Dating Don’ts: The Worst (And Best) Ways To Break Up With Someone

Megan Reynolds | November 4, 2014 - 12:30 pm

So, your relationship is coming to an end. You woke up one morning, rolled over and looked at the person next to you and felt nothing but anger, resentment, revulsion. You putter through your morning routine and start building the ammunition you need to finally get out of this relationship once and for all. The way they chew their cereal, once endearing and sweet, now makes you want to smack the bowl out of their hand. You’ve stopped agreeing on, well, everything and simply get through your time together by nodding in half-hearted agreement, only to see if it will get them to be quiet sooner so you can get back to the book you were reading or the very important text conversation you were having with your friend. You know you want to end things, but you don’t know how.

There’s never a right moment to break up with someone, but there’s always a right way to do it. Here are the best and worst ways to break up with someone.

The BEST: In Person, In Private.

This is the mature, respectful, proper way to do things. It allows for each party to process their feelings in a safe space. It also allows for conversation, however short or long you need it to be. Think of it this way: You want to honor the relationship’s end in the same way you honored its beginning. Breaking up with someone in person is just respectful of their feelings and yours, too. Emotions will run high, there might be more fighting or tears or just swelling sadness, so the best place to handle this is inside your own apartment. If you have a choice, do it at your place, not theirs. If you’re the dumpee, it’s really hard to watch them leave, but you can at least partake in your own sad rituals in private, without having to walk to your car or the train a sniveling, snotty mess. Put on “The Notebook,” or drink a bunch of wine and download Tinder. Whatever your coping methods are, you can do them from the safety of your house, and that’s what counts.

THE WORST: On the sidewalk, on the subway, in any public place.

Couples LOVE to break up in public. Something about being outside, on a sidewalk, in front of a splashing fountain, or blocking the door to the grocery store when you’re just trying to buy some stuff for the week really sets off the vibes of conscious uncoupling. If the need to end the relationship is so strong that you absolutely can’t wait until you get home, maybe think about just walking in angry silence until you reach a safe zone, where you can scream at each other in peace.

A public breakup rarely feels premeditated. It’s usually the result of a fight that took off running when you least expected it. Still, do yourself and the rest of the people on the street a favor and take it indoors. No one needs to see your dirty laundry. If you MUST break up, right fucking now, then try and at least find a park bench. I broke up with someone once sitting in Alamo Square Park in San Francisco. We talked for three hours, made out half-heartedly, and then decided to end things. Not a bad way to go.

NOT AWESOME EITHER: Over text message.

The temptation to end things when you don’t have to see the other person’s face reacting is so very strong, but resist, resist! Texts are the trickiest of all, because it’s impossible to interpret tone, and it’s not necessarily right to send a variety of emoji in an attempt to create the kind of environment you want your words to be received in. You can certainly pre-empt the breakup over text. “We have to talk” is a text that is pretty clear. The other person will know what’s up.

There’s a time and a place for the text message dump. If you’ve been on a couple of dates with someone, and it’s really not working out, to the point where you don’t even want to take the time to see them to end it in person, then a text is perfect. Yes, maybe you’re kind of a coward for not finding the balls to do it in person, but listen, life is short, and you’re ending it because you didn’t really like them to begin with. Text and be done with it. If you’re working out the best way to end it with the person that you live with and thought at one point you were going to marry, do not send them a text, you MONSTER. Go home and talk it out.

STILL PRETTY BAD: Over email.

At least with email, you can express yourself better than a text message can. It’s still not an awesome way to end things with someone, so use this method sparingly. If you’re in a long-distance relationship that’s just not working out the way you want it to, at least pick up the phone and call. Email is a way to break up with someone if you feel like the result of your breakup could be dangerous to you, or if you are really, vehemently opposed to seeing them again. Email allows for discourse, which is crucial in a breakup, and it lacks the visceral gut-punch of an in-person arrangement. Use this method wisely.

DON’T DO THIS: Via someone else.

If you can’t find it in your heart to break up with someone and are instead sending another person to do your dirty work somehow, then I think you need to sit back, consider your priorities and assess whether or not you are capable of being in an adult relationship. The answer, by the way, is most likely a resounding “NOPE.”

ALSO THE WORST: Over Gchat.

When I was in college, I told a lot of half-truths to my long-distance boyfriend about how I had quit smoking. When he found out that I had been lying to him, he broke up with me over Gchat and refused to take my calls or answer any of my emails for a week, while I cried extensively, ate a lot of Cheez-its and vowed to quit smoking that day. Breaking up with someone over Gchat is best reserved for losers, wimps, and people who aren’t brave enough to stand up to the person they’re trying to end it with and tell them themselves. It’s high-school shit, plain and simple. Don’t do it.