break up with class.

1 Sep

If you’ve been reading You’re A Grown Man for any length of time, you know that I often write on the complexities of relationships.  I’ve written on being bold enough to ask a girl out, and on my own tragic (but apparently amusing to you heartless people) experience of being dumped.  However, it occurred to me recently that I’ve never addressed an important issue that all Grown Men should be prepared for — how to end a relationship properly.  We’ve gotta get this one right, guys.

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For this post, I’m going to skip answering the question: should you break up with her?  The reason for this is because there are simply too many scenarios to adequately say yes or no without a trillion “what-if’s.”  Everyone has got reasons for the relationship ending — some of them valid, some of them ridiculous.  In the end, it’s really your call, and I’m not going to be the one to stop you from tossing aside the best woman you’ll ever meet just because she’s not super stoked about touring the country with your death-metal band. Where I will start, however, is under the assumption that you know you’re done and trying to figure out how to properly end it.  Let’s do this bullet point style…

-Rip the Band-Aid off: When you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach and you know, I mean really — you know it’s going to end — you’ve got to muster up every ounce of courage you have and not let the relationship go one moment longer than it needs to.  The reason is simple — she deserves it.  The day you started dating, oh that fateful day, you entered a non-verbal but very binding contract to be straight-up, brutally, honest with each other.

Grown Man, I didn’t do anything of the sort!  Straight-up, brutally, honest?  You’re a girl, aren’t you – I mean, c’mon.

Yes, you did enter a contract.  It’s called dating, and it’s what’s expected of you. You may not have realized it, but I can guarantee you that she did.  I’m not talking about love, marriage or anything else. I’m simply saying that honesty in every relationship is a non-negotiable. Having said that, the moment you’re done with the relationship but haven’t yet informed her, you’re breaking the contract.  And before the comments start flowing, yes, she owes you the same courtesy.

-Face it: I know you want to phone-in the break up, don’t you?  Isn’t it so much easier to just pick up the phone, not have to make eye-contact, and do the deed?  Even if the conversation lasts four hours, at least you can get your Farmville on while she’s asking you questions like, “Sooooo, [sniffle] when you said for[sniffle]ever, what did that mean?”  Ouch.

The truth is, phone, text, email, carrier pigeon, or any other non face-to-face option for breaking up is wholly unacceptable.  You owe it to her to be a man and have the difficult conversation in person.  Not only does it scream of class, but it’s respectful and polite.  I don’t have a fantastic justification for the “why” of this point, but I know she’s worth, at least, you putting yourself through the discomfort of taking on the chin and facing it.

-Get in and get out: You must absolutely end the relationship in an efficient manor.  As a rule, you get one hour of break up time per year of dating.  And yes, I am saying that a 6 month relationship should be ended in 30 minutes.  Why?  Not because it’s easy for you.  In fact, I wish you had to go through some multi-level purgatory for breaking that girl’s heart.  This rule exists to keep you all from going to the fight-zone and saying things that you’ll both regret.  When we (we=animals) get hurt, we fight.  When we fight, we hurt more — it’s a bad cycle.

When you’re ending the relationship, give her concrete reasons that aren’t hurtful about why you’re ending it, don’t attack her character, and when it’s appropriate, get the heck outta there.  She’s going to be upset (or maybe she’ll be grateful!) and you’re both going to be hurt.  It’s important that you realize that going through that hurt together is a disaster waiting to happen.

-Follow the rules: When you’re out of the relationship, you’re out of it.  Don’t text that night saying crap like, “I miss you” or “Farmville rules!” It’s only going to lead her on and make you look like you’re waffling.  Just like you’re done dating her, she needs to be allowed the space to be done dating you.  I’m not kidding on this one. If you guys say, “We’re not going to talk for a month,” stick to it.  If you don’t, you’re just extending the discomfort and breaking the rules.

