How To Break Up With Someone Respectfully

Be a grownup about it.

How To Break Up With Someone Respectfully Iuliia Khabibullina / Shutterstock

You know something is wrong in your relationship, so do you just pull the trigger, kill this relationship dead, and move on? Do you rip the band-aid off or continue suffering the way you have been?

Take a moment to decide if you are really sure you want to break up. They may not be aware of what they're doing that you don't like, or they may be turning away from you preemptively because of their own fears.


But if you've tried getting through to them and you've tried to make changes for the better and it's all failed, then preparing to break up with someone respectfully may be the best way to go.

Check your happiness barometer. If the needle is pointing to storm clouds ahead the majority of the time instead of the smiley sunshine faces and you can't see a way of swinging it back, then you've got a problem.

RELATED: 11 Ways To End A Toxic Relationship & Move On To Something Better


Breaking up is never easy and requires thought and strength. It's going to leave wounds for both of you, but you'll eventually heal.

How to Break Up With Someone Respectfully.

1. Make a clean break.

You've decided it's over. You want to start fresh and meet someone compatible. This is the real tough bit: actually ending it. It's not going to be fun, but you have to be courageous.

You have to actually say the words, "It's over." There can't be any confusion. There's no good way, but some ways are better than others.

2. Be direct about your intentions.

If you want to end the relationship, tell them face to face. No text messages. No post-it notes on the refrigerator for them to find when they come home to an empty house. No letters from lawyers. (The only exception to this rule is if you suspect he may become violent.)


Don't be ambiguous. I can't stress this enough. Too many people don't want to hurt their partner's feelings or try to soften the blow, so they wrap the discussion up in vagaries. They say things like, "Things aren't working out right now, but that doesn't mean I'll always feel that way."

Thus, they walk away thinking they've still got a chance when there isn't one or wondering whether the relationship is really over. The more humane thing is just to say it straight. Don't disguise what you mean.

3. Choose a location where both of you are comfortable and there are no distractions.

This may be in your home, but your home can dilute the importance of what you're saying. Your home is a familiar place and the breakup loses significance. It can be seen as just another argument at home.

Instead, take them somewhere quiet you can talk. Steer clear of restaurants, because if it turns into an ugly scene, no one needs to see it. And don't take them to one of their favorite places to do it either, or broadcast it over the public address system during a Yankees game. That's just cruel.


4. Tell them what went wrong.

Your relationship didn't work, but hopefully you can learn from your mistakes and succeed with someone new. And again, explaining exactly what happened removes the element of ambiguity.

You're leaving them because you feel they are inconsiderate of your feelings, they're unsupportive of your career, they demean you in public, and so on.

Whatever the reasons, tell them what they are. This isn't so you can be vindictive, but you can't expect people to be mind readers. They may not even be aware of their behavior.

Now, this isn't an excuse, but if they aren't aware, they should know. You might even ignite an epiphany. They might surprise you and want to change their ways.


Of course, if you catalog their shortcomings, be prepared to receive a list of your own. Don't get angry or defensive; just listen. There may be some valid points in what they're telling you.

5. Be an adult throughout the process.

Don't tell him it's over by introducing him to your new man or having one of your friends or family members tell him. Breaking up is bad enough; it doesn't need an element of revenge.

Also, keep it civil. That's easier said than done, but if you take a methodical and reasoned approach to breaking up with him, it's harder for a war of words to break out. It won't enable you to leave with smiles and hugs, but at least your CD collection won't be thrown out.

At the end of the day, you may not leave as friends, but you should be able to bump into each other on the street and be pleasant.


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What To Say When You Break Up

Not only should you be direct when you break up with someone, but you shouldn't try to make it seem like there's a chance of getting back together. Be clear about the message you want to send, and don't put the other person down.

Here are a few examples of what to say:

"We've been together for some time, and I think you're a terrific person. But I just don't see this working out long-term."

"I value you as a person, but we aren't right for each other."

"We've had some great times together and I've learned so much from our relationship. But I want to break up."


To take it further, you can add the reason why you want to end things:

"I want to break up because I don't have the same feelings for you I did in the beginning."

"I want to end our relationship because we are going in two different directions in life."

"I want to break up because I just don't think we are compatible on a romantic level."

If your now-ex requires additional information, like whether or not you will still be in one another's lives, you can explain:

"Even though our relationship is over, I still want to be friends" or "Even though our relationship is over, I don't think we should hang out anymore."

"I'm sorry and I know it hurts to hear this, but I think it would be best if we go our separate ways and don't keep in touch."


"We've always had so much in common, so it would be perfectly fine if we text or call every now and then."

What Not To Say When You Break Up

On top of being incredibly direct about your intentions, you want to avoid clichés altogether. For example, "Let's take a break" or "I just need some space right now." Doing so will send mixed messages.

Here are a few examples of what not to say:

"I love you, but I'm not in love with you."

"It's not you, it's me."

"We should see other people."


There are also things to never say, as they will hurt the other person's ego and bring them down:

"I'm just not attracted to you anymore."

"You don't give me that fire I'm looking for."

"I wish we never met each other."

It's also essential to steer clear of accusations. This should be a civil breakup, not a full-blow argument:

"You never did the dishes and you complained about everything!"

"It's your fault we started to drift apart."

"You're awful in bed and I don't remember you ever trying to please me."

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Simon Oaks is a writer and California transplant from England, who swore he'd remain single for life. But now this former racecar driver turned writer is a bachelor turned husband, and is letting the women out there know the secrets to getting a man to commit.