There is an adage that’s very popular with parents that goes “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” And, like it or not, that seems to be the MO of most people when it comes to ending relationships these days. Rather than deal with the awkwardness that can result from having to reject someone IRL, daters will often just slowly fade or ghost the person they’re seeing. And even though most millennials say they hate ghosting, they also can’t seem to stop doing it.
However, there are ways to break up with someone nicely without having to resort to giving them the silent treatment. Keep these five tips in mind the next time you need to peace out on a romantic situation.
1. Don’t blindside them.
No one likes being blindsided, so before you drop an emotional bomb on the person you’re dating, make sure to give them some kind of warning, so they’re not surprised when you finally sit down to talk.
2. Consider where you are on the relationship spectrum.
Not every ending calls for a dramatic, in-person face-to-face encounter, but it’s important to consider the length of your relationship and the level of commitment before deciding on the appropriate way to deliver the breakup news. As Sex and the City taught us, a Post-It note is a disrespectful end to a serious relationship. However, a polite text goodbye is totally fine if you’ve only gone out on a handful of dates or experienced one of these other situations.
3. Don’t be wishy-washy.
To break up gracefully, you’ll need to explain your reasons for ending the relationship in a way that doesn’t place blame on your soon-to-be ex or turn the conversation into a vent sesh. Keep your reasoning to the point and devoid of any embarrassing or hurtful remarks (i.e. this is not the time to tell them how much of a slob they are, and how you hate it when leave half-finished Halo Tops all over the living room.) Instead, put an emphasis on the mutual benefits that might come from the split, and don’t give your ex any false hope.
4. Take the timing into consideration.
You may be eager to get the breakup over with, but unless you want your ex to resent you forever, avoid dumping them on their birthday or minutes before they’re about to leave for the airport for an important work trip. The kind thing to do once you’ve decided you’re ready to put the kibosh on a romance is to schedule the breakup talk on a day when the added stress will not have a domino effect on their life. So while there is never a “good” time to dump someone, if they just lost their job or their grandma passed away, you may want to give them a few days to process the bad news before letting them know you’re not feeling the relationship anymore.
5. Be okay with their reaction.
No matter how graceful you are when exiting a romantic partnership, a breakup may still require time to process. So allow your ex to hate you for a hot second if they need to and give them the space and time needed to grieve. As long as you stay compassionate and respectful, you will have done your best to make a sucky situation ever so slightly less awful.