Dear Charly: what’s the best way to break-up with someone?


Best way to break-up

Ending a relationship is never easy but some methods are better than others. Our resident agony aunt Charly Lester tackles how to break up with someone

Dear Charly,

What’s the best way to break-up with someone? I’ve been seeing someone for a couple of months and realised it’s not going to work out, but how can I break-up with them as painlessly as possible?


Hi ST,

Thanks for your question.

To be completely honest, when it comes to breaking up with someone, there are no easy answers. Break-ups are awkward because they involve rejection and other people’s feelings. Most break-ups involve an imbalance of feelings. One person usually likes the other more, and that person is often left feeling lacking, ashamed, embarrassed, and wondering what’s wrong with them.

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And yet, break-ups need to happen. There’s no point leading someone on if you’re not interested. You’re simply standing in the way of that person finding a more suitable match. And so, like most things in dating, honesty is the best policy.

But how honest should you be? And how should you convey that honesty?

Firstly, if you’ve only been seeing someone for a few months, there’s no need to dissect the relationship when explaining why you want to end it. Be mindful of the other person’s feelings; explain that you don’t see the relationship progressing; and be polite but firm. Remember what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a break-up and try not to make the other person feel bad about his or herself.

The longer you’ve been in a relationship, the longer it’ll take to break-up. Realistically, if you’ve been with someone for a number of years, you not only owe them a proper explanation but also time to attempt to work through problems, in order to work out whether the relationship is salvageable or not. However, in early stages of a relationship, short and sweet is often the simplest way to end things.

That said, choosing a break-up method can be tricky. One of the easiest and more ‘painless’ ways to split up with someone is over text or email. You don’t have to see their face when you’re doing it and you can ignore their replies if you want. However, it’s really not fair to end a relationship that way. Unless you’ve only been very casually dating (three dates max/you haven’t made things ‘exclusive’), I think it’s only fair to have a proper conversation with someone when you break-up with them. If you know you don’t want to see someone again then you don’t have to do it in person in the early stages but a phone call at least is polite and respectful.

Again, the longer you’ve been in a relationship, the more thought and attention you owe the other person. If you’ve been together for more than a few months, I’d suggest breaking-up in person. While it might feel more awkward – and requires more emotional involvement – it also shows respect and care. Remember what it feels like to be dumped and act accordingly.

Obviously, there are no hard and fast rules and no easy answers. The reality is that you’re probably going to hurt them when you break-up with them but it needs to be done. So, be as gracious and caring as you can in the process.



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