How to Break Up with a Girl (From a Guy Who’s Done it Wrong a Few Times)


Mark Radcliffe would like to spare fellow guys the mistakes he’s made in the break-up ritual.

One of the most difficult ordeals a guy can face is the delicate matter of ending a relationship that his girlfriend still wants to continue, especially if he still cares for her. There are some good ways to go about it, but infinitely more bad ones, and I’ve certainly plumbed the latter category more times than I’d like to admit over the years. So in there interests of sparing men (and women) the mistakes I’ve made, here’s what I’ve learned from my past:

First, before we can even get on to the delicate matter of how to break up with a girl, there’s the more important question of should you: Is it actually necessary? Are the reasons you think you need to break up legit? Are they instead things that can actually be worked out? Improved in some way through rational and honest conversation?

If you are certain they are not, very well then, let’s proceed:

First off, you had better make sure you’ve earned the right to break up with her.

Earned?” you ask?

Yes, earned. If you haven’t already had a number of conversations about your misgivings about the relationship, then you’ve got a few steps to go through first.

Because the one thing that will make you an outright asshole is if she’s hearing about these complaints for the first time. Employers can’t fire you without a few warnings first, and the same applies in relationships: you need to establish a pattern here. If you’re too much of a coward to have those tough conversations first and let her respond to what you’re unhappy about (and even let her yell a bit), or are too lazy to work together to change things, then you’re not ready to break up yet. And you’re probably also not ready to be in a relationship yet, either. (And yes, I’ve beenboth of these guys over the years.) But the point is, you might learn through these conversations that you’re a bigger part of the problem than you realized, and some of the onus of fixing it is on you.

Exemption clause: of course, if you walk in one night and catch her sleeping with your best friend, then sure, no real discourse is needed, you’re fully entitled to hit the eject button. (Or if she accidentally burned your vinyl record collection—I mean, we all have our limits.) But otherwise, if everyone broke up with each other at the first infraction, the human race would never get around to actually reproducing.

Second: Is it a good time for a breakup? Can she handle this right now? If you really care about ending it tactfully, and not causing her immense pain and getting anointed as public enemy number one, perhaps you can wait another week until she’s through passing her med school boards, or till after her sister’s wedding, or till after she’s had that appendectomy. That said, if ‘waiting till it’s a good time’ results in putting it off a year, at some point the trigger just needs to be pulled. There’s never a ‘great’ time for a breakup, just try not to pick the worst.

Third: you’re going to be the asshole no matter what. It will vary in degree, but there’s usually no way you’re going to walk out of this with her giving you an enthusiastic high-five. Be prepared to be the recipient of her fury/ resentment/ or depression. It’s your unique door prize to inherit for playing the role of dumpeur. Man up, and be ready to take the heat. Your reasons may be sound, and in time, when she finally meets the guy she’s eventually going to marry in six months’ time, you’ll be forgiven a bit. But not now.

Forth: try to pick a good place. The important elements are: privacy, a calm environment, a quietenvironment, and preferably a place where she can have a bit of a breakdown if the moment requires. It may sound cruel on the surface, but I personally recommend doing it at her place, where most of these elements are in place. That way, you can leave once the conversation seems truly ‘over,’ and she can have the comfort of her own environment to fall apart in. If you do it atyour place, then she has the additional hurdle of trying to get herself home. While crying. In downtown traffic. As your favorite U2 song comes on the radio. If it has to be a public place for some reason, don’t pick a restaurant or café or anywhere else where you’re in full public view. Look for a park, or somewhere with a bench away from a crowd.

Fifth: we’ve all probably heard this before, but “I statements” not “you statements” are key here, and are essential if you don’t want the whole thing to turn into an emotional volcano. Say “I feel like I’m not being heard,” not “you never listen to me.” “I feel I can’t be myself around you” rather than “you’re too controlling.” And if it seems that it’s not really working for her either, point that out, so it’s not just about your needs, it’s also about what’s best for her future, too.

Sixth: honesty is important, but only up to a point. There is a point where you can go too far and do irreparable damage. Of course, there’s no point in completely sugarcoating it either, or else she’ll be left in the dark as to why you’re leaving. You can’t just tell her “I just want something new” if the truth is more like “I don’t feel like you support my dreams and aspirations.” There are a few exceptions, I think, such as if you’re not really attracted to her (in which case you’re a jerk, since: what were you doing dating her in the first place?), or is if the sex is lousy. Telling a woman she’s bad in bed (and again, the problem might not be her, it might be your inability to communicate what you like, or that you have different approaches to sex) is about the sharpest knife you can plunge into her heart. She might never recover her confidence from it. “We don’t seem sexually compatible” is about as far as you can go with this one, but if you can focus it on the conflict in values and lifestyles, that’s easier to swallow.

