10 Tips For How To Break Up With Someone You Love
By: Mason Komay
Updated July 31, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC
Breaking up with someone you love is rarely easy. If you are lucky, the only thing you might need is a short conversation. However, a relationship is usually much more complex. You might live together, have friends in common, or work in the same place. No matter what situation you are in, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier.
When you’re feeling as if you are not connecting with someone anymore the way you used to, or are looking to explore different things in life than your significant other is interested in, letting your partner you’ve decided to leave is sometimes the best way to accomplish your personal goals. Let’s face it, breakups suck. Sometimes you can go through it alone and other times you need some advice from a professional to help give you the tools to gently back away from the relationship.
Look at these tips for how to break up with someone you love.
Give It Thought
Before you break up with someone you love, think about why you want the relationship to end. Consider whether the issue is something you are willing to or can work through. Sometimes, low points in the relationship can be addressed with communication. Who knows, you may discover that talking with one another, compromising, or even going through relationship counseling just might solve the issues at hand.
If you really want to end things, you should know exactly why you are choosing to do so. This will help you to avoid mimicking the same issues in a new relationship. It may take time to come to a full realization of why you are letting go of your significant other, but having confidence in your decision will make the process easier.
Breaking up with someone you love can be heartbreaking, which is why it can feel so easy to ignore the underlying reasons for wanting to break up in the first place. However, before you go through with things, it's important to understand why exactly you're feeling like it's time to move on. There might be several possible reasons for wanting to break up with your significant other, such as cheating, mental illness, or anything else that's causing you to feel unhappy. Whatever the reason, a licensed counselor can help you sort through your emotions and realize exactly why you want to break up, and how to approach the situation rationally. Breakups are hard, but you can make the process much easier by speaking to an expert who cares.
If you are getting a sign that your relationship that you’ve spent the last several months, or even years, has reached a point where you no longer have the same goals, it is usually time to end it. When you’ve decided that you’ve spent enough time with your partner to know they are not the one for you it may be easier to just breakup.
Before your breakup, it is important to plan how you are going to confront your partner. Try to stick with whatever method is easiest for you. While you should never break up over social media, email, or text, it might be helpful to write down what you want to say. If you decide to write your thoughts in a letter, that's totally okay, but you should still be physically present while they are reading so that you can answer any questions they may have.
Spend some time rehearsing exactly what you are going to say. Have a list of anything you think is important and stick to your script as much as possible. You don't want to get stuck in a situation where you forget to mention important information to your partner.
Relationships aren’t something you plan. You fall in love, and sometimes, you fall out of it. It’s not easy to make a decision to break up, and it can be challenging to plan it. There is no easy way to end a romantic relationship with someone. You may plan to do it gently. Your intentions are benevolent, and you want to honor the person. The decision to break up is hard, and what makes it even more challenging is knowing that you will inevitably hurt your partner. Rejection stings, and also if you still love the person, telling them you don’t want to be together isn’t a pleasant conversation.
Remember, you can still love someone and break up with them! There are many reasons why people don’t choose to stay together. You could deeply love your partner and crave their love and support, but understand that it’s time to end the relationship. When you know that you need to break up, it’s painful, but when you love a person and want the best for them, you know that you need to do the right thing by letting them go. No matter how much you plan for this, it’s not something you can have a script for because this is real life. No matter how much you love your partner, you can’t plan how to end the relationship. You can have ideas about how to talk to them, but it isn’t something where you’ll necessarily have a concrete idea for how it’s going to go down because you don’t know how they’ll respond. Maybe, they’re on the same page with you, and you don’t know it yet. Perhaps, they’ll be very hurt, and you’ll have to manage how you react to those feelings. The most important thing is that, though you can’t plan for their reaction, you can be grounded in your truth and how you want to speak your mind about the fact that you feel that the relationship isn’t working.
Remember, you don’t have to hate someone to break up with them. Sometimes, you know the relationship is over, and you want to move on even though you still love your partner. Breaking up is never easy, but it can be especially hard when you still love and support your partner as a person. It’s best if you are preparing to have that awkward conversation that you don’t use cliches like, “maybe we can be friends” because you don’t know what’ll happen, and you can’t plan for it. Be open to what they have to say when you have a conversation with them, and remember that sometimes, during breakups, emotions are volatile. Be prepared to go with the flow, and make sure that both of you have the space to feel your feelings. No matter how much you try to plan for how the conversation will go, it would help if you accepted that you don’t have control over how someone else feels.
