How to Make Up, How to Break Up

Okay, most healthy couples fight. It’s a normal aspect of being human and being in a relationship. If you fight constructively it means you care for each other and the relationship. More importantly, it means that you are paying attention to each other and want to make things better.

A resolution to a conflict or fight can actually bring a couple closer together. Who hasn’t heard the expression ‘make up sex’ following the resolution of a conflict or fight?

But what about breaking up? Breaking up has always been tricky. But since the advent of social media, it is perhaps even trickier. We’ve all heard stories or witnessed first-hand people ending relationships by email or texting. Ouch! Breaking up honourably seems to be a lost art. Social media is synonymous with breaking up dis-honourably.

Perhaps in some cases, where violence or power & control issues are present, it may be an appropriate way to end a relationship. But most times when someone ends a relationship by texting, it feels like a coward’s way out. (plain and simple) It leaves the ‘victim’ (I shall call them the drop-ee) feeling even more rejected and probably very confused. And it leaves the ‘perpetrator’ (the drop-er) off the hook. Together, nobody really learns anything constructive about the whole experience.

Painful events in our lives should teach us something…about ourselves, about others, about life. In order to forge ahead and make sense of this painful experience, it would be nice to take something useful or redeeming.

Esther Perel is a Belgian psychotherapist who specializes in relationships and sexuality. She has developed a set of questions to help people break up honourably and respectfully. Note that her instructions refer to a ‘final conversation’, preferably that is not in a text or email. It may still be painful for both parties but hopefully both drop-ee and drop-er can enter new relationships having learned something and with less insecurity.

Esther Perel's Website

Ideas to incorporate into a final conversation:

  • Thank you for what I’ve experienced with you.

  • This is what I take with me, from you.

  • This is what I want you to take with you, from me.

  • This is what I wish for you, hence forward.

Having this ‘final conversation’ in person would be ideal and the most honorable way to end a relationship. If that is not possible (for whatever reason), try writing a letter (hand writing, remember) to them. It’s kind of old school but way more honorable than a text or email.


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Michael Kuntz MSW, RSW


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