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 I become withdrawn and unpleasant.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.)


  • You could clue women into this behavior without acting like you’re proud of it, yes. Apologetic and guilt-ridden would be great. It might make a difference to some of the women you’ve actually DONE this to. It also would change the attitude of your readers – some of whom rightly hate you for your attitude about this.
    Saying you look like William Hung is an insult, yes. But why do you sink to their level by calling them a troll?

  • I’m not gonna grovel, Laura. Especially since the emotionality of many of the commenters is likely due to their *own* experiences, not my revelations, per se. It’s not my duty to apologize on behalf of all guys who’ve pulled this.

    And not that you even cared to ask, but, as a matter of fact, I HAVE personally apologized to the women I’ve done this to. In fact, they’re the ONLY ones I feel I should have to apologize to. Not you. Not anyone else on here.

    As for the trolls… it’s not sinking to their level. It’s not an insult. Trolls are what they are.

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  • I’m not sure how smart you were really being – most girls I knew who had boyfriends act like this knew what was really going on. They did break up with them, cuz only the insanely desperate will date someone who doesn’t want to date them. But they also walked away thinking the guy was a spineless douche.

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  • Come on, people. You are pointing out the obvious when you say these were skeazy moves. Mr. Hong acknowledges as much several times in the article (and the comments section). I think the knee-jerk reaction is to be mad, because no one likes to feel played. However, I do recall using similar tactics to have boys break up with me so I wouldn’t be the cold-hearted er… gal. This does not reflect well on ones moral fiber. Thank God, I was in high school and grew up some since.

    Being able to recognize that maybe you aren’t the “bad guy” when you break up with the significant other is more to the point here. Anyone who’s broken up or been broken up with someone has probably used some kind of emotional manipulation. Just admit it. Glass houses and stones.

  • I find this to be a very honest, insightful piece in which the writer is calling himself out as a douchebag so that others may recognize when they’re being a similar kind of douchebag or when their being played by this kind of douchebag. We all have had a douchebag moments, and it takes a lot of humility to acknowledge that. So the writer calls himself out first, paving the path for others to be more honest with themselves….and ultimately to treat each other with more respect (a point completely missed by some of the posters here). Nice work, Dennis.

  • Wow. I found it amazingly honest, and I’m proud of you of having the guts to confess it online like this. I would say two things: if you believe in love, then it’s the learning curve. No worries. You’ll eventually realize that it’s a better choice to make it a clean break.
    But if you’re like me and you don’t, then I believe all of us are like this. There’s only so much you can care for a person, even someone you love. And when that person clings on to you, even though you don’t want the relationship anymore, the only way left is to make them not like you. But hey, I’m still young, so don’t flame me. It’s just what I think right now. Learning curve, remember? 😛

    Great job, Dennis. I respect honest people.

  • I do the same things as Dennis and identify with the article. I would add one more thing “Start Being Needy – start telling her every insecurity and make her take the lead and make the decisions and watch the attraction fall quickly.

    In my experience girls have been doing this for years and a lot more often than guys. It is very rare to find a girl who hasn’t done these things in her life. Bravo Dennis for keeping it real.

  • haha loved this man, I play these games too. My favorite strategy that I actually pulled once was to convince the girl that I didn’t believe she existed, and that “I realized she was a figment of my imagination.” it was the most fun I ever had. I got to ignore her calls and scream things like “go away you’re not real!” and seek counseling and stuff. Of course, she was real. I think. We both question it from time to time as a result haha.

  • I’m thinking the the present tense may be a contributing factor to people thinking you’re still pulling these stunts. Especially if they skimmed the article and didn’t read the whole things. Which isn’t really your fault.

  • @Jaberkaty:

    Ha, that’s true. I guess that’s what I get for sticking to what I learned in high school English about making your writing more dynamic! 😉

  • Haha I’m a girl and I do a lot of these…sometimes I see just how much I can get away with when it comes to guys I date. I usually get bored pretty quick and just start the straight up ignoring/not returning calls and texts approach. I figure, why waste my time with someone I don’t like? I don’t do this to people I’m actually in a relationship with though, just people I have been casually seeing.

  • God, imagine two people with a mindset like that dating each other, both of them wanting to end it but neither of them giving in to actually pulling the trigger! Wait, didn’t they make a horrible movie about exactly that?

    Sounds like putting yourself through hell to me, why do it if you don’t have to?
    It’s not worth the effort and stress that you put yourself through.