Avoid jumping at the first chance to break things off with your significant other. Breaking up will be hard on both of you, so try to do everything you can to make sure you are physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for the huge change. If there is any way you depend on this person in your day-to-day life, make sure you are confident that you can adapt to an independent lifestyle.
This is especially important when two people who are splitting up live together, commute together, or own items of value together. Before breaking up, you should make sure that you have somewhere safe to stay, a reliable form of transportation, access to basic needs, and zero financial dependence on your partner.
Time It Right
Think about exactly how you want the situation to play out while speaking to your loved one. Do you need a public place? Would you prefer a private setting? Should it happen in the morning, or when they get home from work? Should you do it on the weekend or during a weekday? Consider how your significant other might respond to the situation and plan accordingly. The last thing you want is a major scene in the middle of a crowded space.
Be mindful of how the situation is going to affect this person. You would not want someone to break up with you in the middle of a stressful week at work, or first thing in the morning before you head into the office. Offer the same amount of consideration to your partner and choose the right time to break the news.
Sometimes breaking up can get heated. What starts out as a polite conversation can turn into a screaming-match, especially if the situation is not expected. Although it can be challenging to hold yourself back, you will only add more fuel to the fire by shouting obscenities, insulting one another, and saying hurtful words that cannot be taken back.
To avoid an outcome like this, plan exactly when you are going to step away from the conversation. There is a line between letting someone ask honest questions and having a back and forth argument over who is right and wrong. If you feel like the situation is starting to escalate, you should leave the room immediately. If the relationship is already ending, there is no point in wasting time arguing with each other.
Although it might be hard dealing with thoughts like, "When should I break up with someone I love?", it is important to answer that question without running away from it. It might be tempting to sidestep the guilt and confrontation that come with a hard conversation, but it is never okay to leave your significant other in the dark.
This does not mean you need to share your thoughts about parting ways before the breakup, but you should never leave them by simply cutting off contact with no explanation. Turning off your phone, changing your email address, blocking your loved one on social media, all without saying a word to them, is a form of "ghosting." Ghosting refers to cutting off all ties to a friend or romantic partner without any explanation. No one deserves to be left without answers.
No False Hope
When breaking up with someone you love, it's easy to tell them what you think they want to hear. Although you may feel obligated to soften the blow, do not offer false hope of getting back together, unless you are truly interested in doing so. This goes for other compassionate lies like, "I still want to be friends," or "We can still hang out."
Trust the old cliché, "Say what you mean and mean what you say." If you want the relationship to end, with no more contact, make that clear. If you do want to stay friends, clarify exactly what you want that friendship to look like. Never give someone a list of what they can change about themselves to improve their chances of rebuilding your relationship. There's nothing wrong with either of you, but sometimes things just don't work out between a couple.
Be Considerate After
You might be leaving your partner because of their behavior or actions, but it is important to keep that information to yourself (unless, of course, they are a danger to others). It can be therapeutic to vent with friends and family members or turn to social media to process your feelings but don't forget that what you say to others can impact your ex long after you are out of their life. Even if you part ways, you’re constantly going to have some connection to them, either through a mutual friend, their siblings, or even a co-worker's friend; once a relationship is established, it’s usually engrained in stone for eternity in one fashion or another.
Treat the person you love the same way you would want them to treat you. Talk about them respectfully (or not at all if that is too difficult) and keep private information between the two of you. Never go out of your way to sabotage their happiness in the future or make them look bad. If you can successfully do this, not only will you come out of the breakup looking more mature and confident, but you will also allow your loved one to move on in peace.
Let Them Go
When you lose someone you love, it can be hard to stay out of their life. However, giving them the space they need to care for themselves during this difficult time is one of the most important things you can do. Avoid frequently calling or texting them, set some boundaries on social media, and never show up unannounced at their home or place of work. If you are the one initiating a breakup, yet you cannot seem to leave your loved one alone, you're going to end up sending them mixed signals about what you want. The last think you want to be told is that you’re constantly confusing the other person. Make a decision and stick to it.
If you're forced to continue being around them often due to friendships or work environment, aim for a polite relationship. Keep conversation to a minimum and treat them as you would any other acquaintance. Do not pry for information from others about what your ex is doing in their time, and try to create as much physical and emotional distance as you need to stay comfortable.
Take Care of Yourself
When you leave someone, you don't just have to think about their feelings. You should also consider how parting ways will affect you personally. When relationships end, a lot of transitions take place, so caring for yourself during this time is a must. Take some time to do something you love and recharge in any way that seems fit. Always remember that licensed mental health professionals are just one click or a phone call away when you need them. Do not be afraid to reach out if a breakup seems to be too much for you.
