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Seven Tips for Breaking Up Respectfully


One of the hardest things to do is end a relationship. Being the bearer of bad news isn't easy, particularly if a lot has been invested in that relationship. The only thing worse is being on the receiving end.

If you know it's time to part ways, it's important not to drag out the process. Staying in a relationship that isn't beneficial to you is unfair to both you and the person you're dating. What makes breaking up with someone extremely difficult is you know you're hurting the other person. Yet the sooner you do it, the sooner you (and your "partner") can move on.

Here are seven tips on how to break up respectfully and maintain your dignity in the process:

Tip #1: Do it in Person
It's surprising, but there are a growing number of people that break up via email, IM, or on the phone. You owe it to the person you were dating (and yourself) to break up in person. It's the only respectful way to do it and allows the other person to seek closure.

Tip #2: Don't Lie
A lot of times a person will try to "sugar coat" a breakup. "It's not you, it's me" is one of the most overused lines when breaking up and one of the biggest "lies". If you were the one being broken up with wouldn't you really want to know why? Don't disrespect the person you are breaking up with. Be honest ("I don't feel we have enough in common," "I feel too much resentment," "I can't get over you cheating on me," etc.) Let the other person know the real reason and even though it may be hard to accept, it is respectful.

Tip #3: Avoid Offering "Friendship"
Being on the receiving end of a break up is hard. Having that followed up with "can we still be friends?" is disrespectful. It's like offering a "consolation prize". In time that may be a conversation to have, but it's not right to tag it on to the end of a breakup.

Tip #4: Be Empathetic and Avoid an Argument
When you break up in person, be empathetic to how the other person is feeling. He/she may want to talk a bit and "validate" some things. Do this. Listen. But at all costs, avoid doing finger pointing and starting an argument. This isn't the time to play "God". It is the time to be understanding and to listen to your "partner" so that they can do the things they need to in order to have closure.

Tip #5: Avoid Breaking Up in Public
When you break up, do so in a private place so that your partner can express his/her feelings (or cry) without feeling humilation because other people are around.

Tip #6: Remember the Golden Rule
The golden rule states "treat others how you want to be treated". It's an excellent rule to apply to your daily life. It's also an important rule to follow when breaking up with someone. How would you want to be treated if the situation was reversed? Be sure to keep this in the forefront of your mind when initiating a break up.

Tip #7: Be Firm
If you know this is what you want, then it's important to be firm with your decision. The person you are breaking up with may promise to "change" or plead not to end it. If you know that remaining together is not what you want, then be honest, respectful, and firm in your decision. Don't leave the possibility of picking things up again.

Whether you're the one initiating the break up or the one on the receiving end, take some time to really think about and learn from your failed relationship. What can you do to improve yourself and make your next relationship even better? What areas do you need to work on? By making yourself a better person, you become more desirable and increase your chances of having a more successful relationship in the future.


Joe Tracy is a relationship expert, publisher of Online Dating Magazine, and an editor for the Online Dating Industry Journal. Tracy has been quoted for dozens of magazine and newspaper articles. He's also appeared on numberous radio programs and TV shows.

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