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.

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8 Responses to “How to Break Up with a Nice Guy”

  1. It’s beyond my comprehension why this article is more about how HE feels, and about making HIM feel good, than about how YOU feel.
    Listen up, women: If you need to break up, just tell him the truth and break up as fast and easy as you can to make it easy for YOU. So YOU don’t get exhausted, feel guilty, etc.
    The fact is that, if he wanted to dump you, he would not bother to be nice about it. So why waste your energy? Be straight and to the point, keep it simple, so you don’t exhaust and depress yourself in the process. Then don’t bother trying to be his friend–it’s a waste of time because his male ego will NEVER allow him to find it acceptable when you are with another man. Total waste of your time to try to salvage a friendship. For real friendship, you need other women. A man will always think that he has a chance with you, even if merely for sex, as long as you are remotely nice to him. Just make a clean break.

  2. This is not very helpful. I need a way to break up with him with out talking in person!

  3. A man will always think that he has a chance with you, even if merely for sex, as long as you are remotely nice to him.

  4. I broke up with mine through text. It was much easier because i could express myself better. In person????What if he uncovers the mask and turns violent?

  5. Wow. The person who went by the name of “What?” clearly has a huge problem with stereotyping men. There’s a very good reason this article exists. Sometimes there are great guys who love you, would do anything to make you happy, and just want spend the rest of their lives with you…and you don’t feel the same…

  6. Ok now this is total crap & its this type of advice that is another contribution to the total break down of relationships & society as a whole. None of this article suggests that the woman tries to do what she can to keep the relationship healthy by attempting to talk to her partner so that they can work out why she is unhappy with the relationship in the first place & then act on it. On top of that its this type of attitude & mindset in women that is actually a very very common reason why men turn from being decent guys who genuinely care into bitter assholes who treat women poorly (Ive seen it happen many times with my own eyes). I have also been the nice guy who gets dumped many times & the women have always ended up being treated like shit by the next guy. Why in the world would a woman who has a man who treats her well & would always do what is right for her, throw that guy away? Honestly this is just another example of how everyone has lost their way. WOMEN IF YOU HAVE A GUY WHO LOVES YOU & IS NICE TO YOU, YOU SHOULD KEEP HIM BECAUSE HE WILL ALWAYS LOOK AFTER YOU & THAT IS WHAT US MEN ARE SUPPOSED TO DO, THAT IS WHY THE HUMAN RACE HAS EVOLVED TO WHERE IT IS TODAY. & to any women who dont realise this, wake up to yourself, or perhaps you would like an abusive relationship or a guy who is using you or a guy who is only with you to prop him self up in life or any kind of bad reason but for god sakes if he is nice it means he appreciates everything about you & thinks about you when hes not with you & will always do the right thing for you because thats just how it is & I know this because I am a guy.

  7. Thanks for the advice. Was looking for ways to help my teenage daughter who genuinely likes the guy she has been seeing but doesn’t love him. Why stay with him at this age just because he is a nice guy?
    She doesn’t want to hurt him but she needs to let him know that she doesn’t feel the same way he does.

    This advice is perfect for her. I know it might not fit every situation and others may not want to hear that breaking up in person is the only way to treat a nice guy but it is what he deserves. It’s what a girl would want, if the situation were reversed. Thank you, grateful Mom.

  8. Ok its being 1 year since I got divorce. I have meet exellent guys but Not chemestry :(, It sucks! Yeah I hear you: I have to wait, but I don\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’t wana wait!! I need someone to go out and have fun! (besides girlfriends) It sucks to be single.. OK to the POINT, I met #20 nice guy, He anoyed me already, GUYS if you guys are tooooo nice it turn into abnosious!!.. So how to brake up… MMMM text like:
    I love your friendship! you are a cool dude. I won\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’t be able to see you this saturday, I have a date! wish me luck…. FRIEND!!!!

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