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How to break up with someone you love: 15 no bullsh*t tips

Image credit: Shutterstock - By Dmytro Zinkevych

Breaking up with someone you love is never easy.

In fact, it’s one of the toughest things you can do.

You’ve spent a lot of time with one person. You’ve built something special. They’re planning their life around you. They love you. Much of their meaning in life is built around you.

Yet in one instant, you’re about to destroy everything.

You’re going to break their heart and feel like a terrible human being.

But unfortunately, it’s something that you simply must do.

Because despite what people say, it takes incredible strength to break up with someone you love.

Do you know what would be really weak? Continuing the relationship when you know it won’t work out. It’s unfair on your partner, and it’s unfair on yourself.

And the longer the relationship goes on, the more it’s going to hurt when it ends.

It’s a difficult, emotional process — but it’s also necessary.

So if you’re unsure how you can properly break up with someone who loves you, we’ve prepared this step-by-step guide just for you.

1) Think carefully about your decision

First of all, are you certain that a breakup is the best step to take?

If you do this now and regret it immediately after, the person you broke up with might no longer want to be with you. They might start thinking that you were right to call things off.

Even if you guys do get back together, who’s to say that your feelings toward each other will remain the same? The damage cannot be easily undone.

Give yourself some time to rest and think of the reason why you’re considering breaking up with someone who loves you.

Don’t be afraid to seek advice from other people you trust.

Remember:

A breakup is not a cure-all for relationship problems. Sometimes, all it takes is having a sincere talk with your partner.

You say you love the person, so why are you letting go?

Think of what you hold dear to your heart.

Do the things you gain outweigh what you’re going to lose? If so, perhaps a breakup is the right decision.

Also, don’t forget that once you’ve identified the issues with the relationship, it’s important to give yourselves a chance to work through them.

It’s your job to communicate your concerns and grievances before making the final call to break up.

It may initially hurt your partner to hear that you’re annoyed or upset about certain areas in the relationship, but at least it allows them to fix the issues that you’re talking about.

It also means that if you do decide to break up with them, it won’t take them by surprise.

If you don’t discuss the issues before announcing the breakup, it could be quite confusing and traumatic for them.

According to Rachel Sussman, a New York City psychotherapist and author of The Breakup Bible, 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) Fall out of love in your head first

It’s a difficult decision to make. If you continually focus on the times you were happy, then you won’t want to break up with your partner.

But if you’re consistent in recognizing the good times and the bad times, you’ll have a clearer view of whether you should break up or not.

If you know it’s time to break up, don’t focus on the happy times you’ve had together. You have to build up your strength, so banish those thoughts from your head.

Focus on the negative moments and you’re considered reasons for breaking up with them.

Once you’ve made the decision, it’s like ripping off a band-aid: Do it and don’t look back.

(If you’re looking for a guide on how to get over someone you loved, click here)

3) To break up with someone nicely, plan what to do immediately after the breakup

Consider where you’re going if the breakup goes through.

If you live together, who keeps which item and who gets to stay? Check if you have enough money to move things out or pay for the whole property.

Having supportive people around will keep you emotionally stable during this tumultuous situation.

Do you have relatives or friends you can go to for a while if you wish to leave but don’t have a place of your own yet?

It’s critical that you also consider an adequate location to tell them the news.

Pick a private location where you can take the time to talk with them and answer questions.

If you don’t live together, break the news at their place so you can leave when you need to.

However, if you think that your partner could become emotionally and physically abusive, then it’s better to choose a public place, with a friend nearby.

Or if you feel like you really could be in danger, it might be better to do it over the phone.

4) To break up with someone you love, set the right place and time

As mentioned above, if you’re fully intent on breaking up with your partner nicely, you must not only do it at the right place but also at the right time.

Failing to do so could make your partner not even want to be friends with you afterwards.

Here are a few reminders about proper timing:

– Unless you are in a long-distance relationship (LDR), do not break up with your partner just through chat or phone because that doesn’t reflect the gravity of the situation.

– Don’t do it in a public area (unless they could get abusive) because it’s not always easy to be emotionally honest with others around looking or hearing exactly what is going on.

– Avoid breaking up while the two of you are having a big argument because you might say and do things you’ll soon regret.

