How To Break Up Like a Grown-Up

Adult Breakups
Adult Breakups

Sadly (or in my case, happily), we are not in high school anymore. You can’t text-message break up. You can’t break up over email. You can’t simply avoid returning phone calls. Well, you CAN, but you really shouldn’t if you’re old enough to pay an electric bill.

The only time such methods are appropriate is if you’re still in high school, if you’ve only been on 5 dates or less with this person, or if pants have not been removed (by either party).

The first step of this whole process is to make the decision to end the relationship. Making the decision is a huge process and could be an entry on its own (especially considering the length of the relationship), so to save time, let’s just assume that you’ve made your decision already after some seriously reflection…on to action!


You’ve made your choice. Be strong – or as my mother says: “Be firm. Be kind.” Going back on your decision because you feel bad about hurting the other person is called pity. At the end of the day, nobody wants to be pitied. They want to be loved.


You’re not doing this person a favor by eliminating yourself from his or her life. They obviously like you a lot, and want you to be a part of their life, so it’s insulting when you frame a break-up as doing them a favor. He or she is an adult – they can make own decisions – they can take care of themselves. You are an adult as well, who cares for yourself and makes your own decision. You are choosing to leave…for whatever reason. Own it. And go.


You’ve just rejected this person on a very intimate and deep level. It’s probably best not to offer a consolation prize. If you’re meant to be friends after you’ve dated, it’ll occur organically. Just gracefully bow out, and let the person who’s just been dumped process what’s just happened without your pity or babying.


Now is not the time to point fingers. It won’t make you feel better. Don’t school this person on their bad behavior or why they don’t work for you. Chances are – they are not going to change. There is someone out there who will put up with whatever nonsense or baggage they’ve got going on – you’re just not that person.


Don’t actually kiss or have breakup sex. It makes things complicated and messy. What I mean is: Keep It Short and Sweet (KISS). Nobody wants saccharine (truly, nobody ACTUALLY wants saccharine – it’s a substitute sweetener that’s cancerous…and has a vile aftertaste) and nobody wants to be nagged. The same way dating is like interviewing – breaking up is like quitting your job. It’s just time for you to go your separate ways. You’re not getting what you need from this person and if you can communicate that as honestly and with as much kindness as possible, many tears will be spared.

Good luck.  Be firm.  Be kind.

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One Comment

  1. For some odd reason, I feel like this article was addressed to me because I've done the text break-up and am certainly beyond my teenage years.

    After doing the "it's over" via Blackberry, I realized that it doesn't work so well with a real relationship ending; instead it would only have worked with a new situation or one that wasn't very serious because all it did for me was create additional contact via text and phone calls.

    BUT in my situation with a recently ended relationship, I felt like texting was the only option since my guy was always "working" and whenever we did try calling, voice mail is all we got. That leaves texting.

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