We all know the feeling:
You just started dating someone and then realize that you don’t actually like them very much.
You want out. And you want out as soon as humanly possible.
But before you hit the panic button and do something reckless, here’s a guide to letting them down easily without causing too much heartbreak or drama.
How to break up with someone you’ve been dating for a short time: 10 crucial tips to avoid a disaster
There is no one perfect way to break up with anybody.
This includes someone you’ve been dating for a short time.
That said, there are various options I have listed below that will work best for backing out of dating someone you just started with.
1) Break the news asap
If you know you want to break up with someone you’re dating, tell them as soon as possible.
An awful mistake that many people make is that they know they want to break up or stop seeing someone, but they dread the confrontation and try to delay having the talk.
This leads to even worse hurt feelings and sending mixed messages.
If you want to break up and you’re sure about it, do it.
“When you decide that you no longer want to continue seeing or sleeping with someone, you owe it to them to break the news as soon as you can.”
2) Be honest, but not brutal
If you’re breaking up because you’re focused on other priorities, tell them.
If it’s because you’ve met somebody else, be honest about it.
If you basically don’t feel much of a connection or feel something is “off” in the budding relationship, you can open up about that, too, just try not to make it confrontational.
In such cases, it can be good to use a bit of euphemisms such as saying that you’re on a bit of a “different path” or “feeling your priorities are in another place right now.”
3) Get advice from a pro
Breaking up is never easy or as simple as it should be, especially if one person still has feelings for the other.
There’s a piece of advice that I have for how to break up with someone you’ve been dating for a short time: talk to an expert.
The best resource I’ve found is called Relationship Hero and is a site with professionally-accredited relationship coaches.
How do I know?
I contacted Relationship Hero about four months ago while breaking up with someone I’d only been dating for a month and they helped me figure out how to pull the plug without a lot of drama or tears.
It was still hard, but the coach I spoke to was extremely insightful and helpful.
I was impressed by how rapidly my coach understood my situation and had useful and effective advice about what to do.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
4) Focus on ‘I’
Instead of saying why you don’t want to date this person anymore in terms of their qualities or identity, focus on your experience.
Use “I” statements if at all possible.
These can focus on what you feel or don’t feel, where you’re headed in your life, your own struggles or even just your own confusion and need for space right now.
5) ‘Stay friends?’
The idea of staying friends or trying to transition your dating into a friendship can be tempting.
Almost always it’s the wrong way out unless both of you are feeling a friendship vibe.
If not, you need to be aware that the idea of offering to remain friends can be 1) quite condescending, even unintentionally and 2) often perceived as fake.
If you really mean it and want to offer friendship, go ahead.
But don’t use it to soften the blow. The person you’re breaking up with is going to want the truth, not a fig leaf of friendship.
6) Let your social media interactions fade out
If you’ve broken up, consider it digital as well.
Stop hearting photos or playing the admiring guy or girl to this person.
I’m not saying you need to cut off all contact. That’s usually not necessary.
But don’t break up with someone you’ve been dating for a short time and then love bomb them all over Instagram or comment on everything they post for the following month.
It sends mixed signals and it can also be a hurtful reminder to them of the disappointment they felt at the breakup.
7) Choose a time and place that’s appropriate
Breaking up isn’t like arranging an appointment at the dentist, but there is a time and a place for it.
Try to do it at your home if possible, or at theirs. Avoid public places and making a scene.
Try to make it in a fairly neutral situation rather than after a nice romantic dinner out or when you’ve just returned from a couple of weekends or something.
Make it in a sort of “lull” when you’re both being quite open and honest.
This is now your chance to get into a talk about the relationship itself and your time together and drop the news that you’re unfortunately going to have to move on.
8) Be clear about what you want
Be clear about what you want. If it’s breaking up, then say it.
If you don’t really know what you want for sure, ask their perspective as well.
It’s important to have clarity here about your intentions and boundaries. Without being overly critical you can honestly lay out your decision.
However, if you’re sure about the breakup and know how you’re feeling or not feeling about dating this person, be clear about it.
Far too many people use vague and unclear language to try to soften the blow.
Ironically, the result is generally the opposite in that the one who’s been left doesn’t really get exactly what happened and may even believe it is some kind of test, not final or just a bump in the road.
9) Be polite, but don’t be too nice
When breaking up with someone you’ve been dating for a short time, you should certainly be respectful.
But don’t be too nice.
The truth is that being kind and empathetic is great. But being stereotypically “nice” especially as a guy is a downward spiral.
Being too nice in life is a way of sabotaging yourself and is ultimately a passive-aggressive behavior pattern towards others.
You can break up kindly and with respect without being overly apologetic or trying to make sure it’s “fine” with the other person.
Honestly, no it’s probably not fine. Breakups hurt. This one may even hit you harder than you expect at the time of breaking up.
But try to just be an adult about it. You’re breaking up. It sucks. But it’s happening.
10) Stick to the breakup
The practice of benching is becoming more and more common in the dating world.
It’s when somebody never really dates someone but also never fully breaks up.
They keep a number of partners on a kind of “roster” and call them on and off the “bench” to play, then send them back off.
It’s denigrating, disrespectful and empty behavior.
If you break up with this person, stick to it.
Unless you realize you made a huge mistake and are truly sure you want to get back together or ask for another chance, break up and then move forward.
Breaking up and then getting back together or hooking up every month or two is just going to hurt them (and you) even more and make the situation much more confusing than it has to be.
What not to do: three big mistakes to avoid
1) Don’t insult them
Getting confrontational is almost never a good idea.
Doing so in a breakup can cause way more damage than just respectfully speaking your peace and saying bye.
Don’t insult them or focus on the negatives, it will just spiral down from there.
2) Don’t ghost them
Ghosting is for cowards.
Don’t do it.
If they keep hounding you after the breakup you can do it then, but never try to break up with someone by simply cutting off all contact with no explanation.
It’s weak and gross.
3) Don’t text-dump them
If at all possible, try not to dump over text or messages.
For one it’s disrespectful.
Secondly, the chance for major miscommunication is very large.
Saying goodbye on good terms
Every breakup hurts, even if it’s only the end of a short relationship.
It’s important to be respectful and think of how you would feel in the other person’s position.
Even though it’s often best to break things off before they get more serious and people get even more hurt, it’s never easy.
Follow the advice above and the process will, at least, be as manageable as possible.