Seventh: give her some indication it’s coming. Don’t blindside her when she thinks you’re just going out to see a movie. I made this awful mistake once, thinking it would be easier, and have regretted it every since. It might be easier for you to stay in lala land before you drop the bomb, but it’s cruel to her. Tell her “I think we need to have a talk” at the very least.

Finally—if you can—tell her you’re open to talking about it some more if she wants to (and if you’re able to handle it). And then walk away. At some point, the breakup talk needs an endpoint, so she can process. And be aware that, just because the talk is over, doesn’t mean the process is over. There will be followup waves. And if you’re truly trying to be a standup guy, you’ll stomach a few of them. Give her the answers she needs, if she wants them, and you can provide them. But at some point, you’ll inevitably need to just cut the cord, at least for a while.

And since we can’t always plan our breakup talks—sometimes they just happen—at least try to handle them with dignity. Rather than place blame, explain how the relationship just isn’t giving you what you need—spiritually, conversationally, romantically, financially, whatever. And remember that even if your time with this woman has come to an end, her romantic life hasn’t, and there will be other relationships that she can apply these learnings to. No matter how unhappy you may be with your relationship, don’t let her sour on love or men altogether. We men all have to realize: right now there’s a guy out there breaking up with a woman we’ll one day date ourselves (or even marry). And just as we don’t want him burning her so hard she puts up a wall we can never get through, let’s all try to do the same for him. Pay it forward by ending things gracefully, so she can love openly again, and hope that the guy who might be dumping your future wife has the maturity to do the same.

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About Mark Radcliffe

Mark Radcliffe is a writer living in New York City. He has a weakness for bourbon, jazz and girls who can drive stick. You can read more of his essays here: and


  1. Thanks for this article. From experience, I definitely winced when I read the “is it a good time for the breakup?” I had an ex use this as an excuse when we did in finally break up… Which actually only happened because I’d gotten a phone call from a girl… he’d been dating (while going home to see his kids, mind you)… For 13 months. 13 MONTHS. I know the point in the article was more based on short term issues – wait until after exams, that important meeting etc. and in a way I just want to emphasize that point. But he took it way too far and was a complete coward because we had some talks, prompted by me, and he lied through his teeth about it. (Yes I’m aware of how these issues are his and not mine to claim.)

    Realizing I don’t want to miss the point of my comment with excess detail, my point is simply this: Guys (and gals) : Don’t play god. It’s not up to you to “protect” anyone from heartache. It happens. It’s a cowardly and selfish excuse to procrastinate, while unfairly keeping someone you once cared for (remember that?) in the dark. As stated, there’s never a good time for a breakup. People always have something going on that’ll make it not the right time. But step up and be honest, and start first with yourself. Then have the conversations. Show some respect for this person that you once were so intrigued to explore life with. Things don’t always work out. HINT: This really shouldn’t come as a mind-blowing surprise to anyone. It may be sad or a little unexpected (read: denial), painful and most certainly uncomfortable, but respect is key here and I think this covers that beautifully.

    So yes, thank you.

  2. Baigu Akloa says:

    Why break up? Just stay together and work it through.

  3. keli138 says:

    This was a very mature topic and beautifully written. Thank you for adding this to the tool belt of the readers. Many men and women will benefit, on both sides.

  4. Dina Strange says:

    Most importantly don’t be a coward about breaking up. Don’t do it by email or text message or in the middle of a fight. Also, when breaking up admit your mistakes – don’t blame a girl for your own mistakes. It makes you look pathetic and weak. And finally communication. Explain why it’s not working out for you and be honest. Same goes to women too, btw.

    • Some men are bigger cowards than they like to admit. My ex recently broke up with me with a message on Facebook, of all places.

  5. Actually, it seems the most common “break up” method these days is to just disappear.

    Any advice for what to do about this, or how to react to it, GMP?

    • I’d like to hear some advice too … I don’t know, as I get older, I find myself less inclines to do the dignified-walk-away-silence, and more inclined to step up, call them out on it, make them accountable for their actions and MAKE them confront heir decision …. not sure I could pull this off as successfully in real life as I do in my imagination though!! 😉

  6. This is a great article. As a woman who’s gotten dumped by several men in really awful ways, I would add:

    1. If it’s a long distance relationship, break up by phone. Don’t make your partner go to the effort of traveling to see you, only to get dumped. And then having to suffer the awkwardness of spending the weekend with you after you’ve dumped her. Been there, done that.

    2. Don’t just disappear. Have the balls to be honest and say you want to break up. I’ve been in a position of having to inquire whether a person was still alive, because he just stopped all communication, with no explanation or warning. It was pretty surreal.

