How To Break Up Like a Grown Up

Break Up Rules For The Person Ending The Relationship

Never easy but, unfortunately, necessary in most of our lives at least once, breaking up really is hard to do. But how do you break up with someone maturely, with class, and grace - while still cutting relationship ties? These are my suggestions based on client re-tellings, personal experiences and readers just like you.

How to Break Up Tip #1: Method

Couple ignoring each other at breakfast
Glow Images, Inc/Glow/Getty Images

According to a survey conducted by Yahoo Personals, 28% of respondents believed the worst way to break up with someone was to do it via text message, while 18% felt email was the cruelest way to let go. (See: Breakup Survey Shows How People Cope). Either way, almost every survey I've found or person I've spoken to has shared the same information: when breaking up with someone, do it in person.

It might not be the answer you were looking for, but being an adult about breaking up means facing your situation and decision head on. Your partner deserves to hear it from you personally that you're no longer interested in having a relationship with them.

How To Break Up Tip #2: Location

Choose a Good Break Up Location - Break Up Location
Choose a Good Break Up Location. Agata Urbaniak

If the best method to break up is in person, where's the best place you ask? In public, say most of's Guide to Dating readers. Much like a first date location, you want to give your soon-to-be-ex the bad news somewhere that they can feel safe yet not so safe they'll want to yell, scream or otherwise make a scene. Simplistic? Perhaps. But think about it this way: do you really want to go over to their place and tell them in private? How will you get out of there? What if they pepper you with questions, tears, or worse? What if you do it at your place, and they won't leave when you've said your peace?

How To Break Up Tip #3: Timing

Break Up Timing
Break Up Timing. Chris Gilbert / stock.xchng

An often-overlooked aspect of breaking up with someone, timing is equally as important as the others on the list. Don't break up with your partner on their birthday, a holiday, or during another important event. Not only will they associate that day with the relationship ending for a long time to come, but it'll likely ruin the festivities too. Plus, do you really want to be known as the person who broke up with their loved one on Valentine's Day?

How To Break Up Tip #4: Neutrality

Remove Emotion From Your Break Up Talk
Remove Emotion From Your Break Up Talk. Nara Vieira da Silva Osga

There's a communication tactic that I find incredibly useful in tense situations. I first heard of it from Dr. Bob Huizenga, Psychotherapist, and the author of the "Break Free from the Affair" eBook. He calls the technique 'charging neutral', where the person speaking changes their tone and removes whatever emotional message they can, so that their words seem completely neutral. It's more of a way to speak than something I can write here, but let's see if you get the jist with this example:

  • Said in anger, yelling, with clenched fists, "I don't want to be with you anymore!!"
  • Spoken calmly and without voices raised, "I don't want to be with you anymore."

There's no emotional charge to the last one, and that's what you're after.