Are you in a situation where you know a relationship needs to end, but struggle with finding the right way to do it?
Many people take the wrong approach to a breakup, leaving them and their ex-partner in a world of pain and turmoil of emotions. When you decide to end the relationship unilaterally and then inform your partner about your decision, it almost guarantees them feeling lost and abandoned. Involving the other person in this huge decision, is a respectful way to end a relationship, saving them from more hurt feelings. And, instead of the world of pain, you may even end up with a trusted friend by your side.
We’ve all been there – facing the challenge of a breakup while trying to ensure that you are making the right decision for both you and your partner. While breaking up is emotionally challenging, it doesn’t have to leave you overwhelmed with pain. Here are basic three steps to ending a relationship in a pain-free way, which we will expand on throughout this article:
- Recognize emotional entanglements.
- Have a conversation about practical matters.
- Make a decision that works for both of you.
If you are still unsure if the breakup is the right way to go, check the signs when it’s worth holding on and when it is best to end a relationship.
Now, let’s take a look at how you can approach a breakup conversation with practical steps on how to end a relationship while creating minimum pain and being loving and respectful.
1. Reflect on Your Situation
Before talking about breaking up, reflect on your doubts, concerns and reasons for a breakup. It’ll give you a chance to get clear on what you want to share.
During a breakup conversation, your priority is to create understanding. and avoid guessing and assuming. This clarity will help you resolve your situation without unnecessary pain. And who knows, you might be able to separate on good terms and may even stay friends.
So, how can you put this idea across to the person you care for?
After you’ve reflected on your current situation and acknowledged the reasons for breaking up, it’s time to share it. So, what are the right words to kick off the breakup conversation?
2. Choose the Right Words
How you bring up the idea of a breakup is key to ending the relationship on good terms. Set your intention for the conversation to engage, connect and understand.
When you want to end the relationship, it’s important to choose your words carefully, while being gentle and considerate. You probably want to avoid saying the following, which I bet you’ve heard a time or two in your life:
- “I’ve come to the difficult decision that…”
- “I believe it’s best for both of us if we…”
- “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking…”
- “I need to talk to you about something important…”
- “I want to be honest with you…”
- “I’ve been feeling that our paths are heading in different directions…”
- “I care about you deeply, but I think it’s time for us to go our separate ways…”
- “I hope you can understand where I’m coming from…”
These phrases make breaking up even more painful for the other person. Instead, try to be more considerate and inclusive:
- “I want to talk about where we see this relationship going…”
- “I think it’s important for us to have an open and honest conversation about our relationship…”
In the last example, you are opening the conversation and inviting your partner to participate in the discussion. This alone lets your partner know that they matter. Once your they feel supported, they are more likely to hear you out without being defensive.
3. Share Your Concerns
After you’ve reflected on your relationship, it’s time to have that conversation.
- Express your thoughts, doubts, and concerns as clearly and honestly as you can.
- Keep it relevant and try to avoid getting into too much detail.
Unless you have an open conversation about what exactly is going on inside of you, it can be a complete surprise for them. And, after you tell them you want to break up, they are likely to be in pain and feel sad, confused and disappointed.
Instead, make this conversation about sharing your worries, doubts and concerns, without making any final decisions at this point.
After you’ve shared your doubts and concerns, it’s time to recognize your emotional side.
4. Recognize Your Feelings
While reasons for ending the relationship are relatively simple to understand, feelings can be more complex and confusing.
You might think that breaking up is the right thing to do, but also feel overwhelmed with doubts and sadness.
To deal with this conflict between thinking and feeling:
- Recognize and acknowledge how you feel.
- Imagine how your life will be practically different after this relationship ends.
5. Share Your Feelings with Your Partner
So, why would you want to tell your partner how you feel, and how can you do it the right way? When it comes to making big decisions like ending a relationship, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and confused.
Intimate relationships revolve around partners trusting each other with their feelings. While under normal circumstances it’s okay to explore the inner world of confusion, during a conflict or a breakup, you need to be clear on how you feel and what exactly you want to share with the other person.
- Clarify for yourself why you want to break up.
- Agree on the time and place where you can have a face-to-face interaction without being rushed or interrupted.
- Express positive and negative feelings, as well as fulfilled and unfulfilled needs.
- Thank them for hearing you.
- Give them time to process what you’ve shared and see if they have any questions.
Here’s a practical guide to help you out:
After you’ve had a chance to be heard and understood, create the same opportunity for your partner. By sharing how you feel, you opened the door to honesty and authenticity. Now, it’s time to acknowledge your partner and understand how they feel.
6. Ask Your Partner How They Feel
Ask your partner how they feel about you, your relationship and their life in general.
- Invite them to share their feelings, worries doubts and concerns.
- Tell your partner you’d like to hear how they feel about your situation
7. Listen to Your Partner’s Feelings
When you invite the other person to participate in the conversation, pay attention and take time to really listen to what they are saying. Here are a few tips:
- Help them find the words to describe their feelings.
- Write them down.
- Read what they shared back to them.
- Avoid making judgements and conclusions.
- Focus on hearing the feelings and needs behind the words.
