin our friendship then ended it with a hug

ON APRIL 1, 2014 AT 1:47 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

Hey* i'm 15 and tomarrow I will be dating a guy for a month but my familly doesn't like him and they are forcing me to break up with him! I really like him but i dont have a choice. Plz help me i dont whant to walk outnof my life what should i do???*

ON MARCH 23, 2014 AT 10:32 AM, SYDNEY SAID:

My friend has dated him before and I walk by him everyday to throw my food away so it would be really awkward what should I do

ON MARCH 13, 2014 AT 9:35 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

I wanna break up with my boyfriend of one and a half years because were always fighting about some girl from his gym but I don't know how to do it nicely.

ON MARCH 11, 2014 AT 6:54 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

Ok so I'm thinking about breaking up with my boyfriend. I've been dating him since September so it's been a total of 6 months. He used to always text me and snapchat me. For about two months and the past four months he hasn't even opened my snapchats. And one time at school he told me about this girl he met at the hotel pool he stayed at to go to basket ball tournament........ Every time I'm not around him I think ok tomorrow I'm going to break up with him but then the next day I feel too bad to... If I eventually break up with him I don't know how I'm going to....... And you would think it would be easy to break up when you are only 12 but it's not if you don't want to hurt their feelings

ON MARCH 3, 2014 AT 6:23 PM, HALEY SAID:

My boyfriend and I have been dating for 2 months. I like him a lot, and he loves me, but I just don't see a future with him. While we do seem compatable (spelling?), we do have a lot of things we disagree on. He just doesn't understand things, I have no right to change him or his opinions so I don't bring it up. I feel like he and I are better friends, he's not the angry type, he's really sensitive and have had people hurt him in the past, I know I just read the article but I'm still confused on how to say it.

ON MARCH 2, 2014 AT 3:13 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

Okay so this guy asked me out and i said yes but I really feel like i don't wanna be tied down. Mostly because all my other guy friends won't even talk to me anymore.

ON FEBRUARY 20, 2014 AT 11:57 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

He's checking out other girls.?????!!!!!!!WAT DO I DO!!!!! Help

ON JANUARY 29, 2014 AT 5:52 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

hi im 15... so ive only been dating this guy for a week... and im starting to think that the only reason i said yes was because i wanted a boyfriend... im just not feeling anything for him. i kind of like his personality and his kind heart but thats about it. He's always telling me he loves me and how much i mean to him and im thinking to myself... but weve only been dating for about a week and how am i going to say this to him. I really dont want to do this to him but i cant be in a relationship and not like the guy. Plus if my parents found out they would make me break up with him anyways. i not allowed to have a boyfriend... that apart of my reason too because i basically have to go behind my parents back just to see him. i dont know how im going to say this to him.... its breaking my heart knowing that im going to break his heart.... ughhh life sucks

ON DECEMBER 15, 2013 AT 1:32 AM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

so me and my boyfriend have been dating for almost 9 months and i feel like we are fading and he is a really sweet guy but it seems like bhe puts no effort in to the relationship and it drives me crazy in the beginning it was grate and i loved it, he always came and see me and ide do the same but he dont do that any more when he ives right up the street to me and i also think that he is lying to me and just being my boyfriend just because he wont be lonely but i don't know what to do i need help i want to end it but i dont want to hurt him

ON OCTOBER 11, 2013 AT 4:17 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

I was the one being dmjuped by my ex he always ignored my phone calls or let it go to voicemail! that made me so mad!

ON OCTOBER 1, 2013 AT 9:34 PM, HANNAH R SAID:

Ive been dating this guy for almost 2 years, and honestly dont like him anymore. everything he does gets on my nerves, and im starting to hate his personality. he spends too much time golfing, and playing minecraft, and obsesses over them. last year i felt like he had a crush on someone else, and i was so close to breaking up with him. the problem is, i only see him 20 minutes before school and 20 minutes after, and we never go on dates anymore, and because we are freshman we cant drive. also, the group we hang out with before and after school are a mixture of my friends and his friends, and i dont want to lose any of our friends because ive gotten to know them and enjoy being in their company. how can i break up with him if i dont have any time or place to do it. i want our break up to be short and simple, to the point, so i cant go on a date or else we will both be waiting for our parents to pick us up, and i would be so awkward, and i just want to get it over with. what would be the best time, place and things to say for my breakup????

ON AUGUST 24, 2013 AT 10:03 PM, ANONYMOUS SAID:

hi im 12 and im going into 6th grade (I was held back) and so is my GF the problem is we got together during May and it had a spark at first but now I don't feel anything plus her parents don't know about me since shes not allowed to have a boyfriend I know there are a bunch of amazing girls in middle school but if I stay with her for the entire school year I may not find the right girl I mean the girl im with is amazing but its not gonna work out since she may move any day now so if I don't do it now I may end up in an long distance relationship tat I cant break off what do I do

ON AUGUST 22, 2013 AT 8:31 PM, PAIN SAID:

There is this guy and we used to like each other and he still likes me but he has become a pervert and does porn and nasty stuff and I don't like him at all anymore!;( so I am breaking his Heart right now wish me luck;(!!

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