Sometimes you just have to end the relationship. But what are the best ways? Test your Break Up Smarts and take this quick quiz.

Break Up Quiz

1. Suzanne knows it’s not going to work out with Ron. They’ve been dating for a few months, and she already sees that Ron is selfish and controlling. The best way for Suzanne to break up is:

A. Send him a text. She hasn’t known him that long so it’s no big deal.
B. Send him an email.
C. Talk to him on the phone.

I know that we have all become accustomed to our electronic gadgets and social media. But reverse the situation. How would you like someone to break up with you? Be considerate. The correct answer is C. Suzanne is wise not to break up in person. Controlling men don’t like to lose. It’s possible that Ron could escalate his need to control by becoming violent.

2. Renee has put up with Tom’s abuse for over a year. He hit her twice in the past, but she rationalized that he was angry because he lost his job. But now both his physical and verbal abuse is intensifying—even in public. Now that she has a new job and can support herself, she is ready to leave. What is the best way for Renee to leave?

A. Develop a safety plan first.
B. Send him a text so she can keep her distance from him.
C. Leave a note for him.

Violent men are unpredictable. They have radar for women whom they can influence and control. Before leaving an abusive or controlling man, you should develop a safety plan immediately. Call your domestic violence hotline and/or go to your local women’s organization. They will instruct you about immediate steps to take such as changing your bank account, taking out cash, changing your credit card passwords, changing the locks, taking your medication with you, and asking friends or family to pick up your children at school.
The correct answer is A. As soon as you are physically safe, you can choose B or C. Keep your physical distance and don’t over-explain or apologize. Violence tends to escalate at the point when the woman wants to leave.

3. Bonnie and Mike have been living together for two years. Bonnie fell in love with Mike during college. She liked his sweetness. After college graduation Bonnie got a great job with a major company. They offered to pay for her master degree. She completed her degree, and the company promoted her six months ago. Mike still hasn’t “found himself,” and he drifts from one go-nowhere job to another. Bonnie knows that Mike is not a good match for her, but she feels so guilty about leaving such a nice guy. She worries about where he will live and how he will support himself. How should Bonnie break up?

A. Agree to live together—but as friends.
B. Talk to him in person.
C. Send a text message. He’s always checking for them anyway.

It’s very difficult to leave a nice person—especially if that person has become very dependent on you. There are certain juncture points in life when couples are more likely to grow apart. Common situations are college graduation, job promotion, illness recovery, the approach of the child-bearing biological clock or grown children leaving home.

Bonnie is moving on with her life. But Mike is not. Perhaps he will, but Bonnie does not want to be part of the waiting. The correct answer is B. She feels safe with Mike, and she knows that they have to make plans for him to move out. Living together as friends will only stunt both of their growths.

4. Marjorie is forty, and her marriage to Seth has not been the best. They struggled financially and drifted apart. She believes they stayed together to raise the children. Now their twin sons are in college. She completed a medical training program recently to fulfill her dream of working in a hospital, and three months ago she got a job in the radiology department. She loves her new life and colleagues—especially Dr. Green, whom she meets for coffee after hours. Marjorie has decided it’s time to end the marriage. What should she say to Seth?

A. Start packing. She doesn’t need to explain much. He knows it hasn’t been good. They can work out the legal details of the divorce later.
B. Tell Seth that she has developed feelings for someone at work and that it is best for them to split up amicably.
C. Go to a therapist for counseling before she does something rash.

Juncture points in life such as the children leaving home or aging can be very challenging. These transitions can bring out the best and worst in you. Take your time. You can always break up, but it is often far more difficult, as they say, to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

The correct answer is C. Marjorie needs to put the brakes on. Right now she is giddy with her newly found financial and personal freedom. And who knows what Dr. Green is thinking, feeling—or willing to do?

Marjorie also needs to examine her life and possibly even tell Seth that she is in counseling. Often, it is the unhappiest person in the relationship who seeks counseling. The other person doesn’t like to rock the boat and tends to refuse to come. But they often do attend therapy when they think that they can “set the therapist straight” or stop the partner from leaving.
Depending on your situation, the three basic tips to heed are:

  • Be kind.
  • Take your time to think and learn. After all, you can always leave.
  • Develop a safety plan immediately if you are in any danger. If you don’t know where to call, call the police or 911 or information and ask for the nearest shelter or women’s organization for help.

Second in a Series on Break Ups

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