Gentlemen, it’s okay to break up with someone.  In fact, it’s likely the most respectful thing you can do in the long run for a woman who you realize won’t be your wife.  However, you’ve got to approach breaking up like (I hope) you approach everything else: with mutual respect and humility.

You’re a Grown Man, break up with class.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them. I might just answer them on this weeks Ask a Grown Man, Vol: XI!

28 Responses to “break up with class.”

  1. ifUseekAmy 1 September 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    This is a great post that applies to men and women equally. It shows responsibility, class and respect to break up if you follow these simple courteous *rules*.

    Now if only my ex had adhered to these rules. I found out our relationship was over AFTER I discovered he had been cheating on me, got the girl pregnant and married her. Lucky me that I was the one to escape that mess of a life he created.

    • You're a Grown Man 1 September 2010 at 3:48 pm #

      Oh man, I’m really sorry to hear that. Thanks for reading, ifUseekAmy.

      • ifUseekAmy 1 September 2010 at 3:54 pm #

        Yeah, nothing like finding out the relationship is over when you see the wedding announcement – HA

    • Bitter Bitch 6 November 2011 at 10:51 pm #

      Oh God, honey, me too.

      Suffice to say it was ugly. I was totally blindsided. This all happened a long time ago, and now thanks to the magic of Face Book I see he is no longer the man he once was.

      Schadenfreude is delicious either hot or cold.

  2. Michelle 1 September 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    Thanks Grown Man. This is a big one – I’m amazed when a man can’t face an in-person break-up and takes the coward’s way out (which is what it really is).

    I really enjoy reading your posts, you continue to restore my faith in men. In fact – many of your posts could be called, “You’re a Grown Up”. Wisdom to live by.

    • You're a Grown Man 1 September 2010 at 4:20 pm #

      Michelle! Thank you — what a tremendously kind compliment. And yes, I agree, the blog could really be named “You’re a Grown Up”.

      Thanks again, Michelle.

  3. Bayan 1 September 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    I just discovered your blog. Fantastic post. Too often do we men act immature when it comes to break ups.

  4. Layla 1 September 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    Oh, Grown Man. Would it be passive-aggressive to send this blog link to my crap eater of an ex? Because he broke up with me via text message. The day before our five year dating anniversary. While he was at work, and I was at the house we shared. And then I found out he was seeing his coworker, in Canada, that he’d never met in person. This all happened a week before my 30th birthday.

    One caveat to your “rip off the band-aid” rule, if I may? Yes, do it swiftly and neatly. NEATLY. Don’t do what he did, which is quickly spread lies about me to our mutual friends so they never know what he did (I was basically excommunicated for crimes I never committed), or say cruel things to end it quickly, like watch me dry heave into a toilet while reading a text from your new Canadian un-met girlfriend that says that she’s “praying for him”. Or do something insane, like call the cops on you when you come to get your stuff in a house you’ve lived in for three years. The cops laugh at you when you do that. Or hire a lawyer to write a letter giving you 30 days to remove your stuff so he can fly his new un-met Canadian girlfriend down, and have said letter sent to the address you share even though you’ve already moved out, certified delivery, making you come to his house to get the slip and then take it to the post office only to find that his douchiness is only surpassed by his assholeness.

    So, swiftly, yes. But NEATLY and respectfully.

    • You're a Grown Man 1 September 2010 at 5:10 pm #


      So, yes, you can passively send this to him. I always dreamed YAGM would be an instrument of sarcastic, passive, revenge. For real though, it kinda sounds like you have the prerogative to do anything you want!

      Also, I would always put any post under the umbrella of “You can’t be a crap eating d-bag”…I hope it’s a given. Sadly, it’s probably not.

      • Layla 1 September 2010 at 5:50 pm #

        His brain is mine, should there ever be a zombie apocalypse.

        • Raven 2 September 2010 at 10:13 am #

          Grown man, I still love your blog, but this has to be the most awesome comment ever, Layla.

