How do I approach breaking up with my girlfriend before college?

We’ve been together for 20 months. I guess since before we started dating, I felt we were incompatible in some ways. I am a go-getter, adventurous, and spontaneous. Usually positive and optimistic. She doesn’t like to go out with me anywhere, doesn’t have many aspirations for the future, isnt interested in things I like such as traveling, hiking, etc.

I guess I feel sort of like I’ve been using a relationship to make up for bonds I could’ve had in friendships. I’ve met new friends over the past week at my college orientation and realize I can indeed click with people very well. I used to be closed off. Now, I like the idea of being free to naturally explore new friendships and relationships. Especially because I think my girlfriend and I will eventually break up: our goals are just too different.

I guess I’m even asking should I break up with her. I do love her and care about her deeply. We’ve built a big bond and tons of memories together, and I know that she would be super hurt by a breakup. I’m gonna be back in my city just 1 week before I leave for college and I’m wondering how I should approach this situation. Part of me wants to let it continue until it naturally ends because I’m afraid of hurting her.

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It sounds like you two may not be a good match to me. Dating is all about getting to know people. You date and go your separate ways eventually if it’s not a good match. If you feel this way, and you’re moving away to college…I see no reason why you two should remain in a committed relationship.

Besides, you’re both too young. Go away to college and grow, have fun, and learn about yourself.

If you care about her, honesty is best.


I don’t know how you should approach it, but I do think you should. Both of my daughters recently let relationships drag on for years due to uncertainty/not wanting to hurt the other. But it’s wasted time for both sides when they could be finding a better fit.

Your description sounds like one of my D’s in particular- she’s adventurous, go-getter, etc. BF was a good kid but usually like dead weight- a struggle to get him to do anything with her. And keeping up meaningful long distance communication was rough. Now she’s with someone who matches her energy and they are having a blast. They became friends first year of college so if she hadn’t been hanging on to the HS guy they could have started dating a long time ago.


It sounds like a good idea for you both to enter college without being tied down. My one suggestion would be to let her know as soon as possible so that she has some time to come to terms with it before she has to head off to college. It would be hard for her to start college and deal with an upsetting breakup at the same time. The more time she has to get used to the situation, the better for her to make the adjustment and start fresh.


Avoiding the hard decision never, ever makes it easier. Being clear, fast and kind is the least-bad way through this.

Own your decision completely- don’t blame any of it on her! Find whatever words along the lines of ‘we have had a good relationship, and this is very hard to do, but I am about to start a new stage of life and I want to commit to being there 100%, so I want to break up / I am sorry and I wish you the best’, work for you (and are true!). Then listen, take the heat (in whatever form it comes), and leave. Do it in person, but not in a public place, and at a time where she can get to a good friend quickly for moral support.

Sooner is better than later. You don’t want to end up with a Breaksgiving.


I think you already know the answer. It’s been convenient being friends and partners through HS but you KNOW it won’t be a long term relationship. If she already doesn’t like doing what you do on a regular basis I doubt it’ll be that hard on her side to let you go either. Part as friends and go enjoy a new adventure in life.

The fair thing to do is to end the relationship. You’re asking about you, but really, it’s about her.

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Do you think it’s better to do it over the phone now or wait till I get back to my city on Saturday? // wait till we hang out

Should I do it over the phone now since I’m at my college orientation? Or wait till I get home Saturday? (after which I will leave in like 5 days but we’ll hang out in btwn)

I think breaking up with someone by phone, text, email, etc… is best avoided. At the same time, there’s no point in making it go on any longer than necessary. It would be sad to think that she’s excited to think of you coming at the weekend, not knowing what you’re thinking about. If you can’t do it in person, phone is better than other options I guess.

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Right, she told me last night she can’t wait for me to come home. I don’t wanna make her feel bad about that either

Hmmm. That’s a tough one. You have to do what you think is most fair to her.

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I think you can tell her you still love her but the orientation made college real, meeting new people and doing new things made you realize that you BOTH should take a break. Is she going to college too? Often these high school relationships continue until Christmas break because they help with the transition. But if you are ready and she is not, there are ways to soften it. Call it a “break,” and ask if she wants to remain friends and stay in touch/text/zoom or if it is easier for her to have less contact. Put as much as possible in her control to ease the hurt.

I was in your position many many years ago and was actually prepared to try the long-distance thing . . until my girlfriend broke up with me a month before college. It caught me off-guard and was painful at the time, but lemme tell you, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I owe her a lot for having the wisdom to realize that it wasn’t going to work and just ending it right there.


The fact that you’re asking says you care. This is very common; most high school relationships end. It’s part of growth and change. I probably have a different opinion than others: Do a clean break; I personally wouldn’t say anything that could be interpreted as a possibility of getting back together later. Otherwise, she may not be able to move on, hoping that maybe you’ll go and explore and possibly come back to her. Be respectful, compassionate and kind, but resolute in your decision. Be prepared for crying or anger; be respectful of that as well, but don’t let it backslide your decision. That happens too often and leads to resentment. Respect what was; live for what’s to come.


I agree to make it a clean break. It may be hard, but it’s kinder to her to do that even though it may be heartbreaking for her at first. I had a very painful break up after college that I thought was the end of the world, but it was the absolutely the best thing for me. I cringe to think how my life would have played out if I’d stayed with that young man. He never left our home town where I would not have had any opportunity to excel in my career. He also had some values that would have eventually caused problems. I left and had a successful career, living in several different states and traveling frequently. I had the means to have and do what was important to me.

I wish you well. You seem like a thoughtful young man, and that’s why this is such a hard decision for you.

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Do it in person. You both deserve to be in a position to be fully present in your post high school life and to completely embrace what it brings.

I made the mistake of waiting to breakup with my SO of more than 3 years until during our winter break. I realized that we had outgrew each other but I still had to wait 6 weeks to do it because we were long distance and it was awful. I felt guilty and horrible the entire time and felt restrained by the relationship but I still cared a lot about the person and didn’t want to hurt them. Cherish the time you had together but don’t wait to end it-especially if you don’t think its going to last. So many new things happen at college and the best thing you can do for both of you is let it go and start fresh.

Out of respect for her, you need to do it in person. Consider how you would feel if a girlfriend broke up with you over the phone.