Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Wellness > Sex + Relationships

Calling It Quits: The Dos and Don’ts of Breaking Up

Remember the days of having a boyfriend during recess, and then, sadly, breaking up before the end of snack time? Between games of hopscotch and flying high on the swings, ending a relationship was as easy as 1, 2, 3. But now that we’re older, breaking up is hard to do. Just like countless celebrity relationships, some things are just bound to end. But when a relationship hits its expiration date, just how do you go about breaking the news? We’ve talked to relationship expert and author of Break Up, Don’t Break Down Dr. Ivan Young, to help you with the dos and don’ts of ending your relationship.

DO be honest

Although honesty may seem like an obvious route to take, once you’re headed down the slippery slope of calling it quits, things can get a little tricky. So, before you meet up with him, remind yourself of the reasons why you’re breaking things off. Get your points in check: maybe he snores too loudly, he doesn’t like any of your friends, or he’s hooking-up with his ex behind your back. Going into the conversation with conviction and honesty will lead to the positive result you wanted.

As Dr. Young points out, “sooner or later you will reap what you sow.” If you lie about why you’re ending things, eventually it’ll come back to bite you. So, walk into the conversation with confidence and absolute honesty. Lay your feelings all out on the table.

“When it’s time to let go, let go,” Young says. “Just remember to be open, to stay honest and be compassionate.”

Your soon-to-be-ex deserves to know just why you’re breaking things off. If the clichéd, ‘it’s me, not you’ really applies to the situation, than go ahead and say it, but otherwise, tell him the truth!

DON’T be overly dramatic

You’re not being scored on just how well you do in breaking up (but that does sound like a great Olympic event for Tokyo 2020). So there’s no need to put on a gold medal winning performance—if you want, aim for bronze. Understandably, in a break-up it may be difficult not to reign in the theatrics. But surprisingly enough, the drama can be quickly avoided.

“Never say things like, ‘we need to talk,’” Young says. “Doing such will only create more apprehension than harmony. Waiting ‘til it’s the right time to talk is far more productive.”

Instead, when you realize the time is right to end things, sit your soon-to-be ex down and ask him what he thinks about your relationship and where it’s headed. Chances are, you both may feel the same way. You’re just the bigger person and ready to confront him about it (girls rule and boys do drool, duh).Without causing a scene, “this creates an opportunity for a meaningful conversation. It will allow [him] to air out [his] emotions and see the logic of your decision,” Young says.

And if he doesn’t think they’re problems? No reason to sweat. Address your concerns with the relationship, and see where the conversation goes. You never know, bringing them up could save the relationship.

But no matter what, the less drama, the better. Not only will you actually have the opportunity to get all your feelings out in the open, but your ex also won’t remember you as that psycho girl who flipped out on him. Losing you should be his loss, not the other way around.
DO take time apart

After you’ve boarded the one-way bus to Splitsville, the drama still may find a way to creep up on you. That being said, “allow you and your partner time to adjust” to the break-up and “cut ties for a week, if not two or three,” recommends Young.

Don’t go Facebook, Twitter, and FourSquare stalking him—and avoid actual stalking, that’s a crime (NBD). Don’t be texting him to make sure he’s okay, and definitely don’t be hanging out with him right away, even if you agreed to stay friends. You both need time apart to embrace your new single self, and remember what it’s like to have no ties to anyone but yourself.

“Don’t torture yourself or your mate by continuing to have sex, talk on the phone, or frequent the same spots,” Young says. “That is a setup for an ongoing mess.”

Try something new: go out with different friends, pick up a hobby (who doesn’t love painting pottery?), or just explore your neighborhood from a single’s perspective.

DON’T talk behind his back

You dated the guy, so you had to have some fun times together. While it may not have ended with a walk down the aisle, you still cared for him at one point in time. So leave the gossip behind and be that mature collegiette loving her new single life.

“Whatever you say in what you believe to be the dark, sooner or later will come to the light,” Young says.

When you trash talk, someone’s bound to be listening who shouldn’t be. Chances are, whatever you say will get back to your ex… and god only knows what kind of rumors he may start to spread.

“After my break-up, there were still a lot of bad feelings in the air,” Heather from Georgetown University said. “One night out I was telling all my friends about how bad he was in bed. Needless to say, a bunch of his friends overheard me, and obviously went back and told him. Suddenly, I was the laughing stock of the men’s lacrosse team. I don’t know what he told them about me, but it could not have been good.”