          • You're a Grown Man 2 September 2010 at 10:15 am #

            100% agree. “Zombie apocalypse” is always good for a laugh.

        • Coco 3 September 2010 at 5:30 pm #

          Dear Layla,

          That was hilarious.

  5. Ashley Pariseau 1 September 2010 at 5:21 pm #

    When a guy doesn’t want to see me anymore, h eshould just tell me. Be upfront and honest. Why are men so afraid of this? Whatever you do, don’t be a weiner and just avoid her in hopes that she gets the idea and leaves you alone. Guys have tried to do this with me before, and I get the hint, but I will txt, call, facebook them anyways just to force them to grow a pair and respect me enough to tell me that they aren’t feeling it or aren’t into me. I’m a big girl! I can take it. Now be a big boy and just say it.

    • nikki04 6 September 2010 at 3:55 pm #

      Ashley! I have a friend who does the exact same thing! I tell her to just leave it, the dude is a DB, and she’s like a pitbull!

  6. Heather 1 September 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    Wow, this was a great post. I haven’t dated in so long it’s not too relevant right now, personally–but, it sure needs saying. And you’re sure the man for the job! Nicely done. 🙂

  7. mct88 2 September 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    Long-distance relationships are hard and the BF broke up with me over the phone (January). I asked to fly out to ATL, GA to talk about this in person but he didn’t want me to for whatever the reason.

    He still wanted to keep in contact. Until now I don’t know the real reason he broke up with me. Every week he would either call or text. It started to get too much for me so I asked him to stop communication.

    In July he texted me (he has a gf by now-dating 3mos-Idk if its relevant but he started dating again 2 mos after we broke up…hm?) Since I’m a woman I am manipulative and deceitful, I made a few comments to see where he was. Yup, he still loves me but is dating someone else. He made comments: ‘I will always care for you. I’m sorry I can’t give you dating advice, I still think of you as mine. It’s weird to think of other guys dating you.”

    So, I told him to stop communicating with me for at least 8 months. At the end of the 8 mos if he wanted to still be friends, he could contact me. Three weeks later he text me to pray for his mom, she unexpectedly lost her sister to a heart-attack. (I still keep in contact with his mom, who is still upset with her son for breaking up with me.) I texted him to let him know that I already knew and would be praying. He told me that “I need to respect him and stop talking to his mom because if his girlfriend found out it looks like he’s doing something wrong. (Oh and he also made it a point to tell me he’s looking to propose to her after graduation) He’s going to talk to his mom about it too. He made his decision and he doesn’t want anyone to get confused. So it needs to stop”

    Can I say, I kept all your text messages. I can wreak havoc into your life right now. I’m sure if your girlfriend is upset with me talking to your mom she would be doubly upset that you wanted to keep in contact with me. Did she know that we have talked the whole night until morning, one night? Does she know that I made the decision to cut-off communication and you were the one that still wanted to keep texting. Did you tell her that you still care for me and always will? Who are you to tell me what to do because we have no connection. Lastly, who the hell are you to tell your mom what to do?


    • Ben 2 September 2010 at 7:23 pm #

      Broke up with class today. Came to the conclusion that it needed to be done this morning and then I saw your most recent post. ARE YOU A WIZARD?!?!

      Thanks for the blog. As dumb as sounds this site more or less changed my life, deff for the better.


      Ben (GM)

      • You're a Grown Man 8 September 2010 at 7:30 am #


        Yes, I am a wizard. But a good wizard like when Mickey was The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and made the mops dance. Anyhow, I’m really glad you broke up with class — it’s vitally important to the long and winding journey of being a Grown Man.


  8. Kelsi 3 September 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    Only cause I’m a grammar freak—In your sentence “You must absolutely end the relationship in an efficient manor.” The appropriate spelling is “manner” for the way you are using the word, just thought you’d want to know.

