How To Break Up

Neil StraussNeil2061 Comments

A few weeks ago, in the Comments section, I promised to write a full post on how to break up with a girlfriend or boyfriend.

After learning The Game, I became great at getting into relationships. But I never learned how to get out of them. As a result, I ended up spending as long trying to get out of some relationships as I actually spent in them. A few of these situations became ugly: I remember a cast member of The Pick-Up Artist driving me to an ex-girlfriend’s house who was drunk, had a gun in her hand, and was threatening to kill herself.

So, through trial and error—mostly error—I came to learn that there is one, and only one, way to break up. This doesn’t mean that there will be no tears and no pain, but it does guarantee there will be less than any other method.

Step One

Be Decisive: A lot of people are wishy-washy about ending a relationship. They think they want to break up, then as soon as there’s a little distance or drama or a bad date, they panic, worry that they made a mistake, and get back together again. This can drag on for months, sometimes years. So, first, make sure this is something you really want to do, that this really is the wrong person or relationship for you or that this person is psychologically incapable of having a healthy relationship.

Step Two

Communicate Directly and In Person: Next, sit down with them in person. I advise listing their good qualities first to them, not because you need to build up their self-esteem, but because they’re probably going to know what’s coming after you say the word “but” and this gives them a little time to prepare themselves emotionally. Even if it isn’t a shock to them—in fact, even if it’s something they want too–the human ego is such that being the person who breaks up is much easier than being the one broken up with. (At least initially, but more on that later.) Afterward, answer any and all questions as gently and honestly as possible. It’s okay if you shed some tears yourself in the process. This next point applies to a specific few of you, but, no, you are not allowed to have sex “one last time” after breaking up.

Step Three

Give A Grace Period: Tell your now-ex that you can’t see each other after today, but you will be available by phone or text any time he or she wants to call, to ask questions, or even to yell at you for the next week or two weeks. If you are living with the person, then obviously you will have to also allow a week or two for you or them to move out or find a new place. If one of you can avoid the house during this process, this is preferable. Either way, in this period, don’t be an asshole and start going on dates. You’ve waited this long; you can wait another week or two.

Step Four

End Communication: Explain also in your initial discussion that after the two-week grace period ends, then a no-contact rule will go into effect until you both have fully let go. Tell them that if they call or text after that, as hard as it’s going to be for you, you’re not going to respond so that you can allow yourself and her to move on. Remember that every time you communicate with an ex in the throes of a breakup, it resets the clock on their (and often your) recovery time.

Step Five

Stick To It: This is the most difficult part of the whole process. Often, even if you want them to leave, as soon as they actually move on—not just leave, but stop having strong feelings for you—most people experience the pain and separation anxiety of the loss. This is when many people get weak, start to obsess about the person they broke up with, and try to win them back. (Men tend to do this more than women—my pet theory is that it equates in the subconscious to the fear of losing one’s mother’s love as a child). Some people like to repeat the words of the Sting song in their head: “If you love someone, set them free.”

In addition, not only are you not allowed to have direct communication at this stage, but passive contact is also forbidden. This means, no checking their Facebook and Twitter feeds or profiles. It’s always best that neither of you knows what the other is doing: don’t be an emotional masochist.

Step Six

Be Aware of the Process: According to the Kubler-Ross model of grief, expect the person to go through the following stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. For most people, the bargaining phase is the most difficult to not give in to: often, the other person will invent some highly plausible pretext (something they left at your house, important work advice they need, etc.) to talk to you again. Stay steadfast, and if it’s something they absolutely need or can’t figure out without you, determine a way for them to get it that doesn’t involve either of you speaking or seeing each other.

Step Seven

Move On: First of all, not everyone is capable or wants to be friends with their ex’s. But when is it right to get back in contact with an ex if you do want to be friends with them? There are different theories on this: some say when you’re both in a new relationship, others say it takes half the time you dated someone to get over them. But the right time is simply when you stop thinking about when the right time is to get in contact with them—and so do they. The right time is when neither of you has anything you need, want, or expect emotionally from the other person. Then, for the first time, when a real friendship develops, you can both honestly accept and express your responsibility for what went wrong in the relationship, rather than blaming the other person.



Related Stories from The Inner Circle

Don’t Listen to Her
It’s Okay To Tell Her You Like Her
The Universe Is Not Cruel

2,061 Comments on “How To Break Up”

  1. just about to break up with my girlfriend, thanks for the advice Neil, i like that grace period, i wish my first relationships had it, it makes ti less painful.
    By the way the design of the blog is awesome

  2. hi everyone…..
    this is a great article, i´m not really concient about the process but i did it.. now i know that i did it well, so it´s time to move on.

    According to the Kubler-Ross model, it posible, change to depression to denial or something like that??…

  3. I think the first step is very important. It reminds me of people who end up in a bad relationship for many years and eventually become so stuck in it that they can’t even consider breaking up. They force themselves to accept that relation. Maybe if they hadn’t panicked or whatever insecurity they felt at the time, they may have broken up and found someone they truly deserved. But then again maybe they loved each other then but the love didn’t last long enough. I guess everyone has the “This is the one!” feeling which ends with the “I was wrong” every now and then.

    1. Good point. And I think the other thing that keeps some people from leaving is the fear and insecurity that they won’t be able to find someone who will love them.

      1. The fear of not finding someone else is, I think, definitely there in most cases, but I’m quite sure that most people don’t realize it.

        To me it seems more like an underlying, almost unconscious fear. The kind that makes you act in a certain way that you don’t necessarily like yourself. You know, the one that makes you do things that leave you wondering: “Now why the hell did I do that for?”

        1. I agree. I think that fear you speak of can also be expanded to a fear of simply leaving your comfort zone. Before worrying about finding someone better and new I, personally, worry about the huge disrupt ending my relationship will cause in my day to day life. Maybe because I am a woman I have a different perspective, but I always back out of initiating a break up because I would rather not feel an absence. Very passive, I know. I think step 4 would definitely help that problem. Quitting cold turkey is much easier when it comes to relationships.

          1. I`m just gonne brainstorm on this, what a wonderful and importent thing that article is!

            Angst, fear of the unknown, fear of nothing. As Kierkegaard observed it has no object. This he believed is a fundamental condition for man as life is movement through choises, even choosing not to choose is a choise. In this stage of our evolution there is more choises than ever, Giddens points out that in late modernity or high modernity as he likes to say, our lives has become a reflexive process of creating our understanding of identity and self. In this process we can actually easily forget the existential questions, somewhere down the line I would actually say that this question of what will happen after a break up tabs in to this. So much reflexion, choises of consumption to take an example, leaves not much space getting in touch with the deep questions of our being. If the nothingness cause anxiety and angst we should look at the implications of this, for what is this anxiety but the dizzying feeling of the world of possibilities! This feeling should be framed as a positive thing, it is the sign og our freedom. But life is an active proces, so tou must put an object in to the feeling(thereby actually transforming it i would say), and be exited about it´s possiblity, and not get stuck in a vacuum between shifts in life. It`s not to say that you have to jump in to a realtionship with the first offer that comes by, maybe just some good sex will do, or even nothing of the kind, but the point is that your life shoud hopefully not have been only about this relationship, so attend to the other objects in it, and if be love you need attend to the possible objects of love in it. As you know that you did not find that in the old relationship, if you go back to it, you will not only create nothingness in the part of your life, you will be filling in something else, a replacement, pseudo-love, which may remove the anxiety as you conform to passivity and become numb, but the possibility of finding the right one goes along with it..

  4. “After learning The Game, I became great at getting into relationships. But I never learned how to get out of them.”

    Know the feeling.

  5. Totally wish I knew about this years ago. I went on and off with the worst girl ever. All the warning signs. She was crazy and so was her mom (who she lived with at the time). I should’ve known something was amiss when the girlfriend’s mother’s boyfriend used to yell at her, and when I told him to be a man and yell at me, her mother came after me with a belt. I wasn’t 16 either, this was at 22. But after that I found “The Game”, so now that is just a very funny story to tell about my AFC days.

  6. Hey man. This is a good read. It’s nice to be able to look at a relationship from someone else’s perspective. Always a pleasure.

  7. Very well written article. I wish I had this two years ago when I experienced my first break up. I think it is also important to not go and purposely hurt yourself whether it is through excessive amounts of alcohol, drugs or flings (due to emotions).

  8. You can never deny the fact that you got into the relationship because of how you felt about her. But some lose sight that the same decision process you went thru she also went thru. So when you have made the decision to end the relationship its not only about why your breaking up with her, but to also reassure her that the qualities she loved about you can be and will be found in someone else. “I know its going to be hard to find another like me, but when we move on, I have no doubt you will find someone else to could bring you more happiness then I ever could.” Great post Neil its a topic people tend to avoid, but all are interested. You never know what will happen when it comes to relationships.

  9. Thanks for the insights. I just went through a breakup myself, and after having been through several, this was probably the least dramatic of them all. She had been living with me, which made things a bit more difficult for both of us. I agree that the No Communication rule (after the two week grace period- which I agree is necessary) is a must in order to help advance the process of letting go. I’m looking forward to reading some of the old posts and catch up on the Ulysses Book Challenge. I have been undertaking a series of 21 Day Challenges myself, and this will fit in perfectly with the theme of my first challenge- 21 Days of Reading and Writing. After our breakup, I had a garage sale and got rid of a bunch of junk and clutter in my house, including the television and Playstation 2 in my bedroom that were major hindrances in me doing two things I love to do- read and write. I’m loving “Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead” too…reading it a bit at a time while on the porcelain throne haha…it’s where I get my best thinking done!

    1. Congrats on surviving the breakup, and doing it right. Looking forward to talking on the Ulysses call, and hearing more about your 21 Day Challenge. And I kind of agree that ELYWYD, because the sections are so short and self-contained, is kind of a perfect bathroom read.

      1. So you kind of agree that ELYWID is kind of a perfect bathroom read?

        That’s very neutral language. Sounds like you’d prefer that it be read like an ordinary novel, unpunctuated. And who could blame you? You don’t feel the over-arching themes of a work if you read it in bites that are too small.

  10. Very Good “How to…”
    I realised that I used to break up almost like that – with a little mistake here and there – but the point is: I never got into much trouble, screaming or bad talk.
    It wasn’t always easy but in the end none of us was frustrated or pissed after going trough the whole prozess.
    I think if you follow this guide it will make breaking up as easy as it can be – which means it still sucks nonetheless!

  11. Thank you Neil, for answering my question…
    I have done it almost like that in the past, but without grace period. The grace period is a very good idea! I always went right to step four – “end all communications”.
    Decisiveness, inner clarity and sticking to your decision is really important. Good post!

  12. “make sure this is something you really want to do”

    Yeah that’s the problem. I ended a 7 year relationship 3 weeks ago and I still really don’t know if it’s what I want.

    1. Wow, bad call. I ended a 6-year relationship in which we lived together from day one six months ago, and even though I was 100% sure, step five happened real bad.

      BE WARNED about step five. It WILL happen. If you want someone to talk about it when it happen, look me up on facebook/fabiobracht. I’m no counselour, but I lived this very strongly and very recently. Maybe I can help somehow.

      1. Write it down and send it to Neil. He might put it in an email or up on this site. A little personal experience could help lot of people.

