Breaking up is hard to do (down dooby doo down down).
But really, whether you dated for two weeks or two years, it’s one of the most difficult— and often mishandled— actions you’ll take in your adult life.
Still, it must be done, and prolonging a relationship out of fear for the “we need to talk” moment is an even deeper level of cruelty.
I should know, I’m a girl.
So I’m going to tell you fellas exactly how to break up with a girl, the right way. Be aware, all women are different and all relationships are different. But if you stick to these key principles and NOT-to-dos, you can walk away from a break up without feeling like the bad guy… and with all your sweaters intact.
Rule No. 1
To quote Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse: “Be nice.” She starts yelling. Be nice. She tries guilting you back into the relationship. Be nice. She pulls low blows. Be nice.
A break up will always feel like an attack on our personal beings. It can make us feel unworthy, ugly, and powerless. Even if we aren’t gung-ho about the relationship either, the fear of loss could make us believe that we were happy or in love, but that is only a manifestation of fearing change and being unwanted.
This is why being nice is the best possible thing you can do in a break up. Speak in a calm tone, don’t point blame or bring up the past, and explain without going into great depths why you need the break. I repeat: explain your reason for breaking up ONLY in terms of why you need it. It just might be her, but re-phrase.
In some cases, if you approach the break up nicely, we’ll feel comfortable expressing similar feelings and then bam, you have two people who are both peachy keen with a split.
In others, it’ll provoke a loud, emotional reaction and that’s ok too. Just remember to be nice and let us feel that sadness without embarrassment. If you approach the situation as cool and collected (without being cocky) it’ll gets across the message that you’ve made up your mind.
Tip: This conversation is best done in a place she feels comfortable. Never break up at your place or out to a fancy dinner or for lord’s sake on vacation. Break up in a place that is territorially hers.
Rule No. 2
It’s a fine line to be nice and be confusing. If you can do this without making it sound flirty, try to paint images of her future that are positive and not connected to you. This reinforces other aspects of her life that do not involve you, giving her something to focus on.
i.e. I know you’re going to get that promotion at work. You’re a hard worker and I admire that about you.
Rule No. 3
There is a second, equally as important, part to Swayze’s quote. “Be nice, until it is time to not be nice.”
How will you know when it’s that time? If she continues yelling (and only yelling), becomes physical in any way, makes threats, or verbally attacks your decision, well it’s time to not be nice. Aka, it’s time to leave.
If you follow rule No. 1 the odds of needing to deploy Rule No. 2 are slim. After (nicely) making it clear that you will be going in your own direction, you have done everything you can to be honest and straightforward. You didn’t ambush, text, or ghost the break up, and that alone means you’re a good guy. If she responds with anger or guilt, stand up, wish her the best, heck even pepper in a “you’re an amazing woman and I know you’re going to do so much,” and leave.
Rule No. 4
Don’t be petty about past gifts. If at any point in the relationship you gifted something to her, well brah that’s hers now. But I’m sorry, it’s not a two-way street. If she asks for something back, just give it back.
There is almost always one person in a break up who doesn’t want the split as much as the other. Since you initiated the break up, she is probably that person who felt there was more invested in the relationship. When she asks for something back— a movie she left at your apartment or that perfect bedding she bought— simply box it up and drop it off at her doorstep. There’s no need to knock and wait for the exchange. In fact, try to do this at a time she’s not home because seeing you would make her feel worse.
Addendum: If there is an item of value that you would like back, don’t ask. Instead say, “I’ll need to get X, when should I pick it up.” (What were you doing leaving your Special Edition Brian Redman Watch somewhere else, anyways.)
Rule No. 5
Although it might sound like the nice thing to do when she texts about missing you or wanting to know more about ‘why’ (you should have explained this immediately at the time of the break up), don’t text back.
The quicker she can forget about your presence, the happier she will be.
If you find it’s too difficult to ignore the texts— hey you guys dated and she probably knows you more intimately than most other people— block her number so you don’t see them.
Rule No. 6
With time, she really will forget you. And if you were serious in the first place about not wanting to make it work between the two of you, don’t try to squeeze back into her life.
That means anything as harmless as liking a photo on her Instagram, walking past her work, or sending the occasional ‘Hope you’re doing fine’ text. (And definitely not, “u up?”)
Don’t be that dude. All you’re trying to do is remind her of you. And that is an asshole move. This was your decision, and it’s ok to miss her, but let her (and yourself) move on.