How to Break Up with a Girl Respectfully

Man looking stressed looking at his phone and working out how to break up with a girl

Breaking up is hard to do. Today it’s even harder when you now have the option to ghost, bench, or even haunt the lovers of times past. But ghosting isn’t really a respectful move, and neither are the other two aforementioned ways to “sort of end things, but sort of keep it ambiguous in case I change my mind.”

Of course, there’s no easy way to tell someone you’re not interested…or is there?

I’d argue that it’s easier now with all the communication options available, and it’s always the better option to be a nice guy about it! It may be tempting to keep things vague with that girl you went on a few dates with but just aren’t head over heels for. After all, what if you end up bored and lonely on a Saturday night and want to hit her up? Or what if you need a +1 to your friends’ upcoming wedding and you have no other options?

But by keeping people that aren’t right for you around, you’re keeping yourself from meeting someone who is. And you’re also potentially wasting their time and leading them on, which is not the best thing to do. I mean, would you want someone to do that to you?.

Here’s how to break up with a girl respectfully based on where you’re at in the relationship.

How to Break Up with a Girl Respectfully: After a First Date

This might be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think it’s considered “ghosting” if you don’t text someone after a first date. Of course, this can play into gender stereotypes, but after a standard first date, most girls will wait to hear from the guy as a sign that he wants to go out again. If you don’t hit her up after saying, “I had fun, what’s your schedule looking like next week?” she will most likely get the hint. If she’s more assertive and texts you asking if you want to go out again, then you can just say no in the nicest and most generic way possible.

If you’ve decided you’re not interested in her and you’re already following her on Instagram or somehow otherwise entangled with her, untangle yourself before showing your disinterest through not contacting her. If you don’t text her but are continuing to watch her Instagram story every day, it can send mixed signals. And this kind of weird-why do you want to watch the Instagram stories of someone who isn’t going to be a part of your life?.

How to Break Up with a Girl Respectfully: After a Few Dates

In my opinion, this still isn’t really a breakup. You’re still getting to know each other and learning if it’s a good fit. If you realize by date three that you don’t see things going anywhere, I don’t think you’re evil if you decide to not text her again, and follow a similar approach to post-first date.

 But communication is also great, especially if the girl you’re going out with thought things were going well and deleted her dating apps or was already imagining you two spending Christmas together (and yes, sometimes we do that—girls and guys!).

Sending a text is easy and totally acceptable in a case like this. She might even prefer it, and it’s always classy to communicate!  

Here’s an example of the type of text that you could use: 

Hey Sandra. I had a really good time with you last night and you’re the hottest girl I’ve met that can keep up with my wine consumption! But to be honest, I feel like I don’t really see things going anywhere with us, it feels like we’re both looking for different things. I wish you the best and you can definitely hit me up anytime you need tips on where to eat on the Upper East Side!

Obviously, this version is quite long, and you can definitely keep it short and to the point if you’re more comfortable with that.

How to Break Up with a Girl Respectfully: After a Few Months

This is where things get more complicated. At this point you might be sleeping together, it’s possible you’ve met each other’s friends or have intertwined your lives a bit more. You probably connected on social media and have built a bond between the two of you. 

In this case, I think it’d be more respectful to handle the breakup via a phone call versus a text. That way, it can be more of a conversation and is more personal. Of course, in person is always the most respectful option if you have spent time together. 

If you’re planning on doing it over the phone, make sure she’s available and it’s a good time for her to talk. In advance, ask her when is a good time for you guys to talk on the phone that week (but not too advance, because that’ll give her anxiety all week leading up to the call). That way, she’ll be prepared for a serious conversation and you won’t upset her while she’s in the middle of the bread aisle at Trader Joe’s.

Again, as mentioned earlier, make sure to step out of her life as much as you can to make things clean and simple. Unfriend her on social media if you’re worried that you might drunkenly respond to her photos, don’t try to hang out with her friends, avoid her favorite ramen spot on her block (and definitely don’t take new dates there!).

How to Break Up with a Girl Respectfully: After It’s Gotten Pretty Serious

Defining when it gets serious can be subjective, but you know when things have moved from casual to significant. Maybe you’ve “defined the relationship” and she’s calling you her boyfriend. Maybe you haven’t gotten there, but you’re still sleeping at each other’s apartments a few nights a week and have made plans to take a trip together in a month. Whatever it is, there comes a certain point where the breakup has to be a two-way conversation, because two people are fully involved. Even if you have one foot out the door, she doesn’t necessarily know that.

All the previous tips still apply: plan to have the conversation ahead of time so she’s somewhat prepared, extract yourself from her life, don’t send mixed signals, don’t hit on her friends, don’t drunkenly call her next weekend inviting her over.

When it comes to breaking up, the most respectful thing you can do is be honest and go all in. It might seem “nicer” to break it to her gently and slowly fade out, or act like you’re just really busy with work and that you’ll reconnect with her later, but this just keeps her wasting time and energy on you when she could be out there meeting Mr. Right or simply focusing on herself and moving on. 

The longer you stay in her life, the more likely her feelings (and yours) are going to grow deeper. And, while it can be tempting to keep someone around in case you “change your mind” or find yourself lonely, the respectful and mature thing to do would be to admit to yourself you don’t see a future with this woman and give her the space to find someone that does.

When wondering how to break up with a girl, remember communication is key! And while there are certain things you may want to omit (like the fact that you’ve decided you’re actually in love with her roommate), honesty is the best policy. Besides, when someone is pulling away, women have a great gut instinct. So be honest and respectful and don’t stay in a relationship that you’re no longer invested in.

Ashley Uzer

Ashley Uzer is a freelance writer who specializes in sex and dating. She has written for many international outlets including Bustle, VICE, & Galore. She’s currently doing the whole digital nomad thing, but you can find her in Washington D.C. or NYC every once in a while. Follow along with her adventures on TwitterInstagram, or on her blog.

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