How To Break Up With Someone: A 12-Step Guide For A Clean Break Up

Whether you like to admit this or not, your relationship is basically over the moment you start wondering how to break up with someone. 

This is exactly what you’re going through. You’ve been trying to find the least harmful way to walk away from your partner and to give them the bad news the easiest way possible.

People assume that the one saying the final goodbye doesn’t carry any burden. However, that’s far from the truth.

I’ll be honest with you. Breaking things off is never easy.

However, sometimes you reach a point where it’s the only option you have – a point where your relationship is making you miserable and you know it can’t be saved. 

Well, if these are the thoughts going through your mind and if you keep on wondering how to break up with someone, here is some advice from our relationship experts you should definitely check out. 

1. Be certain about your decision

Before ending your relationship, you have to be sure that this is what you really want. Please, don’t confuse yourself or your partner if you’re not certain in your decision.

Don’t do this if you want to scare them by pretending that you want to leave. Don’t do it to make them understand what they’re losing or to make them feel your absence so they can appreciate your presence more.

I know that this might sound like a good idea, but trust me, these are nothing more than immature mind games that will make an even bigger mess in your relationship.

First of all, you need to be clear that your relationship isn’t worth saving. You’re breaking up with someone because you don’t love them anymore, you think you two have no future together, or they don’t treat you right.

Even though these are the most common reasons people usually break up, you can base your decision on something different.

The point is that you shouldn’t have to justify your reasons to anyone – the mere fact that you want out of this relationship is more than enough.

However, it is important that you do have a reason for this break-up. Don’t do it on a whim and if you’re likely to change your mind the next day. 

Most importantly, don’t do it if you expect to get back together with your partner.

I’m not saying that this can’t happen sometime in the future, but there is absolutely no point in breaking-up with them if you’re thinking about reconciliation now. 

2. Don’t beat yourself up

A lot of people assume that the only person who suffers because of the break-up is the one who is being left behind. Well, that can’t be further from the truth.

Figuring out how to break up with someone who loves you also brings you emotional pain.

Just because you want to say your goodbyes, it doesn’t mean that you’re happy about it. Besides, when you’re the one breaking up, you’re dealing with another painful emotion: guilt. 

This is especially true if we’re talking about long term relationships.

You think that you’re throwing away your history together and all the years you spent next to each other, so you can’t avoid feeling guilty for being the one who destroys everything. 

Well, another thing you have to do before actually acting on your break-up is clearing your conscience. After all, you’re not married to your boyfriend or girlfriend, and even if you are, you have the right to file for divorce.

You didn’t sign a paper that the two of you will grow old together, no matter what.

You didn’t make any wedding vows, promising them to stick by their side through bad and good days, through sickness and health until death does you apart. 

You didn’t choose this person as your life partner just yet. Therefore, you have the right to change your mind.

Don’t feel guilty for breaking up with them if this is something you want to do. Don’t blame yourself for the failure of your relationship. Don’t think of yourself as weak for not being able to put up with it anymore. 

Relationships end and that is all a part of life. I know that you’re probably beating yourself up for being the one who has to put a stop to your romance, but you have to put your happiness first.

You won’t stay in a relationship that is making you miserable just to spare the other person’s feelings. You can’t keep on breaking your own heart just to save theirs. 

3. Do it in time

The number one mistake a lot of people make when they want to break up with their significant other is to postpone it.

They wait until their boyfriend or girlfriend gets out of a bad period in their life, until after their birthday, until they come back from that trip they planned for ages, and so on.

This is something you shouldn’t do. Trust me, before you know it, you’ll turn around and see that months have gone by since your initial decision and you’re still trapped in this relationship.

The fact is that people do this because they’re scared. They don’t have the courage to walk away, so they remain in this relationship, expecting a miracle to happen.

Basically, they expect the other person to make the move or for their relationship to magically end. Well, that is unlikely to happen and, whether you like it or not, you have to gather the strength to do the dirty work alone.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to abandon your partner in the middle of a family emergency or the moment they lost their job.

After all, this is still your trusted friend, even though you don’t feel any romantic connection with them anymore. 

However, I’m begging you not to make excuses and not to postpone the break-up. Trust me, it’s better to do it in time before things between you two become even worse. 

After all, by leaving them, you’re actually doing your partner a favor. It’s way better to be honest about your feelings than to keep on leading them on just because you’re scared of saying the final goodbye. 

Be direct and rip off the band-aid by telling them everything ASAP and as straightforwardly as possible. 

And the worst thing you could do is treat your significant other as a safety net. Don’t go out there hunting for a new potential partner until you make everything clear in your current relationship. 

4. Plan the break up conversation

When you’re wondering how to break up with someone you love (because no matter what happened, I’m sure you still have some emotions towards this person), you have to know exactly what you’re about to say. 

Otherwise, your emotions will take over and if you don’t plan ahead, you won’t manage to do it. 

Of course, this won’t be a monologue, so it’s impossible to plan every single sentence to come out of your mouth, but you should definitely think about what you want to tell them as a whole.

