How to End a Relationship

Four Parts:Getting Ready to End the RelationshipEnding the RelationshipLiving Life After the Break-UpAdditional Help

Ending a relationship is never easy. Though many people believe otherwise, ending a relationship can be just as emotionally exhausting as getting dumped. Before making a decision to end a relationship, you should always weigh the reasons for walking out. Once you are sure, though, it's important to remember that your soon-to-be ex was once your love. You should be honest without being cruel, and compassionate without giving the person hope. With a little tact and thoughtfulness, you can end the relationship and minimize the potential emotional damage. Be careful, it may hurt you too.

Part 1
Getting Ready to End the Relationship

  1. Image titled Stop Loving a Guy Step 03
    Make sure you want to end the relationship. Don't use the threat of leaving as a tool to get your own way in an argument. If you say it, be prepared to back it up with the action, or else take the threat off the table before you make it. Discuss problems openly and directly with your partner before you make up your mind. Many men and women suffer for years and never bring problems up with their partners, which is what leads to many breakups.[1]
    • If you really want to end the relationship, then you should make a list of all the reasons you're unhappy in the relationship -- and all the reasons those things can't be fixed.
  2. Image titled Make Decisions Step 04
    Make your decision with a clear head. Don't decide to break up with your partner in the heat of the moment, when you're feeling unstable, or after you've had a bad week and are blaming your relationship for all of your problems. Before you make this important decision, take the time to get input from trusted friends and parents, people who may have helpful insight into your relationship issues.
    • Once you've decided to break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, don't go around telling your close friends, or anyone at all, or it may get back to that person. It's okay to come to a close friend or family member for advice, but once you've made your decision, the mature thing to do is to tell your boyfriend or girlfriend next.
  3. Image titled Tell if a Guy Likes You More Than a Friend Step 12
    Choose your time and place wisely. Choose a time and place that will allow for both you and the person that you're about to dump some privacy.[2] Don't break up with someone right before they have a big test or are about to go to work. Fridays are a suitable choice if it gives your soon-to-be-ex the weekend to recover somewhat.
    • Don't break up with your girlfriend or boyfriend in your favorite restaurant, bar, or your favorite spot in a park. Pick a neutral location that has no special meaning for either of you.
    • Pick a time when you know you'll be in a relatively calm emotional state. Don't break up with your partner after you know you'll be staying late for a stressful meeting at work.
  4. Image titled Get a Guy to Forgive You (for Girls) Step 02
    Make sure to end the relationship in person (under most circumstances). To give your significant other the respect that he or she deserves, you should end the relationship in person, no matter how much you're dreading it.
    • The only time it's acceptable to end the relationship over the phone is if you're in a long-distance relationship and know you won't see each other for a while, or if you're in a controlling or manipulative relationship. If your ex is prone to outbursts, violence, or manipulative behaviors, it is much safer for you to end the relationship at a distance.

