broken heart on string
broken heart on string

How To Break Up With Someone Without Hurting Them

Everything was going so well — but things have changed. Find out how to break up with someone the right way, right here.

Sparks were flying once upon a time with your partner. Things were amazing, you planned the future and everything just fell into place.

Then out of nowhere, things changed, and you don’t see them the same way you once did.

Perhaps it wasn’t out of the blue. The thought of a break-up may have been brewing for quite a while. Or, you’ve contemplated the idea of being single at university, at least for a while. But now that time has come, and you have to make a decision to let them go for your own sake, as well as theirs.

So how do you go about it without hurting them? Unfortunately, how the other person reacts is totally out of control. Rejection hurts, after all. Having said this, there are things you can do to soften the blow.

It won’t be easy for you either as the dump-er. With our tips, you can get prepared to have a difficult conversation with your partner and feel confident that you’ve handled it as maturely as possible.

Why is breaking up with someone so difficult?

Breaking up with someone brings an end to a relationship (of some kind) with them. This could be a totally clean break that ends any form of contact or going back to just being mere acquaintances — though this entirely depends on the relationship you had.

If you’re contemplating the idea of breaking up with someone, you’re going to have some mixed feelings, which is totally normal. You may have thoughts racing through your head like “but can I do better than them?” or “what if I just wait things out?”

Then comes the uncertainty of whether a breakup should even happen. It’s worse when you feel awkward at the thought of having the conversation too. Naturally, you don’t want to feel bad, and you don’t want to upset the other person.

So, how do you go about a break-up in a healthy way? Let’s dive into these practical tips to ensure you come out of the other side unscathed.

Break-up do’s and don’ts

two people sitting next to each other on cliff

Below are our recommended tips to keep in mind on how to break up with someone without hurting them.

1. Accept you can’t control their reaction

Feelings of rejection are going to arise, and they’re totally out of your control. There’s no amount of reassurance or kindness that can (completely) diffuse that. Obviously, every relationship is different, and the other party may not have been expecting an end to their relationship, so you have to be prepared for their look of shock.

On the flip side, you can’t bend over backwards to make sure they take it well. You can only communicate as openly as you can and answer any questions they have. That way, you can walk away confidently knowing you handled it maturely and did the right thing.

2. Don’t be afraid to share how you really feel

It’s tempting to sugarcoat why you’re breaking up with someone or use the classic “it’s not you, it’s me” excuse. People are smarter than they let on, and if they’ve sensed something has been off for a while, they’ll sniff it right out.

Instead, explain how you feel. While this can be tough, it rips the band-aid off and gets everything out in the open. If they react in volatility, then you know you’ve made the right decision at the end of the day.

3. If possible, do it in person

It’s tempting to chicken out of doing the dumping in person, but think about how you’d feel. Especially if it was a serious relationship, you’d appreciate the common courtesy.

Obviously, if you’re long-distance or you’re unable to meet up for whatever reason, then you may not have a choice. At the minimum, make it a phone or video call. That way they can read your tone and body language better than simply having words on the screen. It also gives you a chance to convey your feelings in real-time.

Our tips are based on the assumption that you’re not in any immediate danger and need to get away from someone. But if this is the case (which we really hope it’s not), then you are absolutely under no obligation to contact the other person. Look out for your own safety first and always.

4. Cut contact entirely

“But we want to be friends!”

It doesn’t matter. Cut contact, including blocking on social media. Think that’s harsh? It’s harsher to be reminded of them daily, not to mention this can form an unhealthy habit of keeping up with their lives when you were the one who did the dumping.

The reality is — you can’t have it both ways. By dumping the other person, you cut your right to access their lives.

Plus, you both need time to grieve what was once and what could have been. It’s unfair to maintain contact with the dumpee, especially as they’ll be taking things a lot harder than you.

In circumstances where you have absolutely no choice but to reach out (for example, about a living situation), then keep contact solely related to the issue at hand and avoid discussing your relationship entirely. Maintain boundaries, even if it upsets the other person. At the end of the day, you’re going through it too.

5. Don’t let the fear of singledom hold you back

Some people need relationships to thrive, while others crave a single life and are much happier outside of relationships. In fact, our data shows that 64% of Gen Z are currently single! So if you fall into the former category, and you’re worried about being single, you’re really not alone.

Singledom provides you with the opportunity to discover who you once were outside of the relationship you had. Did you hold back on certain things or suppress parts of yourself? This is an opportunity to take some power and time back for yourself.

Stuck for ideas on how to live your single life? Here are 30 things better than being in a relationship

6. Slowly let go of them

When your heart aches for them, it’s really the good times you yearn for, not them right now. If feelings are particularly strong, make a list of some cons of the relationship. Try your best not to be bitter here, as that can make feelings worse.

Were you undermined for things that hurt in the long run? And again — were you just unable to be yourself? All of these things can lead to that inevitable breakup over time. Remember how you felt in those moments in the relationship to slowly begin detaching yourself from the old flame, and begin the process of moving on.

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