  13. I was broken up with about two weeks ago, it helps me to appreciate some of the things she did right. I didn’t bother calling up to try and make things work, but damn did I want to.

    I think its really important to read things from the perspective of the other person, it is upsetting to see where she is on the path to tearing me out of her life, but that is the way it is.

    Grabbed three new solid leads last night and have been working out like a mother, so I have my own agenda I’m trying to stick to in order to get over things.

    1. It grabbed my attention when you said “three new solid leads.” I wasn’t sure how I felt about that because you implied that you were looking for a relationship, and because I do the exact same thing. After a serious breakup in those first weeks of panic I look at all of my options and try and look for a new serious relationship. Is it kosher to try and fill some of that emptiness or loneliness with a new girlfriend?

      What do you guys think? How long do you wait? Is the rebound relationship fair for both parties involved?

      1. Rebound relationships only happen to people who aren’t comfortable alone. Spend some time with yourself. If you can’t be happy by yourself, adding another person into the mix is only going to make it worse–no matter who they are.

    2. Yeah, even when done right, it’s never easy. And even though it seems like the person breaking up is being cruel by not contacting the other person, sometimes it’s the best favor they can do them (that is, as long as they’ve given the person some sort of “grace period” or adequate explanation first).

  14. Awesome!!! When I first read the title of your email I was worried (the “it’s not you it’s me” thing is the biggest bullshit ever IMO) but the text is really really great and so true!!! Now I wish you could write a book about that too because most people unfortunately do it the wrong (and drama-loaded) way.

  15. I’m at the end of my divorce settlement and I can agree with all your steps. Although I have talked to her Through e-mail only I went and changed My phone number because I was at a point where I would check my phone every other minute to see if she has texted me or called me. I mean every other Minute. I was falling towards depression and I did not want to go there. I’ve been thier before and it sucks. So I changed my phone number so that I could be at peace with myself that I will not see her name or number pop up on my phone. The reason KI have to leave the e-mail communication open is because the divorce is not finalized yet until early july, but I promise there is no personal contact only court issues. I’m looking forward to being single again, and meeting all kinds of new people. I wont be looking to land them in bed right away due to my wife infidelities, but I will be looking to meet and to build upon meeting women.

    1. Do you have kids? Divorcing with kids makes the no-contact period impossible. I had to take my ex wife to a counselor after we broke up so that we could accelerate the process and have decent conversations, for the sake of our son.

  16. Great article. Even without reading that before, last time I broke up, I did it more or less like that. The only diference was, that I didn’t gave her this “grace period”. Because of that probably it was a bit to sudden for her. But I did it, because I need it. The thing which helped me most to forget her and not having this “mother love” complex, was dating a nother girl just 2 weeks later.
    greetings to everyone here, its my first comment and I excuse me for my english

  17. A couple more I’d add are:

    1. If you want minimum fuss, pick somewhere public like a café. If you choose a bar, make sure you do the deed before any drink is taken, especially on their part.

    2. If they take it very badly, call a close friend of theirs and ask them to check up on your new ex. Giving their friend a heads up is optional but maybe needed if they seem reluctant.

    FOr those who are unsure of ending their relationship, I always found that there came a time when I got the feeling that “this isn’t going to last,” it was the death knell of a relationship. Ask yourself if you think your relationship has what it takes to last and if you’re unsure but would like to find out, all’s well. Ask yourself that and you’re unsure AND uncomfortable, it may be time to man up and bite that bullet.

    Also I have a friend in this situation but no matter how often he tries to break up, she talks him out of it. Now his head is completely messed up. Anybody got any advice on this??

  18. Any hints on what to do if avoiding them is not possible? What if they are friends with others in your circle?

    1. See the scene in “American Psycho” where Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) breaks up with his girlfriend (Reese Witherspoon)… She says to him “your friends are my friends”… In which he replies “I thought about that and you can keep them”. This might not be verbatim of the movie, yet I am sure you get the jest of it. This shows that you are willing to make a clean break, without any lose ends. After a grace period you can reclaim your social circle. It also avoids akward social events that might arise during the process.

    2. I broke up with an ex 8 months from now and we had the same social circle. She eventually kept them and made me the “bad guy” telling lies about how we broke up and stuff, it happens more when they’re immature. Time always will heal wounds and if you’re interested in obtaining your friends back just let everything settle down.

  19. This.
    You’re giving some great advice here man… I wish I’d had it when I was youger. Funny how we sometimes stumble onto golden, wholesome and free info long after we’ve already paid full price for it…

  20. Thanks for the article. I think it’s worth mentioning some exceptions – what if the person suffers a significant personal tragedy – like the passing of a close relative right after the “grace period.” Some of this involves grey lines and trying to be a decent person even after the fact. Also, I think sometimes discretion is the better part of valor and being “honest” is sometimes used an excuse for being blunt or not being discrete or answering a set-up question that will just make the person feel much worse One can be straightforward and honest, but avoid certain hurtful topics – Neil what do you think about these grey line, exceptions, and best ways to navigate them?

  21. Step eight is my favorite… The stalking stage. That’s when you call them at 3 a.m. and you breathe all heavy but don’t talk to them. This is a healthy part of getting over a relationship.

  22. been trying to break up with a girl for 6 years. no, that wasn’t a typo…i meant SIX years. step 5 is killer. if you are really trying to break up with your girl, take it from me and get through all the steps…cause this blows

  23. Amazing post. It deals with the least discussed aspect of dating and the hardest. I’ve been in a relationship since I was 12 and have had terrible gory break ups on both sides for nearly every one of the relationships I’ve been in.
    The mentality I had was to make it as painless as possible whereas in reality we would both suffer horribly for prolonged periods of time. I’m friends with nearly all of them miraculously and we are an invaluable part of each others lives, but sometimes I am regretful, having become aware that real love doesn’t always have to mean severe trauma and massive blood loss.

    Put your ego aside, and follow these rules. You can be special and still let your former lover go on with their lives. The timer being reset every time you contact each other was a big revelation for me. So true. So ******* hard. Thanks Neil.

  24. All this sounds o.k. but if you are aware going into the “relationship” and don’t allow the other person to invest to much into you in the first place, and vice versa, then the association can be based more on real values of honesty and self respect on both parties. The legendary myth of Adam and Eve demonstrated the truth that we always need to obey our known higher conscionsness values. In the story Adam disobeyed God, eating the forbidden fruit wasn’t what got them kicked out of Heaven it was disobedience. Listening to the woman and then doing as she wished and knowing he was doing wrong was a great lesson for all of us, we intuitively know when we are lowering our standards for a little momentary pleasure, and the pleasure usually comes at a very high price sooner or later. People with self respect respect others and never have to find a way out and if the other person wants to end a relationship for whatever reason people with self respect rejoice in whatever happens because they know there is always something else just waiting around the corner, breakups would always be no big deal when you both are tuned into a higher consciousness based in confident honesty, personal integrity, and mutual respect.

  25. awesome stuff Neil !

    You could look at alot of these steps as how to avoid the influence and agenda of yours and hers emotional wiring. So you can prepare what their brain will put them through and how to counter it, so it doesnt derail your breakup, so you can remain strong and make better decisions.

    Emotions try to influence you to do things to meet the emotions agenda. One of the best ways to be resistant to manipulation is to realize you are being manipulated so you can see through it.

  26. I am in a horrible position. I dated my girl for three months and realized I couldn’t stay with her. I broke up with her on our way back to her apartment after a failed evening with my family, Thanksgiving I believe it was. I saw her completely distraught and decided to talk it over with her because I honestly thought she was going to kill herself that night. One way or another things were talked out, she asked for an opportunity to fix what I couldn’t stand about her and I felt obliged to give that to her.
    She improved but a month later she was pregnant. Once pregnant her shitty attitude re-emerged. I felt the need to stick around for the pregnancy and moved her into a better apartment. I have been working hard to keep this relationship together that is now going on three years. I am not perfect but this girl has a personality disorder. I love my daughter to death and having her with me is what keeps me going. My girl’s attitude and outlook are not what she portrayed at the beginning of our relationship. Now there is a child in the mix. I don’t want to have my daughter away from me half of her life but it is soon becoming my best option. The worst part of it all is that I won this prize with the Cube test. Be careful friends, pick your target and once taken, really consider the if it is what you want. Do not take back a break-up. Or you might see yourselves in a similar position. Don’t always go for beauty as my girl looks like a younger Claudia Shiffer. Try and find the beautifulest version of a best friend you can find out there and stick to that one. Im at [email protected] incase you guys have a solution to my dilema.

    1. Two thoughts:

      1. I’m going to write a post in the future on making the decision to get back together after a breakup, and when it’s wrong and right. May help answer that part of your story from the past.

      2. As for the present, my opinion is, and keep in mind that I am not a parent, is that it’s more unhealthy for a child to be in the house with two parents are together but who don’t get along than for a child to have two parents who are separate but get along and are very positive about each other.

      1. Very much agree with the second point! It is better for a child to grow up with one parent in a harmonious household, as compared to growing up in a household full of arguments and unhappiness – open or concealed.

      2. > I won this prize with the Cube test. Be careful
        > friends, pick your target and once taken, really
        > consider the if it is what you want… Don’t always
        > go for beauty… Try and find the beautifulest
        > version of a best friend you can find out there
        > and stick to that one

        This is SO TRUE!!! I can totally agree with all that, this game stuff is VERY STRONG magic. It penetrates all bitch shields and gets emotionally deep, very fast. Some of the game techniques, along with strong honesty and genuine heart, bring women to tears and very deep personal realisations… which translates directly into deep attachment.

        As a fellow parent and divorcee, from the very limited info you posted, I can strongly suggest you get a divorce. If you really think she is sick, attempt to get primary custody of your daughter… which brings up another topic, how to properly introduce your children to women who are not their mother, but that comes later 🙂

      3. You gotta do what’s right for you. Better do it now than when your daughter is older and potentially greater affected by the split.
        Good luck.

      4. I would add that the main thing is that the child experience as much stability as possible. A mistake was made, now for the good of the child, you need to provide as much stability as possible. It might mean finding a good woman friend with children already so that you can provide a stable home for your daughter. It may mean limiting your career. It’s great to hear you step up and become a real father. It’ll be hard work but you won’t regret it.

        Good article in the NY Times recently on the importance of stability in marriages. It’s on the most emailed list right now.

        Good luck with it!

      5. Last I heard, separation is more traumatic. Take the time to research it before you do it. And I disagree doing ‘what’s right for you’. You got kids, and its not just you anymore.

        1. Thank you all for your great input. I was a bit uncertain about exposing my dirty laundry but of all the places to do it, this felt as the most appropriate. I have received many good responses and thank you Style for two reasons. One for responding to my message but more importantly for having opened a social door I had no idea existed and providing a great venue for us to breathe. I will definitely prepare a case portfolio for the train crash up ahead.

          Much love,

      6. I would love to read a post on #1 above “when it’s right or wrong to get back together.” Another thing that gets in the middle of break-ups is: mutual friends! I’ve been caught in between friends SO many times when they break-up. It really doesn’t help when the no-communication step starts. Do you have any advice on how to handle this? I usually still invite both of them to everything and tell them to figure it out, in the hopes of not getting involved, but it always still feels messy…

    2. RE: Alonz. As a man with primary custody I am in the minority. However Find an attorney and begin to document and journal your daily interactions. If she is nuts then you can record it. Make certain that your daughter is biologically yours If you are not in California or Utah and can prove that you can provide a healthier parental environmental then there is a good chance you can win primary custody.
      Keep everything very quiet and be prepared to spend 20k plus. however just like Neil’s advice when you act do so decisively and do not leave any doors open.

