How do I break up with my boyfriend?

Dear Guys,

I’ve been with my boyfriend for two years, and we’ve been friends for almost ten years. I live in Georgia, he lives in Ohio. I pursued a relationship with him about four years ago, but broke up with him. Two years ago, we started dating again.

He is a great guy and seems perfect on paper, but for some reason something’s missing for me. We only see each other a few times a year, and last time we visited, I told him we should break up. But the next day he talked me out of it; I just couldn’t do it.

When we’re together I can’t bring myself to break it off with him, and we always have such a good time together. But when we’re apart I want to break it off with him so badly. He’s made it clear that he wants to marry me, even though I think he knows that he feels more strongly for me than I for him. If you were in his shoes, what would you want from me? Should I make a special trip up to Ohio just to break up? What on earth do I say?

And please, please tell me that he’ll be all right and this will be better for him than if I just stayed with him and hope that eventually I could develop the same feelings he has for me.


Dear Tamerin,

Thanks for your question.

So we’ll start with a hypothetical question for you. Can a person grow to love someone? The answer is yes and no. Because we believe there is a difference between loving someone and being “in love.” Being “in love” is something undefinable, a chemical reaction, an aligning of the stars. Truly loving someone takes time, and grows from mutual respect and admiration. Some people need to feel “in love” with their partner in order to be with them, and some people are happy enough just loving someone and being loved. (As an aside, there was a recent article in Psychology Today that you might find interesting. Are you with the right mate?  )

So the more pertinent question Tamerin is: What do you need? Because this is what it comes down to. Not what some book or magazine says. Or your friends. Or your family. Or this guy. You need to be honest with yourself and decide what it is that you want out of your relationship and the man you’re choosing to be with.

It sounds like you’re conflicted, or maybe you’re only conflicted out of guilt. Either way, you need to be honest with yourself and then be honest with him. Don’t stay with someone out of guilt or charity. Eventually they will become resentful of you. Maybe he realizes he feels more strongly toward you than you do for him, and for now he’s okay with that. But honestly this is a red-flag. If he’s willing to accept this imbalance of power it’s likely he has low self-esteem.

This breakup probably deserves to be done face-to-face, but if you’ve already tried that and failed, then we think it’s 0kay—although not ideal—to do it via phone. Either way he’ll probably want to come see you and try to talk you out of it. But you need to be strong. No use dragging this out. You asked what we’d want. Well, we’d want to know the truth. So we could get on with healing.

Will he be alright? We know you care about him, but he’s an adult. He should be able to take care of himself. And you trying to soften the blow is only going to make this harder on him. Once you decide what you want to do, do it immediately. If he wants an audience we think he deserves that, but not if he’s going to try and delay the inevitable. It all needs to happen now so you both can move on with your lives.

We wish you all the best. Good luck.

Feel free to ask us a follow up question. And please keep us posted as this progresses.


ps. Please let your friends know about us. Thanks! And check out our “Relationship Memoirs” page. You might enjoy some of our guest writers.

Other Questions about Breaking Up/Dealing with ex boyfriends and girlfriends:

He speaks in facts, she in emotions; should I break up or do the long distance dance? 

I didn’t want the divorce; how do I get him back?

This girl is confusing me; what do I do?

Not over his ex; should I leave now or give it a chance? 

Is my ex-boyfriend still into me?

Fraternity Boy: Does my ex still love me? 

Getting back together; is it possible?

2 Comments on How do I break up with my boyfriend?

  1. tamerin // May 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm //

    Wow, you have given me a lot to think about. And that article from Psychology Today was great.For a long time I’ve thought that I’d rather have a relationship that wasn’t based on the fluttery, woozy, “in love” feelings because I’ve had those feelings for a guy who was a complete jerk wipe, so I know that’s an unreliable basis for a relationship. I’m going to think deeply about what it is that I really want and need in a relationship. Thanks Guys so much!! I feel like I should pay you or something. You are excellent at what you do.

  2. @Tamerin…….Thanks for your kinds words. We’re glad we were able to help you and give you some things to think about. Thanks for the donation! We appreciate it. Please let your friends know about us. Thanks. And take care. Please keep in touch and keep us posted on how things are going. Feel free to ask another question anytime.

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