The Classy Way To End A Relationship

Believe it or not, there is a drama-free way to break up with someone.

Dating

I don't know about you, but when I stop to think about the guys that I was actually in a relationship with—meaning, we weren't just sex buddies and the fact that we were exclusively together was a mutual decision—when it comes to the ones who make me purse my lips and roll my eyes, it's not really due to the relationship itself. It's mostly because the break-up was insensitive, a complete blindside or handled very immaturely. It was like no honor or respect was given, and that's what made it hard to heal and at least be at peace with those jokers…I mean, men.


I can't do anything about how badly those break-ups went. The best I can do about the past is forward this along to my exes in hopes that they'll "learn better, do better" (and yeah, that's probably not gonna happen). But what I can do in the present, in honor of all of those who have a break-up coming (hey, it happens), is offer up a few suggestions on what you can do to make the ending of your journey with someone as kind, respectful and maybe-just-maybe-we-can-be-friends-or-at-least-friendly-someday as possible.

Think About If You Want a Friendship or Not

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Granted, if you're about to break up with someone because they treat you like dirt or refuse to meet your needs, there's probably not much of a friendship to salvage (shoot, there may not have been much of a friendship there to begin with). But if you think it's time to go separate ways on the romantic tip simply because the timing isn't right, you both want different things or you don't see much of a future, you may want to end things on a super amicable tip.

If this is the case, come at them in a way that would make them not want to block you on social media or ignore your calls. Try and avoid the whole "It's not you, it's me" or "I still want to be friends" line, even if that's the truth because it's too cliché to be taken seriously. But do come at them open, kindly and real. Let them know that you value them and, even if they need time to think it over, you still want them in your life; you just don't want to stand in their way of getting what they really want in a relationship.

I can speak from personal experience that when my relationships ended with dignity, friendship—even if it was "friendly-ship"—was able to manifest. Eventually.

Avoid Ghosting

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It's my personal opinion that ghosting is cowardly. Oh, it's mad disrespectful too. Maybe I feel that way because a childhood best friend did it to me. Maybe because I'm a communicator (some might even say an over-communicator). Whatever the case is, I don't like it.

If you were man enough to talk yourself into the relationship, please be man enough to verbalize your way out.

Besides, unless someone is low-key loco, I can't think of one good reason to think that going radio silent is a wise or compassionate thing to do to anyone you once cared about. Unless you didn't, which would be another article for another time.

Give Them a Bit of a Heads Up

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The only thing I hate more than ghosting is blindsiding. That said, it's so not a good look to call someone you're dating and be like, "Hey! How about we meet up for dinner?" sounding all happy 'n stuff, only to drop the bomb on them once they arrive. A heads up of what's to come is uncomfortable but it's the right thing to do. Something along the lines of, "Do you have some time this weekend? I really need to talk about our relationship" is good. If they follow it up with "What's wrong?", be honest but not super-detailed. "I've been doing some thinking about where this is going, but I think it's better to discuss it all in person." If they've got an IQ in the triple digits, they're gonna get the gist. They might even push to do it over the phone but don't agree to that. This brings me to the next point.

Do It in Person

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There's a guy I know who is in his 40s and completely notorious for breaking things off with women in text. It doesn't matter if she was his girlfriend for two years or a jump-off for five (he's quite the "recycler" too), according to him, when he's done, he's done and the courtesy (?!) of a text should be enough. When I gave him push back on that, he said, "Shellie, my showing up at their house to look them in the eye isn't gonna change things. I'll just stand on their porch, read the text verbatim and leave." Ugh. Sounds to me like 1) he doesn't want to deal with the fallout of break-ups (which is why he's texting in the first place) and 2) at the very least, he is super-emotionally immature and/or narcissistic.

OK. So that look that you're giving your monitor as you read about ole' boy. Uh-huh, keep that same energy if you're even close to considering breaking up with someone in text, via email or over the phone. Yes, it's insensitive. Yes, it's rude. And yes, you are no better than the guy I just told you about if you up and decide to do it. Unless they were abusive to you, they deserve your presence. Give it to them.

Be Honest. And Empathetic.

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You aren't doing anyone any favors by sugarcoating, or worse, withholding reasons for why you want to end your relationship. Remember, if we're all doing this relationship thing right, each one teaches us lessons that can make us better for the next one that we decide to get into. If you're unhappy, tell him why. If the intimacy (any kind of intimacy) was unfulfilling, put that on record. If you don't see a future, share that too. Is it mean? That doesn't depend on what you're saying but how you say it. That brings me to the next part of this point.

I don't think that a lot of us have a hard time hearing someone's truth. It's their delivery that can put us on the defensive. I still think that honesty is important, just so everyone is crystal clear, moving forward. At the same time, it's a sign of emotional maturity and intelligence to take a moment to process in your head what you are about to say and think about how you would feel if it was delivered in a harsh, flippant or totally insensitive manner. Empathy is a close friend of honesty. Make sure that they both show up in your break-up conversation.

Encourage Them to Fully Express Themselves

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It's not right or fair that you're able to get everything that you need to say off of your chest, but you won't allow your soon-to-be ex to do the same. Although you might be the one who's officially calling things off, don't be so delusional, presumptuous or (worse) arrogant as to think that everything on their end was blissful or that you didn't have a few missteps that they tolerated along the way as well.

Yes, when someone is getting broken up with, sometimes pettiness can come into play, simply because their feelings are/may be hurt. But so long as he is being respectful, be willing to hear him out. If you really want to grow as a person, take it a step further and ask him what his thoughts are. Just by offering this kind of platform for him to share, it can soften the blow and help things to end in a more loving way.

Back It Up with a Letter

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Although this might seem a little odd, this is where I'm coming from. There's a pretty good chance that at least one of the reasons why you're ready to end your relationship is that you don't feel as connected as you once did or as you think you should be at this stage in the game. That usually happens because somewhere along the line, there was a breakdown in communication. As far as poor communication goes, if there's one time when all kinds of things can get misconstrued, it's when you're letting someone go.

I can't tell you how many times something that I said in the heat of the moment was either quoted back to me incorrectly or was totally taken out of context. That's why I'm known for backing up deep convos with a letter or follow-up email. That way, we both have a copy of what I said, it can be processed and, if needed, clarified later on—whether that's next week, next month or a couple of years from now.

Again, this is not a "mandate recommendation", but when I tell you that it can spare all kinds of potential future drama, I ain't neva lied.

Commit to a Clean Break—at Least for a Season

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On the surface, it might seem odd to say that clean breaking with someone is classy but look at this from my perspective. When you know someone isn't right for you (even if that means they aren't right for you right now), it only complicates things—which is a nice way of saying it's super-duper messy—to keep talking on the phone, flirting online or (worst of all) having sex. There needs to be a season when the two of you are completely apart so that you both can process, heal and know what you truly want and need from each other (if anything) up the road.

So yeah, if you really want to be a grown-and-classy woman in your break-up, BREAK UP. Completely up. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say may hurt him for a while, but after the dust settles, you'll gain (or maintain) his respect. Which is a nice thing to have once a relationship finally comes to an end.

Featured image by Getty Images

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