There’s a reason why people end up saying things like, “It’s not you, it’s me” and “Just give me one more chance!” during a breakup.
Even if you’ve seen the conversation coming for weeks or months already — and especially if you haven’t — you can be left teary and tongue-tied when the moment arrives.
Which is why it helps to have on hand some more constructive phrases, and a general idea of how you might handle the situation without coming off as disingenuous or desperate.
Business Insider consulted relationship expert Andrea Syrtash, author of “It’s OK to Sleep With Him on the First Date,” for some of those phrases and strategies to use when you’re breaking up with someone after a few months. Here’s what she told us.
If you’re being dumped and it’s a total surprise:
Syrtash emphasised that there’s no one, blanket statement that can make a breakup less awkward for the person on the receiving end. Even if you do have a stock answer ready for the moment, you’ll probably be so upset that it won’t come out right.
Instead, you might say something like, “I was on a different page. It would be helpful for me to know how long you’ve been feeling this way.“
Syrtash said the top complaint she hears from clients who have just broken up with someone is that they have unanswered questions.
That’s why she said it’s ok to ask some questions, such as the one about how long the person has known they wanted to break up with you or, “Can you identify why you don’t think we’re compatible?” It’s also ok to express that you’re feeling disappointed.
If the person identifies a particular experience that turned them off, you can certainly ask if they want to work on the issue with you — but be prepared for them to say no. Keep in mind, Syrtash said, that the decision to break up doesn’t have to be unanimous, so a discussion won’t necessarily change the situation.
And remember that it’s not always appropriate to ask, “Is there someone else?” You may not get an honest answer.
If you’re dumping someone:
Oftentimes, Syrtash said, when someone’s getting broken up with, their instinct is to show the other person how great they are. Remind them that you’re not bringing out their best, and that the relationship isn’t healthy for either of you.
You can say something like: “You deserve to be with someone who brings out the best in you. I don’t think we are bringing out each other’s best.”
Another option here is: “I want the best for you and I don’t feel that I can provide it. I feel awful because I care about you a lot, but I need to be honest.”
As hard as this is for you, remember that it’s hard for the other person, too. That’s why it’s important to be patient, and to listen and be kind.
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