  9. Tom 4 September 2010 at 8:37 pm #

    Another fine post and, as in Ben’s case, a wholly prescient one. I was party to a break-up this week, a dissolution as essential as it was reluctant, and I’m newly struck by how much the process is like mourning a death. Not just the denial-anger-bargaining-depression-acceptance stuff that we learned from Kubler-Ross and Bob Fosse, but the simpler appreciation of time together … and, now, time apart. Not all break-ups fall into the categories of “She had it coming” and “If only I hadn’t cheated.” Some are less clear-cut, with no real need for finger-pointing, and most (if not all) hurt like hell. Ours was the realization that a long-distance relationship requires a superhuman Job-like faith and that it’s ultimately unfair to ask someone to sacrifice basic human intimacy while waiting for a too-too-rare cross-country get-together. I hope I honored the Grown Man in doing the right thing; I simply couldn’t waste her time anymore, not when a relationship closer to home would serve her better and more happily. And, so, I grieve. And in our final phone call this morning, I echoed the words that a hospice nurse once told me my mother needed most to hear from me: “It’s all right for you to go. I’ll be sad, but I don’t want you to hurt anymore. And, in time, I’ll be OK.” Love and death, again intertwined.

  10. nikki04 6 September 2010 at 4:00 pm #


    Dear Sir,

    Please ensure that every male read this blog before being allowed to be called a Grown Man.

    Why can’t boys (used on purpose) get this? I’m serious. Is it fear? Are they afraid of our anger/tears? Are they afraid of being the “bad guy” (even though, hello, NOT breaking up with class = you’re a worse guy + more pain on her end, trust me)? OR are they cowards? Do they just need to grow a pair??

    Further – if a guy is all wishy-washy with you, and says things like “I really want to see you, I’m just sooooo busy right now…” without saying “so let’s plan for next week?” is this evidence for being less than a Grown Man? I know there probably are Grown Men that are just busy but… sometimes boys keep us strung along simply because he can’t man up. Any advice on how to tell the difference (between busy-but-interested and done-but-a-boy, and you get to do the breaking up yourself)??

  11. ben2 8 September 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    there must be 50 ways to leave your lover. just hop on the bus gus, drop off the key lee, and get yourself free. right?

    • Grown Man 8 September 2010 at 5:59 pm #

      Make a new plan, Stan. No need to be coy, Roy. Just listen to me.

  12. Victoria 23 March 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Grown Man, this is one of the best articles/blogs I’ve ever read and it’s helped me greatly, and even made me smile, after I was cowardly and childishly dumped via text. We actually had our one year daring anniversary dinner this past Tuesday, he started a fight over absolutely nothing (after much reading trying to figure this “man” out I think he’s passive aggressive), which was par for course for him, so I politely asked him to leave because he was pouting and not dealing with the issue at hand – he was furious and threw the remotes on the couch because I didn’t immediately turn the TV station (sad but true), which led to a semi-heated discussion on my part – he refuses to talk. He finally left and I sat there once again flabbergasted over his childish behavior.

    Anyway, the next day around noon I get this: “Dear Vicki I cant be the person You want.” That’s it. Nothing more. When I asked if he was actually dumping me via text, he replied: ” I think its best I cant change and dont want any more evenings like last night.” I must mention that before he had his hissy fit, we had a very good time at dinner wherein he once again proclaimed his love for me, was sweet, said he was looking forward to our trip to Mexico, etc. we get to my place and he flipped out over my not immediately changing the station (my crime was wanting to see who was voted off a cooking show that was on TV…I found out in that moment that he hates cooking shows).

    Wow! I am long-winded, aren’t I? I haven’t texted him since Thursday morning, to which he hasn’t replied. I plan on having him put my things in a bag or box and leaving on his back patio because I don’t want to see him. However, I am dying to send ur article to him. May I?? Pretty please???? He’s a doctor who thinks he knows everything (shocking, I know) and has class up the ying yang. I would love to show him he’s wrong. I won’t do it if u think it best that I don’t – but I will sulk, pour and curse u out for spoiling my fun. Lol!


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