How to Handle a Break Up With Dignity and Respect

Breakups aren't easy but they don't need to get ugly.Breakups aren't easy but they don't need to get ugly.

It’s impossible to avoid hurt feelings during a breakup, but there are ways to choreograph a romantic exit without inflicting fatal emotional wounds. Begging, blaming and badmouthing give breakups a bad name, but you can change the game. Whether you’re the one ending the relationship, or your lover is leaving you, handle a breakup with dignity and respect by accepting that the romance is over and creating a situation that allows each of you to speak your piece.

Step 1

Set the scene. If you’re the one breaking off the relationship, choose an appropriate time and an appropriate place. Doing the deed when your partner is mid-bite during dinner in a crowded restaurant is bound to elicit an uncomfortable response. Ask your mate to meet you somewhere more private; a neutral location, such as a quiet spot in the park or along the shoreline, might help you both feel more comfortable.

Step 2

Be honest about the reasons you’re leaving. While it’s important to keep it brief and to the point, your partner deserves an explanation. Avoid comments that might sting; instead of saying “You’re too boring,” soften the blow with phrases such as “We don’t share enough interests.”

Step 3

Don’t get sucked into the blame game. It’s a breakup, not another opportunity to fight or discuss the problems in your relationship. If you’re the person being left, there’s most likely nothing you can do to change your partner’s mind. In view of that fact, refrain from creating a scene by arguing until the bitter end.

Step 4

Strive for closure. The sure path to avoiding nasty breakups is ensuring that both of you have the chance to say what you need to say. If you’re the one who's leaving, allow your partner to ask questions and answer them clearly and kindly. Listen to your partner’s concerns with compassion; this makes it more likely that you'll break up smoothly, without creating serious bitterness or animosity.

Step 5

Wish each other well. Remember how you felt about each other when you first met and fell in love. Draw on that feeling and allow it to surpass the temptation to lash out with a snide comment or abrupt departure. When you end a relationship on a good note, you pave the way for the possibility of friendship in the future.

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  • If you’re ending the relationship and your partner tries to beg you to give it another chance, don’t be swayed. Remind yourself that you’ve ridden it out as long as you possibly could. Be gentle, but stick to your plan.


  • Badmouthing your ex after the fact is bad breakup etiquette. If you managed to break up the right way, you’ll sabotage your efforts by gossiping after you’ve parted ways. Your words will likely make it back to your ex. If people ask why you broke up, say as little as possible.

About the Author

Melissa Lewis has worked as a freelance writer since 2004, gaining much of her experience by working in the marketing/PR field. She writes for various websites, specializing in the areas of marketing, home improvement, cooking and pets. Lewis studied English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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