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How to Leave a Short-Term Relationship

by Candice Coleman, studioD

After meeting your partner, sparks were flying and you were excited about spending the future together. But after a short while, differences of opinion quickly surfaced and that loving feeling vanished. Breaking off a short-term relationship can leave daters unsure of how to end things, and how to do so without unnecessary cruelty. While you cannot guarantee a pain-free breakup for the other person, you can employ strategies to ease any hurt your partner experiences.

Evaluate your feelings about ending things. Ensure you are truly done with the relationship and there is no chance you could change your mind. When you enter the breakup conversation, it should not be with the expectation that you can later get back together, according to clinical psychologist Susan Heitler.

Practice what you plan to say to your significant other ahead of time. Going into the conversation unprepared may mean that you say things you will later regret. Think about your reasons for ending the relationship -- and be prepared to share them when the breakup occurs.

Arrange to meet in a private, neutral place for the breakup. Never end a relationship by email or text message, suggests the Emily Post Institute. If the relationship is long distance, you can end the relationship by phone call instead.

Explain in a calm way that the relationship is ending. While you can be honest -- maybe distance is getting in the way or you have incompatible goals for the future -- do not be cruel about it. The end of the relationship is not the time to insult or blame your partner.

Give your partner the opportunity to speak his mind. Reactions to a breakup can vary widely -- he may feel relief that you feel the same way, or he may feel angry and betrayed. If he tries to engage you in an argument, or attempts to convince you to change your mind, do not engage any further. Let him know that you are settled in your decision.


  • While taking your significant other out for one last night of fun before you end things may seem like a good idea, it can leave your partner feeling more betrayed. When you meet to break up, deliver the news swiftly.


  • If you feel you may be in physical danger, don't meet in person to break up.
  • Avoid discussing your intentions with mutual friends before you break the news.
  • Consider your reasons when breaking up with your partner, but avoid saying cliches. Comments like, "I need time to myself," are often dishonest and can be hurtful.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

Photo Credits

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