    People that do stuff like this have something wrong with their perspective on life. Why should you care what anyone thinks about the breakup, especially if you have just saved yourself weeks-months of stress, changed behavioral patterns, lying and other negative elements? why do you need to feel like your “not the bad guy” or “your not an a-hole” even though the very thing you are doing is validating that you actually are? is this some sort of endless emotional downward spiral of a self fulling fear?
    Sounds to me like you are broadcasting your insecurities and then making them worse through your actions. Either you really hate yourself and are masochistic / like being in situations like that (which means that you probably grew up or have spent a portion of your like with situations like this as being the norm), or you are really non confrontational (which if you are, you are in for some hard times, expect to get walked on because you are too scared to stand up for yourself and not let yourself get taken advantage of)…

    For their own good, if not for the respect of themselves, I hope that people that do these kinds of things realize what it does to them and that it’s not worth going through, much less putting someone else through. Control of your life is a GOOD thing, you don’t have to be a slave to your fears or emotions and it is within you to have a happy and prosperous life, you just need to believe that you deserve it and you will work toward it. Don’t delude yourself, don’t try and validate your actions with excuses, the only one you’re fooling is yourself. These kinds of self destructive behaviors can also be signs of someone that’s easily controlled by their own emotions.. and can be prone to mood swings anyway (the kind that make you decide that you liked this girl/guy last week but now you just aren’t into her/him and want to break up with her/him but don’t want to look like a jerk, so you start lying to her/him, trying to get them to break up with you)..

    Anyway, sorry to ramble, I could go on, talk about respect and how the person you date should make you want to be a better person, should inspire you, but there is so much more to read on your site…

    That being said, its not to see someone bringing this kind of stuff to awareness, so to speak, I love the people that proudly talk about doing this kind of stuff, as the saying goes “we are doomed to repeat life’s lessons until we’ve learned them”.

  • I dated a guy who pulled all of the above on me, except the social butterfly one. The irony is when we’d “talk” and I’d bring up making a clean, mutual, break of things he would go on and on about how that wasn’t what he wanted and how much he cared about me and how we could make it work out. Explain that to me Dennis cuz I don’t get it? I would think a guy that pulls these kinds of moves would jump at the chance for an easy out with a mutual, friendly breakup. But maybe some guys like sending mixed messages and stringing a girl along. Or maybe in reality some are just drama seekers and it’s the drama more than anything that they thrive on.

  • Perhaps he had concerns about the relationship, but hadn’t decided for sure whether or not he wanted to break up.

    Obviously, I can only speak from *my* experience, so I’m going to explain by telling you about a previous breakup that I went through:

    First off, I’m a total ponderer. When I have a concern about something, I always need to mull things over on my own before I say anything to anyone else. Sometimes, this mulling can go on for weeks or even months, especially if it’s a particularly difficult decision.

    Anyway, I had been dating a girl for several months. Things were going well, and the relationship was getting serious. But then, I started noticing things about her that, to me, bordered on being dealbreakers. I wasn’t sure, though, so I started spending a lot of time mulling over these potentials…. Could they be dealbreakers? Could I learn to live with them?

    Because of my mulling, I started withdrawing from the relationship. I became less talkative and sometimes moody. At first, I didn’t even realize that I was pulling away. So, when she would ask if something was wrong, I’d get annoyed with her and tell her that everything was fine. In her mind, she was trying to be emotionally available to me. But in my mind, *she* was being too overbearing and not allowing me to mull over the stuff that I needed to mull over (and, again, I wasn’t ready to say anything to her yet).

    At this point, I didn’t want to break up with her. I wasn’t ready for that step. I just wanted to think things over. When I finally did figure out what was going on inside my head, I made the decision to break up. But this was probably two or three months after I started withdrawing from her and effectively pulling Strategy #2 without even realizing that was what I was doing.

    So, maybe that’s what was happening with this guy you were dating….

  • a guy i was dating recently did the flake thing, but he’s the one who initiates trying to make plans. so it makes absolutely no sense… it seems like he’s trying to piss me off but then he’ll tell me he wants to hang out, and he keeps in touch.

  • conceivedandcomposed

    Can’t say that I was completely innocent of committing the aforementioned atrocities, however I’ll have to say that I’ve only been in a handful of “committed” relationships and I’ve given the girl the courtesy of a formal “breakup”, she deserves at least that much, regardless of how sour the relationship had become.

    but when you’re simply dating, there’s no need for such closure. you just delete their numbers, cut them off and move on with your life. no need for underhanded topics….it’s counterintuitive to your goals of anti-douchebaggery – you’ll still be labeled a douchebag for pulling these tactics instead of manning up!

    solution? don’t get into committed relationships in the first place 🙂

  • Mate, I think any guy who claim’s to never have pulled at least one of these move’s is probably in denial. Personally I’ve done them all, once all at the same time.Talk about a perfect storm. Keep up the good work:)

  • UGH!!! So easy to play games it seems…

    “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.”

    You redeemed yourself here, you are a good boy 😉

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