How to break up

An inevitable part of dating is the breakup. Unless you’re super lucky, things are eventually going to go tits up and you’ll stop seeing each other.

There are many ways to navigate the end of a fling/relationship/sexual partnership/whatever the hell you want to call it. I don’t think this was ever clear cut, but dating these days is so easy-come, easy-go and the rules are messy. If there even are rules anymore.

6 ways to stop seeing someone

1. Ghosting

Apparently once you decide you’re no longer interested, informing the other person of this decision seems to be an optional extra. You can just disappear into thin air.

I’ve been ghosted. It sucks. I thought the ghosting phase had passed but it happened again last month. Ugh. It’s cruel, cowardly and a massive cop-out.

Look, I’m not innocent here. I’ve ghosted. And been called out for it. I’ve received angry text messages about how I shouldn’t just ignore people. Text messages that I never replied to, but felt awkwardly guilty about. That was a few years ago now. It was still a shitty thing to do.

Good communication and emotional intelligence are important to me. Unfortunately that means being willing to have tough, uncomfortable decisions. Telling someone you’re no longer interested in them is one of those conversations.

I don’t like it. It’s not fun, but being true and authentic to what I value means letting people know how I feel. It’s also just part of being a decent human.


2. Benching

Also known as keeping someone on the hook or just being a massive c***. Like you would in a sports game, benching is essentially dropping someone until they’re your last option, then giving them a run. Picking them up for an easy bang when all your good players are out. It is rude, awful and the power is always in the hands of the bencher, not the benchee.

Many glasses of wine have been drunk whilst bitching about benching. I personally think it’s worse than ghosting cos it’s indefinite and undefined. There’s no consideration for feelings. If you’re not that into someone than let them know – or at least stop contacting them.

(If you’re both up for occasional sex that’s cool, but if there’s mixed expectations then it’s benching and it’s not cool).

Benching is also the curse of the “cool girl”. Cool girls are expected to be totally chill about being ignored for a couple of weeks then getting a dirty booty call. Can’t be too clingy. Can’t expect too much. Ugh.


3. Text message

In pre-Tinder days, calling it off over text message was unthinkable. (Though so was meeting someone via the internet). Nowadays, sending a text to say you’re not interested in seeing someone again is commonplace. It’s quick, easy and clear.

Is it still a bit dodgy? Yeah, probably. But I think it would be crueler to go on a third date just to tell them you don’t want to see them again.

I wouldn’t recommend it for anything long term, but for a short fling it’s your best option. If you’re still scheduling dates (rather than assuming you’ll see each other on Tuesday nights) then text away!

Part 1: Hello

  • Hi
  • Hello
  • How’s things?
  • Hey *insert name*

Part 2: Soften the blow

  • Really sorry to do this…
  • I’ve been thinking…
  • Sorry, but I…

Part 3: Break up

  • I don’t think we should see each other again.
  • We didn’t click the way we were hoping, so I don’t think we should catch up again.
  • We’re not the right fit long term…
  • I don’t think we should catch up anymore as I think we want different things.
  • I get the sense you want something a bit more serious than I do and I’m not feeling a super strong connection on my end.

Part 4: Nice things thrown in for balance
(but only include them if they are true and you honestly mean it)

  • I really enjoyed the conversation and it was nice getting to know you.
  • I did have a great time Saturday and really enjoyed the conversation.
  • I thought it would be best to be upfront and honest now rather than lead you on or give you the wrong idea.

Part 5: Wrap it up

  • Thanks
  • Bye
  • See you around
  • Catch you at *insert mutual friend’s event that you both now have to attend awkwardly*

4. Phone call

Honestly, I think if you’re willing to speak on the phone you should just do it in person. For me, it would be way too awkward to have this chat over a call. Nope. Just nope.


5. Real life conversation

Woah. Like actually talk to the person? Weird, I know. If you’ve been seeing the person regularly for a few months I think there’s a need for an in-person conversation. Preferably one that doesn’t include the words “we need to talk”. So cliché.

Just two adults having a (hopefully) calm conversation about how they feel and what they want. If you’ve been seeing each other for a little while (exclusively or not), you should be comfortable enough to discuss what you want.


  • Be clear. If you’re no longer interested, tell them that. Use clear, easily understood language and don’t beat around the bush.
  • Stick to the facts. Use I statements (I feel… I want…), talk from your personal experience and avoid accusatory statements.
  • Be kind. It’s an uncomfortable discussion. Have a little compassion and don’t be a jerk.


  • Bubble wrap the conversation. There’s no need to fluff about. It is what it is, so be upfront about the conversation you’re having. You will no longer be seeing each other. Don’t pretend you’re talking about the weather. It just makes it weird for you both.
  • Use this an opportunity for feedback. As helpful as you may think you’re being, this is not the time to explain why their joke was inappropriate, how you don’t actually like being licked on the ear or if they tried these 3 things they could come across as more polite in social situations.
  • Over promise. Don’t say you want to be friends if you never want to see them again. Just don’t. Be clear about what you want moving forward.


6. Carrier pigeon

A totally legitimate and not at all obsolete way of communicating. Gives you the added bonus of delivering a ‘special present’ depending on how much of a jerk the person was.


Rip that band-aid

We can all get better at breaking things off. Ending something can be painful and almost certainly uncomfortable, but open and honest communication is a good thing – even if it takes guts.

I hope something in this list resonates with you and maybe helps with the next awkward conversation you need to have. Break ups suck, but you can do it.

Take a deep breath and be true to you.


Author: Alana James

Passionate about social justice, communications, politics, news, leadership & finding the beauty in everyday moments. Youth & Community Programs Coordinator at YMCA SA, board member at Youth Affairs Council of SA.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s