How to End a Relationship (or Fling) Like a Man
Tips on leaving with class, tact, and even style
Recently, a friend of mine was talking to me about a girl he was seeing and how he was planning to end the relationship. He’d taken her on four dates, but he wasn’t that into her anymore, for a variety of reasons I won’t bore you with. Bottom line, it wasn’t going to work out. Sound familiar? Read on.
I asked him how he was going to end it. “Well,” he said “I probably just won’t call her anymore.” I was horrified. Horrified. Did I mention I was HORRIFIED? He was better than this. You all are.
Once you are a certain distance away from your college years, say, when you start your first real job, it’s time to start dating like the well-dressed, well-mannered, Style Girlfriend-reading man you are. That begins with showing the women you are dating enough respect to actually end things when you feel your time together has run its course, not vanish faster than a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc at your mom’s book club.
I know, I know. It’s so hard, you’re thinking. Can’t I just slowly stop talking to her? you plead. To this I say, suck it up. It’s awkward for us too, and no, that is the worst possible option. Yes, it’s really awkward to tell someone you don’t want to see them anymore, but at the end of the day you’ll feel better about yourself if you have a real conversation, and don’t just fade away. I promise.
To help put things in perspective from a female point of view, I’ve dug into my dating past and have a few examples to share.
Learn from these guys how to end a relationship like a man (or not):
Don’t drop off the face of the earth
I’d been seeing a guy for three months when he suddenly just…stopped seeing me, without telling me. It wasn’t a ghost as much as an accelerated fade. He blew off plans we had one night and said “Let’s grab drinks this week,” and then dropped off the face of the earth.
He would make excuses when I asked if he wanted to hang out (“I think I’m going to stay in and play Settlers of Catan tonight” was used more times than is normal). I got the hint finally and stopped trying, and then thought, Nope, he owes me an explanation. We aren’t nineteen years old and Freshmen in college. So I finally confronted him like six weeks later, when he told me he didn’t think we were compatible for a number of reasons, including the fact that I like dogs and he does not (not joking).
The fix: He could have saved me six weeks of head scratching and going over every little detail of our three months together if he’d just picked up the phone and said, “Listen, I’ve had a really great time with you these past couple months, but I think we just aren’t compatible.”
Quick, easy, respectable. No need to bring our furry four-legged friends into it.
Do be honest
My friend had gone out with a guy on three dates. He’d initiated everything, planned and paid for every date, kept in touch while he was on vacation. And then the night before their fourth date, or really the morning of, her phone rings at 12:30 AM. It’s him.
“Hi,” he says “So I’ve been seeing you and someone else at the same time, and I think I just need to focus on one girl at a time.” And, as I’m sure you can guess, that girl he was going to focus on was not my friend.
The fix: Ok, this is getting closer to acceptable, because he actually called. However, it was way past a decent hour, and the way he went about it could have used some finesse. My friend appreciated his honesty, but he could have waited until the morning.
In the same spot? Try this honest, thoughtful explanation: “I’ve had a really great time with you, but things have started to get serious with someone else.” Yeah it sucks, but it’s way better than explicitly saying “I’ve been playing the field and I like someone else way more than you.” Subtlety and tact can go a long way, fellas. It’s all about wording.
For god’s sake, don’t ghost
I’d gone on two dates with a guy, and had a third booked, and he just, never showed. On a Saturday night. I texted him, and nothing. I realized I was being stood up, so went about my night, but a couple days later when I STILL hadn’t heard, I texted to confirm he wasn’t dead. He never replied.
The fix: While the guy in the first situation above had been around for months, this guy and I were only two dates. Here’s the thing, though: it doesn’t matter. It’s still not acceptable.
Let me repeat that, it doesn’t matter if it’s “only” been a couple dates. Let a girl know you’re no longer interested! Here is what that text could have looked like:
“Hey Lizzie, I actually don’t think it’s going to work out. All the best.”
Yeah, vague, but at least it would have saved me a couple minutes of my Googling his name to make sure he wasn’t dead. Spoiler: he wasn’t.
Below, four tips to ending a relationship with tact, class, and, yes, even style:
- Be honest, but aware of how your words sound. Connotation is everything. Saying “I’ve recently gotten serious with someone else,” is much better than “I was seeing you and someone else at the same time.” It’s the little things when it comes to these conversations.
- Be straightforward. Don’t do the slow fade and hope she’ll eventually stop texting you. Don’t want to see a girl any more? Just say “Hey I’ve had a great time getting to know you, but I just don’t see this going any further.”
- Say something. Seriously, I don’t need to know every little reason you don’t like me anymore, especially if we were casual (slightly different for actual relationships of course). So keep it short and sweet, and don’t try to grasp at straws for a reason to make the dump feel more legitimate. Because just saying “I don’t think we are compatible in the long term” is preferable to “we aren’t compatible because you like dogs and I don’t.” Also, who doesn’t like dogs? Don’t admit that.
- Think of timing as much as you can. Don’t call or text-dump after midnight, don’t cancel an hour before the date, and don’t end things with someone at your own surprise birthday party (though that’s a story for another time).