How To Break Up With A Guy Who Screwed You Over Without Being Petty

Taking the high road may not seem like the most enjoyable way to dump someone who’s treated you poorly, but if you play your cards right, it can be the most satisfying option. Here are a few tips on how to avoid being petty while still getting your point across when you break up with him.

  1. Do not allow yourself to be manipulated. If he’s done you wrong but still expects you to date him, he is probably the kind of guy who will have all the tools of manipulation at his disposal. The most important thing is to remember why you’re breaking up with him, and what his behavior has told you about who he truly is. No matter how much he pleads with you, expresses remorse, or tells you he loves you, remember that his actions have said more than anything he could say to you in words.
  2. Take pleasure in the silent treatment. Being openly furious has its own kind of pleasure, but it quickly becomes exhausting and a little bit embarrassing. You want to show that, unlike him, you are in control of yourself. While he may get upset and say hurtful things or beg for you to reconsider, you will be able to get your point across even better by remaining steadfast and level-headed.
  3. Don’t mention his actions when you break up with him. You would be completely justified in outlining all the ways he’s hurt you during the relationship, but he will be expecting this, and therefore be prepared for how to react. If you make the breakup about you rather than him, he will be thrown off balance and in a position of greater vulnerability.
  4. Talk about being unfulfilled in the relationship. The most painful thing you could do in this situation is tell him that he just didn’t meet your needs. Not only will this show that you’ve taken the high road by not mentioning his past wrongs, but it will also be a painful articulation of the truth, which is that he was never good enough for you, and the harm he caused was just further proof of a preexisting reality.
  5. Meet him on your terms, not his. He will most likely try to get you upset or angry or vengeful. He’ll try to trigger the most vulnerable parts of you and make you back down from your decision to break up with him. To avoid this, make sure you broach the topic when you’re ready to. Be calculated and in a place of emotional strength and determination rather than feeling reactionary and hurt.
  6. The calmer you are, the more painful it will be for him. The steadier and more dignified you can be in this process, the harder it will be for him to keep it together. Avoid losing your temper or rising to whatever emotional bait he throws at you. Remember that he doesn’t even deserve your anger. Try to show indifference to his emotion, and it will devastate him.
  7. Don’t reach out to him afterward. No matter how difficult the break up is, do not be the one to initiate contact. You don’t need closure. He made sure of that when he wronged you. Reaching out to him will only undermine the pain he caused you by making him think you’ve changed your mind about ending the relationship.
  8. Be forgiving if he apologizes. While you may want to shout and throw things and make him understand how much pain he caused you, nothing is more devastating to a guilty person than icy forgiveness. Taking the high road will make me him feel a hundred times more guilty than if you shout at him, because it will reinforce just how badly he treated you by contrast. Being kind prevents him from feeling like the reasonable adult in the situation, and will therefore make him confront his own behavior more directly.
  9. Do not let it get to you if he doesn’t seem remorseful. A lack of remorse should only serve as confirmation that breaking up with him is the best decision you could’ve made. While it’s natural to wish for him to be on his knees begging for forgiveness, take pleasure in the lack of ambiguity in the situation. By not apologizing for the hurt he’s caused, he showing you loud and clear that he was never worthy of you.
  10. Let it go. The best way to avoid pettiness is to let the pain and unfairness of the situation dissipate as much as possible before you break up with him. Recognize that you are setting yourself free, not punishing him for his actions. Recognize that you are above the situation and have been ever since he revealed his true colors. Breaking up with him is just a necessary step forward, not revenge. This is something you are doing for yourself, not something you are inflicting on him.
Rose Nolan is a writer and editor from Austin, TX who focuses on all things female and fabulous. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from the University of Surrey and a Master's Degree in Law from the University of Law. She’s been writing professional since 2015 and, in addition to her work for Bolde, she’s also written for Ranker and Mashed. She's published articles on topics ranging from travel, higher education, women's lifestyle, law, food, celebrities, and more.