Breaking Up – A Convo with The ‘Date Dr.’

By Philip Wagner


Most of us have been through a break up.


It’s not fun.


You have either had to break up with someone or they have broken up with you.


It’s not the end of the world – it just feels like it.


I ran into the ‘Date Dr.’ the other day …no for real. 

So we were sitting there in Starbucks and started discussing ‘breaking up gracefully’.


Whether you are the one who initiated a break up or you are the one who felt like you were kicked in the stomach, this could help.  Whether people are 15 years old or 35 years old, we can handle this part of relationships very poorly.  


Here are some things to keep in mind…

Not every relationship deserves a ‘dramatic’ breakup. A simple conversation could be what the situation calls for. There are people who think they have a ‘relationship’ when there have just been two dates.


If you have gone on one or two dates, not getting a call back is breaking up.

But after 3 or 4 dates or some kind of romantic encounter, it is appropriate to talk.


1. Don’t Break Up Using Technology

Do I have to mention this?

In our world of cell phones, email and texts, it’s easier than ever to be in touch with each other… but please don’t use them as a way to escape confrontation.   Act like a grown up. 


If you liked them enough to kiss them and have a relationship with them, then the very least you can do is honor that connection by ending it in person, face to face.


Using technology to break up is cruel and shallow.


The tabloids widely reported that a major pop star – broke up with her now-ex-husband, via a text message.  Awful. #NotaRoleModel


2. Consider the Timing Before Breaking the News

Be thoughtful and consider what may be going on in their life.


There is never a perfect time. Don’t put it off for too long.   But if they are already going  through difficult time – lost their job yesterday or family crisis, it can wait a week or two.  If there is a special occasion like a birthday or Christmas –again – wait a week.


When you know, in your heart, that this relationship is not going to last, don’t keep it going because you don’t want to hurt them.  It will hurt more as time goes on.


3. Give Reasonable ‘Face Time’

When you talk to them, give a fair amount of time for them to process it.  You might want to deliver the news and then get the heck out of there… but wait, it’s really unfair to tell them without giving them adequate time to discuss it.


I don’t mean, give them time to ‘talk you into’ changing your mind.

You might have to endure some tears, hear about some frustrations or even bear some accusations (out of hurt) but talking about it is the right thing to do.


It’s important to give the person with whom you are ending the relationship the chance to ask questions and feel the sentiment underneath the words.


If they get upset, cry or get angry – don’t try to stop them.  They are allowed to feel bad or to express their feelings.  Keep in mind; you’ve been thinking about the breakup for a few days, they’ve only heard about it a couple of minutes ago.


If they get more and more upset as the minutes pass however, you can leave and give them some down time to adjust to this new information.


If you feel threatened or they get aggressive – leave immediately and let them know you’d like to talk more, later.


Before leaving, set a general time to talk.  Let them know you’re willing to explain yourself and listen to what they have to say when they’ve calmed down a bit.


If you handled a breakup with some class, you can avoid losing a friendship, too.


4.  Take Personal Responsibility for Your Decision

This is not the time to criticize them.  Don’t place blame on them.

Please don’t say, “it’s not you it’s me” – everyone hates that line.

And if you are a believer please don’t say, “God told me to break up with you.”

(You may believe this but it does not help anyone to say it)


Stick to clarifying YOUR feelings and YOUR decisions.


Take a minute to genuinely reassure them. They need to know that you didn’t consider them ‘a waste of time’ or unimportant.  You might say something like…


“I enjoyed being with you, and I value the time we spent together, but we just aren’t right for a long term relationship.”


“Who you are and what you want are great, but where I am right now is very different.”


 ‘It’s not working, it’s no one’s fault, we just need to make a change.'”


5. Don’t Be Cruel in the Name of Honesty

Some people need “reasons” so they can accept the breakup and move on.

But don’t be hurtful when you tell them.  Someone breaking up with you is insulting at some level and being rejected feels bad enough.  There is no need to make the person feel worse.  


Nobody wants to hear that you’re dumping him or her because they’re no longer attractive to you, you don’t like the way they dress or you’re attracted to someone else.


These kinds of thoughts shouldn’t be shared.  At this point in the relationship, you should not give advice or criticism because you aren’t their girlfriend or boyfriend anymore.  


Instead, your reasons for the split should focus on how the two of you aren’t good matches for each other. Try saying something like,


    “We are both good people, we are not the right fit together romantically.”


 To the best of your ability speak well of your ex (especially if you are a part of the same church). People have unfairly “vented” to another person about an ex at church. It ends up being gossip more than anything, and doesn’t allow the one being spoken of to have room to grow and eventually date another people in that church.  Of course, this may not always be possible, but people should try to leave the details of the relationship and breakup to their close friends or mentors.


6. Stay Strong in Your Belief that it’s Time to End The Relationship 


If you start to deliver the news they get teary or upset – some people think,

            ‘Oh no, they’re going to cry.’ 

And attempt to show you care about them by saying,

            “There might be a chance for us in the future but right now the timing isn’t             





 Giving someone a false sense of hope does not help him or her heal.

If you know it’s over, spare them the cruelty of pretending you might be interested in the future, when you won’t.


It might be OK to agree to keep in touch… but not usually.  Mature people who end on good terms could communicate on occasion. 


Calling just to check up on them in a week or even a month is not really helpful. It just confuses things and puts you back into the forefront of her mind.



In the future, if it’s their birthday or a holiday and you were very close, then it could be a good thing to call to wish them well.


However, don’t call to make plans, don’t call to discuss sensitive issues and don’t talk with them for longer than 10 minutes.  Be ‘acquaintances’ and keep in mind that acquaintances rarely talk more than 2 or 3 times a year.


 7. End Things Correctly Before You Start Seeing Someone Else

Actually, if you don’t, that’s called cheating!


Forget about using the “I’ve met someone else” escape clause.

Introducing a new love into a breakup discussion only tortures your soon-to-be ex and makes you look untrustworthy.  Mentioning another person really hurts and unnecessarily intensifies the pain.


I strongly suggest to you – ‘Don’t get right into a new relationship, right away!’

Don’t medicate your sorrow or loneliness with a new person. It isn’t fair to either of you.  Give yourself time to refocus in your life.


Jumping from one relationship to the next is a bad habit.  Take some time to heal or recover and grow your relationship with Jesus.


People who aren’t good at being ‘single’ –they always ‘have’ to be in a relationship, are often – not good at being married.



Prescription for Healing After the Relationship Ends

Think about –


What did you learn? Think of a few things you appreciated about this relationship that you would like to have in the next one, and a few things you would NOT like want to experience next time. 

Instead of making up excuses to call or see him or her, keep yourself busy with new activities, friends, and healthy distractions.

“Can You Be Friends With Your Ex?” Good question.  It’s not easy to answer. Whether or not two people can remain friends after a breakup depends on the two people and their feelings about the end of the relationship.


If someone is very much in love and then broken up with and continues trying to get back with that person, then having a platonic relationship does not work.


Take about 8 weeks with no contact. No phone. No ‘let’s get together for coffee.’

You need time to ‘detoxify’ and get on with your life.


Talking every day as “friends” is also a bad idea. That just keeps the wounds open and hope alive.


What do you think?


Do you have a question for the “Date Dr.”?  I can ask for you…Image


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