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Gentlemen Speak: How to Let a Guy Down Easy

A guy gives his perspective on ending it in a way that respects both him and the relationship you shared.

Art Credit: Gabriela Hansen

As my sisters and I swapped stories over the recent holiday, I discovered that my youngest sister has become unnervingly skilled at jettisoning guys at the bar who, despite their best efforts, fail to attract her ongoing attention.

What that says about the dating world in general, I’m still unsure. But there’s another sort of relationship-ending that she hasn’t quite mastered: It’s been a few months. He’s nice. He’s friendly. He’s not terrible-looking. He’s not the one. But she really does care about him. So how could she end this relationship without bruising his ego?

She can’t. And neither can you.

Break-ups always feel like getting hit in the psyche by a Mack truck, so it’s a fool’s errand thinking there is some way to soften the blow. When it comes to ending a relationship with a gentleman, there’s a better question to use to guide your actions: how can I end it in a way that respects both him and the relationship we shared?


Now. The first time you can arrange to see him in person will do. When you know he’s not the one, both he and you deserve to start the mending process as soon as possible.


Honest, direct, and to the point. This seems obvious, but the noble temptation to obfuscate and “protect him” is strong, yet inevitably leads to more confusion and anger.

If you’re at an impasse on a big issue and see no way forward, he’ll respect you for calling out the elephant in the room. But if you’re breaking it off because he’s always in the middle of an epic Call of Duty session with his bros, do him (and his next girlfriend) a favor and tell him he still has some growing up to do. Before you begin a break up with “You’re a great guy but…” ask yourself, would you set him up with a friend? Gentlemen are made, not born.

In the end, men and women share an essential truth: we prefer to be let down than led on.

(Photo by Gabriela Hansen)