What To Say To Make Him Stay, Based On His Reasons For Leaving

Dry your tears and try reasoning instead.

Last updated on Jan 24, 2023

woman trying to convince her boyfriend to stay bbernard / Shutterstock

In the history of relationships, begging a partner to stay has never ended in a good result. Even if after all of your pleading he agrees to hang out in the relationship a while longer, it’s only a matter of time before he’ll grow tired of the charade and break up with you.

Not only that, but begging is demoralizing. There’s no dignity in it. And sometimes, when a relationship is crumbling, self-respect is all you’ve got left.


Tears and threats won’t move him — at least not in any permanent fashion — so save your energy for tactics that will make a difference. What you’re going for here is reason, not emotion.

Now, let's be crystal clear on one thing: there is no way to make someone stay if they really don't want to — if they're serious about leaving, if they mean it when they say it's over ... for the very last time.

However, if you can convince him to come back from the brink of total destruction and at least keep the lines of communication open, you have a legitimate, fighting chance at getting back into his good graces, and him back into your loving arms.


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Men are typically action-oriented "fixers," so stop all the conversational processing and give him some of these powerful, attention-grabbing thoughts to sink his teeth into. These conversation starters just may tilt the relationship — and your man — back toward togetherness.

There are a few reasons why men decide to leave, and more than one may apply to your situation — so mix and match as needed!


What to say to convince him to stay, based on the reason he's leaving

1. If he wants to leave, but you're not really sure why.

What to say to make him stay: "I know you’re ready to call it quits. The thought of a breakup is devastating to me especially since it seems so sudden. This is all so unexpected and I don’t know what to make of it. Given all the time we’ve had together, I’m asking you to consider setting a mutually agreed-upon timeline for your leaving. Please understand that I need some time to adjust (and so do the kids). If you still feel the same way in X months, I won’t stand in your way — but I hope we’ll use that time to try and fix what’s broken."

2. If he wants to leave because he can't forgive you for something.

What to say to make him stay: "You know I’ve been having a hard time forgiving your [affair/lying/unavailability/insert issue] but I know I have to if I want you to stay in this relationship. You’ve apologized but I haven’t really heard you. I’m sure you think I’ll never forgive you and that we’ll be fighting about this forever. I promise you, that’s not the case. I’m going to do everything in my power — and I’m committed — to fully forgiving you and moving on. I hope you’ll give me a chance to show you I’m capable of this."

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3. If he wants to leave but has been staying for the kids.

What to say to make him stay: "You really seem in a hurry to leave—and I understand that. Neither one of us has been happy here for a long time. You know I really don’t want this but we have to consider that the kids are struggling, too. Given that they’re in high school (or leaving home soon), we only have a short time left to live together as a family. I truly think that would be the best thing for all of us. If you can wait a little while, I don’t think you’ll regret you made that choice for them. Please think about it."


4. If he wants to leave because it seems easier than getting help.

What to say to make him stay: "It seems crazy to throw away our relationship without getting some outside advice. We’ve put so much time and energy into our marriage (and family) that it’s only wise to see if we can make improvements with the help of a professional. On top of that, we really want to be able to tell the kids we tried everything to hold our marriage together. If we don’t at least try couples therapy, we won’t be able to tell them that and mean it. We have to show them that our marriage — and our family — was worth fighting for."

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5. If he wants to leave because you cheated on him.

What to say to make him stay: "I know you’re having a hard time forgiving me for my [affair/addiction/neglect] and I totally get that. Now, I’m paying the price for my behaviors and you’re ready to leave — and it’s killing me. Maybe I haven’t shown you enough how sorry I am. I know how much I’ve hurt you and it slays me to see you in so much pain. I certainly have a lot of making up to do. Would you consider staying a while longer so I can show you I can take full responsibility?"

6. If he wants to leave because neither of you are making an effort any more.

What to say to make him stay: "I can’t believe we’ve gotten to this place where you want to end our relationship. I’m sad to say that I kind of get it. Neither one of us has put much effort into it for a very long time. We’ve let everything else take priority — work, the kids, our families — and we’ve neglected what was once a very good thing. I’m horrified that things have deteriorated to this point and I’m wondering if there’s any chance we could try again. We loved each other once. We really did. And I’m convinced, with some work, we can get things back on track. Are you willing to give it a try?"


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Abby Rodman, LICSW, is a writer and psychotherapist. She's the author of three books, including Without This Ring: A Woman's Guide to Successfully Living Through and Beyond Midlife Divorce, and co-hosts the podcast, Sisters Cracking Up.