Break-ups are always hard. But they’re even more difficult when they occur between you and someone you still love. If you know that you’ll love your ex-partner even after you go your separate ways, you might not know how to break up with them to minimize pain and ensure that you can be friends afterward.
But just like every sensitive conversation, there are good and bad ways to carefully break up with someone you love. Let’s take a look at some things to keep in mind as you plan this important discussion.
1. Set a Time and Place for the Conversation
First and foremost, set a dedicated time and place for the sensitive conversation coming up. The last thing you want to do is break up with someone you love in the middle of a grocery store, while on a night out, or in some other awkward circumstance.
By setting a time and place for the break-up conversation, you’ll gain increased control over the break-up discussion and everything that is said between you two. Furthermore, setting a time and place for the conversation gives you time to think about what you’ll say and how you’ll say it, plus anticipate how your soon-to-be ex-partner will react.
Ideally, you should text or call your partner and tell them that you need to talk when you both have a few hours at least. Don’t try to talk to them after a long day of work or right before you or they have to go to work. Schedule that discussion for the weekend with a good few hours afterward so you can relax and wind down, preferably with the support of another friend or family member.
Don’t plan on ghosting your partner. The best place for a clean break is a conversation at home, not in a public place or over a phone call. Relationship experts say that romantic partners should try to part ways mutually.
2. Practice a Calm, Respectful Tone of Voice
Before the break-up discussion, practice saying your reasons for the break-up in front of the mirror. This will be difficult, but attempt to modulate your voice and control your emotions. A calm, respectful tone of voice will go a long way toward ensuring your break-up discussion is as productive as possible and doesn’t result in a major fight.
Even if your partner tries to raise their voice or escalate things, don’t take the bait. Remain calm and respectful, and you might bring things back to a more civil tone.
As you end things and let go of a relationship, try to remember why you’re making this mental health change in the first place. This will help you express your heartbreak to your significant other in the best way possible while setting boundaries to avoid emotional toxicity.
3. Start By Stating Your Reasons for the Break-Up
When the conversation time rolls around, begin by stating your reasons for the breakup. Your partner deserves to know why you think the relationship needs to end (not so they can change your mind, but so they understand your reasoning).
By starting with the reasons for the breakup, you also tell your partner that this is a break-up discussion, plain and simple. It helps to set the tone for the serious talk that needs to occur and starts everything off on the right foot.
For example, if you are breaking up because your partner doesn’t spend enough time with you, say so! They should recognize the reasons for the break-up if they are as mature and emotionally responsible as you.
Furthermore, stating your reasons for the break-up helps to give closure to the relationship overall. If you were to just break up with your loved one out of the blue without any explanation, they would always wonder what they did wrong or if they could have done anything differently.
4. Explain That You’re Sorry It Hurts
Another key element of carefully breaking up with someone you love is explaining that you are sorry for causing them pain. This is true even if your loved one is primarily responsible for the break-up (for example, they didn’t pull their emotional weight during the relationship).
It’s important to show regret for any emotional pain you or they have caused, even if you don’t believe you are at fault. It’s a part of emotional maturity and responsibility. By breaking up with someone, there will be a bit of pain, at least at first.
Saying that you’re sorry for the pain shows your partner that you aren’t just trying to hurt them but are instead trying to grow emotionally and leave room for a new, better relationship in your life.
5. Say Something Kind or Positive to Your Loved One
It’s also wise to say something nice or positive to your loved one during the breakup conversation. This isn’t meant to give them emotional whiplash or false hope that the relationship can be salvaged. If you have reached this point, the relationship needs to end.
However, saying something positive to your loved one helps soften the breakup’s blow. It’s a kind of “sandwich style” feedback, where you say something positive, something negative, and something positive again to cushion the negative emotional impact of the breakup. This kind of technique is oftentimes used when giving professional feedback to employees.
You can also use it during this break-up discussion. Remind your partner of why you still love them and want to spend time with them, like their personality, sense of humor, and loyalty.
This is crucial if you want to maintain a friendship with your partner, too – if they think that you don’t like anything about them now that you’ve broken up, they won’t want to keep ties with you once things have settled down.
6. Give Them a Chance to Respond
One of the most important things in a break-up conversation is giving your partner a chance to respond. This is why you should discuss rather than simply write a letter or email them a rant.
Give your partner a chance to respond and express how they feel. It’s a crucial part of emotional reciprocity. This can be difficult, especially since your partner might lash out in surprise, anger, or grief. They might also try to turn things around and blame you for the breakup even though you initiated the conversation.
In any case, let them say their piece. If you’ve maintained a respectful and controlled tone throughout, is a greater likelihood that your partner will mirror that tone and stay civil as they express themselves. Remember, you still love this person, so you must treat them respectfully.
7. Respect Yourself Throughout the Conversation
Simultaneously, you should respect yourself throughout the conversation. Don’t let your partner steamroll you, try to guilt trip you, or accuse you of just trying to hurt them. If your partner becomes physically or verbally abusive during the break-up conversation, walking away is okay. You tried your best.
Respecting yourself means protecting yourself by any means possible, not opening yourself up to insults or rage. Similarly, don’t allow your partner to convince you that the break-up is unnecessary. If you have decided that breaking up is the best thing for you and your partner, go through with your plan.
In the heat of the moment, your plan might not feel as important or necessary, but that might be your emotions taking over. Remember how you felt in moments of calm reason and go from there.
8. Reach Out to a Friend or Family Member for Support
After breaking up with someone you love, you’ll probably need a little emotional support. So reach out to a friend or family member in your support system to discuss the break-up conversation, your relationship, or to spend time with someone who won’t put as much of an emotional tax on your feelings. Don’t hesitate to get professional help if needed, too.
This is one of the best ways to recover quickly after a difficult break-up conversation, particularly if the ex-partner did not take it well. Pick someone you can safely vent to and who won’t judge you or insert their opinions into the situation. A best friend, sibling, or parent is a good person for this.
Breaking up with someone you love won’t be easy, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship with them. Someone you love can still be a trusted friend and confidant for years. Remember to keep things respectful and respect yourself above others when having this difficult conversation.
It’s all part of understanding how to practice social and emotional wellness. 1AND1’s other guides and resources can help you learn how to cultivate and foster healthy relationships with people you love, so check them out today.