How to Respectfully Leave a Bad Relationship

by Anthony Oster

When a relationship is going right you may feel butterflies in your stomach or your heart flutter during each kiss, but when a relationship goes wrong you may feel as if you can't get out of it fast enough. While leaving a relationship can be as easy as saying, "We're done," and opting not to communicate with your ex any longer, leaving a relationship respectfully requires that you keep the feelings of your ex in mind both during and after the breakup.

Decide why you are leaving the relationship. Focus on your part in the relationship and breakup, including your feelings of unhappiness, a desire to pursue other interests or a need to devote time and energy to other aspects of your life.

Set aside the time to break up in person and privately. There is little that hurts more than a breakup, but a public breakup or one done via text message can sometimes add insult to injury. Arrange to stop by your ex-to-be's home after work to have the breakup discussion.

Be direct and to the point. Rather than go on and on about why you're breaking up, firmly state that you are no longer interested in being in the relationship. If your ex questions you about why you are leaving, refer to the decisions that you made earlier while being careful not to place blame on your ex.

Don't call your ex names, hurl insults at him or bash him to your friends or online. Pointing out your ex's flaws can make you look worse during a breakup. If you are questioned about the breakup, give a neutral statement such as "We just weren't right for one another."

Set ground rules for interacting with one another in the future. Talk to your ex about what it will be like to see each other in public after the breakup and how you can both be respectful of one another when you frequent the same hangouts or share mutual friends.

Choose to stand above any retaliation that your ex displays during or after the breakup. Even if you intend to leave a relationship respectfully, your ex may try to fight or push your buttons. Refuse to fight back. And if you have said your peace, excuse yourself and leave.


  • Avoid using absolutes such as "always" and "never" during a breakup. Stating that "You never go to the movies I like" may only result in a comeback about the romantic comedy you went to see several months ago.

About the Author

Anthony Oster is a licensed professional counselor who earned his Master of Science in counseling psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has served as a writer and lead video editor for a small, South Louisiana-based video production company since 2007. Oster is the co-owner of a professional photography business and advises the owner on hardware and software acquisitions for the company.

Photo Credits

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