Accepting that you don’t love your partner anymore is a heart-wrenching realization to come to.
Not only are you plagued with feelings of guilt for falling out of love, you know you’ve got the crappy job of now breaking their heart.
I’ve been in this situation and I’m here to tell you — it sucks but you’ll be okay (and so will your partner).
As much as you’re dreading having that conversation with them, the sooner you do it, the quicker you can both move on with your lives and find happiness and love elsewhere.
And to help you through it, I’ve listed some honest tips on how to break up with someone you don’t love anymore in the smoothest, least painful way.
So, how can you break up with someone you don’t love anymore?
To make it easier, I’ve split the break up into three sections — before, during, and after. This way you’ll be completely prepared and as unpredictable as break-ups can be, at least you’ll have a rough plan to help you out.
Before the breakup
1) Be clear about your needs
The heartbreaking truth is:
You need to be clear on why you don’t love your partner anymore and what you want to do going forward.
This will make it easier for you to have a conversation with your partner and take ownership of 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.”
It makes things easier on everyone and you don’t have to feel guilty about doing what’s best for you.
2) Be honest with yourself
To be completely honest with your partner, you’ve got to first be honest with yourself.
It’s not going to be a comfortable truth to face.
Losing love for your partner and feeling unhappy in the relationship are big realizations to come to.
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But, 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.
3) You don’t love them anymore but don’t blame them
Whatever you do, don’t try to point blame in any direction.
You are allowed to change your mind and you are allowed to make different decisions than you made in the past.
Maintain your story and your intention and accept how difficult the situation is for everyone.
You do need to recognize that you will be hurting the other person, and that hurt is part of the process.
And remember, you once loved this person, so just because your feelings have changed doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with them.
And you can have no control over how they react to your breakup, so don’t try to control them or throw their behavior or reaction in their face.
4) Don’t feel bad about it
I know you’re probably thinking, “That’s easy for you to say!” and I get it.
When I broke up with an ex I didn’t love anymore, I felt terrible about it.
I had to keep reminding myself that we’re all human, our feelings aren’t set in stone, and it’s okay to end the relationship if there isn’t mutual love and interest.
Think about it this way:
Would it be better to stay with them, even though you can’t love them the way they deserve to be loved?
So, every time you start to feel bad, remind yourself that you’re doing both of you a favor by moving on and going your separate ways.
5) 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 a family function.
Sure, it might seem like the easy way out. But in the long run, it’ll hurt your partner more and that’s the last thing you want to do.
Instead, arrange to meet up and do it face to face.
6) Arrange a time and place for it
Before the actual break up, make sure to “schedule” it in with your partner. A huge mistake to make is blurting the topic of a breakup out of nowhere.
Send your partner a message online or through text that you want to have a serious talk.
It’s much better if you can say it directly. Do this a day before or at least several hours before you break up with your partner.
Giving this sort of reminder helps your partner know that something is up. It’s only right to help them emotionally prepare for whatever they’re about to hear.
During the breakup
7) Make sure you are alone
It might seem like a good idea to break up in public but this can make your partner feel even more uncomfortable, and stop them from reacting naturally.
When surrounded by strangers, your ability to have an intimate and meaningful conversation about your relationship is lost.
So how should you break up with someone you don’t love anymore?
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.
According to Loren Soeiro in Psychology Today:
“What’s important is to 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.”
However, if you are leaving an abusive relationship, a public conversation may be necessary for your safety and it may be good to have a friend waiting nearby to support you afterward.
8) Don’t make it all about them
While you’re explaining why you want to end the relationship, you might naturally search for things they’ve done wrong to explain why you don’t love them anymore.
Avoid doing this at all costs.
There’s no need to lay on extra hurt and pain, so focus on why your feelings have changed without focusing on them too much.
Naturally, some personal issues will come up, and there’s probably a reason why you don’t love them anymore. If you’re going to be completely honest, just do it with tact and consideration.
9) Be kind to each other
All you can do during this stage is be kind. Both of you will feel emotional and even though you’re the one ending the relationship, it’s still a tough process to go through.
So how can you “kindly” break up with someone?
Research by Sprecher and colleagues noted that the following strategies enabled a more compassionate and positive breakup:
- Telling the partner that they did not regret the time spent together in the relationship
- Honestly conveying future wishes to the partner
- Verbally explaining in person the reasons for wanting to break up
- Emphasizing the good things gained from the relationship in the past
- Trying to prevent leaving on a sour note
- Avoid blaming or hurting their feelings
- Convincing the partner that the breakup was better for both parties
The study concluded that if you have to end a relationship, doing so positively and openly appears to be the best.
10) Talk about how it will work
If you can initiate the conversation and your partner is being amicable throughout the situation, you’ll need to talk about how your break-up will work.
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.
Yes, you’re breaking up with someone you don’t love anymore.
And yes it’s a crappy situation.
But you’ve got to keep moving forward and the best way to do that is to have a plan of action with your partner.
11) Stand your ground
The truth is:
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.
You must decide ahead of time that you won’t back down.
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 clear, your partner may get mixed signals and end up staying around much longer.”
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.
12) Let them ask questions
You might want to get the whole conversation over and done as quickly as possible but be considerate to the fact that your partner will undoubtedly have questions.
This is where being clear with yourself first will help.
