How To Break Up With Someone In The Kindest Possible Way

Ending a relationship can be hard, but there are some things you can do to let them down gently.

Reviewed by Erin Williams, MA, LMFT, LCDC Erin Williams Erin WilliamsMA, LMFT, LCDC facebook_iconinsta_icon
Written by , Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Sneha Tete Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Edited by , BSc Shatabdi Bhattacharya BSc Experience: 2.5 years
Fact-checked by , MA Sangita Goel MA linkedin_icon

Breaking the relationship is a hard thing. But if you want to know how to say goodbye to someone without hurting them, keep reading this article. It is not easy to withdraw and tell them to their face that they are not the ones for you. You might share some good memories along with arguments, emotional outbursts, and hurt. The situation might worsen if you tell them in a way that hurts your partner the most. You always have a chance of delaying confessing, but do not do anything in a hurry. You can end relationships peacefully and part ways in a respectful manner rather than disturbing the entire situation. Read on to know different ways to reduce the collateral damage and handle your partner considerately while ending a relationship.

Why Do People Break Up?

People break up for myriad reasons, including differences in values, communication issues, or changing priorities. Sometimes, it’s a clash of expectations or a lack of emotional connection that leads to the decision to part ways. Trust issues, infidelity, and emotional neglect can also erode the foundation of a relationship, causing irreparable damage. At times, personal growth and change can lead to breakups as individuals evolve in different directions. External factors such as distance, pressure from the family, or financial stress can also strain a relationship. While breaking up with your partner can be challenging, they are sometimes necessary for personal well-being and happiness and may lead to self-discovery.

Should You Break Up Or Work It Out?

Should you break up or work it out
Image: Shutterstock

How you start the conversation is key. If you begin the conversation harshly, your partner will more than likely become defensive. Taking your time and processing emotions beforehand ensures you are relying on your intellect and not being emotionally reactive.

Let’s talk about why you are dissatisfied and thinking about ending a relationship. Also, do you think breaking up is necessary? Can things still be mended?

There are many reasons relationships fail, but sometimes, it is better to work through the issues than jump ship when you are in a serious relationship. If your partner is not giving you the attention you deserve or the affection you require, communication can resolve it. Whenever there are problems in a relationship, don’t just go ahead and call it quits without talking to your partner. If you are not satisfied, they probably aren’t either.

Below are some signs that your differences can be resolved without resorting to a divorce or breakup:

  1. You have been together for a long time.
  2. You know each other’s friends and family.
  3. They treat you well in private settings as well as in public settings with family and friends.
  4. You haven’t seen them behaving in unhealthy ways that undermine the goals of having a healthy relationship.
  5. Your partner brings out the best in you.
  6. You have forgiven them for their past wrongdoings.
  7. They put effort into making the relationship work.
  8. They are willing to do anything for you.
  9. Your family loves and approves of them.
  10. Your partner makes you feel comfortable and safe.

If these things sound familiar, it might be worth the effort to give your partner another shot. However, if you are facing any of the following issues, it might be time to terminate the partnership:

  1. If your partner is abusive towards you or if they make you feel unsafe around them.
  2. If they make you feel like you deserve better than them.
  3. If your partner doesn’t care about your feelings and what you want.
  4. If you are not happy with them and feel like you can do better.
  5. The relationship is taking a toll on your mental health.
  6. Excessive problems that won’t go away.
  7. There are signs of emotional manipulation and gaslighting.
  8. If you can’t trust your partner anymore.
  9. Your partner constantly pressures you into doing things that make you uncomfortable.
  10. You know deep down that the relationship is coming to an end, making you feel bitter about it.

If you answered yes to a few or even one of these questions, the chances are the relationship is not going anywhere. It is in everyone’s interest to end things here and split up. To know how to best approach the topic and go through with a breakup, scroll down.

protip_icon Quick Tip
The best way to assess your relationship is to look at the growth. Things might have been brilliant once but your relationship cannot survive on that history. If the present does not compare to it and your partner does not share your will to grow, then things have already ended in essence.

How To Break Up With Someone Nicely

How to break up with someone
Image: Shutterstock

Breaking up is never easy, but there are ways to learn how to sever ties with someone nicely without hurting them and move on.

