If you feel like it might be time to break up with your partner, then you’re probably wondering how to go about it. For example, is it best to do it in person? Should you stay in touch afterward? And is it possible to remain friends?
Even if you know ending things is the right decision, it can be tricky navigating how, where, and when to break the news to them to avoid making the situation any worse. That’s why in our guide on how to break up with someone, we offer some helpful tips on how to do so with kindness and respect, covering everything from how to end the relationship to what to do after you’ve said your peace.
Follow our advice below when you’re ready to call it quits.
Do It in Person
Perhaps our number one tip when it comes to navigating how to break up with someone involves doing it in person. Is it going to be uncomfortable? Yes, probably, but you owe it to them to do it face-to-face in person. Don’t do it over text, phone, email, or even a note, as this can be seen as impersonal, insensitive, and even downright insulting, as it’ll look like you’re trying to take the easy way out.
Be Sensitive about Where and When You Do It
While we recommend breaking up in person, it’s best to do it somewhere private. Dumping someone in front of an audience will only cause insult to injury, adding unnecessary drama and embarrassment to an already uncomfortable situation. Instead, find somewhere that is quiet and away from the public so that you can have a private discussion without any nosey onlookers.
Also, consider the timing. There may never be a perfect time to break the news, but you can be sensitive about when you decide to do it. For instance, ending the relationship right before going on vacation together or during a family gathering isn’t ideal. Instead, try to choose a time when they have the opportunity to be alone and process the news without having to deal with other stressors like canceling a trip or putting on a happy face around their relatives.
Whatever you do, don’t beat around the bush. When it comes to breaking up, rip the bandaid off and be clear about your intentions. Avoid being wishy-washy, and don’t drag things out, as this could make it seem like ending things is not what you really want. Or worse, if you don’t communicate it clearly, you may find yourself having to break up with them a second time if you don’t get your message across the first time.
Avoid Trying to Make Them Feel Better
This one sounds harsh, but after breaking up, it’s not your place, nor your responsibility, to make them feel better. The end of your relationship is going to be sad and painful for both of you, but it’s important that you move on and heal individually so that you don’t continue to rely on each other for support. In the same vein, avoid comforting them, as this could send mixed signals, making it seem like there might be hope for reconciliation.
Don’t Give Them False Hope
When breaking up with someone, you might feel inclined to offer hope for reconciliation in the future so as not to hurt them as much, but don’t say anything of the sort if that’s not actually on the table for you. For example, if you’re traveling for work for the next few months, don’t say that maybe you can reconnect after you return.
Lying to them to make them feel better about the relationship breakup will only make it harder on them. Not only does it give them false hope, but it will also prevent you from having a clean break.
Be honest about why you want to end the relationship. If you’re breaking up because you don’t share the same values or because you don’t see eye-to-eye on certain aspects of your relationship, communicate this with them instead of making up excuses.
That said, don’t point fingers and play the blame game. This is not the time nor place for hashing up old arguments or making them feel worse than they already do at this moment.
Even if your relationship has taken a turn for the worse, remember that this person once held a special place in your heart, and they deserve to be treated with respect and kindness, even during a breakup. No matter how ugly or toxic your relationship has gotten, try to come from a place of love when ending your relationship. Practice empathy and realize that it will likely be sad and difficult for both of you, even if it’s the right decision.
Many of us strive for closure when ending a relationship, and oftentimes, we assume the person who does the breaking up owes the other closure. However, that’s not really the case. In fact, closure isn’t necessarily something that can be given.
The way we see it, you must find closure within yourself by reflecting, processing, and healing from your relationship. It’s a solo journey that requires time and patience.
Therefore, don’t feel as though you’re responsible for providing them with closure after ending your relationship because you need to focus on finding your own closure from within.
Continuing to text or chat on the phone is only going to prolong the breakup and potentially make it more confusing. Don’t email them after a few days to see how they’re doing, agree to meet up for coffee, or text them about how much you miss them.
Staying in contact may make things more painful or feel like you didn’t actually call things off. If you well and truly want to end the relationship, then you need to cut off communication so that you can both begin to move on from each other.
Don’t Dwell on the Good Times
After breaking up, it’s important to begin focusing on this new chapter of your life. While it’s only natural to reflect on your relationship, don’t dwell on the good times and ignore the not-so-good times.
You see, sometimes, we only allow ourselves to remember the good parts, making us reminisce and miss those times, but in doing so, we forget about the parts that led to our breakups in the first place. For example, you might find yourself romanticizing that vacation you took together while conveniently blocking out the countless hours you spent crying in the bathroom on that trip due to your constant arguing.
Try to be realistic about your relationship and remind yourself that despite some of the good times, there were real reasons why you wanted out of the relationship.
Allow Time to Pass Before Considering Friendship
We’re going to be honest with you: It’s not always easy maintaining a friendship with your ex. Sure, that may be the goal after some breakups, but all those convoluted feelings and shared memories can complicate things and make it difficult to have a healthy friendship.
That said, if being friends is important to you both, allow some time to pass, and let your renewed friendship form naturally. In some cases, you may only find this to work once you’ve both start dating new people.
Turn to Your Loved Ones for Support
Even if you’re the one ending the relationship, that doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park for you. During this time, turn to your friends and family for support. Be open with them about your feelings and allow them to comfort you as you process your breakup. Now more than ever, it’s important to surround yourself with love so that you can focus on healing, loving yourself, and moving on with your life.