The Breakup Etiquette Guide

By eHarmony Staff

breakup tips

It’s over. Now what?

Here’s our simple breakup etiquette guide to help you navigate that rocky time post-relationship.

Don’t: Stay Too Long

Don’t prolong initiating a breakup just because it’s going to be awkward or painful. When you know the relationship has no future, it’s time to let it end. Staying in a bad relationship just because breaking up is too much work isn’t fair to either of you.

Do: Break Up in Person

It might seem easier to break up over text, Facebook or email, but an in-person conversation shows respect for the person you’re about to end things with. A live meeting, preferably in a public place like a coffee shop or restaurant, allows for both individuals to be heard, have their questions answered, and find some closure.

Don’t: Be Verbally Abusive — Or Seek Revenge

You’re angry. You’re hurt. Choose your words wisely during a breakup. Avoid name-calling, revenge attempts, and taking advantage of your ex’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities as you go your separate ways. Don’t look to heap more hurt on him/her just because you’re in pain.

Do: Take the High Road

Even if your ex isn’t following any sort of breakup etiquette, choose the high road. Show respect for the good times you did have — and for yourself — by not stooping to game-playing, cruel gossip, or desperate stunts to prove you’re better off alone. Make decisions carefully, ensuring you won’t regret the way in which you walked away.

Don’t: Immediately Rebound

Give yourself time alone. Give your ex time to accept the two of you are done. Reconnect with friends and family. Revisit the hobbies and activities you started neglecting once you started dating him/her. In time, you’ll be able to better evaluate what went wrong in the relationship and what you’re looking for once you do start dating again.

Do: Mourn

Denial doesn’t help anyone. Breakups suck — and it’s okay to admit it. Cry a little. Confide in good friends. Journal. Process. Let yourself mourn the end of certain dreams and plans you once had for your collective future.

Don’t: Be Friends

You might be friends — one day, in the distant future. For now, “just friends” shouldn’t be an option. Cut ties completely as you mourn the end of the relationship separately. Shifting from a romantic to a platonic relationship is a complicated process that rarely works for both parties.

Do: Deal With the Details — Later

Sometimes relationships have “stuff” that needs dealing with. Maybe you shared an apartment. Or a cat. Maybe you were sharing a bank account. Maybe he still has a box (or three) or your stuff at his place. Deal with things that need immediate attention, like financial matters, but ignore some of the other things until later. You don’t need that toothbrush and sweater back immediately. For a little while, keep your distance — at least until you both calm down and feel capable of meeting up civilly.

Don’t: Talk About the Breakup with Mutual Friends

If you want to keep those mutual friends, don’t bad-mouth your ex or the relationship. Putting friends in awkward positions will only alienate them. Besides, if you’re not talking about your ex, if he does inquire about you, they’ll have to be honest and say that you’re careful to not mention him in a bad light around them. It’s win-win: you’ll keep your friends and appear mature at the same time.

Do: Accept the End

Don’t linger in “what if” land, or tell yourself that you two are just “on a break,” Ross-and-Rachel-style. While it may be tempting to plead for a second chance or at make your ex jealous enough to crawl back, it’s healthiest to let the end be just that: the end. The sooner you accept that the relationship is over, the sooner you can both mourn, heal, and start to hope again.

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