Yes—you broke up because it wasn’t working. Every relationship has unique details about unhappiness. You may still harbor some doubts, but, for now at least, breaking up feels the right thing to do.

It wasn’t easy—regardless if the relationship was very bad or just not a good match with a person who was good!

You may already know that your next steps after you close that door on this relationship are to:

  • Learn about you and this relationship
  • Move on with your life and be open to love again.

But—oops! You still might be left with the question: How do I deal with the person I just broke up with?

Here are some tested answers to your top questions about handling the man you left. These tips come from the women who participated in my research study for my book “Smart Relationships.”

Best Answers to your Top 3 Questions about Dealing with the One You Left

1. What do you say to him if you don’t know for sure why you broke up?

Often, relationships don’t seem to end for concrete or clear reasons. For example, you have no grounds to say things such as: He beat me. He cheated on me. He stole my money. He abused my kids.

Even if you were unhappy with your man, you feel on shaky ground saying to yourself or others: “It just didn’t work out.” Or, “He wasn’t the right person for me.”

If you don’t know why you broke up, you might have difficulties explaining to your man why you have to leave. He might call or text and ask you repeatedly: Why?

So what do you do? Here are some things you can say.

  • I’m just not clear on what I want in life and love right now.
  • I’m going through some rough times, and it’s not fair for me to be with anyone until I take care of these things first.
  • My work is so demanding and stressful that I know I can’t give any relationship the time and effort and respect that I would like.
  • It’s not you—it’s me. I have to sort out some things.
  • Our timing is off. I want this—and you want that.

2. How much should I be in his life after we’ve already broken up?

Sometimes, you and your ex can actually be friends. But be careful. Remember—you chose to break up with him! He may never totally reveal his hurt. I wish I could give you a magic answer that isn’t too little or too much. Here are some thoughts and guidelines—not rules! Every relationship is different.

  • Keep your break up message clear. If he was abusive, I especially recommend keeping your distance and not engaging with him, if possible. Abusers tend to over-respond to gestures of kindness and contact. They can interpret them as hope—and then get frustrated when you let him know that there isn’t any.
  • Don’t rush to rescue him. I know—it’s tempting to over-help those exes who are troubled or who just need a helping hand. If you really want to help him, let him experience life. You can’t fix or rescue him. Pay attention to your guilt and its tendency to reel you back in to his life. For example, don’t’ send frequent texts to ask him how he is doing.
  • Don’t put yourself in a compromising position where sex can easily happen. Sex with your ex can be a very selfish act. It sends mixed messages to your ex. Be kind. You wouldn’t want someone to use you to feel close for the moment. So, keep your contact in public places.

3. When should I tell him that I am seriously involved with someone else?

It depends on the nature of your relationship to your ex. If you were smart and kind and did not send him mixed messages, then you have probably already created a respectful emotional distance from him. Here are some tips and thoughts.

  • You don’t owe your ex your life story after your break up. No matter how much you are now friends, it’s likely he harbors hurt and hope in his heart about you. Hold back on telling too much. You don’t need to announce your new relationship status. If you do sense that he is in an emotionally strong place, you can give a general and brief statement. If he asks lots of questions about your new love, then pull back on the information. His digging for details might be a sign that he is more hurt than you think. And don’t forget that the seemingly nicest guys can become violent when they think you have really moved on—without him!
  • Don’t flaunt or use your new relationship as a signal to him that you have truly moved on. If he did not treat you well or if he said things such as “You’ll never find what you’re looking for,” it can be tempting to rush to let him know that indeed you found a great person! Resist that urge. It can re-engage you with your ex—or ignite his resentment. You just never really know what extreme hurt and rejection can do to a person. Men, especially, tend to express their hurt with violence. Think about all those television shows where the hurt and rejected man murders his previous girlfriend or wife.

I wish you bravery and the best you! To learn more about me and my research-based, self-help books for women, “Smart Relationships: How Successful Women Can Find True Love” and “The Love Adventures of Almost Smart Cookie,” please go to my website to sign up for a free gift. You can also follow me on and

Author's Bio: 

Dr. LeslieBeth (LB) Wish, IAAW Premium Expert, is a nationally recognized psychologist and licensed clinical social worker honored for her pioneering work with women’s issues in love, life, work and family. The National Association of Social Workers has named her as One of the Fifty who has contributed to the field, and by Marquis’ Who’s Who publications. Her latest self-help, research-based books are Smart Relationships: How Successful Women Can Find True Love, and The Love Adventures of Almost Smart Cookie, the cartoon companion book where you can follow a year of Cookie’s love missteps and learn about yours! Go to her website