If you usually have trouble expressing yourself verbally, write your thoughts down on a piece of paper and learn it by heart. No, you won’t be reading or reciting your speech, it will just serve you as a guideline. 

Remember: This is probably the last time you’re having this kind of conversation with your partner. So don’t leave anything unsaid.

Instead, tell them everything that’s on your mind and heart. Try to explain to them how you feel, why you think that your romance should end, and most importantly, do your best to give them closure. 

However, don’t use this opportunity to analyze your entire relationship from the first day.

There is absolutely no point in bringing up your entire emotional baggage, because that will only lead to an unnecessary argument. 

Don’t become all defensive or try arguing with your partner. Just be calm and honest. 

Try not to show too many emotions; that will only make things even harder for both of you. Nevertheless, don’t behave like you’re completely indifferent to all that’s been going on. 

Try to find a balance. Show them that breaking up is hard to do for you, but that you’re certain in your decision and nothing they do or say can change your mind. 

When it comes to reasons for your break-up, be as honest as possible. Don’t lie or sugarcoat things; tell them straightforwardly why you’re leaving them.

Also, be prepared that there will probably be some tricky questions coming from your significant other. However, this is the person you spent a lot of time with, so you probably know them the best. 

Therefore, if you think things through you’ll probably be able to predict most of their responses and questions. So, prepare yourself and be ready to give them the answers they want to hear. 

5. Do it face-to-face

In modern dating, literally everything happens via social media, texting, or phone calls. Well, even though it has become a practice to break up with someone this way, it is something you shouldn’t do at any cost. 

I don’t care if you and your partner met on a dating site or if you even started your relationship on social media, they deserve for you to break up with them while looking them straight in the eyes. 

It doesn’t matter if you two have been in a long-distance relationship. Please, find a way to see them in person.

Let’s be honest. Dumping someone through text is a piece of cake.

You don’t have to actually talk to them, you don’t have to be scared of your voice trembling, you don’t have to look them in the eyes while telling them about your decision.

Besides, if things get rough, you can always block their number or stop responding to their text messages. It dehumanizes the entire process and you don’t see your ex-partner crying on the other side of the screen.

However, if you’re mature enough to have a romantic relationship, you should be mature enough to end things the old-fashioned way as well. Doing it face-to-face gives another person a certain sense of value. 

This way, you acknowledge their importance in your life, even though you want your relationship to end.

You’re showing them that they have been important enough for you to give them your time and effort to explain yourself. 

Besides, you won’t be seen as a coward who doesn’t have the courage to actually tell someone you’re walking away from them. 

Sadly, another popular form of breakups is now ghosting. You know that move when you just disappear from the other person’s life without even saying a word?

As tempting as this might sound, I can’t emphasize how wrong it is on so many levels. So, I’m begging you not to even consider it. 

6. …but not in public

Another thing to keep in mind when breaking up with your significant other is the place in which you’ll do it. First and foremost, a serious break-up conversation like this deserves some privacy. 

Also, as much as you think you know the other person, you can never completely predict their reaction.

You don’t know if there will be screaming, crying, curses, or fighting involved, so you might want to avoid doing it in a public space.

Besides, you don’t want to humiliate your partner by allowing other people to see or hear that they’re being dumped.

With all this in mind, it’s obvious that you should be careful while choosing the place for your breakup.

However, don’t do it in your house, apartment, or car either.

In this case, if things get rough, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you have to throw your ex-partner out – and that is the last thing they need to go through after being dumped. 

Basically, what is important is to pick a quiet setting. Maybe it’s better to do it “on their field,” so you can be the one to walk away. 

7. Know that you will hurt the other person

I won’t lie. Breaking up is hard to do. This is not the nicest thing you’ll have to do in life, but sometimes it simply has to be done.

This is especially true if you know that the other person wants to continue the relationship. It will be hard for you to say no if they start begging for a second chance. 

What I’m trying to tell you is that no matter how you play your cards, you will definitely end up hurting the other person. You will probably break their heart and there isn’t a scenario in which they’ll be left unharmed. 

Even if your ex stopped loving you, you’ll hurt their ego when you walk away from them. So, please accept this as an inevitable fact. 

Also, I’m asking you to acknowledge their pain.

Even if you see them as the bad guy in the story – even if you think that they’re the one who caused this break-up – they have the right to feel hurt, abandoned, or even betrayed. 

What is important here is for you not to feel like a villain. You’re just choosing your own happiness over someone else’s and, contrary to popular belief, there is nothing selfish about that.

Your partner might tell you that you’re ruining their life and breaking them beyond repair, but trust me, it’s not the case. They’re feeling like this right now, but sooner or later, they will recover. 

The end of your relationship isn’t the end of the world for either of you. They will find their happiness without you, so the last thing you should allow is for guilt to eat you alive. 

8. Let them speak

You’re the one who is breaking things off, so you’re the one who’ll have to start and lead this conversation. However, you can’t expect the other party to peacefully listen to you, without saying a word. 

After all, your relationship was a two-way street, which means they were also an equal part of it. They have the right to speak their mind and talk about their feelings as well.