Breaking up with someone you love is hard to do. The close of a relationship is a significant change. However, ending the relationship the right way will make the process easier for you and the person you love. Stick to the tips listed here or reach out to a counselor today who can guide you through the process. When you’re single, you may feel as though you made the right choice and you should be proud of yourself for realizing that the relationship was wrong for you. That is not to say the person you were with was bad, they may have been fantastic; however, the relationship just was not what you needed. There are always signs you’re not in a place that is correct for you. Listening to them is key. If you feel like you’re trapped or smothered, these are surefire signs you’re with the wrong person. Perhaps at this point in your life, you are better not being with anyone at all. Every person and relationship is different.
No matter how well-prepared you are, a breakup with someone you love can create mixed emotions that leave you feeling confused and frustrated. Throughout the process, you're likely going to feel hurt, relieved, or downright miserable at times - but this is completely normal for most couples who are in the same shoes. However, you can shed some light on the situation by seeking the help of a licensed counselor.
During a breakup, you might feel as though you're alone without anyone to express your feelings to, but that's far from the truth. In fact, counseling has been proven to have lasting positive effects on both partners. Speaking with a licensed counselor can help you gain a better understanding of the reality of the situation. For instance, did you know that it's completely natural for most people to report having intense feelings of love for their ex-partner? This is because, according to a recent study, people may experience cravings for their ex similarly to the way addicts crave a drug they are withdrawing from. Learning more about the realistic scope of things can help you cope without feeling hindered by confusion and uncertainty.
Breaking up with your loved one is difficult enough as it is, and the last thing you should be dealing with is traffic on your way to a counseling session, or accidentally running into someone you know in the waiting room. This is where online counseling services like ReGain offer solutions. With the guidance of one of our licensed therapists, online counseling cuts out the need for long drives and inconvenient appointment times. Instead, you have the freedom to reach out to your counselor whenever and wherever you want, at a fraction of the cost of in-person sessions. Below are some reviews of ReGain counselors for you to review, from people experiencing similar issues (and decided to break up, or stay together).
"Sonya provides a neutral sounding board for couples. She listened and asked the right questions. She gave great homework that really honed in on our areas of improvement. Through therapy I discovered that I did not want to continue the relationship. Sonya was able to provide a couple joint sessions and a couple individual sessions to close out the relationship which really helped out."
"Dan is amazing at what he does. We were recovering from a potential breakup and what Dan did was focus on why we were together in the first place. Within the first couple of weeks we've noticed a huge increase in morale and a stronger bond to fix our issues when they arise."
If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed after reading this article, it's completely normal. Your mind is probably in a stressful place right now, so it can be easy to get lost in a void of confusion and despair. Luckily, our licensed counselors can help guide you away from that dark place and into a brighter future for you, in which you can enjoy truly fulfilling relationships.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I break up with someone I still love?
There's no easy way to break up with anyone, but its particularly difficult to break up with someone you still love. First, be proud of yourself for facing the need to break up; when you care about someone, the last thing you'd want to do is hurt them, and to lead someone on is likely to leave the other person in prolonged pain and confusion. While breaking up with someone, you want to be careful with your words. To break up with someone you love in a respectable and amicable way, plan your words wisely. Think about what you're going to say beforehand and go into the conversation knowing that you can't control their emotions or their response; you can only control your actions. Make sure to find a quiet place and to pick a good time. It's true that break-ups suck and that there aren't really any good times or perfect times to start the conversation, but ideally, it's a good idea to make sure that your partner has sufficient time to talk things through and isn't on their way to work or any other commitments. Additionally, break up in person if that all possible.
How do you know when to break up with someone you love?
When you break up with someone you love, it'll likely be due to an issue that is irreparable in some way. Perhaps, you have different dealbreakers for how you want your life to look moving forward and the reason you have to part ways is that there's no way for your needs and wants to align. For example, if your partner wants kids and you don't, you may decide to break up despite loving them. It could also be that there was a situation the relationship couldn't survive, such as repetitive cheating or substance use that impacted the family. Sometimes, couples and families can move through these issues, but that's not always the case. You'll know when to break up with someone you love when there's something that you absolutely can't compromise on or work through.
Is it okay to break up with someone you love?