Avoid the post-break-up drama, and just keep your secrets to yourself… or at least behind closed doors. No one ever said you couldn’t talk about him in private.

DO break up in a private place

Remember poor Elle Woods when Warner dumped her in an incredibly public restaurant? Heartbreakingly crushing. If you’re ever tempted to call things off in public, just keep in mind her loud, ear-shattering sobs. That will definitely have you thinking twice.

That being said, end your relationship in a private spot. That saves everyone from embarrassment—including the awkward bystanders who happened to stumble upon your very public split. On top of this, a private break-up shows that you have respect for your ex—everyone deserves a proper dumping.

“[My ex] chose to break up with me in the middle of New York City an hour before he was supposed to come with me to a Passover Seder at my cousin’s apartment. Not only was the timing awful (I ended up skipping the Seder and taking the first train home in tears, but we were literally in the middle of the city—we broke up while walking down crowded Fifth Avenue, surrounded by thousands of people. There was no privacy and no place to sit and talk it out,” Samantha from NYU said.

So what’s a good place to end your relationship? Anywhere that allows you to make a quick, but graceful exit: his place, a quiet park, the corner booth at Starbucks, in your car—anywhere that you both feel comfortable, but also provides a sense of privacy. These are best places to call it quits. Why? Because if things do get heated, over-dramatic, or you just need to finish it up, you have an easy and safe escape.
DON’T do it over text

For anyone who watches (and obsesses over) The Bachelor, we all remember when Lindzi Cox showed the break-up text from her ex: “Welcome to Dumpsville, population YOU!” While Lindzi’s nasty text may have made for good television, in reality, it’s disrespectful and completely hard to believe that someone would actually do that. We expect a lot from people we let into our lives, so do them a favor, and dump them in person.

“Treat people the way you want to be treated,” Young says. “If you don’t want bad vibes or karma, try your best to consider the other party’s feelings.”

Not to mention, when you’re texting a farewell to the relationship, you don’t know what’s going on over on the other side of the phone. He could be writing a paper, dealing with a family issue, or too drunk to deal with information that heavy. By doing it in person, you know that your boyfriend’s attention is fully on you, and you can say everything you want to, while also answering some questions he may have.

“Allowing the other party to vent once or twice will save you’re a world of heartache,” Young says.

“I’ve been broken up with twice, both in person,” Taylor from Wellesley College said. “In my mind, that’s the only right way to do it. And both [relationships] ended well.”

DO get your stuff back

Thanks to the incredibly successful band, 2Gether, we all know that “the hardest part of breaking up is getting back your stuff”. I mean, really, how can you go on without your CD collection?

Over the course of your relationship, you’ve probably swiped some of his fraternity shirts, while he still has one of your bras leftover from a private sleepover party the two of you had. While some of it may be easy to replace, a lot of it could have emotional significance—and if you want to get over him, you’ve got to get rid of his stuff.

However, as Young has said, give it a few weeks before making contact after the initial break-up.

When you’re ready to throw it all in a box to the left and arrange to exchange, make a quick swap. There’s no need to dig around the box reminiscing on every belonging together. That will only bring up old feelings that you want to get rid of by giving him back his stuff. Just make sure you let him know if anything of yours is still M.I.A, so you’re not stuck having to constantly remind him or have to stick around lingering while he searches.

As far as presents go, Young says you shouldn’t expect to get gifts back. “Unless it’s an engagement ring, it’s beyond tacky to think it’s appropriate to want gifts back. It’s up to you if you want to keep a gift or not. Only classless immature people use gifts as a weapon. It’s the equivalent of wanting to take your ball home because you lost a game on the playground.”

Well, collegiettes, do you have any breaking up advice that we may have missed? Weigh in with the comment box below!

Jamie is a recent graduate of the George Washington University where she majored in Political Communication and Journalism.  While in school, she interned at several magazines and online publications, wrote for Her Campus, and contributed to her university's newspaper, The Hatchet. Her work has been syndicated in The Huffington Post, USA Today College, and Reader's Digest. Jamie loves boy bands, anything with a little wit and sarcasm, and of course, diet coke. She is currently pursuing a career in magazine journalism in NYC. You can follow her on Twitter, @jamieblynn