It’s easy to leave someone who hasn’t treated you well: You give them a piece of your mind and then say goodbye. But what if you find yourself in a relationship with a “nice guy”? He’s kind, sensitive, not a game-player or emotionally manipulative, but he just doesn’t “do it” for you.
Perhaps you’ve decided you’re more into “bad boys,” or maybe you’re just bored, but for whatever reason you want to get out of the relationship. Breaking up with a nice guy takes a little more finesse.
The traditional advice holds true: A telephone call generally isn’t appropriate (unless it’s long-distance, or other circumstances demand it). An email isn’t any nicer, and a text message is inexcusable. The only nice way is in person.
Arrange a time to see him so that you can tell him how you feel. Once you’re together, it’s best to say what’s on your mind sooner rather than later. You don’t want to have to fake your feelings or pretend that everything is OK.
There’s no easy way to let him know. The words you’ll say will depend on the exact reason you want to leave, but let him know that he deserves someone who wants to be with him with all her heart…but right now that person isn’t you.
This may be difficult for him to hear. On the other hand, he may have felt the same, but because he is a nice guy, he didn’t have the heart to tell you. If you’re really lucky, he’ll be relieved, and you can relax and start on a journey towards “just-friendship.”
Of course, he may be crushed and feel horrible. Tell him how sorry you are to cause him any pain. If he tells you how much he loves you, ask him if he would be happy with someone who didn’t love him equally. The only reasonable answer is “no.”
Most nice guys are great, but for others it’s just a mask behind which they can manipulate people. Watch out for emotional manipulation: attempts to elicit pity, accusations of cruelty and selfishness, or other similar behavior. You can cut him some slack because of his pain, but be careful of taking him back out of sympathy.
If you’re overcome with guilt, relax: We all sign up for the possibility of heartbreak when we enter a relationship. You owe him your honesty, compassion and kindness. You don’t owe him another chance, sex, or anything else that you don’t want.
Finally, remember to be cautious about pursuing a friendship – give him a proper amount of time to recover (which will vary depending on the length of the relationship). Here’s a good test: If you think he’d feel bad when hearing about your new boyfriend, you shouldn’t be friends.
For more advice, see my ebook:
The Break Up Guide: A Woman’s Guide to Leaving Unhappy Relationships – your guide to leaving as painlessly and compassionately as possible.