When a Long-Term Relationship Goes South - How Do You Gracefully Get Out?

Last Updated 16.04.2023
4 min read

There’s a funny song that most of us have heard – “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” Some of those ways include, “Just get on the bus, Gus,” “Drop off the Key, Lee,” and “Make a new plan, Sam.” While we can laugh at all of the ridiculous ways to get out, it’s not so laughable when we are actually faced with the need to end a relationship.

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    So, for whatever reason, you want out. And if the relationship has been going on for a while now, you are probably nervous and anxious about how to do this gracefully, leaving respect and dignity intact. 

    It’s not easy. But here are some important tips and strategies to end things on the best terms possible.

    Do It In Person – Don’t be a Coward

    The Internet is full of stories from people who have been fired from their jobs by email. And without exception, they and all of their social media friends are disgusted with a company that does such a thing.

    Sending an email or a text shows a total lack of class and concern for your soon-to-be ex. While this may be easy for you, your feelings are not all that matter here. And if you have had any feelings for this person at all, you will be respectful enough to face them with your need to call it quits, no matter what the reason.

    If you are in a long-distance relationship, a face-to-face may not be possible. But you have your phone, and you have video chat. 

    Don’t be like those terrible companies. Do the right thing. 

    Don’t think That a Gradual Breakup Is Better

    You may think that letting this person down gradually will be easier for them. So, you begin to pull away slowly. You say things like, “I’m really busy right now,” or “I can’t see you this weekend because (insert lie here).” And in between, you do see them and pretend that things are okay – you just aren’t feeling great and that’s why you are not so affectionate or make it an early evening.

    Gradually, your soon-to-be ex will catch on. But along the way, there have been so many smaller hurts. The ultimate breakup comes, but you have prolonged their pain. It’s cowardly and not fair.

    Make it a clean break. Both of you will heal faster.

    Never Do It Publicly

    It’s probably not a good idea to try that “break-up dinner.” Here you are at a restaurant. And between bites or sips of drinks, you say something like, “I think it’s time we took a break from each other.”

    First, you have no idea what their reaction may be. And here they are in a place where they cannot express what they feel, throw a dish, or scream at you. They will either go silent or quietly leave you right there.

    Not a good plan at all. And it’s not fair. If you are going to break it off, do it in person and in private. Their reaction may be tough to take but toughen up and take it.

    NOTE: If you think that your partner may be violent, then a video chat is called for.

    Keep the Crap Out of It

    There may be some valid and strong reasons why you are calling it quits. Now, if it’s something immediate like they cheated on you and you found out, then, by all means, state the reason very clearly. 

    But if over time, you have just fallen out of love with this person, you don’t need to go into all the reasons and try to justify yourself. Simply say, “I’m just not in love with you anymore.” 

    Don’t Try to Make Them Feel Better

    It’s tempting. You want to leave them feeling better about themselves, so you try to temper the breakup with compliments. “You’re a really good person,” or “You have so many great qualities, I know you’ll find someone else.”

    Oh, please. They are dealing with a painful situation. Trying to make them feel better is hollow and almost a bit cruel.

    Cut Off All Communication

    Once you finalize that breakup, stop all communication. It is the only way. Don’t take calls; don’t respond to texts. Block your ex if that becomes necessary. Don’t hang out at the same places you two hung out together. A clean break must be a clean break. 

    Can you ever be just friends again? Maybe. But right now, things are too raw. Give it lots of time.

    Armed and Ready

    So, here are your tools and tips for a graceful breakup. They’re important. Review them carefully and take them to heart. 

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