    3. Be honest. We can take it. Don’t “spare our feelings” by not saying you want to break up. Allow us the dignity to grieve and move on, not get mixed messages and waste another 6 months in a bad relationship. Women are much stronger than a lot of men think we are.

    • Yup #2 is a definite no-no, I’ve had that happen 3 times in the last few years. Guys be honest – don’t just bail without any explanation at all, apart from anything it makes the female feel like an idiot when she thinks because the last time you spoke it was all unicorns and rainbows that you’ve been in an accident or died – only to find out you just couldn’t be arsed to be honest.

    • In my experience, most guys are cowards who do a disappearing approach. Males from 22 – 60. Spineless boys.

    • Oh, #2! SOOO #2!! I was going to add it myself, but you’ve covered it.

      I have been in the same situation – literally, had someone disappear so suddenly and so strangely that I too honestly found myself wondering if they might be dead, and if I should contact the police … never did hear from him again, so I don’t know, maybe he was!? … eek …

    • #3 – Yes. We are resilient creatures. If not, that is our problem to work on, not yours to avoid.

  7. Just had to share a recent ending of my own. I don’t believe breakup etiquette is restricted to older men. I recently met and dated a man of 44. We spent time in my space and it was amazing. He then invited me to visit him, he lives in another country, and I did. The minute I got of the plane he switched and lost interest in me. Was it because he felt overwhelmed with me in his space or was I just the woman he didn’t want in his space? Be that as it may I was supposed to stay for a month but left after 3 weeks. In retrospect I should of left even earlier than that. It was strange that when he was with me in my space he treated me beautifully but as soon as I got to his space he switched. I have no idea why. In trying to figure things out after I returned home I had a conversation with a girlfriend and between the two of us the only logical explanation we could come up with was that my feet must obviously stink! 🙂 I don’t think any of my ex’s has ever told me why they broke up with me or why they switched from being so in love to being so out of love. I wish that I had been given some straight answers so that I could then learn from them.

  8. 2 things.

    never tell a girl she’ll meet someone better than you. or that a great guy is just around the corner.

    and once you’re broken up, do not string her along. not with texts, phone calls, facebook. you must both grieve.

    and cry if you can. it demonstrates dignity, if it’s authentic.

  9. Bruce Bartlett says:

    In reading this, I got to revisit my relationship terminations. It has been really easy for me to create a relationship mess and these points are so vitally true they explain why. Having a termination process that honors what was, and what was accomplished through it, would make us all more emotionally vibrant in the end. That said, divorce/romantic endings are viewed as failures and that creates problems. In my current situation I am responding to inquiries about “us” with: “We have had a great year together, great sex, great adventures and we have grown so much we realize our paths have separated so we are going our own separate ways as dear friends.” For all the reasons listed in the article, this feels the best to me in navigating relationship changes.

  10. Could we add, do not do any of the above by TEXT! Ugh!

  11. Three of my most loyal, reliable friends are men I was in relationships with. You have to talk about the probability that things will end and each decide how important your current partner is to your LIFE and not just the few months or years you are together. I don’t know about you but I can always use more true blue friends.

  12. I stumbled onto this article through another site, googling ways originally on how to get closure from a break up from someone who took absolutely no responsibility, broke up once through email, came back for a couple weeks, turned out to be dating someone else and getting serious with her. And in the end texted me the final blow to tell me he can no longer see me and that he was moving in with this new person. I was left reeling, floored, devastated and basically traumatized.

    Logically I know he did me a favor and by the way he ended things his character was now crystal clear. I ignored red flags and I take my share of the responsibility. But wow, I have never felt such shock from an event in my life.

    Anyway, what this article did for me was to open my eyes to the fact (again) that there are warm, caring and responsible men. Thanks for writing it to help others as well for something that is difficult to do from either side.

    • The traumatization is typical in the wake of someone who is far out on the spectrum of narcissistic / sociopathological behavior. The red flags you ignored are other clues.

      People who’ve been in long term marriages that have ended more or less amicably, but then have been in relatively short term relationships with sociopaths (who are all charming Dr. Jekylls / Mr. Hydes) report the break up from the sociopath was much, much more difficult to get over.

      That, in itself, is another clue that he is a sociopath….along with your feeling that “I see them everywhere now.” They also steal a target’s ability to trust.

      Yes, this is a great article.

  13. Is there some compelling reason for this to be and article about ‘how a straight man should breakup with his girlfriend’? i see nothing here that’s specific to a particular type of relationship. i understand that the author is speaking from personal experience but it contributes to and atmosphere that is so common across he internet of straight men only. its a good article with valid advice, but its likely unintentionally exclusionary. i assume the motivation of the author is to get as many people as possible to act ethically during a breakup, and so its is counter productive to reduce this universal advice to a particular type of relationship. as a writer it is also counter productive to him, as it limits the pool of people who will reblog it, or wish to mirror it on their sites.

