How I Get A Girl To Break Up With Me

Image by El Nuko via Flickr

I hate breaking up with someone. I really do. Call me spineless, tell me to grow a pair, I get it. I just have this need to be the “good guy” (or at least deceive myself that I am). I feel better when I’m the poor sap who gets broken up with, rather than the a-hole who dumps an awesome girl.

To that end, I’ve come up with some pretty devious ways to get a girl to break up with me. When I’m ready for the relationship to end, but don’t want to pull the slow fade or just stop calling altogether (remember, I’m trying to be the good guy here), these devastatingly effective strategies get her to do all the dirty work for me:

I “become” excessively busy at work

All of a sudden, my workload surges exponentially. I’ve been given a new project. Or, I’m the newly-appointed office firefighter. Either way, I have to start working late most nights.

After a few months, she starts wondering if work matters more to me than she does. It does, of course. What she never realizes is that I don’t actually have to do all this extra work. I only take it on to get out of hanging out with her. In some cases, I don’t even have any extra work. I simply spend my late nights getting reacquainted with WebSudoku.

So, she breaks up with me. And I get to be the poor overworked sap, unreasonably forced to choose between career and personal life.

I “become” stressed out and moody

This one works great in conjunction with the first strategy, especially if I’m dating a particularly supportive woman who understands the importance of career. For her, being busy may not be a good enough reason to break up. Seriously, right? How dare she be so considerate?

In any case, with an increased workload comes increased stress, and with increased stress comes a decline in my overall demeanor. I’m not my usual cheerful, upbeat self. I become withdrawn and unpleasant. Yeesh, who in their right mind would want to date someone like me?


I “become” opinionated and argumentative

Now, I am a naturally opinionated person, but I’m also good at letting the little things go. With the exception of a few “hot topics,” I generally don’t care too much if someone disagrees with me.

That is, unless I’m trying to break up with that someone. Then, I let nothing go. Every single opinion she expresses is met with an opposing viewpoint, whether or not I actually disagree.

What’s most powerful about this particular strategy is its permanence. With the work or the stress, the girl may still have hope that my change in behavior is temporary. With the argumentativeness, though, she’ll hopefully figure that that’s just how I am. So, she has to decide whether or not she can live with it.

Of course, I do everything in my power to make sure she can’t.

I “become” a social butterfly

A group of friends have invited me to their weekly poker night. At the same time, some coworkers want to start doing happy hours every other week. Also, my community service organization has elected me the new social chairman. Oh, and a bunch of old fraternity brothers are planning a trip to Vegas next weekend.

Quite simply, my social calendar fills up, and I have less and less quiet time to spend with her. So, she wonders what she’s doing with me.

Then again, if she’s a social butterfly herself, this strategy flops big time.

I “become” flakey

This one is probably the most frustrating, but it’s also perhaps the most effective. I start forgetting about plans that we’ve made. I plan a day trip with her, but forget to ask for the day off. Worse yet, I forget her birthday.

This strategy does have a drawback, though, in that I make myself look pretty unattractive. If the girl I’m dating complains about me, the flakiness strategy (along with the moodiness strategy) may hurt any potential chances I might have with her friends.

Yes, this is how devious I am. Even as I’m breaking up with a girl… or, ah, being broken up with, I’m thinking of how I can get in good with her friends afterwards.

See? Getting a girl to break up with me isn’t really all that hard.

And now that you all think I’m the biggest douchebag in the world, I want to clarify that this is not a how-to column. I’m offering these strategies so that you can recognize if someone pulls them on you, not so that you can learn them for yourself. Passive-aggressive behavior is deplorable. If we’ve simply lost interest in the relationship, we owe the other person the respect of being honest.

For what it’s worth, I’ve personally apologized to the women I’ve done this to. I’m certainly not proud of myself for having behaved like this, and honestly, I don’t do it anymore. I can’t defend my past actions, but I can share what I’ve done in the hopes that others won’t fall prey to similar tactics.

So, who here has been a victim of these strategies? I have a nagging feeling that I’m not the only guy—or girl—who’s pulled them.

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By day, I'm a marriage and family therapist. By night, I am a relationships and comedy writer, which can be redundant or an oxymoron, depending on your perspective. I'm the creator of Social Savvy Sage, a coaching service that focuses on developing social skills. I am also the creator of Musings, the blog you're reading right now. You can find me on Twitter. (I am not the creator of Twitter.)


  • It took me a while to figure it out, but it finally came to me what was so sleazy about this concept for me, so much so that I — as a woman with no love for monogamy or clingy men — found myself getting disgusted with and pissed off at a stranger with the best intentions:

    It wasn’t the total dick move of a guy manipulating his unsuspecting lovers into breaking up with him that bothered me, or even the suggestion that a woman may be so understanding and supportive that he has to break out the big guns to turn her off. It’s the complete lack of consequences. Not only is it his attempt to reject a woman while deluding himself into thinking his hands are clean, but with an eye to keeping what is essentially emotional abuse from other potential lovers. In other words, not only does he get away with this, he gets to do it again to her friends.

    I understand the point of this article, but I can also understand the revulsion it inspired.

    • Fair enough. For what it’s worth, I did purposely write it to make people uncomfortable. I just didn’t think people would actually get so infuriated by it.

      Thanks for commenting, though! 🙂

  • I feel like we’re brothers.

