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How To Write a Dear John Letter

Breaking up with someone is generally best done in person. But if that's not possible, make sure you carefully consider the words you commit to paper.


  • Step 1: Just sign your name at the end. Writing "love" may make them think there's still hope.
  • Step 2: Hold on to it for a few days, unsealed, so you can re-read it several times before mailing it.
  • FACT: "Dear John" was coined during World War II to refer to the break-up letters that U.S. soldiers received.
  • Step 3: Be clear that the relationship is over. Don't say "we can still be friends" if you don't mean it.
  • TIP: If you've met someone you like better, keep it to yourself: there is no reason to dump and humiliate your soon-to-be ex.
  • TIP: Make sure your penmanship is legible; don't make them struggle to determine whether you're telling them it's "over" or calling them your "lover."
  • Step 4: Keep it simple. The fact that you're breaking up with them says it all; there's no point in enumerating their faults.
  • Step 5: Leave others out of it; the decision to break up should be framed as yours alone, and the Dear John letter shouldn't refer to anyone but you and the person you're breaking up with.
  • Step 6: Feel free to write drafts of the Dear John letter on a computer or other electronic device, but handwrite the final version.

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