    • I discovered this article by googling “what’s the kindest way for a guy to break up with a girl” because I need to do just that. Save your “you’re excluding other lifestyles” argument for another forum. The author clearly indicates that this is advice for a guy breaking up with a girl. Yeah, vanilla and straight I know, but vanilla and straight is just as colorful as every other color on the rainbow.

  14. thank you! greaat article!!

  15. Great article!! Thanks for sharing.

  16. I googled for How to Break Up With a Girl, and after sifting through several sites, this is the BEST post on the matter. Complete, experienced, makes a lot of responsible, moral and philosophical sense. Thank you.

    Now comes the following instructions phase for me and the girl I’m living with.

  17. Jeanette says:

    Another thing I think should be added here- I feel like a lot of guys are afraid to end something, so they let something that’s not working drag out, and drive the girl to the point of breaking up with them so they don’t have to do it. I recently ‘broke up’ with someone officially, but he had dumped me long before it become official. Went from being perfectly loving to completely disinterested without any real reason, and very quickly. I was overseas for a few weeks and he just started refusing to make the effort to communicate to the point where I had to do it over email because he wouldn’t take the time out for a phone call over skype. The only explanation I got was he “needed to figure himself out before he was in any relationship” but then he never had the decency to talk with me further about the breakup. When I emailed him cutting it off, he replied with no hint of sadness, as if it had been obvious all along, but his ambivalence had completely blindsided me. How do you deal when you’re the recipient of a shitty breakup? I feel absolutely no closure but I feel ridiculous and pathetic asking him for a talk at this point (it’s been almost a month).

    • This has happened to me as well, many times! The guy just suddenly turns into a different person, acts weird and distant and unavailable until I have to break up with him.

      True story, back in 1989, when I had just graduated from college, I had to move home with my parents in the SF Bay Area while my BF at the time started grad school a couple hubdred miles away. We kept the relationship going but he was acting very busy and distracted, due to school starting I thought. Then on Oct 17, the Loma Prieta esrthquake hit. I spent hours that night trying to call him (phone lines were swamped, or out, so calls wouldn ‘t go through. I just assumed he was worried about me. Finally at around 11 pm, I got a call through and he answered. To my utter shock, he sounded not just indifferent, but said he was too busy to talk to me! He didn’t ask if I was ok, if my family was ok, what the earthquake had been like, or anything! I drove up to see him the following week and couldn’t get any straight answers. I asked him “should we break up?” and he said, “I don’t know.” I said, ” I’ll take that as a yes.” He said, “ok.” Then he told all our friends that I had dumped HIM. to this day, the memory makes me angry. I wish he’d just told me he wanted to end it! I still have no idea really what happened. Maybe he didn’t want a long distance relationship or felt school was too stressful or met someone else. Sure, I would have been upset, but it would have been kinder in the long run.

      • Sadly, that is probably the single most common way men break off relationships–especially younger men. It’s a lot easier to simply shut off and become distant and cold than it is to honestly confront a difficult situation. And the guy gets the added bonus of not having to take responsibility for the breakup.

        P.S.: sorry to all the women who I pulled this shit on when I was in my twenties. I was a douche.

        • It’s respectable for a man to admit mistake and apologize publicly in terms of this matter. Props and blessings to you Pablo!

      • Interesting how these things linger when dealing with certain personality types. (His.) If he was that callous and either so relationally ignorant or that willing to twist truth with omissions (he omitted his behavior which caused you to “dump him” in his pity ploys to your mutual friends), then most likely he is far out on the spectrum of narcissistic / sociopathological behavior. They are all cowards, in addition to being unable to be anything other than completely self-centered. You saved yourself by walking away.

  18. Justin Timothy says:

    I really appreciate you acknowledging that breakups are something that needs to be done in person (as is communicating anything important in a relationship). I’ve been on the receiving end of having the last couple relationships I’ve entered into end via a phone call and most recently, text messaging. While I am certainly no stranger to all of current western culture’s various means of communication, I do think it’s important that we don’t use those as a means to avoid discussions that should be had while in the same room as the other individual.

  19. Tried being tactful a while ago. Wanted to talk about it (and I gave her a heads up to try and accomodate for her anxiety issues) but kept getting blown off (in the bad way) with “I’m busy. Don’t contact me, I’ll contact you.” which was plausible to begin with due to her moving overseas but eventually it clicked that that was BS and I didn’t hold back. Said some tactless things that I felt needed to be said. Long story short, no longer talking. Unless it’s via mutual friends facebook pages and even then there’s an edge of hostility.
    I’m sometimes wish I could go back and alter how I said/done things.