1. Be Honest

Be honest with your partner about your feelings. For example, if you don’t like how they treat you, tell them how it makes you feel. Be direct and let them know that you would prefer to be treated better. Being honest will also ensure that you are not using a person to your advantage during a difficult time in your life. Being honest requires emotional maturity on your part and you can achieve that by not blaming others for your feelings. Blaming others can make us defensive and hurt our intentions of being kind.

2. Don’t Play Mind Games

Don’t use your relationship to control or manipulate the other person. It is especially true if you want the relationship to end because your partner isn’t treating you right. It is not fair to take advantage of someone who cares about you simply because they have been nice to you. You can’t use someone for your own selfish needs without them knowing that you are doing it.

3. Be Direct

A couple having a direct breakup conversation
Image: Shutterstock

Don’t beat around the bush or avoid the inevitable breakup conversation with an excuse about how badly you are crushing on someone else or any other absurd lies that people usually make up in such scenarios.

4. Don’t Keep Using Excuses or Dragging Things Out

Don’t continue the relationship out of fear because it will only cause more pain and suffering down the road. If you keep making excuses for why you can’t end things, that person may realize that you aren’t ready to let go. It will hurt them more than it would if you just end things without any delay. It is better for both parties involved that the relationship comes to an end as soon as possible.

5. Don’t Say You Can Stay Friends

Don’t lead someone on when you have no intention of pursuing a friendship in the future with them. Even if your partner is your close bud, it can be challenging to stay friends with an ex. So, if your partner proposes but you don’t want to pursue a friendship, be honest and let them know that it isn’t possible for whatever reason. It is better to disengage, cut off, or detach during a breakup.

Tolu Abiodun, a blogger who went through a tough breakup, shared his experience of the same. He said, “A throwback to three years ago, I met an amazing girl. A second-year law student at that time. We got into an exciting two-year relationship that was all shades of good (or so we thought). We broke up about a year ago and our ‘friendship’ from that time till I blocked her was nothing short of toxic and bitter. I said what I said (i).” The blogger also believes that one should not leave their partner second-guessing and make their intention clear.

6. Don’t Get Emotional Or Angry

Angry woman quarreling with her ex
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You may feel hurt or angry, but those feelings aren’t going to help the situation. When you get emotional, it is easy to say or do things you will regret later. The smartest thing is to avoid the confrontation initially and break off. Deal with it when you are in a better state of mind.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Be prepared to answer their questions. They might lash out and say a lot of emotional things in a desperate attempt to keep you. Be calm, and firm, and say what is needed without making things ugly.

7. Take Responsibility

Take responsibility for your behavior in the relationship by not making excuses like, ’You made me do it’. It isn’t an effective way to start a conversation about ending your relationship as it is nearly impossible for your partner to prove otherwise. Instead, if you are the one who wants out and quit, take responsibility and let them know that you would like to end things peacefully.

protip_icon Quick Tip
No harm in making a straightforward apology for your misgivings, without sarcasm or malicious undertones. Say what you are sorry for, express your concrete wish to go separate ways, wish them well.

8. No Harsh Judgments

If you are the one who wants to bid farewell, it isn’t your prerogative to tell your partner that they are unworthy or that no one else will ever want them. It is rude and hurtful. Don’t let your pain turn into anger and hurt someone else in the process.

9. No Rehashing

Don’t bring up past conversations or grievances when breaking up with them. If you raise issues that happened in the past, it will only distract you from what is essential — bringing the relationship to a close and letting them know why you want to break up. Rehashing past issues is not going to resolve them. You would have handled the conflict earlier if you were successful in that. When we rehash we increase our chances of the relationship ending on a bad note.

10. No False Positives

Don’t think, ‘Oh, they are not perfect, but maybe I can change them’. People rarely change so it’s better to break away. It may be true that you love the person and have been through so much with them. But eventually, one of you will resent the other for the mistakes that will only lead to more issues down the road.

People rarely change without being motivated to do so. Real change comes from self-awareness and internal motivation to do something different. If you attempt to change your partner, it will only lead to greater relationship dissatisfaction and resentment. It is essentially delaying the inevitable.

11. Don’t Say You Will Always Care

If you want to break up, don’t tell them that you will always care about them. It can be used against you later when your partner tries to win you back or accuse you of being the wrong person. Instead, it is always best to say, ’I don’t know if we can be together anymore, and I don’t want to hurt you more than necessary. Let’s try to end things as soon as possible so that we can both start healing’.