This is something you need to allow them to do. Let them tell you everything they want and give them the chance to be heard for the last time. 

Naturally, you won’t always agree with everything they have to say. After all, you two probably have different perspectives on your relationship.

However, even in this case, you need to let them clear everything they have off their chest. Remember that this conversation shouldn’t revolve around who is right; it should be seen as a chance for closure. 

9. Be kind and empathetic

Whenever you’re talking to someone, even if that someone is a stranger, you ought to do your best to be kind and empathetic.

Well, this is especially true when you’re talking to the person who was your loved one and who you have so much history with. 

Remember that they’re the ones being hurt more than you are here. They’re the ones who are receiving bad news and the ones who are brought to a dead end.

Even though this situation is probably painful for you too, you’re the one who made the tough decision to end things.

On the other hand, your partner might still want to remain in the relationship yet they’re being involuntarily kicked out of it. 

What I’m trying to say is that considering all this, it’s clear that right now they’re in a worse position than you. Therefore, you’re the one who should give them all the sympathy in the world. 

Please, try putting yourself in their shoes. Try to understand them and do your best not to judge them, even if they don’t accept the break-up the way you expected them to. 

Be as gentle as possible while telling them that you’re about to leave them. Don’t lie to them, but also don’t insult or humiliate them in any way possible. 

Another thing you should be careful about is the tone of your voice. Be cautious not to raise your voice or talk like you’re arguing. 

Yes, your relationship is coming to an end. However, you two are still equals here. Don’t you ever forget that. 

10. Avoid the blame game

Another mistake most couples do while ending their relationship is to use this opportunity to sort all of their arguments out.

This is the final goodbye – it’s not a chance for you two to figure out who made more mistakes and who’s to blame for your breakup. 

That’s why I’m begging you to avoid the blame game at all costs. As it was already stated, both you and your ex have different perspectives on your failed romantic relationship.

Therefore, it’s not surprising to have them see you as the bad guy of the story and vice versa. However, this is not the place or the time to discuss this. 

After all, what’s the point of shifting responsibility? You decided it’s time to end things, which means that you’ve reached a point where nothing can be done to save your relationship. 

Don’t rehash your old issues, don’t be resentful, and don’t mention some old grudges you might have. You both need to accept that it’s over and that it’s completely irrelevant who did what. 

11. Cut all ties

Staying friends with an ex is a civilized thing to do, especially if we’re talking about someone you spent years with.

For all of this time, this person was a huge part of your life and it is totally understandable that you can’t kick them out so easily.

They weren’t just your romantic partner and a loved one. They were also one of your trusted friends, and you even started seeing them as a family member during the years.

However, every relationship expert will tell you to cut all ties with them once you part ways – at least in the beginning.

Trust me, this is the only way for both of you to let go of your relationship for real and it’s the best move for your well-being and mental health. 

I’m not saying that you should suddenly become enemies or that you shouldn’t say “hi” to each other when you run into each other, but everything besides that will only make things complicated. 

If it’s necessary, break things off with your mutual friends as well. Don’t deepen your ex’s wound and keep on hurting this person’s feelings even more by staying in their life this way or another. 

This is especially true if the other person doesn’t want to break up. Believe me, you’ll only give them false hope if you promise to stay friends. 

Besides, you’ll also make a mess in your head if you don’t go no contact. You’ve gone this far and made your decision, so the last thing you need is having them next to you all the time as if nothing has changed. 

Also, cutting all ties is the only way in which you’ll show to your ex that you really mean what you said. This way, you’re not leaving any space for them to think that you’ll change your mind in the future. 

I’m not saying that reconciliation is never possible. After all, you never know what life might bring.

However, this is not something you should even mention if you really want to make a clean break and completely rip the band-aid off.

Don’t go giving either of you false hope by talking about the possibility of getting back together someday. 

12. Learn from your relationship

When you’re wondering how to break up with someone, you never think of what comes next – after the break-up is over.

You did what you wanted to do, your relationship is over, and now you’re left all alone with your thoughts. 

Well, that’s exactly why I’ll ask you to use this time to reexamine your relationship. Of course, this isn’t something you should do with your ex, but on your own. 

No, don’t think about your failed romance because you want to fix it. Scrutinize it so you can let go and use it as a valuable life lesson.

Think about your dealbreakers. What were the things the other person was doing but you couldn’t tolerate, as much as you tried?

What were your mistakes? Be mature enough to take your share of responsibility and think about the things you shouldn’t be doing in the future with other partners.

When it comes to you moving on with your love life, according to all relationship coaches, jumping into a new relationship right away is not a good idea.

Use this time to learn about yourself and enjoy your single life as much as possible. 

Most importantly, stay away from any potential rebound relationships. You won’t heal your broken heart by breaking someone else’s in the process. 

Instead, work on self-improvement and focus on self-care. Fix your emotional and mental health, and learn how to put yourself and your own well being in first place. 

Build a healthy relationship with yourself before chasing for a partner. Mark my words, this is the only way you can hope to have a healthy relationship with someone else.

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