  20. This article could be called how to break up with people. The same goes for girls. I mean, I don’t like how my ex rushed into it, but she definitely had some things right (gave me signs, told me we had to talk, did it in person, not over the phone). I give her credit for that.

  21. The last guy who broke up with me showed up at my house; we’d been planning a date that day. Then he told me that he had realized he was no longer attracted to me and that he wanted to break up. It came as such a shock that I didn’t start crying until a while afterward. I’ve been through several heartbreaks and so I managed to get over him after about a week but the first few days were pretty rough. Looking back, I don’t think it was a very healthy relationship and I think I’m a lot happier with my current boyfriend.

  22. Would you give the same advice to someone breaking up with a boyfriend? Would you tell her to make sure she’s earned the right to break up? Would you tell her to ask if he could handle it? Would you tell her she’s going to be an asshole no matter what? If so, I think it would be a fascinating experiment to switch the genders in the article and post it at the feminist website of your choosing. How do you think that would go over? :o) I get what your saying. There’s nothing wrong with be sensitive to the feelings of another person especially one you’ve shared a relationship with. However, much of this strikes me as patronizing.

    Since women are obviously unstable, emotional creatures who need to be handled with kid gloves, here are a few of my tips: Break up with her at her place so she can’t break all your sh!t. Have a friend waiting with the car running and the passenger window down. There’s no time to open doors because frying pans, picture frames and bullets will surely be making their way towards your head. Just dive through the window and have your friend burn rubber. Second, you should move. After all, she knows where you live. Do you really want to feel those eyes/binoculars watching you every time you step out of your door? Also, you have to think about the safety and concern of your next girlfriend. You’ve talked about the conversation a man could have to break up with his girlfriend, but what about the conversation he must now have with his new girlfriend about the ex who is now stalking him and seems to find his cell number no matter how many times he changes it? What do I do about that, good sir? :o)

    All right, that’s enough snark from me today. My over all point is there is an assumption here that woman are fragile and men are responsible for making sure they don’t break. That’s a consideration I don’t think is often returned. I say ditch the Dr. Phil speak. Simply say this isn’t working and why. Be honest. If it’s her, then it’s her. Don’t get into an argumentative death spiral with her. Say your peace. Let her say her peace. But as soon as it gets redundant–and it probably will get there quick–you should end it right there. You can be sensitive and kind, but if you go through everything you’ve stated in this article, you might as well stay right where you are because that relationship won’t be over until she says so.

    • Would I give the same advice if genders were reversed? Well, broadly, yes; I think I’d tell her to be sensitive to how much this COULD hurt him (not assuming it WILL in the case of either gender), and to try to be tactful yet firm, choose timing wisely if possible, and yes, to make sure this has been “earned,” rather than blindsiding him when he’s had no idea that there was anything amiss. (And that point is to benefit her as much as him; it might actually be a totally “save-able” relationship with just a little more work & communication.) I do agree with your point: yes, it’s wrong to assume all women will immediately experience full emotional collapse, but all of my “handle this delicately” advice isn’t said just because we’re talking about women here, it’s written for the situation where she still believes strongly in the relationship and doesn’t want it to end at all, which I concede is not all the time. If she’s only mildly in favor of the relationship, sure, you can scrap most of this advice and possibly do it over the phone. I’m just trying to write to the extreme situation, the one that can possibly cause the most damage if not handled delicately, where she’s possibly even still in love with you, and your not returning her feelings anymore is going to hurt.

      • I have to say, Mark, Mr. Yoda makes some great points. The concepts inherent in your article are well-intentioned, but you missed his main point: you have phrased the entire thing based off of the fragility of the female gender.

        You easily could re-write this article in a gender neutral fashion and it becomes much less argumentative. I don’t appreciate the claim that a man breaking up with a woman is an “asshole no matter what”. That very much stems from assuming the woman is going to tale it badly regardless of how you do it. It’s entirely possible she had been having similar feelings of wanting to end the relationship but not knowing how. Again, the comment of “when she meets the man she’ll marry in six months she’ll forgive you” very much implies that she will have an emotionless void inside her and will hold that against her former BF.

        Again, I am fairly certain such was not your intent. Unfortunately, the article is written with a heavy dose of Benevolent Sexism: women “need to be protected [from something]”. There are situations where none of your numbers apply and you did not even casually mention them–in an abusive relationship, for instance, you should NEVER wait until “the time is right” regardless of the genders involved. Barring imminent danger, you get out immediately. “I” statements will not mean much in such circumstances (I feel that you have been beating me too often).