12. Give Space

Let your partner have their space after the breakup. Don’t call, text, email, or reach out to them in any way for at least a month. Even if they are happy to hear from you, the chances are that you won’t be able to handle it yet because breaking up is difficult enough as it is. It would help if you had time to recover on your own. If your partner truly cares, they will give you the space you need to stay true to your word. Even if you wanted the relationship to end, grieving is still a necessary part of the process. Both spouses must go through the cycle of grief and have room for heartbreak as part of the healing process.

Is It Wrong To Get Back With An Ex?

Is it wrong to get back with an ex
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Not always. There are many reasons one should think twice before deciding to get back with an ex. But there is a chance that you might be making a huge mistake by cutting off all ties with your partner. It is one thing to ditch a terrible partner but quite another when you were going steady with someone, even if it didn’t work out.

Many people go back to their exes because they feel lonely and think that the partner is willing to change and become better. You realize you love your ex when things go sour in your current relationship or when someone else dumps you. In such cases, you tend to think that getting back with your ex is the only way out, and such a decision almost always turns bitter.

However, some people retire from their current relationships for reasons like incompatibility or abuse, and they feel that going back to their earlier partner would be a better option. People change, they grow apart, and if your ex still means a lot to you, even after all the misunderstandings and fights, there’s nothing wrong in trying to get back together.

A simple way to get back together is to befriend your ex first and then win them back by being a better friend. This way, you would know all the things that went wrong earlier and find ways to correct them. But this requires a lot of patience and perseverance. Successful relationships are built on a foundation of friendship.

On the other hand, your relationship could be shattered beyond all repair even before you could think about calling them up or hanging out with them. In such cases, if you still want to get back together after a breakup, there is no way but to wait it out and hope that someday they might realize their mistake and want to give things a chance.

Infographic: 5 Ways To Break Up With Someone Without Being Hurtful

Breakups are not easy. Often, they are messy and emotionally turbulent. This is because we let our emotions speak for us, and even beautiful memories get lost in hurtful words. Despite the reason for the separation, if you wish to avoid a bad breakup and end things on a good note, check out the infographic below.

5 ways to break up with someone without being hurtful (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Breaking up with someone is not easy. If done the wrong way, you can end up making the person feel more hurt and cause further damage. That is why knowing how to break up with someone in a kind way can make the parting more amiable. While you should try to solve the problems before going for a breakup, if your partner is abusive and makes you do uncomfortable things, it’s time to end the relationship. Be honest about your feelings and take responsibility for your actions in the relationship. As difficult and hurtful as it may seem in the beginning, you will realize that you made the right choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to break up over text?

Although it is better to break up with someone in person, there are a few instances where you can break up over text. If you feel the situation is uncomfortable, then it is better to break up over text.

Why is breaking up so hard?

One of the major reasons breaking up with someone is hard is that many fear the change and the feelings of rejection, abandonment, and loneliness. This makes it important to learn how to break up a relationship without hurting oneself or the other person.

What should I say during a breakup conversation?

State something positive that you value about the other person, tell them that you think it is not working and why you feel the same, and acknowledge that the breakup is hard on them as well as you.

Should I give a reason for the breakup or keep it vague?

If you are breaking up with your partner, you owe them an explanation about what is not working or what led to the breakup. If the breakup is vague and there is no closure, the other person might start to resent you.

Key Takeaways

  • Respect is the bedrock of a relationship as well as a breakup.
  • If you are the one ending the relationship, you need to take responsibility for it and communicate it clearly but gently to your partner.
  • Avoid rehashing past issues or fights when you are breaking up as it can make you both end things on a bad note.
  • Give your partner space after the breakup by not contacting them in any way.
how to break up with someone_illustration

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

Going through the delicate process of ending a relationship? Click on the video to gain valuable insights and guidance on how to successfully break up with someone, ensuring respect, clarity, and emotional well-being.

Personal Experience: Source

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Erin Williams

Erin WilliamsMA, LMFT, LCDC

Erin Wiliiams is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a licensed chemical dependency counselor who is passionate about helping couples and families break free from the cycle of conflict and reconnect. She has 3 years of experience and is also a Gottman Leader of the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and specializes in trauma, grief, and loss. full bio

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