      It is of note to say the kids always suffer the most in these interactions however that suffering is worse I believe when they see parents fighting constantly.

      Kids change the game for everyone……

    3. You know, this is such a good comment because it addresses a universal issue that has been around for really, all of human society, which is how do you know when you have found your significant other? You said it alonz, you need to find someone you are attracted to, but more importantly, someone who loves you and who you get along with really well.

      As Neil has said, and I’m sure some of you have arrived to the same conclusion, as you meet more women and as you get older, you get better at instantly knowing what kind of personality a woman has, and that includes when they put up an air of bitchiness when in fact inside they are insecure and want someone who will love them. What do I mean by instantly? Its the very first impression you get when you approach a girl, and they don’t know who you are. They aren’t attracted to you yet, so they don’t alter their behaviour/personality to yours, or in order to keep you. These are the moments, the minutes, that reveal to you their true nature, because you are just a stranger at the moment, and their guard is down (compared to a first impression, like in a job interview, where you are at your best in order to make that first impression the best, in a random approach, there is no build up to it, they just meet this individual out of the blue. I hope I am making sense).

      And how do you know when you have found someone of quality, a girl you could depend on? Well, that’s different for everybody really, but I’ll tell you what it is for me. For one, I just feel comfortable around them, and this happens naturally really, with out thinking about it. Its kind of hard to explain, but you just feel at ease with them, and you can be yourself. Its usually the less you have to compromise about things, the more likely it will work out.

      The second point about having both your parents around as you are growing up is really spot on as well. My cousin’s parents split up when she was young and would fight a lot when they were together, and she is really insecure and impatient now. We all need someone to love us and look after us, and its particularly important to receive that love in our developing years.

      1. Great article and great comment. Siniorito, what you said about compromise makes so much sense. I’m divorced once and now separated from a second, much younger and hotter wife who I still see regularly.

        You’ve helped me pin something down that’s been bugging me almost since the beginning. Too much compromise. Making a few compromises makes sense in a relationship, but it’s way too easy to give away the farm as a shortcut to maintaining harmony in the relationship. Big mistake!

        Boundaries are the key. Before you even meet someone, you have to establish boundaries to keep safe and sane.

        1. Hey no problem Ray. Its good to know you are putting yourself in the driver seat there. I wish I could take credit for the compromise thing, but its actually from radio talk show host Tom Leykis. Look up the Leykis 101 rules. He is about looking after guys’ well being and making sure the ladies are not a drain on your wallet. Some will seem strange, and it may come across as misogynist, but its really to make sure you don’t end up marrying/getting a girl pregnant for the wrong reasons.

          1. Thanks for the Leykis tip. I just listened to a couple clips from his show and it’s good stuff. I think being a man is really about being in control of yourself first. Everything else radiates out from that conscious choice.

          2. After digging in a little deeper, Leykis is a little too bitter for my tastes. I still like the idea of creating boundaries and not compromising away your sense of self, though.

  27. Good advice. In my experience it’s especially important not to lie in this situation, even if you think that would make it easier for her. If you do lie there is a good chance your ex will learn the truth, if not now then some time in the future. Given how sensitive the situation is the knowledge that she was lied to will likely make her feel more hurt/pissed off, which is worse for her AND you.

  28. WOW. I almost didn’t read the article because there is so much Break Up BS advice out there but man this was impressive. Short & Concise yet it covers 80% of what can happen.

    It totally helps me understand my breakups (regardless of who did the breaking up) and why I had trouble getting over an ex for so long or how I made things worse for exes I broke up with.

    Very mature, helpful article for all parties. It’s articles like these that the Media need to see to understand the so called “Pick-Up” community. Well done.

  29. I’m reading ‘never be lied to again’, and he says you can influence someone’s emotional state by enlarging or diminishing the effect a problem, here the relationship ending, has on their life. So combining that with his idea of time distortion, essentially if you put the good times in the past. Perhaps cite them and say ‘we had good times but it’s been flagging for a while…’. Then the breakup can be pitched as the solution to that problem. ‘You are awesome, but we’ve passed our sell by. Breaking up allows both of us to put this problem in the past and find someone for a great future’.


    I’ve heard about relationships. They’re something you have in business right?

    His interrogation processes read brilliantly, but I imagine using them to get the truth and often they would create a feeling of betrayal just to detect a lie. So to prevent hurt you could only use the truth as information, rather than something actionable. Still much is fascinating.

  30. A close friend of mine just asked me this two days ago..She has both a BF and a casual partner and she was asking me for advice on how to end it with them but be cool at the same time. Long story short. I really didn’t know what to say..I assumed she was hitting on me.(;..
    Hopefully she can find someone shes into now and improve her grades in college..I will definately pass on your knowledge. Thanks for the article.

  31. I knew the grace period was a good idea, but it gets really tough to say no when she’s so inviting! Next time I’ll get through it by working on my goals and occupying my time constructively.

  32. The February 2011 issue of Psychology Today had a great article on breaking up. But you hit pretty much the same bullet points, Neil. I had to do my most recent breakup over the phone, it was unavoidable, but following these steps as closely as possible will definitely help.

      1. Fascinating, thanks for sharing it. The similarities are really interesting, and some of the detailed points in the article are right on.

  33. I was about to bash this post for being basically an advice to never again talk to the other person, but the last Step made up for it. I despise the theory that there’s no friendship between ex’s, because I’m living proof that it’s a lie. You can, if neither of the two is an idiot.

    Also, Step Five was EXACTLY what happened to me on my first break-up (and last, we were together for 6 years and I’m only 25). Word for fucking word. That is so true. I was so lucky to be rejected when I tried to win her back. That would have been incredibly stupid of me, since I was the one who ended it, and I spent months obsessing over it before the break-up, trying to figure out if that’s what I really really wanted. And it was.

    1. Yep, I’m the kind of guy who’s friends with my ex’s too. I also believe a real friendship is possible. However, some women feel threatened by ex’s who truly are just friends, and that can be a dealbreaker (thus the origin of the jealous girlfriend opener).

      1. same here Neil. But you know, it’s not just some women who are threatened by and ex girlfriend…I’ve lost friendships with a few ex’s because of insecure jealous boyfriends or husbands.

  34. Good article Neil. It is a very detailed analysis of what goes through a couple´s minds when they end a relationship. The only thing I would add -after being through several breakups- is that the main rule is NEVER DELAY a breakup.
    As soon as you notice something is wrong try to be honest or it will snowball into a very complicated situation. I know it is not formally a rule, but a pre rule and it may seem obvious but I am sure we are all tempeted to go with the flow sometimes waiting for a miracle turn or a easier way out.
    Finally, one of my mates told me when I was going through a difficult breakup -the type that seems mutual but is rather one sided- is that the woman you love the most is the one you are yet to find. So far, it turned out to be true.

  35. I don’t know if I should brake up with my girlfriend or not. I think I should because about a year ago we had a night going out together, everything worked out ok (there were 4 of us, her, me and 2 more guys) it was late when I was gonna take her home or sg., and I was with her all night, and when we were about to leave, I took her hand and I was about to go and lead. However, there were 2 other guys and she was definetly with me, but she was having fun with those other guys as well, so she ran back with one of them to get some umbrella we left there… and 5 minutes later we went back to check them she was there with the guy kissing, ignoring me completely…

    I did not really care and left.

    The following day she wrote me an email that how much she sorry and so on.

    I was pretty much an asshole to her answaring the email, so we stopped the convertation for the summer.

    About 3 month later at the end of last summer I see her on the bus close to my house, definetly she was around me, because she missed me, saw it on her face…

    Whatever, we meet again and she definetly lives me, but I just can’t get that picture out of my head seeing her with the other guy kissing and ignoring me last summer…

    What do you think? Should break up with her, or what?

    1. I think you know the answer there: this doesn’t sound like someone you should be seeing in any serious, emotional, or committed way. Wow, that was blatant. I can only imagine the pain and shock you must have gone through. Thanks for sharing your story.

      1. Thanks a lot Neil,

        Actually I had no pain at all, ok maybe a little, but she had pain as well, I know and we were actually drunk that night a bit. And when we met after that, she trully established that she loves me, and actually she is only 23, anyway you think I should move on?

      2. So… say debiger’s story was role-reversed. Example: I’m a girl hanging out with a guy, having a good time, etc. However, at the end of the night, I see him making out with another girl. Would you also respond the same? That he is not someone that I should be seeing in any kind of committed way? Sure, neither of us is really serious about each other at the time, but it is painful to see someone you like doing sexual things with another person.

        I was once on a date with a guy that I had interest in. He made it clear that he liked me, but I was hesitant about him because I had recently gone through a breakup and wasn’t sure if I wanted to start dating so soon again. I wasn’t used to his fast-paced game. Or maybe I’m just a slow-paced kind of gal… Anyway, he also seemed like trouble, so I froze him out even though I was interested, in order to protect myself.

        One day, I find out he had started fooling around with girl B. I was a bit bummed, but it was my prerogative to stay away from him so it is only natural that he moves on.

        One night, it was me, him, and girl B. We all had a couple drinks in us, and girl B has trouble keeping in alcohol, so it’s not too long before she has to go to the bathroom to puke. Then he makes his move on me, by putting his arms around me (feeling me up, etc) and breathing heavily into my ear. And I felt like I was melting. I hesitated, but we ended up kissing that night. Girl B comes back out of the bathroom, and I immediately pretended I was asleep because I felt guilty. They weren’t serious, but I still felt bad. So the guy carries me into his room and puts me in his bed. He proceeds to bring girl B into the room, and fucks her right in front of me. I should have done something, but I just laid there, listening. It was very painful and I don’t like reminiscing about it. I felt angry and confused. To this day, I don’t know if he did it on purpose in spite of me not accepting his affection the first time. The following morning, I confronted him about it and he just said, “Oh, that’ll happen…”

        Oddly enough, he is now my boyfriend and he loves me very much. But I still have that painful memory in my head. Any advice?

        1. Action speak louder than words, your relationship was built on distruction. He will do that again when you’re not looking. Where’s your self-worth? It’s like eating someone elses trash. Your worth more than that for that matter everyone should love who they represent.

        2. That is just such a disgusting sequence of events. That is just disgusting. That is animal like…. with nothing of romance, culture or class.
          Do you ever get angry? Did you ever allow yourself to shout, yell or kick out of anger because of such deminishing behavior of this guy? Where are your standards? Have you ever heard of “standards” to begin with? You may think that being all that sweet about this event is okay, but you forgot your own salt alltogether.

  36. That’s a good system. I was facing a difficult breakup. I knew she wouldn’t handle it well. I did it in a local food court at six pm. She flipped out. Security had to be called. She punched me in the face and broke my glasses. She has now been texting me for six months.
    My gut feeling said it would be difficult and it has been. She can’t move on.

    1. Because i knew it was going to be difficult. I let myself become a not so great boyfriend in the hope she would break up with me and make my life a lot easier. That never works. When it’s time to break up. Break up. Make that decision point. What held me off was i always new it would be difficult and it was.