        Ostensibly, humans should treat each other nice whenever possible. The reason behind that, however, should never be “Because if you’re mean, you’ll shatter the delicate waif in question until she finds a new man to fill the incompleteness she feels, yearning for that Y chromosome in her life” . Treat the other person as an equal, and be honest about what you want in the breakup: if they are a psycho, ste emphatically that you no longer want to be in their life (though diplomatically). If they simply aren’t right for you, say so.

  23. @ Anthony:

    While, yes, I respect anyone’s need to protect themselves, whether emotionally, physically or legally, I’m not sure I agree with equating breaking up with a woman to a company firing an employee. For one, relationships fulfill mostly emotional needs, while jobs fulfill mostly financial needs, and as a result, a certain straightforward and less personal approach is more acceptable in the latter than the former, especially if there are legal & contractual elements involved. Second, it could imply men are always the bosses in relationships, and that women are nothing more than men’s employees, and should be grateful for their jobs. (If this wasn’t your intent, my mistake.) Hell, women can break up with us anytime they want, too, thought I would hope that they try to follow a similarly sensitive and empathetic approach as what I’ve recommended here. Sounds like in your experience, you needed to be extremely firm w/ a woman in your exit, and perhaps you were completely warranted given her behavior. And I’m all for clarity. I’m just wary of anything that verges on “meanness” and insensitivity, as I feel that will bring about the very thing you’re trying to avoid–vengeful behavior. In my experience, a softer–but clear–approach here will lead to a less dramatic and painful closure for both parties. A little extra flexibility in the short run could avoid a more contentious situation in the long run.

    • Anthony Zarat says:

      It has to do with vulnerability, not authority:
      An ex employee has nothing to fear from his/her old employer.
      In contrast, the company has significant vulerabilities (for example, cyber security and legal)

      A woman has nothing to fear from her ex partner.
      In contrast, the man has significant vulnerabilities (law enforcement and judicial)

      In the age of misandry, men cannot play “nice”, they have to play “safe”. Gathering evidence before a breakup is a critical part of this process. The only way to gather evidence is to have a clear picture of “before” and “after” the relationship ends, with a recorded evidence from the woman proving that there was no domestic violence and/or rape at the time of the breakup. A gray zone of a slowly fading relationship is fertile grounds for vengeful and retributive false allegations.

      Also, there are not “two parties” in a breakup. There is only one party — the man. The woman does not face the risk of false allegations. Women who understand this, also understand that the man has no choice in the manner of the breakup. It must be clearn and emotion free. It is not personal. It is about staying out of jail.

      Women who understand this will not feel “bad” about the manner of the breakup. It is a necessar response to the assymetrical disposition of law enforcement and the judicial. Protection is offered to women, but not to men. So, men must protect themselves.

      • I”m going to argue with you here, Anthony. I think that there are, sadly, some relationships in which one person is unstable. This person can be a man or a woman (and in the case of queer relationships, either combo). If a breakup occurs and the unstable person is pissed, angry, jealous, motivated to cause trouble, they’ll do so. If a breakup occurs and they don’t feel motivated to cause trouble they won’t.

        In the case of an unstable woman? Sure, maybe she’ll stalk her partner, accuse the partner of theft, assault etc. That’s a terrible thing. There are also cases of unstable men stalking and assaulting and accusing their ex partners too.

        It isn’t a one way street when we are dealing with people motivated to hurt others.

        There are thousands of breakups all the time that don’t wind up with this level of trauma attached to them as well. We just don’t hear about those. In my 30 years of watching relationships around me form and dissolve, I’ve never seen anyone accuse someone of assault, or stalking, or anything else like that (no matter the gender). I’ve seen crying, mild substance abuse, and anger, but none of that obviously unhinged behavior.

        There are indeed two parties in any breakup. Or three, in the case of polyamory. Breakups hurt. If a person is healthy, they will hurt and move on. If they have a significant personality disorder, they can indeed cause trouble.

        • FlyingKal says:

          What I gather from Anthony’s post, is that the (most) unstable person in the relationship, the one (if anyone) more likely to resort to stalking or other criminal behaviour, is rarely the one taking the step to break up the relationship.

    • @mark
      “I’m not sure I agree with equating breaking up with a woman to a company firing an employee.”

      Why not? You already equated them when you wrote

      “Because the one thing that will make you an outright asshole is if she’s hearing about these complaints for the first time. Employers can’t fire you without a few warnings first, and the same applies in relationships:”

      Now, frankly, I’m not sure I agree with equating them either, because I don’t think you need a “reason” to break up with someone (speaking as somone who once got dumped via phonecall so girlfriend could pursue a guy she just met guilt free) but then, I didnt write that

  24. Anthony Zarat says:

    When a company breaks up with an employee, this is what happens:
    1) Building security escorts the employee to Human Resources.
    2) The employee is given a severance document.
    3) Building security escorts the employee to his/her workspace to recover personal items.
    4) Building security escorts the employee to the front door.
    5) The employee looses all keys, access cards, passwords, e-mail accounts, and other company property immediately when he/she leaves the premises.
    6) Building access personnell are instructed to keep an eye out for the ex-employee, who is now considered hostile and dangerous.

