How to Break Up

How to end a relationship: how to break up with your employer, your job, or your *sniff* snuggle bunny.

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #82

If you’re not bluffing, make sure you’re in touch with your real motives. Otherwise, you’ll run right to someone who is exactly as dysfunctional, in exactly the same ways as your current partner. My friend ran through consecutive girlfriends who even had the same first name. That was very efficient. None of his friends or family had to learn a new name. Since his new girlfriend Yadira looked almost exactly like the previous Yadira, he could even reuse his vacation photos. That is working less and doing more! Of course, the similarity didn’t stop there, so she dumped him exactly the same way as the first Yadira.

Get Clear on Your Motives

Know why you’re leaving. Do you have unmet needs? Does your partner expect things you aren’t willing to give? What do you imagine will be better about life as a single person (and don’t say Craigslist)? Really soul search here, and ask yourself how flexible you’re willing to be in the pursuit of a relationship. So you need your partner to give you more artistic freedom, eh? Well, if artistic freedom means you can leave unfinished bowls of ice cream on the living room floor and call it abstract art when your honey walks through it, your odds of finding romantic bliss with the next candidate probably won’t be much better.

You’re clarifying your motives for your sake, not because you’re going to tell your soon-to-be-ex. Especially if you genuinely love your partner, you can feel all kinds of guilty when you break up. The pressure to give in or negotiate can be intense. But if you keep your motives in mind, they can serve as an emotional rock. When your sweetie says, “Don’t leave me; I’ll love you forever!” you can keep thinking to yourself, “I really need someone who will cook, clean, support me, flatter me, and give me all the freedom I want while expecting nothing in return.” That way, either you’ll stay firm in your resolve, or you’ll see how unreasonable you’re being, break out laughing, and stay together for a blissful lifelong romance.

Don’t Drag it Out, Don’t Negotiate

If you stay firm, do it quickly. Don’t say “Tonight I have to tell you something important” and leave them hanging all day. Tell your sweetie, framing the message in terms of yourself and your own needs. Then be willing to listen to them and give them room for their emotional reaction. Let them talk and simply listen, perhaps asking for clarification. Do empathize, but don’t back down.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.