- Try to understand their point of view.
- Avoid making judgements about what they say.
- Don’t be afraid to get into specific details about when their needs haven’t been met.
The key to a productive breakup conversation is to make the other person feel supported by listening to them and caring about what they are going through.
Acknowledging the other person’s feelings will let them know they matter.
Once your partner sees that their feelings matter, they will feel included and are more likely to open up and work together, instead of otherwise being defensive.
Positive interactions are possible when people avoid blaming and every person can take responsibility for their part which leads to ending the relationship. A constructive conversation gives you and the other person a chance to reflect on your situation and creates a learning opportunity to do better next time.
After you both shared your feelings, it’s time to look at the practical side of a breakup.
If both of you managed to hear each other out, you’ve done the hardest part – connecting at the heart! Now it’s time to work out the practical aspects of a breakup.
8. Consider the Practical Aspects of Your Breakup
Once you can have a basic understanding, you can have productive conversations about difficult things and make the right decision that works for both of you.
Calm and open communication is an important aspect of a breakup conversation. If you still care for each other enough to hear each other out, you can find an understanding and spare yourselves from more hurt feelings
Once everyone feels heard, you can move on to a more practical conversation.
Check out this workbook for practical help and guidance:
Finally, consider every possible option moving forward taking into account your emotions and current circumstances (e.g. social, children, location, financial, health issues, etc.).
Once you’ve considered how the breakup will affect your life, it’s time to make a final decision and plan the steps going forward.
9. Make a Decision Together
Many relationships end because of poor, limited or one-sided communication. When your partner participates in a conversation, they become part of the break-up as a whole. This approach shows care and recognition, which increases your chances of ending a relationship on good terms.
Many relationships end with one person making a unilateral decision and then informing their partner about it.
Instead of sharing and connecting, they spend time time thinking about:
- The best place to break up
- “The best time to break up”
- How to tell my partner that I decided to break up
- How to break up over text, email, phone call or a letter, etc…
And, in the end, this is still a complete surprise for the other person, which creates a lot of emotional pain and suffering that could be easily avoided.
When it comes to the final decision on how to end the relationship, you have three options:
- Take a break
- Break up and move on
- Stay friends
Check if a romantic relationship is still possible, and if so, under what conditions. Discuss the possible options going forward. A break, allows you to spend time apart before you make any final decisions, and will give you a chance to find emotional balance and get a more objective perspective on your situation.
If a romantic relationship isn’t an option, and you have a choice to remain friends or lose this person completely, which one you choose?
Having your ex-partner as a friend is challenging and definitely isn’t for everyone. It can be tough to keep in touch with a person after having a romantic relationship with them. The only situation where it makes sense is if you love and care for each other beyond romance and want to support each other in achieving your goals as you go through life.
Wouldn’t it be a shame to let go of someone who is already one of your trusted friends?
If you have followed these steps, you’ve done an incredible job connecting with your partner! By involving them and giving space to their emotions, you now can make the right decision for both of you, in a loving and respectful way.
And save both of you unnecessary pain when the time comes to move forward. In doing so, you’ve indirectly addressed your reasons for ending your relationship and minimised future regrets. Whatever you choose moving forward, you will always know that you’ve done it together!
Now that you know what to do, let’s take a quick look at what you should avoid doing when facing a breakup.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
Here are some common mistakes people make during a breakup:
- Making a rush decision
- Creating false hope
- Using any method of communication, other than face-to-face.
- Allowing emotions (anger, frustration, fear, etc.) to affect your decision.
- Making a unilateral decision to end the relationship and then informing your partner about it.
- Stop all the communication and block the other person from your contacts.
- Walking out without saying anything.
- Telling other people to hate or stop talking to your ex-partner because of how horrible they were with you
- Wishing your ex-partner bad things. This only perpetuates the cycle of negativity that may not contribute positively to your mental health.
- Avoid blaming the other person for your relationship not working out – both of you contributed somehow.
It’s common for couples in conflict to blame each other. But, until each person takes responsibility for their part, it’s difficult to agree on things.
Getting professional advice from relationship experts like a family therapist or a relationship coach will help you identify what went wrong, so you know exactly what to do in a new relationship.
Following the steps we described in this article, you can avoid unnecessary problems and pain and go through a breakup in a more caring and respectful way.
As you go through life, knowing how to end a relationship the right way, can save you and the other person from getting hurt and may even contribute to your mental health. Romantic relationships are an emotional rollercoaster that can take you high and also leave you at the bottom.
That said, once you know how to deal with a breakup, you can break up with someone in a way where nobody needs to get hurt. This will allow you to enjoy romantic relationships and make friends along the way.
Couples in romantic relationships rarely get a chance for a clean break. But it’s not like a clean break is impossible, it’s just that most people don’t know how to end a relationship in a way that leaves both partners heard and understood.
If your feelings have changed or the circumstances are no longer working for you or your partner, a breakup can actually be the best thing for both of you. To know that you are making the right choice, you need to be honest with yourself and your partner.
Ending a relationship can be an emotionally demanding and challenging experience. So, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and confused, especially when you don’t know how to deal with it in the right way.
