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Long Distance Break Up: How to Do It Right When It Has to Be Done

A woman going through a long distance break up, calling her boyfriend on the phone to have the talk and looking sad but determined.

Breaking up is never fun. Even when it’s the right thing to do, it still isn’t easy. Breaking up in person is one thing. But when it’s time to initiate a long-distance breakup, unfortunately, it’s even harder.

Ideally, it’s best to break up with someone in person. Your partner gets the benefit of your full attention, you can both say what you need to say, and hopefully, you can start to find closure together. But when you’re in a long-distance relationship, that’s not always possible. It might be weeks or months until you see each other again in person. And in that case, why put off the inevitable?

If you can’t wait and need to end it, here’s how to handle a long-distance breakup the right way.

If you can’t break up in person, at least do it over the phone.
Breaking up with someone over the phone or via video chat will be uncomfortable. But when you’re in a long-distance relationship, those are your best options; they’re the next best thing to being there in person. Whatever you do, DON’T break it off over text, email, or message. That’s just bad form. The breakup should come from you, not your words on a screen.

Give them a heads up that you want to talk about something.
Obviously, you don’t want to send a message that says, Just an FYI: I’m breaking up with you tonight. But you don’t want to completely blindside them, either. Set the tone that you’d like to have a serious talk; it’ll plant the seed that not-so-great news is coming. Then, choose a time to call or video chat that’s convenient for both of you. Don’t call them in a rush before work or on your lunch break just to get it over with.

Know what you’re going to say.
As twisted as it sounds, there are some advantages to a long-distance breakup. The main one is that you can prepare what you’re going to say and stick to your script. Write down bullet points and keep them within reach so you don’t forget them. If your emotions get the best of you and you start to reconsider, you’ll have them as a guide to keep you on track.

Treat the actual breakup like any other breakup.
Voice your opinions, talk about what’s not working for you in the relationship anymore, and explain why you’ve come to this decision. Then, give your partner the chance to respond and do the same. It might feel awkward since it’s over the phone instead of in person, but if you have to do it, you have to do it.

Be extra patient with your partner.
Getting dumped sucks. But getting dumped long-distance sucks even more. You shouldn’t stay with them to spare their feelings, but it is a good idea to have a little bit of extra patience during a long-distance breakup. This is their last impression of you, and grace goes a long way.

Find a way to get closure.
After a long-distance breakup, at first, you might not feel any different. You’re so used to being apart from your partner anyway, it might take some getting used to once you’re actually broken up. To help yourself find closure, you could light a candle, write them a letter and never send it, or talk to a therapist.

There’s an easy way (text) and a hard way (phone call) to end a long-distance relationship. While you might be tempted to take the easy route to get it over with quickly, it’s best to take the high road and make the difficult phone call. It’ll be uncomfortable, but in the end, you’ll both be glad that you did.

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