Breaking up can be incredibly hard, but there are several things you can do to make the process a little less painful for you and your significant other. Prepare for the breakup by choosing a quiet, private space and take some time to reflect before you meet up. Think about your reasons for breaking up, as well as what you’ve learned from the relationship. After the breakup, make sure you take good care of yourself and give each other space to move on and heal.
Preparing for the Breakup
- Set up a time to meet with the other person. Ask them if they have an evening free sometime soon to talk, and pick a date to meet up face to face. It may feel awkward, like there’s never a good time, but try to do it as soon as possible. This will help you avoid drawing things out and hurting the other person even more.
- Be respectful about timing as well. As much as you can, try to avoid holidays, birthdays, anniversaries of a loved one’s death, or important career events.
- Although it can be tempting to break up with someone over the phone and avoid the pain or discomfort of doing it in person, try to avoid this method as much as possible. Meeting with someone in person shows them that you respect and care for them, gives the relationship some closure, and can help you avoid miscommunications. Try to think about how you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.
- Choose a quiet, private space where you can talk. If the relationship is still new and you’ve only been going out for a few weeks, you could choose somewhere calm and low-key, like a coffee shop. If you’re ending a long-term relationship, you’ll want to pick somewhere more private, such as your home or a neutral space.
- Avoid loud, crowded spaces, such as parties or bars.
- Some good neutral spaces include parks and restaurants.
- Choose an open, public place if you’re worried about your safety. You can also ask a friend to come along and hang out nearby in case you need help.
- Take time to reflect on your relationship and plan out what you’ll say. Think about why you want to break up and how you can express that to the other person. Consider what you’ve learned from this relationship, whether about yourself, your likes and dislikes, or how relationships work.
- Reflection is the best way to process your emotions and prepare for the breakup itself, rather than jumping right in without giving it any thought and talking in circles.
- For example, you may want to break up because your partner easily becomes clingy and jealous. Maybe you’ve lost the spark and don’t feel attracted to them anymore, or maybe your ideas about money, family, or religion are incompatible.
Ending the Relationship
- Make the breakup clear instead of just ghosting the person. Although avoiding them and just letting the relationship fade may seem tempting, this method can be even more painful and confusing for your partner. Take the time to sit down and tell the person that you want to break up. It may feel more awkward or painful in the moment, but clearly ending things will be much better in the long run.
- If you find yourself ignoring your partner’s calls or pulling away from them physically, think about why you feel that way. Instead of acting distant, you may need to have a serious conversation about ending the relationship.
- Give concrete and logical reasons for why you want to break up. Be firm and clear with your significant other when you lay out why the relationship isn’t working. This may seem a little harsh, but if you do it with compassion, logic can actually help the other person deal with the breakup more smoothly.
- For example, you could say, “I love spending time with you, but ultimately, I want to get married someday. I know you don’t believe in marriage, so I think it’s best if we end things now.”
- If you don’t have a very concrete reason, try to center your reasons around the relationship, rather than them as a person. For example, you could say “We seem to have very different goals now” or “Our values just don’t match up.”
- Let them know what you’ve appreciated about the relationship. At this point, your significant other is probably feeling discouraged and upset. Try to remember and share the positive experiences you’ve had. Tell them something that you’re grateful for about your time together, such as the experiences you’ve both had or something you’ve learned about yourself.
- You could say “I’m so glad I met you. Because of you, I’ve learned how to open up to others” or “I’m so grateful for our time together, and I’ll never forget it.”
- If you haven’t been dating for very long, you could mention one of their character traits that you appreciate. For example, you could say, “Your sense of positivity has shown me that I really value that quality in others.”
- Express your emotions in a rational way. Make sure that you say what you need to say in order to avoid carrying it around as emotional baggage. If your emotions turn negative and tempers start to get out of hand, take a few deep breaths and rein it back in.
- Use “I” language to explain your feelings without placing blame. When you try to explain why you want to break up, it’s easy for the other person to feel attacked or blamed for the problems in the relationship. Using “I” language can help reduce this feeling by naming specific issues and how those issues made you feel, rather than just calling out the other person.
- For example, instead of saying “You never came with me to any family dinners,” try changing it to “I felt lonely and frustrated when I had to go to family dinners alone.”
- Be gentle but firm if they try to convince you to stay together. Rather than let the conversation turn into an argument that goes on and on, just tell them, “I’m sorry, but this is the decision I need to make.” If they don’t respect your decision and continue to push you, then tell them politely that your decision is final, and then leave.
- Don’t feel guilty about breaking up. Breaking off a relationship when it’s not working isn’t something you should feel guilty about—in fact, it’s a form of self-care. You’re also showing the other person compassion. Odds are, they’re aware of the same issues that you are but they just can’t bring themselves to do it.
- Don’t contact your ex for a few months after you break up. Give your ex at least a few months to process the breakup before reaching out. This means getting them off of your mind by cutting off communication through social media, texting, calling, or face-to-face interactions. Time apart from each other is necessary and, in the long run, beneficial for both you and your ex.
- This may also mean deleting their number from your phone, unfollowing and unfriending them, and deleting photos of the two of you.
- If you’re worried about seeming cruel or cold, let the person know that this is something you’ll need following the breakup.
- Take care of yourself and let yourself heal. Even if you’re the one initiating the breakup, it’ll probably be painful for you, too. Remember to give yourself time to grieve and adjust to the change. Focus on self-care activities and doing things that you enjoy, such as spending time with friends and family, being in nature, exercising, taking bubble baths, and reading.
- Don’t turn to alcohol or drugs to make yourself feel better. In the end, these things can actually make the healing process more difficult.
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