A combination of circumstances, emotions and finding a way forward can be too much for anyone. The right way to end a relationship involves expressing your needs while considering your partner’s feelings at the same time.
Just remember, that when you feel emotional, it’s easy to make a decision that you may regret later. So why not take a little time to do it with compassion and respect?
When you break up with someone, try to note their good qualities as well as things you believe they can improve. Constructive feedback will give them a balanced perspective allowing them to focus on personal improvement when moving on, instead of dwelling on the past. This approach will help your partner with future relationships and life in general.
When it comes to breaking up with someone you love, try to do it in a caring way, with empathy, honesty and understanding. It is not an easy task, especially when you are emotionally unbalanced. But it’s the only pain-free way to end things with respect and have a friend in the end.
The most important thing to remember is that even though your relationship might be ending, you can go through the breakup process with love and mutual respect. And, even if your partner isn’t emotionally available to have a constructive conversation, you can still maintain self-respect and stay true to the person you are or want to be.
- Approach a breakup process with an open mind and awareness. You may even discover that your reasons for breaking up can be fixed and may decide to stay together.
- If you still decide to separate, use this process to learn as much as you can about yourself, so you can create healthier romantic relationships in the future.
- Avoid making a unilateral decision
- Take a step back from whatever you decide in your head.
- A decision driven by emotions can leave you with regrets later on.
- Set your intention to identify what isn’t working
- Express how you feel and share your doubts and concerns.
- Concentrate on things that matter.
- Ask them to say it back to you, so you know they heard you correctly
- Give your partner a chance to express how they feel as well as what they think and want.
- Write down what they say.
- Making notes will help you keep on track and remain objective.
- Tell them what you wrote, so you are crystal clear you heard them right.
- Take time to hear each other out and understand both perspectives.
The post-breakup period can feel very lonely. Many people find it helpful to spend more time with their family and friends or pick up old hobbies. If you need professional guidance, book a coaching session, so we can show you exactly how you can deal with your breakup. Not only that, we will also help you learn from your current situation, so you can create healthier and happier relationships in the future.
If you are still wondering whether to break up or find a way to make it work, reach out. We are here to help!
Every situation you are in carries a special meaning. Let’s figure out what your current situation means for you right now and unravel these emotional entanglements together.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I break up with someone I love?
Breaking up with someone you still love is incredibly tough. Start by finding a quiet, private space for the conversation. Be honest about your doubts and concerns. Offer empathy and give them the opportunity to express themselves. Remember, it’s okay to feel sad, and seeking support from friends, family or relationship experts can be immensely helpful.
How to start breaking up?
Begin the conversation gently and honestly. You can say something like, “I need to talk to you about something important. It’s not easy for me, but I believe it’s necessary for both of us to have this conversation.”
What is the best way to end a relationship?
The best way to end a relationship is with respect, honesty, and kindness. Choose a suitable time and place for the conversation, and be clear about your reasons without being hurtful. Take time to listen to the other person and make a decision together.
How do you know when it’s time to end a relationship?
Knowing when to end a relationship can be indicated by a persistent lack of respect, trust, or emotional safety. If attempts at open communication and problem-solving consistently fail, it may be time to consider parting ways. Trust your instincts and prioritize your well-being.
How do you end it with someone you still love?
Ending a relationship with someone you still love is one of the most challenging situations. It’s important to remember that love doesn’t always guarantee compatibility or a healthy relationship. Be honest about your feelings, express gratitude for the time you’ve shared, and acknowledge that this decision is ultimately about your and your partner’s well-being.
What not to say when ending a relationship?
Avoid blame or harsh criticism. Instead of saying, “You always…” or “You never…”, focus on how you both feel and try to see things from each other’s perspective. It’s also best not to create a false hope about staying friends if you’re uncertain about it.
How do I end a relationship I don’t want to end?
If you’re considering ending a relationship but are hesitant about the breakup, it’s important to reflect on your reasons and whether there are potential solutions. Open and honest communication about your concerns is crucial. If both parties are willing to work towards a resolution, there might be a chance to stay together. However, if the issues persist, it may be a sign that it’s time to end things for both of your well-being.
What are the reasons to end a relationship?
All reasons to end a relationship fall into one of two categories. Either you or your partner no longer feel the romance or you have problems that you don’t know how to resolve. If you no longer feel the attraction, it could be the end of a romantic relationship, but you can still be friends. If it’s about solving problems, talking to a family therapist or a coach can give you the answers you need.
How to end a relationship when you live together?
If you decide to end a relationship when living together, it’s important to create distance, both physical and emotional. When you break up with someone, depending on your circumstances, consider moving with a friend or a family member who can give you emotional and practical support. Ending intimate relationships is emotionally tough, so having positive interactions during this period can be invaluable. It’s always a good idea to speak to a family therapist or a relationship expert who can help you navigate these tough times and turn this experience into a learning opportunity.
How to end a relationship on good terms?
Knowing how to end a relationship on good terms requires the following:
1. Recognise what isn’t working in your relationship
2. Talk to your partner about it
3. Together try to find a solution
If you cannot find a solution or have no willingness to make your relationship work, then decide to end it together