  37. Great advice man. I think it all boils down to the basics of game period. Be a man! Be confident and stick to your decisions! First develope some confidence and be happy with yourself, then set out after the ultimate goal. In my opinion, having complete confidence externally is all about having things sorted out internally first. It’s hard to know that a decision you make could hurt someone, but then again, jumping into the deep end is harder than it seems, but sometimes it’s necessary. The turning point for me in learning how to do this was when I learned how to do it as a gentleman. Sensible, quick, and most importantly, simple. Well, enough “Dr. Phil-ing” from me. Great advice Neil! Thanks brudda!

  38. Great advice however I would say that those of you that can stay friends all well and good.But I have always found that by the end of the relationship the only thing we have in common is we have is that we were together and basically have moved on. I am 42 and get lots of ex girlfriends contacting me via facebook but it is the fact that they are now single again and are wanting to reconnect.

    I have nothing to do with my ex’es at all now the only time really when I had to try was with my ex wife as we have a daughter who was 3 at the time but now 18 so now don’t have to have any contact. That was hard due to continued animosity with me having new girlfriends jealousy etc.

    To trashed20 I would say that if it is difficult to avoid the ex due to mutual friends I would say meet your friends elsewhere and make new friends. I have moved to 6 different areas and have friends all over the world each time you make new friends due to my work you can be working side by side for months or years with people that are great friends then you get posted elsewhere and you very rarely if ever see them again.Mainly this is due to the fact that the thing you have in common is you work together.You then work with other people or go to other places and make new friends.

    Remember you can probably count your true friends on one hand and then cut away 2 or 3 fingers.

  39. Completely accurate. The hardest part for me is 4, 5 and 6 (which I just group into one part), because when I’m in a relationship I genuinely care for the other person, and it’s hard to turn my back on them when they need help from me, regardless if they really need it or if its just a pretext.

    I would agree with you, Neil, that this is the best way to break up with someone, but it is not the only one.

  40. Neil while I agree with your general steps for a break up it is is not that black and white… These steps work great if it is a girl you are seeing casually who has not moved in, whom you do not have children, property or other things with.

    I would add and I would put it at the top of the list..

    1.Get a support network…. whether it is family or friends, and make certain that you have your ducks in a row… “Hell hath no fury as that of a woman scorned” is very true and should always be taken into account prior to pulling the plug…

    2. Have a plan in place…

    3. With plan and support network in place to minimize the fallout be pragmatic and calm when you pull that trigger….

    and the rest of your steps fall in line…

    Without a support network the likelihood of convincing oneself that a booty call is OK increases dramatically. You have suddenly created a huge void in your life and ex sex is very good probably because it is such a no,no…. That Yo Yo crap is not good for anyone because it does not allow the other person to heal and find someone better suited for themselves.

    1. jjhypnotist
      “Hell has no fury as that of a woman scorned”
      I would not think about that – that is an invitation to stay in a relationship because you are afraid of a backlash. Should you ever, and I mean ever, be afraid that a woman would unleash hell on you if you left her, then that is a reason to leave her. If you decide not to break up even if you would like to break up, but you are afraid of her – what is that? Oh My God…
      I know you did not mean it that way, I am sure you meant – just consider her anger. But don’t consider it too much. Follow your heart, not your fear….

  41. Using this stuff now, getting out of it is the hardest part. So many snares and slips that will drag on and on, but I’m absolutely using the majority of these steps. Now I just need to fine tune some more.

  42. This is some really, really solid advice, and is generally the route that I’ve taken to date. It’s often hard to be objective from the inner circle, pun intended, but you really need to make sure what you’re doing is the right choice, else you’ll end up going in circles time and again.

  43. If only you wrote this article one year earlier,

    I can totally relate to the flipside of step 5, actually, this is exactly what happened to me…I got obsessed, and tried to win her back (in which I succeeded) only to dump her again a month later…

  44. Why oh why did you not post this half a year ago? I would so have needed it back then 😉

    Ayways, awesome article that I will remember, should I ever come into a situation to break up with someone…

  45. The worst thing a man can do is to not being decided enough. If you want to break up, do it and stick to it! BE A MAN and endure the lonely moments! Sometimes its hard to let go of a friend, but it has to be done. There is another method. A little bit of a wild card but depending on the type of girl you have, it works. I call it the Wax breakup. After step two, no grace period, instead I call “Distance period”. Consists of no seeing, talking or anything like that with the ex. Hard, painfull and sudden, like wax. But it works. But be explicit about this period and have here to agree with it. Make here sign a contract if necessary, but you get the picture. Jump to step seven. I’ve managed become good friend with my exs after the pain and let go period without much work. But you’re method is awesome too, and it works wonders (unconsciously I’ve applied your method). But I think that if the girls is a loony, nothing matters… it will go bad.

    QUESTION FOR NEIL: Ok for breakups.. but I have an issue… maybe a reminiscence of my AFC spirit long ago but here’s the deal.
    Is there a definite cure to onitis, to let go forever? I mean, even if you’re a brad pitt or a george clooney, you may wind up desperate for the only girl that didn’t fall at your charm. Like Lisa from “The Game”, but you fulfilled your wish to be with her and it tooked its course, but if that had not happened, what would you have done? forgetting is hard, but eventually it happens. But this is different. No matter what I do, who I fuck, date, etc. those damn need to fulfill this wish comes right back. Of course I’m way past the neediness and stalkiness, those are AFC stuff… but do you know what I mean? It’s like a goddamn curse that won’t go away, even after admitting to my ego that you can’t always have everything you want. Makes sense? oh well…

    1. Well, I’m not Neil, but I can relate. 

      I had one-itis. Bad. She was “perfect” and I put her right on a pedalstool. Imagine Sarah Silverman, less hairy, and capable on getting through Brunch without insulting everyone. 

      Let’s call her “Jen”

      Now, instead of ignoring one-itis, I embraced it. 
      First, I committed to never pursuing her. (Remember, She’s perfect in my head… Let’s not ruin that)

      Now, “Jen” has value and I can use it to my benefit. Basically, I use “Jen” as a barometer for other girls. A standard. Make sense?

      I suspect this method will help replace the girls your dating/flogging with ones that will help cure your -itis. 

  46. Hi Straus,

    My first post here.

    This article is very well elaborated, coherent and rational. Congratulations.

    Unfortunately there are few people who follow all these steps. Most of them or think they want to break and then get in the “push n’ pull”, or are radical and stupid with the others’ feelings. I’ve always argued that this is not necessary when the partner cooperates with the break-up process, however difficult it may be.

    Thank you.

    1. @ lord dracon

      “This article is very well elaborated, coherent and rational. Congratulations”

      I’m sure of all the high profile reviews Neil’s received, this ranks up their with the best of them. ( No sarcasm. )

  47. Nice article Neil- It’s something for the “The Game” graduates. 

    Rule #1 for me has always been, “fix yourself first”. 

    Part of that is knowing exactly what you want.  For this topic, it’s a matter of hedging your bets before starting a relationship. 

    My current relationship is fantastic in many ways… But not enough. 
    And She realizes this – making compromises – telling me I can do whatever I want. 
    I’m sure Neil would agree that going from LTR to Friends-with-Benefits is not good for anyone in this case. 

    To complicate things a little, I would like to have this person a part of my life or the long term. 

    I think that’s an important reminder when it comes to relationships. 
    Think about your own well-being first, yes…  BUT remember to always leave te other person better than when you found them. (ie don’t mess them up for the next guy)

    PS. Maybe a good followup to this article, would be about setting the groundwork for starting the relationship you want….  

    1. Regarding groundwork, I always remember a quote from an old Australian novel from when I was a child. The joy, anguish, love and trust that come before marriage are but mere reflections of what come afterwards.

      I feel like throwing out one more quote from a very old mate of mine, “know the value of everything, even those things which you can not perceive.”

  48. perfect. important note to remember. is not to answer after 2 weeks grace period no matter what.

    the second you do. the tide will shift.

    1. Thanks, George. And really great Comments all around on this article. We should compile the best of them and do version 2.0 of this post.

      1. Yes please!

        Could we also expand Step 2 to include possible strategies and approaches? Dare I say scripts? Mostly from a psychological approach. Any way to remove last minute resistance? (so to speak!) To minimize the impact to the ego? “Its not you its me” tries to do that unsuccessfully, perhaps walking her through everything that is wrong but from an emotional point of view or egoistical one (I dont know, not being strong in this field but there must be ways and things that soften the blow and help shift from one step to another – any way to avoid the ‘anger’ phase being a bonus!).

        Anyway, the face to face is the toughest part, and I am sure having a plan on what to say and goals to minimize the emotional trauma would be a huge help. Especially in the instance where there is an imbalance (you want to walk out, she does not) and where there is an imbalance in what you can actually say (I want to see other people, you probably don’t…).

        Thanks everyone for sharing!

  49. Great post. I feel like there is no right way to break up. I’ve done it in the meanest way possible and that was bad for obvious reasons and i’ve done it in the nicest way possible. When i did it in a nice way she later told me she would have rather had me be an asshole during the breakup because then she would have had something to hold against me and it would have been easier for her to let go. IDK. Your totally right about the no sex thing though. When you do that it takes her back to square one even if she tells you it doesn’t.

  50. I had broken up with, and consequently gotten back together, with my ex several times, and it wasn’t until I came up with a very similar plan like this that I was able to do it effectively. You’re absolutely right, this is the only way that truly works.

  51. I started dating a girl. After the first date I told myself I would break up with her in 3 months. She was boring, demanding, moody, pretty. After 3 months I moved in with her. After one year I started looking for a place for just myself to move in. After 2 years and a half I moved out. I wasted my time. Shame on me. Don’t waist yours. Love everybody, commit to no one.

  52. Excellent advice, Neil. I managed to do most of these with my last major break-up. One question though is with something that began as casual, but needed to be broken off as a routine thing. It was mainly that I’m too busy with a new venture I’m launching to have any kind of consistency. Now, she doesn’t contact me as much, but still occasionally will want to meet up. We’ll hook up and then be incommunicado for 1-2 weeks. It’s great for me because it’s not any more burdensome than I want. However, I know she’d prefer to be together if only I were. Am I playing with fire?

  53. That’s interesting Neil, I am one to say i was reading “The Game”, During my break up with my ex. She broke up with me. Due to the AFC in me. I am happy to say getting more information on this will help me do better in relationships to come. Friendships alone have started to pick up.

    I felt some what lost when my ex broke up with me, It’s a investment if you think about it. This is funny but hell i will say it. A relationship is like a busniess if you put hard work into it the awards are love. For example, i worked very hard at my past jobs. In retail and so on. Every time i told my mangers i want to take on something else as far as bettering myself and quiting the job. They did there best to place guilt and sorrow on me for not staying.

    For me, there was no pain there. I don’t know maybe its just me. But one thing i do know is you gave me a 2nd life, with “The Game”, half way into it a chapter i was reading. I believe mystery or one other charter stated, Just get out there and forget what happen in the past. Yes it was hard for me, but all the tips in “The Game” helped me get over her. Everyone is different, thats just my take on it.

    Thanks again neil.

