How Do You Break Up With A Girl Without Hurting Her Feelings?
The simple answer to the title question is that you cannot do so. There will always be tears—either publically or privately—consternation, sadness, anger, and, in some instances, a desire for revenge. It is better to re-phrase the question: how do you reduce the risk of an extreme response by a girl you want to break with?
This is really what it comes down to: your ability to change the nature of your relationship with a girl you’ve been dating without her going psycho on you; or going easy on a girl who is genuinely sweet and who has been nothing but nice to you.
To determine a course of action you must first decide what exactly you want from her. There are in general 4 options: friendship, friendship with benefits, sex only, nothing at all.
Giving your soon-to-be-ex the old “we can still be friends” line is now so cliché that you will look like an idiot for delivering it. Saying something of this sort will not make things easier for her or you unless it is a realistic possibility.
It may be the case that you started out as friends and then drifted into a monogamous relationship. This does happen. Perhaps she was lonely and in a very sly and subtle way attached herself to you; and you didn’t have the heart to resist. You have finally mustered up the stomach to tell her your true feelings—that all there can ever be between the two of you is friendship. If this is your situation, then you have a clear path for easing out of monogamy and back into friendship without hurting her too badly.
Another way of quitting the role of boyfriend is to offer her the possibility of friendship with benefits. I have had quite a bit of experience with this, and it really only works if the girl is into you—either deeply in love or hopelessly infatuated. You should raise the possibility after sex. It is only after sex between strangers that the most lies are told; between people who know each other there can only be honesty.
You should be warned, however, that this particular option is not without risk. She may misread the situation and think that you only need time, and that you will eventually want to re-establish the relationship. Your best move is to make a few booty calls, and then gradually distance yourself. She will get the hint, and it will give her time to adjust to the fact that you do not want to be her boyfriend.
To go from dating to fucking seamlessly is rare but it happens. The key is to know early on whether the relationship will actually work. If you are better in bed than you are anywhere else, then you should come to some understanding before she has a chance to become emotionally attached to you.
The last option is the hardest to deal with. If you really want nothing to do with her, if you realize you’ve made a terrible mistake and want to a complete break, there is no easy means of doing so without hurting her feelings. Contrary to conventional wisdom it is actually best to break-up in private. Breaking up in a restaurant will make you look cold and heartless, as though you planned it so that she would not make a scene. It is also embarrassing. She will feel as though everyone is witnessing her humiliation even if they are not.
You should instead invite her over to your place for drinks and dinner. Again, there is likely to be tears and heartache; but she will appreciate your honesty, courage, and consideration—which can provide some comfort.
About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.