How to Break Up with Someone

A young couple having an emotional conversation.A young couple having an emotional conversation.

Even when it's beneficial to both involved, ending a relationship is rarely an easy task. Some people even remain in unhappy relationships simply because they dread the process of breaking up. By planning carefully, communicating assertively and minimizing contact, you can make the break-up as painless as possible.

Have a Plan

Think about what you will say to your partner and how you will explain the reasons for the breakup. Plan where and when you will have the conversation, writes relationship coach John Alex Clark. Neither of you should be in a hurry, and you should both be free from distractions, such as work or phone calls. Having a plan will minimize the nervousness and upset you are both likely to feel.

Be Assertive

Maintain a kind, but firm, tone. This will help you avoid unnecessary hurt while communicating your point directly. Try not to give your partner a false sense of hope about the future, writes mental health expert Stephanie Sarkis. Don't say you will consider working on the relationship unless you truly intend to do so. Instead, you can comfort your partner by listening to what he has to say and validating his feelings.

Minimize Contact

Many couples are unable to part ways completely after they break up. They may be active in the same communities, share the same circle of friends, or may simply wish to maintain a friendship. If you plan on keeping some level of contact with your eventual ex-partner, Sarkis suggests keeping interactions to a minimum. Avoid spending time alone together and limit conversations to nonthreatening subjects, like work or pop culture, at least until some healing has taken place.

Be Safe

If you are ending your relationship because it is unhealthy or abusive, carefully consider how your partner might react to the news and how this may affect your safety. The toxicity in most relationships escalates during the period of separation, according to researchers Cathy Humphreys and Ravi K. Thiara. While it's best to break up with someone in person, this kind of situation may warrant a phone call, or the presence of a third party.

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About the Author

Jill Avery-Stoss is a graduate of Penn State University and a writer and editor based in northeast Pennsylvania. Having spent more than a decade working with victims of sexual and domestic violence, she specializes in writing about women's issues, with emphasis on families and relationships.

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