In (almost) every relationship, there's a moment when you know it's over. If you're anything like me, you dread this moment because things just went from casual and fun to awkward and serious. If only ending relationships was half as fun as starting one, am I right? You might think because you're in a super chill, low-key relationship that officially ending things would be easier — or a step you could skip entirely. Nope. But don't worry — you're not in this alone. I'm here to share my four-step, fail-proof system for how to break up with someone you're casually dating like a pro. Be the change you want to see in the world — don't ghost.
Now, I know what you're thinking: Do I absolutely have to do this in person? What if it's super casual, we've only known each other for a week, or we've only hooked up once? These are totally legit questions. Anytime you have an ongoing relationship, you do owe them some kind of closure, but there are times, early on, when texting or calling to end a relationship is not only acceptable, but preferable.
For instance, if it's super early and more about politely letting them know you won't be contacting them again than it is about dissolving a relationship, then text away. A direct but gentle, "Hey it's been great getting to know you, but I think we're better off as friends," should get the job done.
The other scenario in which a text or call is better is any time you feel that doing it in person would be unsafe for you. Safety. Always. Comes. First.
Now, assuming you've known this person for more than a week and feel safe around them, here's how to end things gracefully.
Pick Your Venue Wisely
You know the old saying: Location, location, location? Technically, it's about real estate, but it applies to break ups too. Nothing is going to make giving someone the axe a comfortable experience, but having a home turf advantage can go a long way toward setting you at ease, so think carefully before you pick a place to meet.
Here's what you want in a breakup venue: Somewhere relatively crowded with a quick turnaround time. Think drinks or coffee, not dinner. Let me tell you, there is no wait longer than waiting for the server to reappear with the check after you've told someone, “It's not you, it's me." And definitely don't go to either of your houses — that's like break up quicksand. Being able to dip out at any time is essential.
It's (Gotta) Go Time
You've picked your locale, you've set up the time to meet, you've ordered your coffee/cocktail, and now they are starring at you expectantly. In other words: It's go time. But how do you let them down as gracefully as possible?
There are four things you need to be when ending any relationship: Honest, direct, firm, and kind. Tell them that you enjoyed your time with them, unfortunately it's time to take a step back, you hope to be friends in the future (unless of course you don't), but the romantic and/or sexual relationship is over. Be clear and concise, because it's unkind to leave them with false hope or mixed signals. It may feel brutal in the moment, but truly not leading someone on is the kindest thing you can do.
That being said, they may still have an emotional reaction, particularly if they didn't see this coming or they caught feelings. So, be sure to mentally prepare yourself for their hurt and confusion. Seeing someone hurt can be very painful, but remind yourself that it will pass.
However, if they become threatening or abusive, that's your green light to bounce immediately. Speaking of which...
Make A Break For It After Breaking It Off
The bandaid is off and it's time to GTFO. Like all plans, getting in is only half the battle, so have your escape route planned out. Do you need a ride? Get it organized in advance. Do they need a ride? Make sure you've thought ahead so they don't end up stranded, thus blocking your timely and graceful exit. This is important because you really don't want to linger and drag things out. When the deed is done, do them the courtesy of giving them some privacy to process any feelings they may be having. Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for your next level maturity — the worst part is over.
You did it. You didn't ghost them; you confronted the situation and ended it properly. Now it's time to resist the urge to zombie: A couple of drinks and some wistful thoughts about the good times and, before you realize it, you're sliding into their DMs.
This is a terrible idea. For one thing, you'll just have to do this all over again! Do everyone a favor and make a clean break, giving both of you time to heal and move on. This is especially important if you want to be friends sometime way down the road.
Congratulations! You just ended your casual relationship like a grown up. Don't worry, that's enough adulting for today.