- Breaking up with someone can be really difficult, but it’s often a necessary part of life.
- You likely don’t want to cause the other person any more pain or heartache than necessary, but it can be difficult to determine what, exactly, you should say.
- There are some things that you should say or ways you should approach a conversation when breaking up with someone to lessen their pain.
Breakups can often be really difficult. You know that you’re ready to be out of the relationship, but that still doesn’t necessarily make hurting or disappointing someone any easier. Because it’s often a sensitive and complicated conversation full of many different kinds of emotions, it can be hard to know what to say when broaching the topic, breaking the news, or navigating through the conversation.
There are some things that you should say or ways you should approach a conversation when breaking up with someone, however, that will help both you and the other person get through it.
Always be honest
When you’re breaking up with someone, one of the most important things that you can do is be honest and straightforward. Misleading someone isn’t going to help things.
“Honest, kind and straightforward communication during a break up conversation not only allows for it to be as ‘clean’ as possible but it also gives the other person the answers they may need for closing the chapter on this relationship,” Anna Osborn, MA, LPCC, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER. “Most importantly, these types of honest conversations allow for both partners to have insight into changes they need to make before going into a new relationship that will hopefully be more successful.”
It can be difficult to have a conversation like this honestly because it hurts. You know you’re hurting them somehow and you might be dealing with all different kinds of emotions as well. But honesty is important, above all else.
Make sure you explain why it’s happening
Explaining why you’re breaking up with them is a good idea because it can help them understand why the relationship is ending and how they might be able to move forward.
“Amicable breakups are possible when you communicate clearly about your missteps and what you want the relationship to look like going forward,”Nedra Glover Tawwab, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, told INSIDER. “Be clear about why the breakup is happening. Own your role in the breakup.”
Don’t attack or criticise the other person
Blaming them for your breakup or pointing out any and all character flaws during the breakup isn’t usually a good idea. If you’re trying to break up with someone as seamlessly as possible, keeping any of these sorts of things to yourself is best. Osborn said that staying honest while also refraining from personal attacks is key when you’re dealing with a breakup conversation.
Don’t give them hope if you’re not intending on mending things
“Don’t leave the door open if you’re sure that you won’t want to get back together with them in the future. Let them know that this really is a breakup and there is finality with it,” Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, PMH-C, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER. “You want to come from an honest place within yourself, but you also don’t want to leave the other person feeling like this is just a break from each other and that there’s a possibility to continue your relationship in the future if this isn’t the case for you.”
This can be hard if you tend to sugarcoat things. If you know that you don’t want to get back together or you know that the two of you won’t ever be friends, make it clear that this is more than just a severing of your romantic relationship – things are really over.
Say some positive things too
Breakup conversations can easily become talks where everything is pretty negative, but there’s nothing wrong with throwing some positive things in there too. In fact, it might be a really good idea.
“If there are positive things you can say about the person and the relationship, it’s good to highlight what was good and what you appreciate about them,” Dr. Rebekah Montgomery, Ph.D., a psychologist, told INSIDER. “Emphasise the genuine care that you have for them.”
Just because you’re breaking up with them doesn’t mean that you suddenly no longer care for them at all.
Say what you mean
When you’re breaking up with someone, make sure you’re saying the things that you mean, rather than being vague or avoiding parts of the conversation.
“Use the words you mean and avoid pronouns,” Kevon Owen, M.S., LPC, a clinical psychotherapist and relationship expert, told INSIDER. “If you mean you’re breaking up say that. If using sentence like ‘it’s over,’ be clear on what it is so they don’t mistake it for something else. Cliches are cliche for a reason… it’s not you, it’s me … now’s not the right time… I’m really busy will work but it will also elongate the departure.
“There is no code for this one, if you mean ‘the relationship is over’ say it. If you mean ‘I’m breaking up with you,’ that’s much more effective than not saying anything, giving false hope, or even worse carrying on as though you’re still invested in the relationship’s future. Matters of the heart are messy, and ending things is never fun but efficiency in this can help both sides to move on. There’s not a one size fits all answer to break-ups.”
Figure out how to break the news
This isn’t something that needs to be decided in the absolute middle of the conversation, but determining what you’re going to tell other people about your breakup, particularly if you’re close with their family or have a lot of the same friends, can be a really good idea, Tawwab said. That way, everyone is on the same page and no one is left feeling caught off guard or taken aback.
Just like figuring out what to tell other people about your breakup, you also have to deal with some of the logistical things that come along with a breakup. That means that you need to determine how you’re going to divide up anything the two of you share, from furniture to housing or cars, home furnishings, and even pets.
“Be fair in your distributions and consider the other person’s place in life,” Tawwab advised.
Make sure to set boundaries
Boundaries are important during relationships, but they’re also imperative when your relationship is ending or has ended entirely. “It can also be helpful to set expectations and boundaries around the break up. “I’m going to take a few days and then reach out to you to see how you’re doing,”” Montgomery said. “It’s also great to ask what the other person needs. Sometimes we need space, other times we want to know that we still matter to that person. Decide together how you will separate and ‘un-intertwine’ your lives.”
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