Make these suggestions to your teen:
Think about what kind of relationship you want to have after the breakup, if any.
Would you like to stay friends? This won't be your decision alone; maybe the other person won't want a friendship with you. Or would it be better not to see each other anymore, period? This might be hard if you go to the same school, hang out with the same friends, live in the same neighborhood or worship at the same place.
Don't start dating another person until you've broken up with the first person.
This isn't fair to anyone, including you. You can't bring your best to a new relationship when you're being dishonest about an old one.
Do it soon.
There's no point in letting the relationship drag on if you know you want to end it. Don't wait for someone else to come along, or stay together for a wrong reason: because you don't want to be alone, because it's convenient, because the world sees you as a couple, because the other person wants you to stay together.
Do it in person.
Not over the phone, not in a letter, not by email or an instant message. In person. Face-to-face. Privately, not in a crowd. And don't send someone else to bear the bad news. The only exception to this rule is if you feel unsafe around the other person.
Be honest, but try to be kind.
And try to relax. If this is how you really feel, you're doing the right thing. You might say something like, "I'm sorry, but you and I just aren't right for each other. I think it's best for both of us if we break up." Or, "I'm sorry, but this wasn't meant to be." Or, "I'm sorry, but I don't feel the way I used to about you." Of course, you'll come up with much better words. No one else can tell you how to say this.
Don't blame the other person.
Saying, "This is your fault," or, "If you were different, this might have worked out," or, "You're not the right person for me," is unnecessarily hurtful. Plus it invites the other person to say, "Wait! I can change!"
Don't pick a fight.
This might be a fast way to break up—plus a fight is "proof" that you don't belong together—but it's mean, and it doesn't give either of you a chance to talk openly and honestly.
If the other person wants to talk, listen.
Even if the person tries to get you to wait, or rethink your decision, or give him or her another chance. Hear the person out, then say something like, "I'm sorry, but I've made up my mind."
If the other person just wants to get away from you, let him or her go.
Maybe he or she is too upset or hurt to talk right now. You can talk another time.
© Pamela Espeland 2003