Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


3 Steps to Breaking Up With Someone

How to break up with someone

Source: unsplash

Q: You often speak about identifying when a relationship has expired and moving on. I was wondering if you have an opinion on the best way to do that. More so, what is the proper balance when you are telling someone that you are moving on? When you care about someone, the last thing you want is for them to think that you have not given the decision the proper amount of thought and consideration. I find myself wanting to "make a case" for why I have made my decision, but then I probably end up making the other person feel worse. On the other hand, it seems cruel to break it off without any explanation. What are your thoughts on how to most gracefully find that balance?

A: Great question. I think there are many factors to consider when terminating a relationship. But break up "balance" will vary depending on if you've been dating someone for a few months or if you're engaged to someone you've been with for six years and you guys live together.

When I read questions, I look for red flags. The red flag for me in your question is when you said "making a case". I think that's an unhealthy mindset.

There is no case. There is only truth, how you feel and where you're at.

And yes, I don't think anyone should ever break things off without any explanation. That's not fair. That's fear. Okay, so back to how to break up with someone.

1. Make sure you're done before you say you're done.

You said you're concerned they may think you haven't given it the proper thought. It shouldn't be a concern if you really did give it proper thought. And that's how you should start. By telling him that you've given this a lot of thought and it's not a snap decision. Many start these conversations without putting enough thought into the decision and they end up confusing the shit out of people and crippling the relationship. If you're not sure, talk to a therapist or life coach and process it to make sure. You can discuss it with friends but friends are biased. It's always better to process with a neutral party who can ask you the right questions.

2. Once you know you're done and you're ready to move on, sit down with the person and have an honest conversation.

Do not do this via text or email. You should always do it in person unless you're concerned about your safety. Although I said "conversation", it's not really a conversation. That's the tone but not the content. Conversation means there's an exchange, negotiation and compromise. I'm not saying don't let the other person speak but you're here to tell the person that you've made a decision. You can tell him how you feel about it. But there's no room for a conversation. A good way to start is to just say "I've decided to move on". Be that direct. Then explain why and how you feel. Remember, this isn't a break. It's a break up. Unless you want a hiatus. That's a different question and I'd have a different answer.

3. Don't talk about the relationship.

If you've made a decision to move on, you shouldn't discuss what happened and who's fault it was, etc. That will only lead to blame then him saying he will fix or change and suddenly the conversation goes from wanting to end a relationship to giving it a second chance. You will leave frustrated and mad at yourself. He will bring up the past. Stay in the present and future. Remember, you've already put a lot of thought into this and decided to move on. It's all about execution now. Although it will be painful, it's not your job to make it easier on him. Yeah, you'll feel bad. Of course, you're human. But at the end, they'll appreciate that you held your guns instead of going back and forth or tried to be a friend through this, which just makes things more confusing and painful. If you know it's over, execution that in action. Period. If you can't do it for you, do it for him. There needs to be a clean break in order for both parties to grow back stronger. And this "conversation" will determine how clean that break is. A clean break also means no following on social media.

- Angry


If you want to be a life coach, check out JRNI COACHING.

More from John Kim LMFT
More from Psychology Today