    – James –

  54. This is an excellent, much needed piece, Neil… I’m not even at such a point, but *not* knowing this sort of thing can be a huge, life-crushing weakness and oddly a game-killer, too: its hard to get into something you feel you’ll never be able to extricate yourself from. As ever, humbly yours…

  55. Amazing advice, thanks!

    At the point where I’ve known for the majority of my relationship that it’s not the best thing for either of us. When we together, its awesome, but as soon as we’re apart, or I have work, then its massive fights about small stupid things. I think I have a case of B.A (breakup anxiety) 🙂

  56. In the words of Carrie Bradshaw “most girls aren’t angry irrational phsychos, we just want an ending to a relationship that is thoughtful and decent and honors what we had together”. I fully agree with each of these steps. It is so much better than an email, or a text, or just disappearing. It definitely beats that thing where the guy is a jerk so she dumps him. If more breakups were like this one, I think significantly less ice cream would be consumed. 🙂

  57. This was really helpful for me, as the one being dumped.

    My girlfriend of 4 years broke up with me a month ago. It was over the fact that we now live about an hour apart, and I wasn’t able to find a job in my field to move closer to her(it included other things of course, but the distance really seemed like the biggest problem). She did it over the phone one night after I had a twelve hour shift. It was pretty crappy.

    Anyway, we wrote each other off for a bit and didn’t talk much for about two weeks. Then she came to my town to hang out with some people. We ran into each other (read: I saw her and walked up to her)got into a big fight. A fight after we’re broken up…what kind of shit is that?. At the end of it we said we might try and email each other, just to keep in touch.

    After reading you’re post, I’m no longer going to write that email. It ended and I can’t keep repeating breaking Step 4 and resetting our recovery time.

    Thanks for posting this.

    1. Keep away.

      A verbal fight or a fight with any physical contact may result in your arrest, possible removal from your domicile, or a restraining order. If any of these happen contact an attorney immediately. Restraining orders must be challenged in court or you may get tricked into a violation and jail time.

      Contact without fighting may result in an “accidental” pregnancy. Child must be checked for accurate paternity.

      1. You really seemed to take my post in that “worst case scenario” kind of way.

        I was just trying to say that this article really can help someone empathize if they’re the one that’s been dumped.

        Thank you for the added advice anyway.

  58. Thanks for the brilliant article Neil.

    I wanted to ask, how can one also deal with friends(especially her friends) whose natural instinct would be to think of me as a villain. Facing them in my point of view might be slightly uncomfortable maybe even a bit embarrassing(as I initiated the break-up). But if I am over it then their opinion of me(some might say that their opinion doesnt matter, but in some ways I think it does) would be tarnished as well. I mean, if I run into any of them, how can this awkward feeling be avoided.

  59. Yep good process went through that myself last year and did everything except the grace period! It really helps both and it can result in you two being casual friends or at least no hard feelings/emotions if you see each other again or randomly bump into one another.

    One thing that really helped me not fall back on step 5 was setting a goal for myself, every time my mind would want to go back with her I would remind myself that I set a goal that in one years time if I still felt so in love with her that I would go back to it. Obviously after a year and other relationships you don’t think twice about it again and gets you through the hard times!
    I was reading the game at the time going through my break up and was the best book to read to pump me up and get out there again just socially even to start after a 4 and a half year relationship that dragged on way to long in the first place.
    Now time to go through this process again with a new girl!

    Thanks for the article neil! Helps knowing that its the right decision!

  60. If you really cant avoid contact with an ex and it could lead to sex make sure you knock one off right before you meet. Of course not in public, you’ll get arrested. I first did this years ago, no not in public, and no not getting arrested. I mean when an ex made excuses to come to my house. She always wondered why I wasnt pouncing on her as it was her aim to seduce us back together. I guess she was looking for IOS’s (indicators of sex) and not getting any really confused the shit out of her.
    Later when it was clearly over I told her how I managed to resist. I cant remember what she called me but it was probably funny. This can also work if you need to meet her in public so you dont give out an IOS.

    For me IOS as a acronym works in this situation because im dealing with a lustful intention that will benefit no one, from a person who knows what to look and feel for.

    At one point in my life I found sending texts or emails to myself rather than them worked immensely. I rationalised its the feeling of hitting send that we crave, and most times its an – oh shit I shouldnt have sent that feeling. But when it arrives back to you its a sigh of relief. If you have a real strong friend you can also send any to them instead but it may or may not be the best idea. You can tell them to just delete them without reading, but you gotta trust one another.

  61. I find it a great article. I have always been told that i am cruel and cold when breaking up. But after a fair period (sometimes mire than a year) they have apreciated my harshness. The reason being, I left no hope of it ever happening again. I think this is very important, people can linger for a long time on the hope that the relationship will get back on track. If it’s alright with you Neils, I would like to add that when you do sit down with your girl/boy, leave it as clear as gold that this is a permanent unmovable decision and there’s nothing she/he can do to change it.
    That’s my pennies worth, hope you find it helpful!
    Pd: u don’t need to be a cold jerk as I am.. I just am incapable of diplomacy (brutal honesty).

  62. this is my third serious break up with an intimate partner, tough break up cause its to do with power that may be “parents influence”. I would say the context of a relationship always makes it harder or less hard to go through the above phases. Their is another added theory, that the purpose of a serious relationship is to learn to love your disown parts, that why their is some underlying alter attraction hence the whole ” you complete me” tag line comes into play …… you see when you do break up, its that feeling of missing that person thats hard, or should i say some of those personality traits…… seeing it in your self and owning it helps with that feeling of not completely losing them. As if you can now walk away knowing a part of them has really rub off on you hopefully if your wise enough in a positive way. That way you have evolved as a person and ready to meet someone else and form a stronger appreciation with your self firstly and now more equipped with a higher personal standard to give and receive in the next relationship ……creating a new nostalgia for the unknown, cause that missing part of you is no longer felt or perceived missing. and for those you still feel that deep loss, end up going into those same relationships, or same looking girl, or same issues, never really growing out of it.
    Here is my 2 pence from London, Thanks Neil the above steps, will def implement them and hold steadfast 😉

  63. Hmm, it’s a rather harsh, cut and dried, cold turkey approach no? Isn’t it possible to have no flame out mutual break ups where the detente period doesn’t need to be so extreme? I believe I am about to spit up with my girlfriend, so I can let you know :p

  64. I’ve been with my girlfriend for about a year but, pretty much from the beginning, she has been spontaneously trying to break us up by ruining the relationship; for example, this evening she messaged me saying that I’ve never said she was beautiful, despite the fact she has numerous cards and messages saying exactly that.

    Everyone who I have discussed this with advises me to get rid of her but I find it extremely difficult to let go. I’ve called it quits a few times but then give in, talk to her and fall back into my old ways again. A big problem is that I can see her bedroom window from my bedroom and I have to drive past her house to go anywhere so, in many ways, I can’t get away from her.

    I suppose I don’t really want to split up with her because, despite her neurotic behaviour, we actually get on really well; we have never had an argument face-to-face. But all this systematic destruction of everything we work to build is not only ruining our relationship, it’s ruining my life. I’m stressed permanently and have recently checked in for counselling. I’m snappy with my friends and family and have developed an extremely short temper.

    I know from reading that, the decision is a no-brainer. But, unfortunately, I still can’t convince myself that it is what I really want.

  65. This post really sets a powerful guide that most people never bother to discuss in detail. Step two really can make a difference in how you see a person.

    I had an experience that I was waiting for a person to break up with me. First she tried over the phone but took me back(I really wanted her to stick through it). But then did it by taking off her relationship status on facebook(The effects of social websites). At first I was alright with it. A week later, I was more annoyed with the way I was broken up with, go figure.

    Step three really does help with the closure most people want for the ending of a relationship. I wish I learned that part much earlier in my life.

    It’s going to be hard emotionally to do this process, but at least it’s better to reduce the damage as much as possible rather than just doing it with no plan.

  66. Great article! I used to break up with girlfriends using letters as I’ve always been a better writer than an orator (they didn’t appreciate it that much, but hey, at least they have a souvenier for later… unless they burned it).

    With regards to the other pointers about not seeing your ex, having next to no contact, having decided that you were making the correct decision before half-heartedly breaking up… To me, that’s just common sense… Although I don’t remember, I guess I too probably learned by trial and error. :-p

    Now, however, I’ve just learned to stop having relationships.. So much easier. 😀

    1. Somethings wrong if you think like that. Maybe you haven’t experienced a relationship that’s been right for you. It should make you happy and definitively should be worth the risk of losing it.

  67. That was deep, Neil. I think what you said here is 100% true. I hope I don’t have to go through that often, though.

  68. This is an excellent article. I do wonder how it would work though if you have to have contact with this person because you work together. Say you are their supervisor at work and quitting work (for either of you) is not an option. Obviously, getting in a relationship with someone at work is a bad idea, but what if it is too late. What if you started out working side-by-side and then began a relationship and now you have been promoted and you want to end the relationship but stay at the job. What then? Any ideas?

  69. I saw step two in a general model to give feedback to employees. And it works on pretty much any case you have to give bad news. It’s called a feedback sandwich. Where you qualify the subject, in that case the future ex, and then you tell what’s this all about. And, of course, without being rude. And finally, end it with another positive feedback (qualify).
    This works because, although people tend to keep bad news in mind for longer, the first positive feedback prepare the ground, and the positive feedback at the end make the bad bad news softer and easier to process.

    Great stuff Style! Congrats!

  70. Neil, I just wanted to say that I’ve been in a rough relationship that went from being engaged to full of insecurity and jealousy, piled on top of neediness and living together. This read has really helped me clear my mind and be sure about what I’ve thought I needed to do for a long time as well as showing me a way of hurting someone I care about as little as possible.. Really appreciate it.

    1. Thanks for sharing that sZiSzak. Good luck. It’s not easy, but stick to your guns here and stay clear on what you want for YOU.

  71. I would like to add another comment: Should your relationship be just so-so, or should you feel that you are together more out of convenience and not out of love, then please, please dop not waste your time. Either take a good look at the relationship, try hard to make it work in a set time, let’s say 3 months, or – separate!
    Don’t stay together just because there is nobody better, or because you are afraid nobody better will come around.
    If you feel that way, break up!
    Now you have The Game to make sure you do find someone exciting and someone whom you can fall in love with!
    That was a major reason why I loved finding and reading and learning… “the Game
    And this – for me -is a link between breaking up and The Game

  72. Neil, First of all, as I always say, You Rock-!!
    Totally love all the work that you’ve done.

    As for the Break-Up, I just broke up with my ex. (i hate this term…) 2 days ago. I knew it was not going in the direction I wanted and things were not as good as it was once before. We were always and constantly fighting and I just knew that it was time to move on.

    I wish I read this first and given her the Grace Period. But, it’s all in the past and we both gotta go our own ways. Anyways, it was great to read this and although I am going through that 20 mins of grief and 40 mins of not thinking about her as Mystery have once said, I know I will be emotionally separated from the emotional connection I had with her before.

    I just need to game on and get back into the game. So far, I have gotten 2 numbers and am talking with few more (like more than 10 at this moment).

    Although I used to be the Sweet Wuss that told myself that I need to let go of her emotionally 100% and make sure that she has moved on with someone else before I get back into the game, well, what can I say, I am more used to this heart-breaking pains.

    Always thank you for your support and I am waiting for your next book-!! Proudly own all your books and loved every page of it-!!


