How to I break up with her without hurting her?

Dear Lisa,

How do you break up with someone? All Relationships have a life-cycle – some are short-lived others longer. What is a good approach for a painless end, without drama… A clean break?

–Mr. Clean (♂ Victoria)


Dear Mr. Clean,

There are a couple of things that stop a break-up from being a clean break: the ego and the heart.

The ego is pretty simple; whether you are the heartbreaker, or the brokenhearted, you enjoy attention from the opposite gender, which means that it is very easy to do little things to keep the other person paying attention to you. If you are trying to make a clean, dramaless break (we know that breaks are always painful) then keep your ego in check by drawing a line and not crossing it, even if it feels good to still be admired by she-who-you-hath-dumped (we know it does). The heart, on the other hand, is not so simple: you don’t want to be with her, and yet it hurts to be without her (or see her with another dude). Sadly it is only more complicated when the ego and heart gang up on you post break up. Here are some basic rules to keep you out of trouble:

  1. Don’t wait: don’t wait until the afternoon before the date you have with a woman you are actually into. End it as soon as you get the feeling that things aren’t as they should be. That way, you (and she) are clear that it’s not that she’s not good as good as some other woman, but that you are looking for someone and haven’t found her. (Also makes for a much cleaner and drama free beginning to your next relationship…)
  2. End it in person on neutral territory: there is nothing more clear than a non-ambiguous, sincere and concise explanation somewhere neutral and private, like a park or a booth in a nearly empty coffee shop.
  3. Be honest: let her know the real reason that you don’t want to continue the relationship, not some padded ‘it’s not you it’s me’ bullshit (she knows that if she were the one, you would figure out a way to find yourself right there and then.) Try and connect with the truth – that she’s not the one, that she isn’t what you are looking for, that you two don’t have the chemistry that you are looking for – and make sure that it is clear that there is nothing she can do to fix it.
  4. Don’t lead her on: remember the old saying ‘Boys and Girls can’t just be friends': Especially right after a break up. Six months of silence normally does it, and if you are meant to be friends after that, then perfect. That means no flirting, no hints of jealousy that she’s seeing another dude, no break up sex, no drunk dialing… don’t answer phone calls, texts, emails, tweets, or fb posts. In fact archive those connections until your she-tox is over. ANY attention you pay to her her could make her feel like there might be a chance; be kind to her and stop yourself.

And above all, remember that it’s not just your ego and heart in the game here, it’s hers too. Love makes us do stupid things that aren’t good for ourselves, so the more you work to do what’s best for both of you, regardless of how lonely you are or how badly she wants to be ‘friends’, the better the chance you have of salvaging both of your integrity in the end.

– Lisa



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