    Companies do this to protect themselves.

    It is time that men leanred to protect themselves when we break up with women. The priority must be to prevent false allegations and legal harassment. The only defence from misandric law enforcement, family courts, and criminal courts is a tight and professional exit strategy. Here is what you do.

    1) Write the soon-to-be ex a playful message requesting that she tell you how she feels about you.
    2) Immediately reply with a breakup notice, and keep a copy of both your message and hers.
    3) Make it clear that any attempt to contact or communicate with you is unwelcome and will constitute harassment.
    4) Forget she exists.

    Keep your breakup notice short and emotion free. Here are some suggestions:

    “We have grown apart and I never want to see you again. Please do not attempt to see me or communicate with me in any way. You cannot save our relationship, but you can save your pride.”

    “We have grown apart and I never want to see you again. Please do not attempt to see me or communicate with me in any way. The worst way to love someone is to sit next to them, knowing they don’t love you back.”

    “”We have grown apart and I never want to see you again. Please do not attempt to see me or communicate with me in any way. If you feel like calling me, don’t. Cry yourself a river, build a bridge, and get over it.”

  25. Man I totally feel this article. I recently broke up with a girl who I was seeing for 2 months. My gut instincts told me she was just trying to get my guard down and see how much she could get out of me, and I ended up proven correct. After the first date she stopped paying attention to me, while I simply backed off a bit and called once a week, texting goodnight every other night with no response. Found out she did this to other guys who follow her like sheep. Here is how I dumped her:

    1) Give them what they deserve
    If they invested alot into the relationship, it’s only right to do it in person. If they just strang you along it’s no problem to do it by email or voicemail (if they never pick up their phone), never text! Treat her during the dump the same way you feel she treated you.
    2) Plan what you are going to say before
    This makes it less awkward and more real, and puts you in a stronger mental state, in other words no room for anger. The girl I dumped over email and voicemail, heard the same message twice, so she would follow #3:
    3) Make sure she gets the point
    You were a good man, you showed her you weren’t supposed to be f–cked with, but she did it anyway. Don’t be angry or a complete jerk, you must be calm and in control (as always) even though it’s hard for you too. This way she has less reason to retaliate, and see what a good man she has lost.
    4) Tie up all the loose ends
    Delete all texts, emails, messages, you get the idea. If there are gifts you exchanged during the height of the relationship you will need to throw those away too because of mental manipulation it can bring. If she has something of yours, it’s going to be tough to get it back, so never be careless with your things with a girl you’re involved in.
    5) Don’t come crying back to her.
    It will be a reson for her to put you in the “Friend Zone” which is for men who don’t know what they want.

    – 67Buick

  26. Mr. Vazquez says:

    For all you guys that are broken hearted this is the guide to the perfect break…

    Written by Mr. Vazquez

    Perfect Break Up: Over Text

    I hate the fact that I have to see you slip away, this easily. I hate the fact that you would walk away from me without trying to change my mind, but mainly I hate the fact that it had to end like this, with so much unsaid but I guess I’m just gonna have to get used to not looking at you the same way I did. You weren’t ready and I don’t blame you. I still have a lot to learn and so do you, I’m really going to miss you. I won’t hold a grudge against you, I never meant to get so attached to you, I never wanted to hurt you I was just helping you see your mistakes. I’m sorry I let this go on for so long. In my mind you were the right one but I wasn’t. You want to be single and talk to a lot of guys, you want to have fun. I want someone to stick with but not in the sense of clinginess, I want someone that won’t be afraid to show me they like me in front of their friends, I want someone that won’t have to think twice about her feelings toward me. I want someone that will fall head over heals for me without being scared that I’d cheat or hurt her. I want someone that will admit to making mistakes and try to better themselves. I’m sorry for overreacting sometimes, I was so afraid to lose you to somebody else. I’m sorry if I asked for more than you could give. I’m sorry for not accepting you for who you are, sorry for trying to change you. It’ll be a struggle to get over you and yeah, I’ll regret letting you go and not fighting for you but I’ve done enough of that and you never put an effort into getting me back. That hurt, because you made it seem like I meant so much to you when it really wasn’t that big of a deal. You had a small crush on me, I was ready to do anything to get you back. I got my hopes up so high! You’ll think of me as a player, liar, and so much more. And I wish it wasn’t like that but I can’t change anything about the way you think of me. I’ll remember you as one of the sweetest girls I’ve ever met, you made me smile, you made me mad, you made my stomach drop, I just realized how much I’m gonna miss you.(put in amazing memorize you had with her). Memories are the only things that never change when everything around us does and I might forget what you said, but I’ll never forget how you made me feel. I don’t blame you for getting hurt because I took the risk and decided who was worth the while. After all, I’m not so sad about this. I’m glad that for once in my life you made me the happiest I could ever be and put colors in my life even if it was just for a while. You’re such an interesting person, you’re so funny, cute, and beautiful. I’m going to miss you so much. Maybe, you’ll never open up to me and make me realize how you made me feel, and I won’t realize how much shit I’ve put you through. I seriously don’t know if I’m hurting you, you’re such a strong-willed person but speaking up and showing your emotions would be so much easier. I just wanted to know you cared enough to show me in person not in text like always. I’m sorry we can’t be friends. I can’t go from pouring out my feelings to you and liking you so much to just plain old friends, I just can’t because then I’ll never move on. Maybe someday when this is all over and I’ve moved on, we can be friends. You don’t know what I’m feeling right now. It’s not easy to let go but I know it’s time to stop trying and move on. But you know what they say: Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

