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How to End a Dating Relationship That Is Not Exclusive

by Dr. Sonya Lott

Dating without commitment has its perks. You can continue meeting interesting people and connecting on whatever level the two of you are comfortable. But this type of dating relationship in which there aren’t clearly defined rules may cause confusion when it comes time to break it off. You understand that. You’re ready to end a relationship with someone you’ve been casually dating but you aren’t sure how to do it. Following a few tips will make ending the relationship less difficult to do.

Talk with him in person. A text message or email is too impersonal. Sending a text to break up is “a coward’s way out,” states psychotherapist Alison Arnold. Call him and arrange a time to meet to discuss the relationship.

Meet in a public place. If you invite him to your home, he may not want to leave when you are ready for him to depart. Also, if you think there is a chance he may become angry he would be less likely to express that in a public setting.

Be honest, but not in a hurtful way, about why you are ending the relationship. If there wasn’t a clearly identified situation that occurred that is responsible for the breakup, it may be a surprise to him. Having some explanation about why you decided to stop dating may help him put the relationship in perspective. You don’t have to give him an involved explanation -- "My needs for a relationship have changed since we first began dating" may suffice.

Avoid giving him a list of complaints about things he did or didn't do that were upsetting to you in the past. It is not useful at this point. You have already decided to end the relationship.

Give him the opportunity to share his feelings about the relationship ending, so long as he does so in a respectful way. A “clean break” is easier when both of you have the opportunity to express feelings.

Don’t promise to remain friends if you don’t really want to be. Sometimes the person who is being told of the breakup will try to negotiate a continued friendship. Occasionally the partner initiating the breakup may suggest this. Many times a clear end to an unclearly defined relationship is best.

About the Author

Sonya Lott, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, who offers online and in office counseling to individuals struggling with grief, loss or a life transition. She also facilitates mental health workshops for educational, professional, and community groups and maintains a blog on her website www.drsonyalott.com.

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