- Think about why you are breaking up with this person. If you are simply upset with your partner, you should consider talking about what upset you and focus on resolving it, rather than ending the relationship. But if this same issue has already been discussed, yet nothing changes and you keep feeling unsatisfied, hurt, or betrayed, then breaking up might be the only way to end the pattern. Your partner will ask you why you want out, and you should be prepared with answers. Before having “the talk” that ends the relationship, do your best to articulate the reasons you are breaking up. If you have trouble remembering examples during emotional discussions or arguments, write your reasons down in advance. It may help to talk this over with someone you trust, or with a counselor.
- Plan out how long you are willing to spend breaking up. The actual conversation in which you break up with this person can last a lot longer than it should, especially if your partner is devastated or completely surprised by your decision. It’ll be much easier for you to stick to your guns if the conversation doesn’t drag out. Expect to spend at least one hour breaking up, and longer if the relationship lasted a year or more. You may even want to arrange an appointment with a friend in a neutral location so that you can say “I’m supposed to meet John/Jane at the restaurant in fifteen minutes, so I have to go now.”
- Break up in person. It is easier to break up with someone if you don’t have to look the person in the eye, but it can also be interpreted as cruel and cowardly. Unless you are a long distance away and choose not to wait until you see the person again, don’t break up by phone, e-mail, or through an instant messenger system. And don’t even think about breaking up with someone by pulling a disappearing act, even if it’s just by suddenly eliminating contact with the person. The lack of closure can be psychologically damaging.
- Break up calmly. If you say the dreaded words “We need to talk”, your partner will immediately know what’s going on, and that’s not a bad thing. You don’t want to blurt out “We need to break up” out of the blue, or worse, when you’re in an argument. You need to approach the whole thing calmly and peacefully, with a sense of resolution. Sit down with your partner and let him or her know that you’ve decided to end the relationship.
Expect any or all of the following reactions.
- Questioning — He or she will want to know why, and whether there was anything he or she could have done to prevent the breakup. Answer the questions as honestly as possible.
- Crying — The other person will likely be upset, and it will show. You can comfort him or her, but don’t allow yourself to be manipulated into changing your decision.
- Arguing — He or she may dispute anything you’ve said during the breakup, including examples you used in your reasons for breaking up. Don’t get dragged into a fight, and don’t split hairs. Let your partner know that arguing isn’t going to change your decision.
- Bargaining or Begging — He or she may offer to change, or to do things differently in order to preserve the relationship. If the person didn’t change when you’ve discussed your problems in the past, it is too late to expect him or her to truly change now.
- Lashing Out — Whether it’s as simple as saying “You’ll never find anyone as good as me” or as scary as saying “I’ll make you regret this”, he or she is usually just trying to make himself or herself feel better. Threats of physical harm, however, are serious and should not be ignored. If you feel that your safety is at risk, stay calm and leave quickly.
- Distance yourself. It’ll be difficult, but don’t call them, don’t go places where you know they frequent, and make yourself scarce. Take the time to reflect on your situation and learn more about yourself. Do all the things you’ve ever wanted to do, that you wouldn’t have done if you were still with this person. Now is the perfect time to focus on those missed opportunities. Your ex may try to get in touch, but wait a while (some people suggest six months) before resuming contact, if at all. You felt close to this person at one point in your life, and you will probably always have a soft spot for him or her, but it’s time for both of you to move on.Realize that breaking up is just a normal part of life. Yes, breaking up is difficult – but like it or not, this is a normal part of teenage and adult life, and as much as it is painful, it is normal. Sometimes you will be the dumper, sometimes you might be the dumpee. We all have heartbreak; it hurts- but we all survive it, and you (and your ex) will too.
- If you are sure you want to break up with somebody, it is best done sooner rather than later. However, if your partner has had a particularly bad day already, you may want to consider waiting for a better moment. Breaking up with them when they are already down will make the break-up much harder for both of you.
- While honesty is the best policy, you may want to focus on the fundamental issues destroying the relationship and not nitpick on the little annoyances that drive you mad. Those annoyances are usually symptoms of the underlying problems–we’re far more likely to get annoyed, irritable, and frustrated when we know the relationship isn’t working out.
- Never break up in the heat of the moment. If the relationship is already broken beyond repair, that won’t change once the argument is over and the anger has passed. Break up with you’re both calm and can talk it over peacefully. That’s when you have the best chance of closure.
- Never threaten that you will break up with your partner. If you have problems or concerns, work through them or break up. Threats will only make a relationship worse and their impact tends to diminish with repeated use.