    Heeman Park (from South Korea)

  73. Great post Neil!

    I hope I can explain what I’m thinking :b

    If my partner have some behaviors that don’t like me. The best for that is: To have good communication and say it. I think this is the scenario of a mature relationship in which both sides agree that sometimes you can give and others you can take. In which I accept I’m not perfect and neither my partner is and that both of us are making an effort to be better people.

    If after talking and both sides making efforts to improve, I’m still believe that person doesn’t fulfills what I expect from a relationship nor she who I want to be with, I think that’s when we perfectly have that talk of breaking up. In this way, it won’t be a surprise to our partner. It will be sad, of course, but it won’t take her by surprise -> And working it that way, I think, our partner won’t have the temptation of telling us the argument of “I’m gonna change”

    As I said, this is for the most standard scenarios, I don’t think it can apply for situations like finding we are being cheated or having a GF with border personality disorder, or things like that.

    1. Heeman Park, welcome back to the Game. I will have to do a seminar in South Korea sometime! And Dragoon, I’m going to do a Coach post soon on this topic of change–it’ll be part of the promised Couch post above about getting back together after a breakup. They’re both related.

      Finally, the general idea would still apply to the scenarios you mention. The only main scenario where it wouldn’t apply is where she breaks up with you 😉

  74. gee I wish you would have included this in “The Game”! After reading the book I ended up in a 3 year relationship and had a hard time getting out of it!

  75. Thanks for writing this. AFC Adams reccomends not deleting her number but instead of renaming it, in your phone. That way when you see it you read something like “unfriendly,” rather than “Molly.” Hope this helps….also I just ended a relationship and I wish this article was written a week before! But I adjusted a few things and I would like to keep her as a friend.

      1. that’s a good one – why didn’t i think of that? instead a somewhat familiar number will come up and D’oh! why didn’t I realize it before answering?

  76. “We have this idea that love is supposed to last forever. But love isn’t like that. It’s a free-flowing energy that comes and goes when it pleases. Sometimes, it stays for life; other times it stays for a second, a day, a month or a year. So don’t fear love when it comes simply because it makes you vulnerable. But don’t be surprised when it leaves either. Just be glad you had the opportunity to experience it.”
    I have used this quote by you Neil in braking up with a girl,(loosely paraphrased) and believed it really helped not just her but me too.
    Thanks Neil.

  77. It was mentioned that there maybe a Version 2.0 to this article. Paulo Coelho wrote extensively on this subject in his semi-autobiographical novel The Valkyries. The bottom line is to any of these steps is that if anyone in a relationship isn’t happy to be there, with the full light of life, no amount of bargaining as explained in the Kubler-Ross model is going to matter. The caged bird doesn’t sing.

    The steps in Neil’s breakdown best mitigate the pain that is felt in the most honest way possible. When we learn the game, and how human reactions are based on context and subtle influence do we get caught up in our own individual paradigms that we can control what is not ours.

    The reality is the people we truly love are never ours, just incredible people who shared their most honest selves with us. That bond is forever undeniable. What also is undeniable is that we will go on, we will find love, and the echo from loves past will ground us to where we need to be.

    This article gives all of us that space to find that, and for that Neil, job well done.

  78. I concur completely. Man up, Grab your nuts, and jump. Its the only way….

    Although I have not spent near as much horizontal time as I am assuming you have Neil, as an erotic author I have spent a fair amount of time retracting myself from relationships when things have run their course. I do my best to communicate my intentions beforehand, but inevitably there are women who say one thing and then do another.

    By being honest in advance, when the time comes for us to part ways, honesty and directness is the only way. Great advice; I hope the world is a slightly better place because of this post and your work overall.


    Darren Michaels
    Author-Flipside Erotica: Both Sides of the Story

    1. Hey Darren, good comments, and good to see you here. Hope the flipside books are going well! And ZackMorris, really well articulated, still have The Alchemist on my to read pile. Going to dive in shortly. And Sportful, that is true as well, a really great way to explain it–sometimes not just to her, but to yourself when you start staying in a relationship hoping things can go back to “how they were.”

      1. Excellent article I completely agree with everything there. Being decisive is important, I have been in a situation where I wasn’t decisive enough and it dragged on for over a year and ended up being much more destructive to myself emotionally and our relationship with each other. People don’t realise how important the “Stick to it” step is, especially nowadays with social networking as it is simple to “check up” on ex’s. One of my best mates finished with his girlfriend 18 months ago but still has her as a friend on facebook and this doesn’t allow him to completely get over her and even now he is still hung up on her.

        Keep up the quality posts Neil!

  79. G’Day,
    You Neil are a true gentleman by the sound of things. Personally, once I know my lady & I are thru I make out with one of her friends. But not her best friend, usually one who I consider is a so called friend. Then I either tell her myself or her friend will tell her. Then she breaks up with me, sure she feels betrayed but more importantly empowered, her anger makes her stronger. I found years ago that going the softly softly method just dragged things out, everybody got sad and depressed. The only rule I really have is once I know we are thru….I dont sleep with them again….no matter what…because that really is cheating, really is unfaithful.
    It probably sounds like I am a prick but I build a woman up, the whole relationship I’ll spend building her ego, her self confidence, her awareness, her sexuality, her courage and the last thing I would want to do is weaken her with an emotional breakup. It’s sounds crazy and wrong I know but….wait….it is crazy and wrong LOL. I’ll try your way and let you know.

  80. Just checking what should you do in a situation where the girl becomes suicidal? Should you amend step 4? I mean i know you’ve got to do whats best for you, but if the girl is going to kill herself it should be a different situation right?

    1. I’ve had this happen. And the question is: Is she really or is it manipulation?

      And the thing to do is to call her parents, her close friends, or the police–and continue to stay away yourself. This way, even if she is being truthful, you’ve done everything you can to prevent it–and if she isn’t, you’ve called her bluff.

      1. I once stayed over a year in a relationship because he threatened to kill herslef should I leave. Finally I moved, had different friends that supported me and left. She dangeled from the balcony, but never let go. Her father came and took her home. Never heard from her again.
        The funny thing happened one year later – imagine – I just had met another women – and she hinted that she might “do something to herself” should I not commit.
        I beamed at her “Oh, I have no problem with that at all. I frimly believe that everybody is the master of their destiny. If you want to kill yourself, I’ll show you where to jump, I’ll open the window for you and help you onto the window sill – no problem!”
        She looked at me quizzically – and never ever brought it up again. We did not stay together. I had called her bluff.
        That was in Germany, were they are less mediacrazy and less sue-happy than here…
        In any case, here in the US I would definitely call the parents, police, whomever, but inside stay hard as steel, do not give in to the blackmail. Imagine staying with someone only because she threatens suicide – a prison!

  81. I’ve been using this process for years, mostly. The “Grace Period” is new to me but brilliant based off of what happened with my ex. Thanks Neil!

  82. Neil,

    As usual, you’ve put form and structure to the painful, grope-around-in-the-dark process that most people go through to figure out how to finally end it.

    Though my own error-and-error process I’ve learned to adhere to the perennial advice of Ben Gibbard and Jenny Lewis with regard to your Step 4 and not ‘resetting the clock’:

    “Don’t you feed me lines about some idealistic future…
    Your heart won’t heal right if you keep tearing out the sutures”

  83. Neil this stuff is amazing!! I just wish I had it two weeks ago when I broke up with my girlfriend…haha oh well, i’m sure this’ll be able to help me out a lot in the future. Thank’s Man!

  84. who hasn’t done this the wrong way at least once? It’s usually not life threatening except for the extremely emotionally unbalanced.

    As far as being friends after the breakup, my track record has been about 50/50 with some still good friends and others are off my radar entirely. But every experience and relationship is part of our growth, and lessons to learn and hopefully not repeat.

  85. i totally agree with all the steps, but i an exception to step 2. If you are dating a person for less than 2-3 weeks, you can break up with via sms and phone call. Not forgeting to mention the key words in the sms “it’s not you it’s me”.Or on the phone emphasing that you don’t wanna hurt her by letting her see you with other women.

  86. I’ve been with my other half for nearly 3 years, and although we had a two week split early on, I’ve never really wanted to break up with her. We’ve lived together for nearly a year, we complete each other’s sentences, and I genuinely want to be with the person she’s going to be when she gets a handle on her sporadic bouts of insecurity. What’s more, she is fully aware of it, and is just as into self-improvement as I am, so I’m pretty sure she will eventually get there. We have values and goals in common. We keep learning from each other. We dance better than some couples who’ve been together for 40 years.

    The painful part is that during these bouts of insecurity, she gets emotional and self-sabotages like you wouldn’t believe: she keeps expecting me to break up with her, sooner or later – and I keep telling her that the only reason I would consider breaking up with her is if she keeps acting like as if I’m going to break up with her. Frustrating as hell.

    Then for a week or a month she’ll be fine, and it’s all good, but it’s happened enough times for me to expect it to happen again. I clicked on this post because I respect what Neil has to say, but I’m stuck on step 1. It’s not what I want to do. I have enough game to know I can go out and pick up again, but that’s a tool I’m happy to keep in the box. What are your thoughts?

  87. Following on from the last post, I guess what I’m asking is… is there such a thing as a woman who doesn’t have an insecure repressed self just waiting to come out?

  88. I began Dating a single mother of two. the relationship was fast, wild and fun. we some developed some feelings, then she kept developing feelings… I did not. she would say I miss you, I was would say…awww. but was thinking more like “why?” I dont want to hurt anyone, her kids are cool and thankfully I hardly seen them (maybe she knew something like this was coming and knew to protect them?) I broke up with her a a few weeks ago and then fell into that bargaining stage and as Niel said “one last time” was a bad idea as we got back together. but cool to see this as I was thinking about how to do this and make it certain that its final.

  89. BREAK UP PAINS… My g/f is hot, hot tempered and has just broken up with me. We were living together for 6 months, got in a big row, and she left. Shes now got her ‘list of reasons’ as most people do… and emailed me the break up letter….is there a ‘way back’ once someone has “decided?” She cites s list of ‘issues’ such as taking here friends phone numbes… etc

  90. We should see about a how to deal with a breakup. I wish i could write my entire story here of the relationship that just ended for me and my ex. i feel incredible amounts of grief and im having an incredibly tough time dealing with it. i know im not the only one who has gone through this. and i cannot be the strong guy we all strive to be during these times. neil has alot of really important advice and im sure you all do to, i wonder if there is a companion article that could go with this one on being on the receiving end of a breakup.

  91. following my break up however a friend of mine reccommended to watch the movie swingers, and this scene like the guy who uploaded it, hit me so hard, and i quote the uploader of the scene “single handedly helped me get over my ex” im not there yet but it definitely opened my eyes.
    guh, i shed a tear or two watching this part. how you start to miss the pain of a breakup like you miss your ex because you were with it for so long.

  92. when i broke up with my last girlfriend, i played great! but a weeks later i began checking her facebook and hurting myself becoming obsessed with her…perhaps it’s because i once had “oneitis” with her!

  93. Search this on ebay 330591109342 and read the description and the q+a’s !!! funny as !!! Puts an interesting slant on breaking up.