It is okay to break up with someone you love, and sometimes, it's necessary. You might feel like best friends or even soulmates, but you can't stay in relationships that aren't right for you. Of course, in some circumstances, there's hope. If that's true and both of you want to try to work through the relationship issues you have, give it a shot. This is an excellent time to utilize counseling or therapy for couples. Studies show that couples therapy can be incredibly helpful to those in romantic relationships. For example, a popular form of couple's counseling called emotionally focused therapy or EFT has a 70% to 75% rate of relationship recovery. That said, relationships don't always work out; if the other person doesn't want to stay together as romantic partners, you have to let them go. It's understandable if you feel that "if you love someone let them go" is a cliché like "love is blind" and other popular phrases, but the statement has truth behind it. It's essential to respect the other person's needs even when it's hard. If breaking up with something that you've known you need to do for a long time, give a gift of honesty and don't string the other person along. It's hard to be the one to initiate the break-up, but it's far more respectful not to lead someone on than it is to wait.
How do you break up with someone without hurting them?
Unfortunately, you can't stop another person's pain. As much as you wish you could stop someone from hurting, they need to feel their feelings. There's no easy way to break up with someone, and there's no way to control someone's reaction to a break-up. What you can do is be compassionate and give them space to feel anything they need to feel. Additionally, follow the tips listed above under the question, "How do you break up with someone you love?" You want to make sure that you are considerate of the other person when you sit down to have any serious conversations, especially this one. Find a quiet place and choose the closest thing there is to a good time, particularly a time when someone is not in a rush or isn't about to go somewhere. It's also helpful to choose a time when someone is calm, if possible. Communicate courteously and make sure that you don't spend the conversation telling them about their faults. It's okay to let someone know that you need to break up for your own reasons, and the way they react to it is up to them. All of us are autonomous, and as much as you care about stopping this person from pain, know that they will feel better in time.
What are the signs when a relationship is over?
One of the more obvious signs that a relationship is over is that either you or your partner have decided that you no longer want to put in the effort to fix the partnership. Sometimes, there's a good reason for that. When it comes to sex relationships and even friendships or familial relationships, there's only so much you can do if the other person isn't willing to do the work on their side. If someone has recently told you that it's over, it's understandable that you're feeling extremely hurt and even confused or lost. Let yourself feel those emotions and know that you will heal in time. The repeated broken trust could also be something that causes a relationship to crumble. For example, a partner that engages in persistent cheating might be someone that you choose to break up with. It could also be that you have a partner that brings drugs and alcohol into the home and that it's something that impacts you or your family with no avail. You can be compassionate to your partner's situation and battles, but you don't need to stay in a partnership that negatively impacts you or your family for any reason. One sure sign that a relationship is over is abuse. No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship, and anyone who has been in one deserves to heal. Ultimately, it is up to the people in a relationship to decide when their connection is over, and if one person decides that they need to call it off, the other person needs to respect that.
Is arguing a reason to break up?
Everyone argues in a relationship from time to time. Some relationships science asserts that arguing can even be beneficial to relationships. Relationship science says that arguing means that you're communicating, which is vital in a relationship. However, there's healthy arguing and maladaptive arguing, and the way you communicate during an argument matters. If you're having volatile arguments or are struggling with conflict for any other reason in your relationship, couples counseling is an invaluable opportunity. Couples counseling helps you improve your communication so that you can work through conflict effectively and healthily. It can also teach you how to navigate disagreements and get to a place where you both know that you're being heard by the other person. Even if you're single, you can reach out for support from a therapist regarding interpersonal relationships in your life, romantic or otherwise. A mental health provider can help you work through mental health concerns such as those related to a mental illness like anxiety or depression, issues related to interpersonal connections such as those with a family member or friend, and cope with life stressors such as those prevalent at work or school.
When should you give up on a relationship?
Ultimately, only you will know when it's time to give up on a relationship. If you do decide to break up, many people choose to avoid staying in contact with their ex, especially if they do still love them. Relationships science shows that it's easier to stop thinking about a former partner when you are not in contact with them anymore. If you are like most other people, you'll find that looking at your ex's social media or reaching out to them frequently won't help you and will only hurt. Once you break it off, you can start thinking about how to move forward. You don't need to get on dating apps or start seeing other people right away, and can spend time focusing on yourself in the interim.
What are good reasons to end a relationship?
If you want to break off a relationship, it's a good enough reason to do so. You don't want to give someone false hope if you have decided that you can't or don't want to work things out. Other good reasons to end a relationship are emotional, physical, or other forms of abuse. When it comes to sex relationships and family issues, abuse is always a reason to cut ties. Frequent cheating or refusal to go to counseling or make other attempts to work through issues within a partnership is another solid reason to end a relationship. Both of you have to want to work things out to save a relationship. If you're struggling to get through a break-up or you and your spouse or partner want to work things out, reach out to a mental health provider near you or through an online therapy website such as ReGain today.
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