How to Break Up

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Damnit. It’s over. I know it in my heart, I can feel it every time he and I touch: the magic is gone. What do I do when our love has reached its expiration date? How do I tell someone who trusts me completely and might still be crazy in love with me that I don’t feel the same way? 

Okay, hold on a sec. Is it actually over? The more empathetic you are, the earlier you’ll be able to tell when the feelings are fading for you. If you catch it early enough, you can talk it out with your partner and see if the fading feelings are mutual, or if it’s something just one of you feels, and the two of you agree to try to rekindle the feelings.

Uh but the feelings are fading, dude.

Um, did you just call me “dude”? Anyway, don’t confuse fading love with just being in that comfortable, “boring” stage: while the idea of maintaining the intensity of the beginning feelings in a relationship is appealing, it’s rare. No, you’re not settling, you’re becoming comfortable with each other and your shifting intensity of feelings.

Okay, then I’m gonna let him down easy. I’ll just start nitpicking everything, or talking smack about things he likes. He’s sure to get the hint and just leave.

That’s a creepy idea. Don’t subtly change your behavior in the hopes that he’ll break up with you and make things easier. Mentioning little things that suddenly annoy you is passive aggressive and childish, and doesn’t solve the root problem. If you can’t be honest and mature about your needs, you shouldn’t be dating!

Wow that’s dumb of course I should be dating, because I’m awesome! And being in love feels great. Until it doesn’t. I’ll just give him the slow fade. Or maybe just rip the band-aid off.

What are you, a 12 year old? Breaking up is not a good feeling for either party, but remember, this last gesture is how the person will remember you forever. They’ll much less remember thoughtful gifts you gave them, or that night you gave them multiple orgasms, or the sweet things you wrote to them. They will, however, strongly remember the last impression you made on them. If it’s genuine, restate what you loved about them, that you did want the relationship to work out, and how you’re sure someone else will appreciate those things in them even more than you did.

That’s a lot of work and I’m a very busy person. I’ll just text him those things? Or Snapchat him.

If you went on just a few dates, then it’s perfectly appropriate to text. A month or two is a phone call. However, if the two of you called it a relationship, or if there were intense feelings involved, then meet up in person. It may be uncomfortable I can guarantee it will be uncomfortable, but this is what you sign up for when you get into a relationship of any kind. Clearly I’m biased: I got broken up with by the dude I thought I might marry by the equivalent of “oh, my bad, sorry brah”, but to break up with someone who you’ve dated intensely for months via phone call or text is evidence of a narcissistic personality disorder and will usually result in resentful, angry feelings in the other party. You know that guy that everyone warns you not to date? Don’t actually be that guy.

Okay, okay. So I’ll talk to him in person but I’ll tell him that I’m going to spend a year overseas! Or maybe that my penis fell off!

Did you ever have a job you were suddenly fired or downsized from and you had no idea what the fuck happened or what you did wrong? Being broken up with in a shitty way is exactly like that. So have some class and be honest, but in a kind way. “I’m sorry, the physical chemistry fizzled for me” is a nicer way of saying that you’re not as attracted to their body anymore as when you first met them, but this way they don’t feel like an ugly piece of shit! Conversely, being honest gives you an opportunity to restate what wasn’t working, if you genuinely gave them a chance during the relationship to change: “Do you remember the many times I asked you to include me in plans with you and your friends and you didn’t? Well, this was the consequence of me feeling left out.” This will help them get it right in the future, and recognize what part of the breakup they own. And again, just like a performance review in a job, if the feedback is coming as a total surprise to them, then you didn’t do a very good job during the relationship to communicate what wasn’t working for you. Do better next time.

Ugh this is exhausting. Okay, then I’ll just have the conversation and be done with him. Maybe I’ll tell my friends that he died?

Yes, being a grown-up is hard. But there’s little shittier than the feeling of being abandoned and discarded, which is how it feels when someone suddenly drops you out of their life completely. It’s helpful in the long term (although uncomfortable in the short term) to make yourself available for any questions or conversations afterwards. “I know you’re hurting now and probably don’t feel like talking to me for a bit. When you’re ready, I’m here for you if you need to talk things out” is a lovely, kind way to make yourself available, but respect their space. You don’t have to offer to stay friends if you don’t feel like it. I’ve been lucky to stay friends with all of my exes save one, and I’ve found that it’s far healthier to do so, and gives me insight about future relationships when I have a stronger bond with my past ones.

Okay, okay. Can we still hook up then? Honestly, breaking up like a grown-up is so much work that I think we’ll just get back together.

I’ve seen couples get back together and then break up again, only to get back together a few weeks later. This seems like the couple wasn’t sure why they broke up to begin with, and their friends are often unsure whether they should even support the relationship or not. Absence of someone (and even dating other people) can put things in perspective for both parties and make getting back together the less passionate but more logical choice. I vote you get back together once, but only once. There is a reason gravity pulls planets together; it works on people in your life, too.

Breakups are bad, and they’re mostly inevitable. It’s a harsh truth that no one deserves love. No one is entitled to anyone else’s love or affection. But the better the communication, the better the split feels in the long run. And who knows? Maybe this is the breakup before you meet the one you never break up with.

I think I’m finally getting it. I think in the end, it all comes down to: “We need to talk.”


Thanks for reading. If you liked this, you’re broken inside! You might like the 30 day dating cleanse I went on, or maybe have a hearty chuckle over my recent breakup. Let’s be horrible people together. 

4 thoughts on “How to Break Up”

  1. You are a very thoughtful human being. I appreciate this entry, which I stumbled upon after seeing some of your photos. It’s spot on and very relevant for me at the moment

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