  94. Well hi.Iam jason from the athens. I want also to share my story because somehow i think iam going to feel much better. i broke up with my girlfriend about 5 months ago, in a very , very bad way for my emotional standards. through msn. Her and me confessed to the other that cheated on the other. you must realize that this wasnt really a good thing to happen and especially in a such faceless way like msn. by the time i was in the relationship with her she also had an other relationship with an other guy, closely related to me. So , lets say to understand what iam saying , that i was her second while the other was the first. A really awfyl situation. The fact is that we became obsessed with one another and we couldn break up despite the fact that deep inside me i knew perfectly well that there can be no triangles at least in a way ike this. But i didnt have the courage to stop it and i was delved into to all sorts of things that should not happen in good relationship.
    Right now , 5 months later , despite that i had many opportunities to go with other girls, i was emotionally blocked and i could not operate in a good and balanced manner. Iam so full of hatred and depression that i can only play box 3 hours a day just to feel quite tired enough for not to think it. Quite ugly dont you think?And the think that really is making me mad is that she is still dating with the first guy despite that she was telling me all the time about how violent he was , how bad manners , etch.It really makes me mad dude to realise how mazochistic people sometimes can really be, including me of course

  95. Thanks for the advice Neil. I broke up with my girlfriend over six months ago because our relationship was no longer healthy and my downfall has definitely been step 4. When i feel like she is moving on it’s like i have to draw her back in and even though i know i’m being an idiot i can’t stop myself. The longest the no contact has been is 7 weeks and then i sent her a drunken text. I’m definitely going to follow your advice because this has gone on far too long. Thanks again!

  96. lovely stuff!

    step two,
    fight clubby:

    marla- ‘there are things about you i like. youre smart, youre funny, youre spectacular in bed. BUT.
    youre intolerable. you have very serious emotional problems…’

  97. This is an amazing post and probably the most underrated subject of the game. The emotional process of breaking up can sometimes revert guys to their AFC habits. This could be a great precaution to maintain yourself as the growing individual.

    My question is how would one break up say in a long distance relationship? I ask this because first I’m in one, second I can see why step 2 is important.

  98. I’m going through step Five as we speak. In my situation, I had first met my ex by means of her cheating on her at-the-time boyfriend with me. I should have known from there that she wasn’t going to be the greatest girlfriend, but I went ahead and decided to give her a chance. Her and I were dating for two months, then made it official. After about one month of dating, which was this past Friday 7/22, she became very indecisive about being my girlfriend. Long story short, she cheated on me, dumped me, then teamed with her ex and began spreading slandering rumors about me accusing me of being a “stalker and creepy”.

    With that said, I was wrecked, because I really liked the girl. Now, knowing that she did all of those hurtful things, I still get the temptation to pick up my phone and send her a text message/call her, and I know that would be the biggest mistake, and I just don’t know how to cope with it. I know I’m experiencing a very hard case of one-itis (those of you who read The Game should know of that), and I’m just trying to move on from her and find somebody new. Any advice guys/girls?

  99. My boyfriend that I was living with just dumped me about three weeks ago. I am now in a studio apartment across town. I am so much happier now that I have my own space. We moved in as soon as we decided to be together so we never had the courting phase that I so badly missed. Do you think we could go back to dating? Or am I crazy for even thinking about it? I just think that maybe if we started over and did things more slowly and in the right order that it might just work…


  100. asked girl out last night….she really really likes me….dont think i like her that much…i like her a friend but dont think for a relationship….i would rather put effort in with her friend who i click with nicely….any suggestions? so how do u unask a girl out? without losing the sexual part if wanted??

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  102. I wish I had known this before i had my first real girlfriend. The relationship was awesome but after about 3 months I could tell this was going to be a hard thing to do. So the a day came where i was thinking to myself, “Hey, I think its time.”, so at the end of school i did it in person, and she walked away with a tear in her eye. Then when i got home I was feeling really sorry for her, and made the mistake of calling her and telling her I was sorry, and that I hate to make people feel bad, and man, she LAID IT ON ME!! I took this as a sign that she hated me and would never want to see me again, so I acted accordingly. I laid it back on her (hey, I was a sophmore in highschool) I wish I had this advice back then. Now whenever I go to breakup I get freaked out because I don’t want the breakup to end as it did with the first.

  103. The Art of Seduction and The 50th law talk about this part of life.. Its not easy at all, However you have to take the Ninon Lenclos approach and just leave. Or like 50 said “when you think you got too much to loose, thats when you walk away” We all go through it, some better than others thats all. Just remember guys slowly time erases everything.

  104. You know, when I first read this article (and shared it on all my sites), I was still struggling to get over a horrific breakup two months earlier. I see my comment above, dated 7/13…nine days later, I met an amazing girl that I ended up dating until yesterday afternoon. It was short, but intense.

    What I hadn’t been able to do in my previous breakup, due to my old ex’s cowardice, was sit down face-to-face to say goodbye and get a sense of closure. So when my newer ex and I did that yesterday, it felt great and led to the most loving breakup I can imagine.

    It was very mutual. We both agreed that our potential had gotten mangled by rushing into commitment too quickly and then falling into our respective relationship habits – and we both agreed that we strongly want to eventually be in each other’s lives again, if platonically. So, I proposed this grace-period idea to her.

    She was all for it, and frankly- thank you Neil. I admit that when she & I spoke on the phone again later, I let myself get unnecessarily heated over something new that had come to my awareness, and she couldn’t handle it – which tells me that she probably feels more dejected and like “the one being dumped” than I realized. My approach for the remainder of the grace period will be to treat it more passively, and to treat it as though I broke up with her, even though it was completely mutual.

    But all that said, despite a long history of struggling to cope with “loss,” I was able to walk away from our sit-down yesterday feeling, actually, *better* than normal. Not only did it not feel like slamming a door shut or watching one get slammed on me, but I suddenly felt more optimistic about other things in my life, and like I had just evolved somehow.

    I’m sure there will be more tears and drama on both ends, both during and after the grace period – but this approach really helped.

    1. PS – Since this model has some elements that are intended for “the one doing the breaking up,” I made one amendment to it that I think might help other people who are in my situation where the breakup is highly mutual: I proposed to her that we *both* abstain from seeing other people until the end of the grace period.

      Frankly, this might always be a valuable way to approach it. But obviously, you need to be ending things on good terms in the first place, to expect her to respect that agreement as much as you intend to. She may not agree to it – or better yet, may agree to it just to defy it – if your relationship has already gone to shit and she’s bitter and resentful toward you.

  105. Hey Neil i’m glad that you personally replied to some of the posts… my current relation story is a bit tricky .. the girl im dating is not my ” beauty standards ” she is two years older than me …. i clearly informed her that i’m not looking for serious relationship but after a while start knowing this girl qualities and values …. i start to strong feelings to her and i cant run a way…. she is the best person i ever known…. but i know for so many reasons i cant be with her forever…. the more i we stay together the more break up pain will be …. this situation makes me confused.

  106. Neil,
    What is your view on the “break” (as opposed to the breakup)? Is it a bad idea to leave things open ended? My situation in a peanutshell is that we have been together for 3.5 years, he is 13 years older than me and I now know that have a lot of dreams to realize & living to do before settling down. He doesn’t even really seem to want to settle down either, even at 39. He’s kind of content with just “waiting and seeing” which drives me nuts. I love him and am so afraid of what breaking up. I wouldn’t ask him to wait around for me or anything, but I feel like I need to go places do a lot of things that don’t involve him for a period of time. What do you think – break, break up, or wait ‘n see?

    1. The question I have is: Why can’t this exploring you have to be do be done within a relationship? I worry when I hear someone saying that a relationship means that they can’t realize their own dreams and goals and experiences. And “fear” is the worst reason ever for staying together. That said, I don’t think either break, break up, or wait & see are the right options yet. The only option is honest exploration of yourself, him, and the relationship: What is this relationship? Is it healthy? Is it real?

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  108. Great read but…what if you have kids with her? you can’t really do step four and have no contact for weeks or months, especially if you need to be in your kids life? and in step seven, you can’t really decide to wether be friends with her or not there’s really not a choice there…overall great read!

  109. This has helped me a lot. I am laying down with my ex right now. She knows she can leave whenever she wants, but in the meantime I am here for her. She has done some very hurtful things to me. As I stick around, I am making myself stronger for my next relationship, while being a positive influence on her.

  110. Hey Neil, very enlightening article, thanks.
    One question: What if the girl threats suicide? how to proceed and talk her out of that crap? thanks again…

    1. I know it is necessary to make the break up a personal matter but I thought I had a unique situation. I recently had to break up with my German girlfriend while studying abroad. Her English is not good and my German is far from fluent. When we were together we helped each other learn our native language but there was always a large communication barrier. We talked a lot through media so we could translate what each other was saying So I thought in order to properly say what I needed to and for her to understand I could use the same media. I asked my best friend for advice and she said if I cared about her I should do it in person or at least over the phone and after reading this I did it in person. No matter what the situation, a personal meeting to break up is important and both of you will appreciate it rather than it being through another source

    2. I literally just got out of a relationship where the girl was threatening suicide and what not. Like Neil said, have that two week grace period where your willing to answer any and all questions. Let her know that you care for her as a person and that she should seek help. Also, talk to her friends and let them know that she’s having suicidal thoughts and tendencies. (call her parents or sister if it’s really severe.) Most of the time they say this not with the intentions of actually going through with it, but for attention and to break your conviction. Remember, they know that by saying this you can’t leave them with good conscience. If all that still doesn’t work, then call the police and say tell them look, my ex is suicidal and I don’t know what to do, could you please help her. I’m sure they’ll at least make a police report so in the event that she DOES commit suicide, your ass is covered.

  111. Pingback: Aaron on How to Survive A Break Up | Neil Strauss

  112. Question to men: Do you believe you can have just a friendship with an ex?
    As a woman I don’t speak to my exes for a few reasons. One being if we couldn’t make it in a relationship, how are we going to be “just friends”? A relationship is just an exaggerated friendship in my eyes. Another reason is why would I want to throw it in their face that I am happier without them, or vice versa.
    I agreed with everything up to the possibility of being friends again though.

  113. Very interesting thread (and web-site) that I just discovered here. Thought I’d share some thoughts:

    How close are you to your friends? Are they people you share a connection with and use to reflect on your own life, and who are also allies? Or are they just hollow people in your life that you use to take up time when you’re bored?

    Second factor: do you know your purpose and mission in life? Or are you uncertain of what you’re doing on Earth?

    These are two big factors to a breakup.

    The “being friends” thing will never work if your friendships are not meaningful to begin with. If you love your friends unconditionally, you can love your “ex” unconditionally when she rejoins the friends in your life and that person can still play a valuable part of your life. However the disconnect time is still super important, at least a year sometimes.

    The second factor is your purpose or mission in life. If you have one, you’re not going to fill a vapid hole in your life with another person. Someone may compliment you, but if someone else BECOMES your life… oh boy.

    It’s the same issue when some potentially temporary job ‘becomes’ your life. Both relationships and statuses go away. If some woman you met is your whole life, the breakup is going to crush you.

    If, on the other hand, you know who you are, what you’re trying to accomplish, and what path you’re on–relationships don’t have to sting.

    And, if your partner is the same way, you can handle a breakup with minimal catastrophic consequences.

    Reading some of the comments on here: if your girl is / was threatening suicide and emotionally unstable, there’s no way any sort of relationship with that person is ever going to work out until that person figures themselves out.

  114. This is PERFECT! I have to admit that I have the hardest time with breakups and this has cleared a lot of fog out of my head.

