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How to End a Casual Relationship with Kindness and Respect

by eharmony Editorial Team - April 14, 2021

How to end a casual relationship? Breaking up is hard to do… even if you’re in a casual relationship. Most of us don’t like hurting people or disappointing them, and it’s entirely possible there’ll be plenty of both, even if your relationship is unofficial. While you might have legitimate reasons to break up with someone, it can still be really hard to figure out a way to end a casual relationship. Here are some tips:

Just because a relationship is casual doesn’t mean it doesn’t require care while ending it – you never know how the other person might feel, after all. Here are some tips for how to end a hookup relationship kindly:

1. Don’t put it off for too long

It can be tempting to stay in a relationship longer than you should, hoping the other person will hit the brakes instead. But that’s not fair to either of you, and it’s often obvious to your partner if you’re just going through the motions, even in a unofficial relationship. So, do both of you a favor and cut your losses and move on sooner rather than later.

2. Do it face to face, if possible

Unless you’re in the very early stages of dating and it’s only been a couple of dates, in which case a text is acceptable, when it comes to how to end a casual relationship, doing it in person is best. Letting the other person know how you feel face to face is a gesture of respect – you’re showing them you value them enough to give them a chance to talk things over with you. If an in-person conversation isn’t possible for whatever reason, a video or phone call are other options too. Whatever you do, though, don’t resort to ghosting.

3. Don’t ghost them

For people wondering how to end a casual relationship without a confrontation, it can be tempting to just fade away, ignore phone calls and texts, deflect any suggestion to get together. It’s also the easy way out, and can be really, really hurtful to the other person, who’s left wondering what they did wrong. Unless getting in touch with them would be dangerous to you, you need to actually have the conversation, whether in person or text.

4. Choose an appropriate time and place

Almost as important as how to end a hookup relationship is when to do it. If you’re splitting up in person, choose somewhere reasonably private so that if the situation escalates into an argument, or if the other person gets emotional, they’re spared the indignity of an audience. It’s also a good idea to choose somewhere that’s easy to get out of, both for your sake and the other person’s – there’s nothing worse than being stuck somewhere with your ex.

When deciding how to end a casual relationship, it’s also important to take into account when you should have the break-up conversation. If you know your soon-to-be-ex’s schedule, try and work around it – talk to them just before the weekend so they have time and space to process, rather than just before an exam or an important presentation at work.

5. Be honest, but kind

Does anyone really believe it when you say, ‘It’s not you, it’s me?’ That said, even someone you’re in a casual relationship with deserves an explanation as to why you’ve had a change of heart… as long as you can deliver it in a way that’s not hurtful. Sometimes, the person may not even be aware of their behavior that’s driving people away. That said, only bring it up if it’s something they can easily change, and not something personal like their attractiveness to you or their family. If that’s the case, then it really is you, not them.

6.Use ‘I’ statements whenever possible

Saying, ‘I’m feeling a little overwhelmed between work and family commitments right now, so it’s not a good time for me to be in a relationship,’ or ‘I care about you, but I think we are better off not in a romantic relationship right now’ is a great way to be firm about why you want to split up. It also allows the other person to feel like it’s their fault and it doesn’t give them an opening to argue about whether the relationship is worth saving. ‘I’ statements are also a great way to prevent the conversation from getting heated and lowers the chances of the other person getting defensive or angry.

7. Emphasize the positive

There’s a reason you got together with your soon to be ex – maybe it’s their amazing smile, maybe it’s the way they laugh. Maybe you really loved the song suggestions they send you, or talking books with them, or, heck, maybe it’s been the best sex of your life. Bringing up your ex’s stellar qualities and making sure they know that there’s things you appreciate about them is an excellent way to make sure your ex doesn’t feel like you broke up with them because they weren’t good enough.

8. Once you’ve broken up, don’t muddy the waters

It’s tempting to soften the blow of a breakup by suggesting you remain friends. And while it sounds great, typically, it’s not a good idea when you ask yourself how to end a casual relationship. It’s best to have some time apart after the relationship has ended so you both can move on. In fact, once you’ve broken up, it’s best to stop all contact, including social media and especially the supposed ‘no strings attached’ hookups – it’s all too easy, when emotions cloud your judgment, to make decisions you’ll regret, so shut it down immediately to ensure you won’t make a decision you’ll later regret.   

With every ending comes a new beginning

Ending any relationship, even one that’s casual or a hookup, can be hard. It’s important to put some thought into figuring out how to end even a casual relationship so that you can do it in a kind, respectful way that minimizes hurt and drama for both you and the other person. And once you’re no longer in a relationship, eharmony is a great way to dip a toe back into the dating pool when you’re ready for a fresh start.

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