  27. Thanks for the article, everyone who worked to get it here. Needed a little courage and tact before I called up my girlfriend for a chat and this post really hit the spot. Mark Radcliffe, whoever you are and wherever you are, a big thank you from one dude to another. The part that reinforced me was about making sure she didn’t get blindsided by the break-up conversation. It’s hard to bring that up to her in advance, but important if I’m going to be fair to the feelings of a woman with whom I’ve worked hard to build a trusting relationship. Thanks again, I’m headed to her place for the talk right now 🙁

  28. I would add on another bullet that you have to actually break up with her. I am amazed by the number of friends I have whose boyfriends, even if just after a few months of dating, thought it was ok to just stop returning their calls. Or the guys I know who think “why won’t she take a hint? I’m not into her anymore. Now she’s getting all naggy and won’t leave me alone.” If you are going to break up with someone, male OR female, it’s unconscionable to simply start ignoring them one day with no explanation.

  29. Brilliant, insightful post. If we could all be more compassionate and considerate, honest and open, they would be a lot more functional relationships in the world. Thank you for writing this – I’m sure many women (and men) will be grateful for your kind, wise words…

  30. I’m slightly put off at the assumption a woman will fall a part when a man breaks up with her, but overall good tips. I think the key thing is COMMUNICATION. My favorite line that I think rings most true: “if everyone broke up with each other at the first infraction, the human race would never get around to actually reproducing.”

    • Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is debatable….

    • FlyingKal says:

      And I’m slightly put off by the assumption that I’ve got to earn the right to break up a relationship. Like if any random woman has a divine-given right to my presence and full attention, and only by grace of virtue can I be granted to be released from that…

  31. Why is the title “How to break up with a GIRL”? You wouldn’t write an article “How to break up with BOY”. You would say GUY. Girl sounds childish. Gal may not roll off the tongue as nicely but it’s more appropriate than girl.

    • “Guy” and “Girl” are the colloquial terms for men and women in our society. “Gal” hasn’t existed in the vernacular for decades.

    • Feminist though I may be, I must agree with Derbis here. The vernacular does not always make the most logical sense. For instance, we still say boyfriend rather than guyfriend (or something)…even if we’re talking about a man. So boy is not universally used to denote a child.

  32. This is a really intelligent article, measured and well thought-out. One thing I will say is that all of your advice can equally apply to women breaking up with their boyfriends (though possibly with less crying on the man’s part?) Whether you’re a man or a woman, ending a relationship can do damage and if you have to be the villain, you should be the most considerate and gentle villain possible!

  33. Really helpful – from my point of view there should be also the advice, not to give false hope. That means, not to let her believe that there’s a chance, although you yourself don’t see any.
    And the worst thing, you can do, is having sexual intercourse after the break-up …

  34. Good advice here. I’d also add “Don’t overthink it” and “Don’t wallow in guilt.”

  35. Awesome, healthy discussion. Breakups are difficult, and handling them gracefully is even more so. I did not this last time around, and these insights are terrific in the analysis of my own followup waves.

  36. What it boils down too is being for real with your feelings while being mindful of the other person’s feelings. Before I joined the military(U.S.Navy), I already knew somehow that my remaining attached to her for me, would have been unfair to me and her. Why, because I would have extra added worries to my life and hers that were unhealthy from the start. Communication(thorough mind you) is the key.

  37. Great post. How much better my heart would think of men if they had taken even half of your advice.


  1. […] These are comments by k-dawg, Justin Timothy, and br on the post “How to Break Up with a Girl (From a Guy Who’s Done it Wrong a Few Times)“. […]

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