  115. Mr. Style,

    I did all this, and it still bums me out. I feel guilt and pity all the time I see them drunk or posting a sad note on social network sites.

    Isn’t there a game that I can do where she doesn’t get hurt and cry? (One girl even bought a blade and was cutting her wrist in front of me in public, demanding I get back with her. WTF)

    Many thanks man,


  116. What if you are dating someone in your inner group of friends, and end up breaking up with her. You still see her often since she is in the same group you hang out with. What do you do then? Because step 4 says: End all communication. But she is often in the group so should you break off with the group who are your good friends as well? How do you go about it then?

    1. Hmm, well the least you could do is let your friends know what happened and tell them that if it’s possible to have more “guy” time or “one on one” time to help you out. This way you’re extricating yourself from the situation more often, but not alienating your friends from your ex. After all, they’re her friends too and she’s going to need them during the healing process.

  117. Holy crap, if only I had this kind of information before the last like 5 relationships life would’ve been so much easier. Well, through trial and error I also came up with many things similar to your post Neil. Now that I don’t have to figure out the rest (thanks to you, I can now end a relationship in a much more healthy manner. If nobody has any experience in this specific part of life, I totally recommend implementing most if not all of this because it’ll definitely help you and your ex heal not only faster, but more completely.

  118. Weird, been thinking about my break-up all afternoon, justjoined this site, turned the page and Bam, right on top is this article, nice.

  119. This is perfect I have a friend who recently got dumped and this seriously applies to him. I’ve given him basically the same advice but I think it’ll impact him deeper reading it here. Fingers crossed it helps him thanks a million.

  120. I would have probably not known Neil, read his “the Game” book, or encounter this site, if not for the approaches I have experienced with some guys. Thus, I wanted to find out why they are like that and why I seemed to be attracted to these type of guys… You know…”Meet them & They made you feel good Case” but still you have a nagging feeling that something is not right. I always believe in trusting my instinct so I opted to play on the safe side, not get attached (physically/emotionally), and leave when something funny develops.
    I wanted to find an answer and wants a validation that I’m doing the right thing, hence… “I’m here”.

    Thanks for posting this. I also learned from the comments of your followers.

  121. I am in this problem, and even worse, because really I love my girlfriend, only that she thinking of marrying, and it is not what I want. My desire is to turn into a pick up artist, and after having many appointments and relations find someone perfect to share my life. Simply I feel that I am not going to be happy knowing that I was never what always I wanted to be. I hope that you could give me an advice. would be wonderfull

  122. Oh wow, years later found this… great post.

    What do you do if (after years together) you discover that both of you would be better suited as a friends with benefits, living apart, more open style relationship? Really good, in fact?

    Your breakup script sounds a little harsh for a happy FWB type relationship. Yet there is still a lot of codependence and emotions there that this post would suit…

  123. This is an excellent model, Neil…I’ve been through a variety of break-ups including one’s where I’ve cried…but knew it was the right thing for me to breakup in the long run…it was so tempting to have ‘sex’ a few weeks after, because in my mind ‘I had told her we were over’, so for me there was no obligation to give more…but I stayed strong and didn’t do it as I knew it would hurt her, which I wasn’t up for…for me, what I learn is to be clear about ‘WHY’ I’m ending the relationship…that makes the choices after that clearer for me.

  124. Why aren’t you supposed to have sex one last time after breaking up? She broke up with me. And we did. But I don’t fully understand why that’s a bad idea.

  125. this is really help full just getting ready to do the same, but what really screws with me is buyers remorse just can’t get over it it seems to bite me in the but just about every time need more info is there an article or a section were I can post this?

  126. Very Useful words…

    I had my ex turn up this morning (we been split for 10 weeks and had no contact during this time) to collect her BBQ….

    no phone call no text nothing… Wish I had read this earlier today, wouldn’t have answered the door! 🙂 helps to explain why today I feel cat wank despite me being the one who called it off.

    Id pretty much stuck to steps 1-5 without realizing it.

    Great article and nice to read others experiences. Have a great weekend guys.

  127. How about facebook photos of you and your ex. Should you delete some, all or none, with you two together.

  128. Thanks Neil, this is a very helpful article. But I must ask though, could you please offer some ideas on the best way to handle “being broken up with”. While it’s similar to this post, it’s still a bit different being on the receiving end of a break up. My girlfriend (now ex) broke up with me recently, so I initiated Step 4. Not out of malice, but so as to get over her and not loose whatever bit of respect I had for myself and from her, by trying to stay in touch. Needless to say, she hadn’t read this article, so all I got was a wishy washy exit for my troubles. This happend at a time when for certain reasons, hitting the club for some ol fashioned sarging was out of the question. And while I took my medicine like a big boy, it was a bit of an emotional task sometimes and to some extent, it still is. Hence my request – please do you have any guidelines for this sort of situation.

  129. Hi I would really appreciate any feedback,

    I am currently in Step 3 and man this is hard. I’m actually at work crying right now. Let me give you some background so you guys can better help me.

    So my girlfriend and I have been going out since we met each other our final year in college (we lived next door to each other–we shared a bed). She was my only girlfriend since high school. After college, we traveled around Vietnam and Japan for 2 months. In short, it was the best trip/experience ever.

    The list goes on: bonding over our appreciation for music, our fav song is “Latch” by Disclosure (I was there helping her write her featured spread on them in Filter Mag–aka we were latched).

    Since our trip to Asia, we have been in a long distance relationship, flying back and forth b/w SF and LA. Every trip is magical and our time apart can be very painful.

    We are at a crossroads because now the pain of our short visits outweighs our happiness (and I haven’t got my shit together to take steps to move to SF where she and many of my friends are–prob reluctant b/c I never have lived outside So Cal).

    Sorry this is long. I would really appreciate any feedback/comments/whatever.


    P.S. We still consider each other best friends and are in love, we both think this is circumstantial. Do we even need to break up? Am I going about this wrong?

    1. So,

      Week 1 is complete. I feel like my girlfriend and I have gone backwards. All we can talk about is how the reason for breaking up is completely circumstantial.

      some words brought up from her:

      “a ticking time bomb”
      “this tension is the result of a communication problem”
      “you shouldn’t quit your job to move up with me, your family”

      some thoughts from me:

      -I love her
      -I know step one I need to be DECISIVE, but could you elaborate on how to be DECISIVE? I feel like I could be making a HUGE mistake by making the WRONG choice.
      -This may be a question for the Special 2014 Goal and Challenge calls, like you guys discussed on I2C Mastermind Call, “there is a certain amount of resistance to overcome…ability to overcome resistance…the only way to find out is by doing it”

      Well it’s easy to quote Tupac when speaking on drugs, “resist the temptation of the beast.” Is a relationship really a beast? What is my determining factor? Chris Rock once said, “a man is only as faithful as his options.” Well is the goal to seek other options because I want to seduce new hot LA girls because I will die soon (this was my theory in high school, it worked, but isn’t the goal to find true love)?

      On a happier note, does anyone want to go surfing? I think the lull is the best place to have this conversation. South Bay/Malibu, open to whatever..

      1. Distance can be difficult to overcome and can certainly cause real tension. I cannot tell you whether or not it’s worth it to stay in the relationship. But if it makes you happier to be with her, then do what you can to make it work. If you feel like it’s causing more pain than happiness, then put yourself in a position that will bring you the most joy.

      2. hope you’re doing better now…if not the truth is that if all/most talking you do is about breaking up then it may be best to just do so.

        1. Thanks for the Replys @Neil and @Gracos ! Everything has been great! I moved in with her ~3 months ago and that was the last time we had any sort of break-up talks.

          We are happy. Bridging the [distance] gap has brought us joy. Now it’s time to Kill The Interview!

  130. “I’d rather be miserable my entire life than having that conversation”

    George Costanza / Seinfeld

    That is exactly the way I feel at the moment…How does one overcome that fear?

    1. Ah, George Costanza, the only fat and bald guy on TV to nail his way through NYC.
      Overcoming that fear is a matter of being confident in yourself and your abilities. You have to know that you can do it, and know that you will be OK. The first step, knowing that you can, I would recommend doing something you enjoy: rock climb, paint, write, meitate,whatever it us that makes you YOU, so that you know you are a strong, confident individual. And you have to know, deep down, that this won’t be the end for you – that I there are other great partners out there, and you have the capability of finding them.

      After that, do it like a band aid. Direct, confidently, and fully aware of the pain you’re about to inflict.

      Good luck amigo.

  131. Wish i would have know bout this before my last breakup just gotta.learn from it afterall everythings a learning experience

  132. What a great article! And for putting this out years ago and still getting the response your getting…bravo man! 🙂

    But yes, this article pertains to both woman and men (me being of the female species).

    Number one rule….do not, and mean DO NOT stay in contact/check social media with your ex. I put myself through so much misery for months with my previous breakup checking his page ever day….trying to come up with come conclusions of his life through posts and pictures. DO NOT DO IT IT WILL DRIVE YOU MAD AND LEAD YOU NOWHERE! Trust me.

    Now that I am going through this breakup, I have learned my lesson along with so many others that makes this a bit easier. This is the time to focus on yourself, on what makes you happy.

    And remember, it is never right to enter another relationship with your unfinished mental/emotional baggage. Give your self a lot of time….go meet new people….learn more about yourself…..and until you are completely satisfied and comfortable in your own skin and being alone, THEN you are ready to foster someone else’s heart 🙂

    I wish all of you luck and remember all break-ups happen for a reason and your path is elsewhere.

    -From someone who just got of a 10 month, very unhealthy relationship. Learn your lessons and grow 🙂

  133. Pingback: Neil Strauss’ Rules of the Game and actors

  134. I strongly disagree.

    To me, the correct way to break up with a woman is to have her break up with you. I call this my “tear-free break up method”. It works because woman are programmed to expect men to take care of them.

    Step one: When we are on a date having dinner, when the bill comes, I look at it and tell her I didn’t want to mention it, but I am having financial problems and can she pay half. (Hopefully, she breaks up with me the next day.)
    Step two (if step one didn’t work): On the date after that, I ask to borrow $1,000.00. I promise to pay it back as soon as I can. (Again, she will likely break up with you very soon.)
    Step three (if previous steps didn’t work): On the date after that, I tell her I have always dreamed of being a stay-at-home dad. She will be mortified at the thought of her paying the bills while I am at home. Plus, all her friends and family will be telling her to break up with me. (It’s like having all her friends and family working for me.) This will definitely lead to a break up.

    I loved the Game, btw.

  135. So we broke up about 6 months ago, but we had a dog together.
    The relationship continued in unhealthy ways for about 6 months, then Thursday night we talked with my Councillor an came to the conclusion we’re not healthy to be together anymore.
    I gave her the dog and we completely cut off contact from each other until July 2017 then see where life goes from there.
    It was a 2.5 year long relationship.
    This is literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but we have some personal growth to work on ourselves. I shouldn’t look into dating until I do some growing first.

  136. Commenting on this 6 years later, & I never thought I’d need to use this advice. I’ve never experienced grief like it. Luckily, I’m much more self – aware now, (than I was when I first read your work 11 years ago), & that’s due to your writing. Still it’s not easy!

    Just wanted to say thanks Neil, & all the best to you & your family.

  137. Is it possible to reignite the flame during the two weeks? What if after talking for two u both realize u want to stay with each other? Is that sane?

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