Dating is a wonderful way to meet new people and possibly find someone to split rent with you. But sometimes you date someone for a couple of months, then wake up one morning and realize that life would be better if you were dating someone else. Or dating no one. It’s probably time to break up with this person (in the nicest way possible, of course).
We’ll be honest - you should probably host this breakup in your home. But maybe you lost your keys or don’t own enough chairs, and if that’s the case, try a bar. You’ll need one that isn’t weirdly quiet or full of people who might recognize you, and it also shouldn’t be too romantic. Because you don’t want to get confused and start planning a couples retreat in the Catskills. Pick one of these spots, then start brainstorming how to tell someone that you don’t want to have to text them anymore.
Foreshadowing is the act of providing a hint of what’s to come. And that’s exactly what you’re doing when you plan a breakup at a place called Horses & Divorces. But that isn’t the only reason why this place is good for ending a relationship. It’s dark, it’s neither fancy nor especially divey, and there’s a giant painting of a naked Burt Reynolds in the back, which you can stare at sadly if there’s an awkward pause in your conversation (there will be).
When’s the last time you were at Automatic Slims? Probably never. It’s not that this is a bad bar - it’s just a very normal place in a remote part of the West Village where you mostly find multi-million-dollar townhouses. So if you’re looking for a spot where you can plan for the contingency of a mild scene, try it. Drinks aren’t too pricey, and you won’t miss it that much if you’re too ashamed to ever return.
Another very normal West Village bar, WXOU is kind of like a blank slate. It’s not romantic, but it also doesn’t smell bad, and there’s a jukebox in the back in case you want to set the mood with some breakup music (like Usher’s “Let It Burn” or “Different Drum” by The Stone Poneys). Try to come on a Sunday for the two-for-one Happy Hour, and get one of the semi-private tables in the windows up front.
If you’re going to break up with someone in Midtown, you should do that person the courtesy of choosing a place where people aren’t watching sports while drinking directly from pitchers of beer. So consider District Social. It’s a big spot with an enormous bar up front, a dining room in the back, and a mezzanine where you can grab a table and do your best to communicate the fact that you’re no longer feeling this relationship (without, under any circumstances, using those words).
Admittedly, The Ten Bells is kind of romantic. But much like the inkblot in a Rorschach test can have multiple interpretations, this dark, intimate spot could also be seen as an appropriately somber place for the end of a relationship. There’s also a great Happy Hour until 7pm every day, and this is one of what feels like several hundred bars on the Lower East Side - so if your ex tells the bartender you’re a jerk, it’s not the end of the world.
Botanica isn’t very classy, but neither is breaking up with someone in a bar. So to thine own self be true, or something. Yes, this place gets busy, but you probably won’t see your boss here, and when your ex departs without saying goodbye or reimbursing you for his or her half of the bill, you’re not going to owe a huge amount of money for your drinks.
Capri Social Club has been open for decades, and it looks like someplace you’d grab a drink after work in the 1950s. So you can bet that the bartenders here have seen their share of breakups, and won’t stop making drinks once your ex-significant other stands up and says, “I can’t believe you’re doing this in a bar. Who told you this was a good idea?” Plus, this Greenpoint spot has jello shots, so it’s really just a winner all around.
Over the course of your relationship, you’ve probably been to some pretty impressive places. Maybe even a cocktail bar or two where the employees wear ties and the bathrooms have expensive soap. Sharlene’s is very much not that kind of place. It’s just a neighborhood bar in Prospect Heights with a jukebox and vinyl barstools, and if you get a drink thrown at you here, it probably won’t raise too many eyebrows. Arrive early, get a few seats near the door, and maybe take off that expensive sweater you bought yesterday, just in case.
Nancy Whiskey Pub is an old, divey bar in Tribeca, and the trick to breaking up here is finding the right place to do it. You don’t want to actually be sitting at the bar, because it’s hard to have a serious conversation when the people on either side of you are talking about the Mets, the Knicks, or both. Instead, walk up the stairs and get a table in the attic-like space. Try to choose one near the windows, so you can gaze out thoughtfully into the middle distance after stumbling through your prepared speech.
The thing about East Village bars is that most of them get really busy, and they tend to be filled with people you might want to date at some point. But if you’re looking for a relatively quiet place to have your talk, go to The Lost Lady. It’s a nautical-themed bar on Avenue C, and it generally stays pretty quiet. You can get your own semi-private booth in the little back room, and you can also let your future ex beat you at shuffleboard before you break the news that you won’t be moving forward with this relationship.
Ethyl’s is a semi-divey bar on the UES with red vinyl bar stools, a bunch of 1970s memorabilia, and a stage in the back where there’s sometimes burlesque. So when you come here with your significant other, he or she will probably say something like, “Wow, what a cool place.” And you can respond with, “Yes, it is a cool place. Actually, I was hoping we could talk.” Get seats in the back, order some fries, and leave them in the middle of your table so they can function as a sort of security blanket throughout your rollercoaster of a conversation (if rollercoasters started out slow, then got sad and passive aggressive).
Black & White
Black & White has been around for a while now, and there’s a decent chance you forgot that it exists. But it’s still in a basement on 10th Street, and it’s sitting there waiting for you to have a Serious Conversation with someone in it. It’s always pretty dark in here, the drinks are inexpensive, and the music is usually just loud enough that strangers won’t hear you trying to explain how people grow and change and sometimes feel like breaking up with other people in bars. Plus, there are some tiny tables in the front that are only several feet from the exit.
If you’re still reading this guide, you must be super determined to break up. So maybe just do it in the street and get it over with. The trick is, you wait for everyone to pass, break the bad news, then give about half a smile and come to terms with the fact that you’ll never be able to use this person as a character reference (and/or you might have made a huge mistake). It’ll be fine.