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How to break up with someone you love: 10 no-nonsense tips

Are you thinking about ending a relationship? It’s never an easy thing, is it?

The stress related to the anticipation of having to break someone’s heart is difficult and the pain can last for a really long time – even if you are the one ending the relationship.

If you’d like to move on from your current relationship, but want to leave things in the best possible way, we can help.

Leaving someone is not an easy thing to do, but if you can position yourself in such a way that you are caring and concerned for the other person, you might come out of it better than you thought.

Here’s how you can leave your relationship full of love and kindness.

1) Talk about trying to reconcile the relationship first.

Before you end the relationship, it’s important that you are sure of your decision.

According to Rachel Sussman, a New York City psychotherapist and author of The Breakup Bible,“Spend some time soul-searching, journaling, talking to a really good friend or family member or talking to a relationship specialist” to make sure you know exactly why you’re breaking up.

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That’s why we recommend talking about your future and the options in front of you with your partner.

This is the way to start the conversation about breaking up. You don’t need to lay it on them as a surprise one day or just stop coming home; you can talk to them like they are a human being who has feelings and would appreciate a head’s up about where you are at in the relationship right now.

This conversation may spark some emotion, but it will also allow the two of you to make decisions about your relationship together so that you can both move on.

Whether you move on together or not, you need to take the lead and initiate a conversation about how you are feeling.

Sussman says that you owe it to your partner to air your grievances before calling it quits:

“The people that I see who have the hardest time after a breakup, it’s because they don’t understand.”

2) Make sure you are alone.

While many people might suggest you take your break-up to a restaurant or other public place so your partner can’t make a scene, this also puts them in an uncomfortable place to not be able to react emotionally either.

When surrounded by strangers, your ability to have an intimate and meaningful conversation about your relationship is lost.

It’s best to have this kind of conversation alone, and preferably in your own home so that you feel comfortable and nobody feels like they are being alienated or put out.

What’s important, according to Loren Soeiro in Psychology Today, is to be “physically present to show the relationship is important to you. Breakups by text may be common these days, but they hurt terribly and leave confusion in their wake.”

If you are leaving an abusive relationship, a public conversation may be necessary for your safety.

In that case, all bets are off and you just need to move on as fast as possible to protect yourself.

3) Talk about how it will work.

If you are able to initiate the conversation and your partner is being amicable throughout the situation, you’ll need to talk about how your break-up will work.

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Who will move out? When will that happen? If children are involved, you’ll need to spend time thinking about how you will co-parent, or if that is even an option.

According to Hack Spirit, “having supportive people around will keep you emotionally stable during this tumultuous situation.”

Because every relationship is different and needs different things, when break-ups happen, they trigger sides of people that you might not have seen up to this point.

Your best-laid plans might get tossed out the window when an angry partner refuses to cooperate.

The best thing to do is continue to try to be the bigger person, keep the conversation on the rails, and move forward.

4) Commit to being kind to one another.

During your conversation, it will be important to talk about ground rules and how things will work going forward.

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This may include a conversation about how you will treat one another. Again, if you have children, the way you show up in the world will matter more.

If you berate your partner or are mean to them instead of trying to be loving and kind throughout the break-up, you’ll feel bad for it later.

According to therapist Samantha Burns in The Cut, it’s important to prepare for the fact that your partner might feel hurt and shocked:

“Be prepared that your partner may be very hurt and in shock, and need time and space to process the news and how they’d like to manage communication. You’ll likely get emotional too. Your partner was your emotional home, the person you depended on, and with whom you shared your life.”

Breaking up can be made easier if both parties decide that they will be at least civil to one another, instead of trying to take the other for all they are worth.

5) Decide to stand your ground.

There’s no doubt that this may be one of the hardest conversations you’ll ever have. When you find yourself in the throws of discussion, you’ll likely also find yourself starting to question your decision.

It’s very important that you decide ahead of time that you won’t back down.

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You may mistake love and kindness during a break-up as true feelings for this person, but rest assured, that is just your brain trying to get you to remain the same.

Gary Amers, an expert relationship coach, offers some great advice in The Cosmopolitan:

“Be kind and respectful as you begin to distance yourself, however, be strict with your boundaries because if you’re not totally clear, your partner may get mixed signals and end up staying around much longer.”

We don’t like change, and our brains really don’t like having to readjust everything, so when you feel your sense of obligation starting to falter, stick to your guns.

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Remember why you wanted to end the relationship in the first place and continue to commit to being kind while ensuring you get to live your life the way you want to live it.

6) Be clear about your needs.