  • Dennis – Having spent around 20 seconds looking at your pic, I am guessing you are no longer a spring chicken. No longer a spring chicken myself, it took me years to finally leave my relationship after the suffering the same string of passive aggressive (read: cowardly) behaviour. The ultimate break-up was massive and dramatic only because every time I tried to break up with him previous to the final split, he would wheel back his behaviour and swear to change and I was the love of his life blah, blah, blah. He was terrified to break up with me, but also terrified of being left. Finally, after it became clear he was also screwing around on me, I dumped him on a February night in the -30 streets of a (usually) quiet Ontario community. Now free and healthy and seriously moved on, I think back on this man and this relationship with utter shame. Shame at myself for not being smarter and stronger. Shame at him for being emotionally manipulative and abusive. And shame of all the years and potential relationships lost to this complete bullshit. But ultimately I feel sorry for him, and for you. Honestly, if you cannot connect honestly and consistently with the person you purportedly care about, why are you even dating at all. You don’t have to be in love with somebody and put a ring on it to treat them with respect, even when you are calling it off. When you finally find “the one”, I can only hope that she accepts the significant train wreck you’ve left behind. Because any woman in her right mind would plaster you with red flags.

  • Hey Dennis,

    Great post! I’m happy I stumbled across this one (even though it’s kinda old now 😉 ).

    I agree with you wholeheartedly: these are all extremely effective, yet SLEEZY ways to get women to do the dumping instead of you.

    I too have used just about all of these scapegoats and have even had a few pulled on me . . . the nerve of them. lol

    I’m sure we’ve all been on either the giving or receiving end of the infamous “I just need time to work on myself” excuse as well.

    Over time, I learned that it’s far more beneficial on both sides if you’re just upfront about parting ways (in a non-asshole kinda way)when that time comes.

    Taking your invaluable piece of breakup knowledge a bit further, it would be a lot easier on the “breaker-upper” if they could recognize the signs that the relationship won’t last as early as possible.

    Some of these warning signs are: excessive clinginess or codependence (every man needs their space), a lot of questioning (most men aren’t cool with being interrogated), repeated accusations (if you continously accuse your lover of something, eventually it become a reality), or the sex is simply not good anymore (men have needs, as do women).

    Being aware of these red flags will allow you to end the relationship before it gets too late, and save you a lot of face come dumping time.

    Regardless of when you decide to end it, making up phony circumstances is not the way to go. In the end, respect will take you a long way.

    You never know, you might want to rekindle old flames one day. Or just as you said, Dennis, you may want to test your luck with one of her friends/associates.

    Once again, awesome post. Love your site. I’ll be here pretty often to check out more good stuff!

  • This article made me a little uncomfortable to be honest, but Geezeus not even close to how the comments made my skin crawl.

    I get the intention. And I understand from my own process that only careful introspection can produce such clear thoughts on one’s own history.

    My uncomfortable reaction is most definitely tied to my own sad memories and where I could identify this behavior in someone I cared for. But I also feel joy as I am quite sure I’d never accept treatment from anybody again- even without Dennis’ generosity by sharing his experience. Unhappy people need to play games in their relationships like, “Pursue and Avoid.” Unhealthy people need to fill up the empty hours with drama. When a person becomes more solid- as a result of going through pain usually- if they smell even a WHIFF of these games, they’re just done. The elaborate ruse and subterfuge described above never gets a chance to unfold.

    I get the impression that Dennis, like me, is just over it. That seems to be the true spirit in which this was written: “This is what I used to do, it did not bring me joy and I’m one floor up now.” RESPECT. And thank you for sharing.

  • Hey Dennis great post glad i found it when i did cause oddly enough I typed into google search these exact words “how to get a girl to break up with me”. pretty funny huh? 🙂 but anyway I have been in a three year relationship (high school and 2 yrs after) and then a three month relationship in which the girl was a total “you know what” and in my defense i did the breaking up both times and it never felt good i absolutely hate it. not because I don’t like confrontation or anything. its because I am a very sensitive guy and i don’t like hurting people. Seeing someone cry makes my stomach physically hurt. but anyways on to my current situation i met this girl almost exactly a yr ago and we fell in love with each other very quickly we met in January of 2012 and started dating in Febuary and on June 6th i proposed to her which i now realize was foolish I didn’t know her well enough and the love blinders blocked out any impurities in her she was perfect to me. then a month after i proposed we moved in together and at first it was amazing and fun but due to financial reasons she moved back out two months later to live with her mom. but in the last month it was a lot of fighting and unhappiness and we were never happy with anything and i discovered that she has an uncanny ability to flip out over the littlest things. and everything is a big deal. and yes that may be expected in a new couple living together it was ridiculous. after she moved out which it has been over four months now. she gets upset if i dont text her in the morning before i go to work or if i go see friends rather than her or if i don’t pay enough attention to her or if i don’t respond to her texts within ten minutes and if i don’t respond in an hr there is hell to pay unless i make a good excuse and a few times i made one up just so she wont get upset. and we still argue and fight all the time and on the other hand as much of bad person i have made her out to be she is young and inexperienced never lived on her own and i can tell you for sure that is huge change in your life living on your own. and to explain the clingy-ness her dad died a year before we met and she has had bad relationships in the past in which she was betrayed so i dont blame her and other than that she is beautiful playful funny fiery full of life she is a brilliant English major and an “A” student and she makes me happy most of the time but she is very insecure and she doesn’t like it when i drink without her even if its just guys and even if i’m at home. and i have never given her a reason to doubt me i have been drunk once and i was with my sister and her new husband and i have never been drunk since and i haven’t had the desire to either i told her that and she still doesn’t trust me. and i can no longer deal with it and its not what i want for the rest of my life so i am very close to breaking up with her. although i will probably wait till after Christmas I’m don’t want to be a total a-hole and i have to be sure this is really what i want.

  • anyways thank you all for your posts reading them helped me a lot. Sorry for the book long post but i needed to get that off my chest

  • I’ve been on the receiving end of this behavior from every woman I’ve ever dated, so I see no problem with starting to do it myself. Many women, you caused this to yourselves with your inability to be direct and straightforward.

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