– Let your partner pick themselves up from a family, health, work or any personal crisis before you open up a new dilemma.

5) Talk to your partner beforehand

One huge mistake you can do 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.

Also, as I mentioned above, it’s important to keep in mind whether you’ve actually given the relationship a chance to resolve its issues.

So before you make the final decision, it can be helpful to engage in a conversation so if you can figure out if the relationship is worth saving.

Here are 2 questions you need to ask yourself and your partner before calling it quits:

1) Is this relationship really irreconcilable? Can the problems be fixed?

You don’t want to make the drastic decision to end the relationship based on emotion. Think about it and talk with your partner in a logical manner about whether you can resolve your issues.

2) Have we done all that we can?

If the relationship is truly important to you and them, then you need to ask what you can do.

If it is a fairly serious relationship, have you considered relationship counseling? Remember, all serious relationships have rough patches, so maybe this is yours, and you’ll eventually crawl out of it.

6) Be emphatic and kind

It’s definitely tough news for you to say, but it’s also tough for them to hear.

You need to be prepared that they will be shocked and very hurt. After all, in one instant their life is about to change a great deal.

Keep in mind that you’ll also be emotional, too. You two have depended on each other emotionally for the length of your relationship, so it’s not going to be an easy conversation.

But you’re not making the decision to break up lightly, so don’t doubt your decision just because the emotions are bubbling up.

Fortunately, there has been research on the best way to compassionately break up with someone.

Research by Sprecher and colleagues noted that these 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 in a positive and open way appears to be the best.

[Do you know that Buddhism has plenty to teach us about developing healthy relationships? In our latest eBook, we use iconic Buddhist teachings to provide no-nonsense suggestions for living a better life].

7) Be clear about your intentions

Don’t try to sugar coat anything related to breaking up. Rather than beat around the bush, you’ll both be served by a clear and direct message.

Have you ever heard of people leaving job interviews thinking they got the job?

It happens in relationships too: people hear what they want to hear.

Avoid any miscommunication by ensuring that you clearly communicate your intentions of the conversation.

Say what is in your heart and be honest. If your intent is to hurt the person, it will come out all wrong.

Rather than focus on what is going wrong in the relationship, focus on how separating will be better for you both and try to turn it into a positive thing.

It won’t feel that way at first, but you will both come to realize that this was a decision made with good intentions in mind.

If your partner has questions, be willing to answer them, so long as it doesn’t put you out or make you feel uncomfortable.

After all, you are not breaking up with them for their good, you are doing it for your good.

So maintain your stance that this is your decision and not theirs.

8) Speak in an honest and respectful manner

The moment has come. By this time, you should already know what you want and which things no longer need to stay in your life.

We understand that blurting out the first few words can be a daunting task. Take a deep breath and pause until you’re ready to speak.

Look at your partner as you speak your heart out. Be assertive and use “I” instead of “you”.

Talking about your partner’s mistakes can make them feel worse.

Plus, this can backfire if they begin defending themselves and promise to change for the better to prolong the relationship.

If you want to end it, don’t let your partner negotiate.

Speak in a way that makes your partner understand that you have a clear future in mind — that they’re not an essential part of it.

For example: “I want to have more time for myself” sounds more acceptable and less judgmental than “You’re clingy and it’s too much.”

9) Clear every existing problem between you two

During the breakup conversation, you should open up about any hurt you’ve been keeping. Ask your partner to be honest as well.

All the hurt that’s been swept under the rug should unfold here. Cry as much as you want. Trust us, this is good for your emotional well-being.

Letting go of emotional baggage as soon as possible will help both of you.

Remember what made the relationship crumble in the end and explain your side.

Doing this not only allows the two of you to part ways on good terms but it also prevents the need for closure, which can end up as you guys getting back together again or at least having second thoughts about the breakup.

10) To break up with someone who loves you, don’t blame them

Whatever you do, don’t try to point blame in any direction. You don’t even have to accept any blame for what is going on.

You are allowed to change your mind and you are allowed to make different decisions than you made in the past.

Accept that responsibility and don’t feel the need to overcompensate for your reasoning.

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.

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.

Whatever you do, don’t say, “this is exactly why I am leaving you” because it isn’t.

