The Art of A Graceful (and Grown-up) Break Up

Over the course of our lives there are going to be times where we will have to leave a relationship. No one is immune…we will all be broken-up with and we will all have to break-up with someone.  It’s supposed to be character-building.  Yeah, right…it basically sucks either way you slice it.

But, no one ever teaches you how to break-up with someone the right way.  On TV and in movies we saw Carrie on Sex and the City get broken-up with on a post-it note. Rhett told Scarlett that, “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” and slammed a door in her face.  John Cusack was given a pen in Say Anything.  But what are today’s rules for breaking up?

Here’s my best advice…the common thread in all of what’s to follow is this mantra: don’t be a douche, do the right thing. No matter how hard you think it will be, you’ll ultimaetly be glad that you were the bigger person.

  • In today’s world of online dating, you can go out on a couple of dates with someone new to see if you are a match. In that case, if you’re just not a match and you’ve only been on 1-2 dates not calling and not returning a call = breaking up. A break-up conversation isn’t really necessary.
  • However, if you have had a “real” relationship. Meaning, if you slept with them or if you went on more than 6 dates with someone, break up in person or by phone.
  • As a rule, don’t break up with people over email, text or social media. It’s the coward’s way out. Grow a pair and don’t be like Britney Spears, who broke up with her husband, Kevin Federline via text. Super tacky!
  • Just in the same way that you would want the chance to present your side and ask questions…give your soon-to-be ex  the same respect by having a conversation about it.

So, if you have to do it…how do you do it?  Just stick to the truth – Here’s a script you can use:

I’m sorry, but it’s just not working for me. I’m not happy. I don’t think we should see one another any more. (lather, rinse, repeat)

Just to be clear, there is absolutely no reason to go into details, to take the inventory of your ex-in-process, or to give a verbal beating. Just be calm, clear and focus on what’s not working for YOU in the relationship. Don’t get sucked into a fight, name-calling or unnecesary drama.  Just keep repeating the above, put an end to the conversation and move on.

For more break-up tips, check out this article.

Photo credit: Unlisted Sightings’ Flickr photostream


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Categories: Tips


I'm a married publicist who holds a Master's degree in psychology, with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy. I'd like to make the world a better relationship at a time.

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5 Comments on “The Art of A Graceful (and Grown-up) Break Up”

  1. December 8, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Nice! 🙂

    It also helps sometimes to reflect on the positive aspects of the relationship that it wasnt completely horrible. That way we don’t forget the good times we should cherish as we say good bye to one another. And staying friends is the best choice.

  2. December 9, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    thanks for the post I enjoyed it 🙂

  3. December 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    I’ve been found guilty of a text break-up….only because the best way to contact them (lol I know I did it to two ppl) was through text and I wanted to get it over with :-/

  4. December 13, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Great advice. Courage is always the best action, and leaves no regret.

  5. December 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    It’s the better way. But still so hard when the person is breaking up with you. You want to know the reasons “Why” they’re breaking up with you. And lather, rinse, repeat will not suffice. But sometimes it’s exactly all we need.

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