How Do You End A Relationship?

I wrote this post 6 years ago, in 2016. I’d like to submit this question again, hoping to ignite a discussion. Please post your comments, and include your age. Thanks!

If you’re dating (or trying to date), I’d like your input:

Let’s say you met someone, either through online dating or some other way. It seemed to have potential as you started to spend time together and get to know each other, but soon you realized it wasn’t going to work out.

Which of these do you do?

  1. Say something like “I’m sorry, but I don’t see us as a match,” with a kind explanation.
  2. Say something like “I’m sorry, but I don’t see us as a match,” but with no explanation.
  3. Give an explanation that you know will hurt, but will definitely end things.
  4. Give the true reason you want to end it.
  5. Make up an excuse, e.g. decided to get back with an ex, or not ready to date again, or …?
  6. “Ghost” or “fade away”: you say nothing but don’t get in touch or respond when the other person contacts you.
  7. Other? (Please explain.)

Now switch roles:

If you’ve been on the receiving end of any of the above, which one(s) left you feeling okay? Awful? If rejection has to happen, how do you want to be rejected?

Do your answers change in any way if you and this new person have been sexual?

Please comment, and although you don’t need to give your real name (please choose something other than “Anonymous”), please include your real age. I’d like to contrast the views of our over-50, -60, -70 age group with those younger.

I look forward to your comments!

2022 update:

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  1. Sharp on June 21, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    I am 60f. I tend to be honest, often brutally, when communicating relationship issues whether positive or negative. My former husband went camping and never came home unless you count the time he came to fetch his stuff. After that, I thought, well- if being nice about everything didn’t work, let’s just call it as we see it. Current beau (5 yrs post divorce, 3rd beau since) is different. We have diverse political perspectives however we discuss and are respectful. The laughs are many, the sex is great, we even camped for a week and had fun. We will see if it lasts. I think he might have left a relationship abruptly bc of me however I have asked if he has ‘unfinished business’ and he professes not to. Time will tell. I have evolved to accept that humanity is unpredictable.

  2. Sam Stone on July 9, 2016 at 12:54 am

    I always be clear, to the point and not negative. "I am sorry, this is just not working for me any more. It's not a reflection on you. But, this is just not a good fit for me."

  3. mcampbll on June 29, 2016 at 1:51 am

    I am amazed at all of the men I have dated who think it is fine to not reply to emails or phone calls and just disappear. I don't think it needs an explanation beyond the fact that the relationship is not working for them and they are moving on.

  4. Unknown on June 22, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    The truth is always the best, with an explanation about your *own* feelings. That way it doesn't hurt or belittle the one you're breaking up with — and it prevents the other from trying to convince you otherwise. You feel what you feel, even if they don't want you to feel it. And, please! Face-to-face (or phone if you must) but no texting break-ups!

  5. Bruce on June 19, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    I am 69, and I'd like to comment, even though I am now happily married. First, when these occasions have arisen in the past, I would use your approaches 1 or 2. If kind, 4 and 1 would coincide. If pressed (very rarely has this happened), I might try 5, or 4=3.

    I would never use the ghost approach (6). I think it is cowardly, and have hated it every one of the multiple times that women have used it on me. I think it would be much kinder to just use 2.

  6. Anonymous on June 19, 2016 at 12:31 am

    Well having been on the receiving end of "ghosting" a few times I think that is the chicken way out. Be kind, but real. I think no matter how badly you hurt someone by being honest, in the long run if they choose to listen to you then you are likely doing them a favor. I have had men be brutally honest with me and although it was like getting stabbed through the heart, I heard what they had to say, and it either helped me understand how I appear to others, but also the reasoning behind the breakup.

    You did not mention the passive-aggressive break-up. He never breaks up with you but constantly acts dissatisfied and unhappy with you. If and when you ask what is going on, he'll be non-forthcoming, until you drag it out of him via your words: "Is there something wrong between us?" "uh huh." "Are you wanting to break up?" "uh huh." That breakup is a shocker because he probably would still be in the relationship if he had not been asked…

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