Ending a relationship with respect and honesty is key to a healthier breakup.

How to End Things With a Guy You've Been Seeing

by Stacey Elkins

You’ve been dating a guy and have decided that he may not be right for you. Regardless of who calls it quits, the end of a relationship is painful. It’s hard on you, your ex and possibly your children. Breaking up requires a conversation that is often awkward and difficult. Taking steps to prepare yourself and minimize the discomfort makes ending your relationship easier.

Your Decision

Make sure that breaking up is what you really want. Think through the reasons why you want to end the relationship. Make a list of pros and cons of staying in the relationship versus ending the relationship, suggests Donna M. White, a therapist in South Carolina. Once you’ve made your decision to end the relationship, do not wait. Dragging out a relationship you don’t want is unfair and makes it harder in the long run.


End the relationship in person, not via text or email. Pick a neutral place where you can talk without interruption. For example, meet at a coffee shop or a park. Do not end the relationship in front of your children. If you are in a long-distance relationship, ending the relationship by phone is acceptable.


Be honest, sensitive, respectful and clear. Don’t leave room for him to think there’s a possibility of a second chance. Do not place blame. Accusing generally leads to defensiveness, which leads to a quarrel, notes White. Explain why the relationship isn’t working and why you are ending it. Use "I" statements and take responsibility for how you feel. For example, you could start the conversation with, "I have decided to end this relationship" or "I have made a decision that this relationship is not working." Complete honesty leaves no room for mixed signals and offers the cleanest break, says John Kim, a licensed marriage and family therapist. Give your ex a chance to talk and listen to what he has to say.


If you are ending an abusive relationship, you need to take precautions. If you don’t feel safe ending the relationship in person, listen to your gut. Ending your relationship via phone or email may seem harsh, but doing so can provide distance to keep you safe. Inform others that you are ending the relationship so they can provide a support system. Avoid situations where you could potentially find yourself alone with your ex.

About the Author

Stacey Elkins is a writer based in Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a Masters in social work from the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she specialized in mental health.

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