Breakups are rarely mutual. There is usually one partner who is unhappy, while the other is unaware or chooses not to pay attention to what is really going on.

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If you are thinking about ending your relationship, you need to get clear on what you want and need.

This will make it easier for you to have a conversation with your partner and take ownership for the choice you are making.

According to therapist Samantha Burns in The Cut, “the best breakup conversations convey clear reasons why the relationship isn’t working, since the hurt partner may waste a lot of time afterward searching for evidence about what went wrong.”

One of the hardest parts about breaking up is that one or both parties feel responsible for the relationship falling apart, so if there is any room for you to stand up and take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings, do it.

It makes things easier on everyone and you don’t have to feel guilty about doing what’s best for you.

7) Don’t be mean.

When we enter into a relationship with someone, whether by marriage or partnership, we commit to love and care for one another.

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Guy Winch, a New York City psychologist and author of How to Fix a Broken Heart, tells Time that while it’s important to express your reasons for ending the relationship, it is a license to unload all of your complaints and pent-up grievances.

After all, listing every annoyance isn’t productive and will only prolong an already painful conversation.

That should be adhered to throughout the breakup as well. Just because your relationship didn’t work doesn’t mean you are bad people or that you aren’t worthy of being respected.

The best breakups happen when both partners can agree to continue to care for one another during this difficult time. What often happens, however, is that people yell and scream because they are hurt and don’t know how to manage their emotions.

If you decide to keep things above the belt, you’ll be better off now and in the long run.

8) Don’t send a text.

Whatever you decide about your relationship, don’t send the message via text or email. Imagine getting that kind of notification while you are at work or at a family function.

It would be devastating. Don’t devastate anyone when breaking up with them. Just do it face-to-face and allow the emotions to run through you.

We often hide behind technology for these kinds of things because we don’t want to seem vulnerable or deal with the fallout of our decisions.

If you can muster the gumption to talk to your partner face-to-face, they’ll be glad you did.

Plus, you’ve put in this much work up to this point, what’s one more conversation? Do the right thing by them and tell them in person.

Guy Winch tells Time that you should do a break-up by text if you fear for your safety in any way, or you’re in a long-distance relationship. Other than that, it’s better not to do it via text.

9) Let them ask questions.

Don’t be closed off to the idea of talking to your partner. They have been an important part of your life up to this point and they deserve a chance to hear why you want to end things.

Make sure you have thought this through and that you are confident in your decision because there will be plenty of opportunities for your partner to try to change your mind. It’s par for the course at this point.

When you are unhappy with the way someone is acting or you don’t love them anymore, many promises of change will appear in front of you.

Allowing them to ask questions and having clear and concise answers is the best way to allow the conversation to continue without pressuring yourself to make further choices that might keep you in the relationship.

Loren Soeiro in Psychology Today says that it’s important to “listen to the other person, without defending yourself. Hear your partner out. Answer any questions as honestly as you can.”

10) Be honest with yourself.

When it comes to breaking up, the most important thing is that you continue to consider your needs and wants.

There is some reason that you want to end things, so don’t sell yourself short by saying that it’s not a good enough reason to leave someone.

Any reason you come up with is a good enough reason if you believe it and are willing to stand by it.

If you aren’t sure of why you want to leave but have a sense that it’s just not right, trust your instinct here too.

Our bodies and brains often know things before we see them. If you feel drawn to something different for your life, follow that path.

Gary Amers, an expert relationship coach, offers some great advice in The Cosmopolitan:

“If you’re trying to build the strength to break up with a partner, banish that thought. Focus on the top five negative moments of your relationship. Remember what you saw, heard and felt during those times. Keep repeating the process.”

Being honest with yourself makes it easier to be honest with your partner and smoothes out the break-up process so that you can be calm and collected during this difficult time.

In Conclusion

Breakups can take a toll on you if you don’t plan for the aftermath. While being in the wrong relationship can be difficult, many people choose to stay with their partners because they fear what breaking up would look like.

Often, we do things out of obligation and feel like we need to remain committed to someone, even if we don’t love them anymore. It’s okay to change your mind. It’s your life, after all.

But that doesn’t mean you need to break someone in two while breaking their heart.

There is a way to break up with someone so that they don’t feel like jumping off a cliff afterwards. Follow the above advice and you’ll be on your way to a new life without the guilt of breaking things off.

***Do you want to be a stronger person? Do you want to stare down your challenges and overcome any obstacles? If so, check out our eBook: The Art of Resilience: A Practical Guide to Mental Toughness.

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Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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