Instead of giving them wishy-washy excuses, you’ll be able to explain exactly what went wrong and when you fell out of love.
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.”
That’ll save any questions from popping up in the future and may give your partner the clarity they need to move on as well.
13) Don’t be mean
Whether you’re impatient to start living your new life, or you’re completely moody and upset that your relationship hasn’t worked out, it’s not an excuse to be mean.
Even more importantly:
Your partner doesn’t deserve to be at the receiving end of your frustration, especially since they’ve got their heartbreak to nurse now.
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.
14) Clear every existing problem between you two
So whilst you don’t want to lay on every grievance and annoyance you experienced in the relationship, you should clear the air on big issues.
Identify areas where you may have left on a misunderstanding or where something particularly hurtful has happened during your relationship, and take this time to apologize (or explain your pain).
If you’re able to do this, you may stand a shot at remaining civil with each other.
15) Don’t try to make them feel better
They’re crying, you feel bad, one thing leads to another and you’re having intense, emotional breakup sex.
Quite simply — don’t do it. You’re only going to prolong their misery and even give them false hope that you still harbor feelings for them.
Equally, it’s not your job to console them as cruel as that sounds. You can be sympathetic, kind with your words, even comforting by hugging them, but ultimately they need to seek the support of their friends.
After the breakup
16) Take some time apart
Time apart is essential after a breakup.
Both of your emotions are raw, you’re feeling vulnerable and probably hurt, and tensions can run high.
Explain that if you’re not in contact much, it’s not because you don’t care about them anymore, but it’s to help with the healing process.
After all, you’ve got to have time to lick your wounds and pick yourself back up again.
17) Ask if friendship is still possible
Just because you’ve broken up doesn’t mean you can’t be friends in the future. Just because you don’t love them as a partner anymore doesn’t mean you can’t love them as a friend.
You may still love them but not be in love with them.
But because being best buds straight away might hamper the moving on process, it’s always a good idea to give it some time before heading down the friendship route.
When you’ve both moved on and can be in touch amicably, then you can start to rebuild the friendship.
18) Stay optimistic about the future
Even though it was your choice to end the relationship, it’s okay to be a little down and sad after.
You’ve broken up with someone you don’t love anymore but that doesn’t mean you don’t still care about them or worry about their feelings.
The important thing is:
You’ve still got to keep a positive attitude about the future.
They will move on with time, you will pick up your life again and rebuild it, and as with anything, new opportunities will arise.
19) Keep the door of communication open
And as we mentioned about staying friends (or proposing the idea of it) you might want to let your partner know that just because you’ve broken up, doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch.
Sometimes, the worst part of a breakup is feeling like you’ve lost an incredibly important person in your life.
But who says it has to be a complete loss?
The romantic love you held for them has gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be there for one another.
But — and this is important — you are not responsible for them.
You’re not their therapist, you’re not there to answer calls around the clock, and you’re not obliged to treat them as a priority in your life anymore.
So, this point is best done once you’ve both had some time to move on and get closure.
20) Surround yourself with good friends
Regardless of why you broke up with your partner, you’re going to need the support of your friends and family.
You know you’re not in love anymore, yet you may still miss them, feel lonely, or even lost in life.
After all, you’ve spent the last few years building a life with someone and now it’s time to go out and redefine who you are as an individual.
Friends and family can be a great reminder of who you were before and who you want to be now with your new life path ahead of you.
21) Don’t feel tempted to call your ex up out of boredom or loneliness
Let’s be honest, we’ve all contemplated calling up an ex, even when we know it won’t do us or them any good.
But, loneliness, reminiscing on the fun times and special occasions like Valentine’s day or Christmas can make us mysteriously forget our lack of love and pick up the phone.
So to avoid doing this, try focusing on rebuilding your life:
- Get back into old hobbies, or learn new ones
- Take time to explore your neighborhood, find new joints that don’t remind you of your ex
- Spend time with friends and family
- Learn a new skill to keep you busy
- Invest in your health, learn some new recipes or throw yourself into exercise or meditation
The more you invest in yourself, the less you’ll spend wondering whether you did the right thing or not, because unfortunately, loneliness has a habit of making us second-guess our decisions.
22) Take this time to reflect and truly move forward
Going through a breakup is tough but being the one to leave it can be just as troubling.
You might hold on to guilt for your feelings changing or you may feel like there were parts of your relationship that hurt you deeply.
Think about it this way:
Instead of viewing your relationship and breakup as a complete nightmare that you’d rather forget, reflect on what happened and what you learned from the entire experience.
Use this to empower yourself to be better in future relationships or to look out for red flags before you get too involved.
The bottom line
Now you’ve got the entire breakup plan laid out from start to finish, let’s address an important point:
You’re not a bad person for wanting to move on with your life.
I can’t stress that enough and mainly because I wish someone had said the same to me when I broke up with my ex!
We all have a right to happiness and love, and if you’re no longer feeling that connection with your partner, you’re not obliged to stay with them just to keep them happy.
Ultimately, by letting them go they may find someone who will genuinely love and cherish them.
Take my situation for an example — a few years after my relationship ended (during which he claimed he’d never move on) I heard from a friend that he was married and had a newborn baby.
He was happy. And so was I.
So once you get the courage to go ahead with the breakup, remind yourself that no matter how painful it is, time is a great healer and you’re not the bad guy here for staying true to yourself and your feelings.