Their reaction to your breakup isn’t why you are leaving them. It’s an example of the kind of behavior that turns you off of the relationship, but don’t generalize.

They don’t need to change. If you weren’t willing to accept them for who they were, regardless of what that might look like, don’t blame them for that.

11) Ask if friendship is still possible

It’s okay to keep an ex-lover in your life.

What’s important is both of you know what’s done is done, that there are boundaries that aren’t meant to be crossed again.

If they do want to keep in touch, tell them to stay away for now. The two of you need time to heal and adjust to a life without each other.

Yes, that person still matters to you. But don’t ask how they’re doing a day after the breakup.

This only leads to confusion: Are you really just being friendly or are you flirting?

If your ex-lover doesn’t want to stay friends, that’s perfectly fine as well! Remove them from your social networks and delete their contact numbers.

But breaking up with someone nicely means that you’re willing to be friends with them as well.

12) Focus on the Future

At the moment, it may be difficult to imagine how breaking up is the right thing to do, but if you discuss it like adults and focus on how you can both benefit from the breakup, it might be easier for you to move on.

Don’t worry about staying friends – so few relationships end in a friendship that it’s almost not worth attempting.

If you naturally come back together on your own later, that’s great, but don’t force it.

Sometimes, you need a little space and time between you to forget all the reasons you broke up in the first place.

This is true of high-school sweethearts, early-life loves, and first marriages. Often, age is a driving factor in why a relationship ends: you both just don’t know enough to know how to make it work.

As you get older, you come to your senses a little more and have the ability to rationalize what happened between you.

Don’t focus on the past. It’s done and gone and there’s no need to dwell on what could have been done differently.

(If you’re looking for a structured, easy-to-follow framework to help you find your purpose in life and achieve your goals, check our eBook on how to be your own life coach here).

13) Get rid of anything that will remind you of the relationship

The period right after breaking up with someone who loves you can be difficult. One way to avoid overthinking is to remove the things that will remind you of that person.

Throw away the love letters and the printed selfies of you together, or at least store them away.

Delete or hide any romantic posts and photos on social media. Update your relationship status if it’s visible to online friends.

14) Don’t think you’re the bad one for breaking up

Yes, you were the one to initiate the breakup — but is that a bad thing? Absolutely not.

Feelings of pain and loss are perfectly normal. What isn’t okay is when you feel so guilty even months after the event.

Be proud that you took it upon yourself to move on from a relationship that wasn’t meeting your expectations.

15) Enjoy Your Time

Don’t rush things. You’re single and ready to mingle, but that doesn’t mean you should. It’s up to you to decide when you want to take a chance at love again.

While you can find a rebound, it’s better if you don’t. Not only will this hurt another person once you’re over them, but it also doesn’t help you move on.

Moving on is about prioritizing yourself. Go clubbing and drinking to have fun, but reject any romantic offers.

For now, just focus on yourself.

Perhaps you’ve neglected a beloved hobby. Pick up that book and finish that video game.

Learn a language and try playing a new instrument. Spend more time with your family and catch up with your friends.

Staying busy and being happy will take your mind off the previous relationship. Appreciate the concept of self-love.

(If you’re looking for a guide on how to practice self-love, check out my ultimate guide on how to love yourself here).

Breaking Up with Someone You Love

Love is a wonderful thing, but it’s not the only thing that matters in a relationship. There should be an effort to improve oneself while maintaining the strong, intimate bond between two people.

If you don’t see a bright future with a person, leave. Your partner wouldn’t force you to stay if they really loved you.

You will experience a whirlwind of emotions before, during, and after the breakup.

Pain, sadness, disappointment, anger, longing — all these will appear. But right on the horizon, you’ll also develop a sense of freedom, happiness, and love that does not suffocate.

Cherish the memories, but don’t let them keep you trapped. In time, someone will come into your life with love and so much more.

Remember: Love can be expressed in a multitude of ways. And sometimes, the best thing you can do to a person you hold dear to your heart is to let them go.

Whether or not this is your first breakup or your hundredth, there’s no need to set out to hurt someone intentionally.

The breakup will hurt enough.

Be clear, be honest, focus on the future and don’t pass the blame on to anyone, including yourself, and you’ll get through it.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor 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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