Part 2
Ending the Relationship

  1. Image titled Get Rid of Someone You Don't Like Step 15
    Be firm about breaking up. Be firm in what you say––being wishy-washy in the vain hope that you'll let the other person down "easy" will only cause more hurt in the end. A break-up does not need to be a dramatic, escalating event. Get to the point and say that you don't want to be in the relationship anymore, that it isn't working for you. Doing otherwise leads the door open for argument.[3]
    • Avoid any comment that gives the impression that this is a trial separation and that you might resume things after a break.
    • You may think that it'll ease the pain to tell your partner "I'm not ready for this right now" or "Maybe this can work down the road..." but if you don't really mean it, then that will only be adding to your partner's pain.
  2. Image titled Let a Guy Friend Know You're Not Interested Romantically in a Nice Way Step 04
    Be honest but not cruel. You don't want your partner to walk away feeling unsure about why the relationship was over, but you don't want him or her walking away knowing the top 20 things you don't like about him or her, either. Just be honest about why the relationship needs to end, whether it's because you're feeling suffocated, manipulated, or disrespected. Don't waste time beating around the bush.[4]
    • The hardest reason for a breakup is if you're just not in love anymore, because it's not that person's fault. In that case, you should still be honest, but say it as gently as you can.
    • Once you've given your main reason, you don't have to go into all the details and rehash old arguments, unless the person is genuinely confused. There's no reason to bring up past problems and add insult to injury.
    • Don't put the person down and make him feel insecure and worthless. Don't say, "I just want to be with a real man" -- instead, say, "I think you still have to work on developing your confidence."
    • Whatever the reason is, it shouldn't be a complete surprise to the person. If you kept up open lines of communication, then it won't be coming out of no where.
    • Avoid making a long list of reasons as to why you're dumping him or her. Boil down your well-thought through reason to the essential problem: "We are not compatible enough in key areas," "I don't feel supported by you in my career path, and I don't want to change my path," "I want children and you don't," or other similar and specific details.
  3. Image titled Get Rid of Someone You Don't Like Step 18
    Be prepared for a bad reaction. The person who is getting dumped will typically react with anger or with wonder, shock, or panic. If he responds with anger, try to remain calm and attempt to calm him down. Keep your voice at ease, even if he begins to yell. If it gets too out of control, just leave and let him cool down––but be sure you assure him that you will be willing to come back later, when he is calmer. Don't just say, "Oh forget it, I'm outta here."
    • Comfort him if he needs it, but don't take this too far. Voice your opinions if things are getting too uncomfortable or inappropriate. You don't want to be drawn down the same path that led you to this moment. Be compassionate, but be firm and cut the contact short if it seems to be escalating.
    • If you're worried about leaving your ex alone, call a friend of his and explain what happened, where he is, and what you're concerned about, and what you want the friend to do. Apologize for the pain the situation has caused and thank this friend for helping and leave it at that.
    • If your ex is furious to the point that nothing will get through to him just then, say, "It's not productive to just yell at one another. I've made my decision, and I won't change my mind, but I will talk with you if you can remain calmer. Take some time to settle down, and then call me - we can talk again then." If your ex does call, keep your word. Pick up the call. If there are questions, be honest and kind with your answers, but keep the conversation short and civil so you don't prolong the pain.
  4. Image titled End a Controlling or Manipulative Relationship Step 04
    Establish concrete boundaries for your future interaction. Once you have begun the process, be polite but firm about these boundaries, and make it clear that they are non-negotiable. It is permissible to cut him or her off without a chance to discuss what went wrong. Try to make the failed relationship as valuable as possible by turning it into a chance to learn and grow and as to what type of people to avoid.
    • If you have mutual friends and want to avoid each other for a while, make a "joint custody" plan to see your friends without running in to each other.
    • If you both have a favorite coffee shop or go to the same gym every time, try to set a schedule that helps you avoid each other. You don't have to be too rigid or organized about this, but it can help you avoid the pain of running into each other.
    • If you have each other's things or even live together, make a plan for sorting out your belongings as soon as possible so you don't have to keep seeing each other.
  5. Image titled End a Controlling or Manipulative Relationship Step 12
    Know when to walk away. One of the biggest mistakes made in ending a relationship is allowing the final death throes to go on and on. And on. And on. And on. It's one thing to finalize shared expenses, disentangle community property, etc. It's another thing to beat a dead horse endlessly.
    • When discussions become circular––in other words, you just travel around and around the same points without coming to a point of resolution––stop. That's the moment to say, "I think we should continue this later, or not," and leave.
    • If the person doesn't understand why you're breaking up with them, you can try to make things clearer in a letter or message. Say what you need to say, let the other person explain him or herself in a message so they feel that they've been listened to, and leave it at that. It can be easier to disentangle when you're doing it while apart.

Part 3
Living Life After the Break-Up

  1. Image titled Let a Guy Friend Know You're Not Interested Romantically in a Nice Way Step 10
    Don't try to stay friends right away. Trying to "be friends" can prolong the agony of a breakup. Most often, it is best to make a clean break and spend time apart. After a time, perhaps three months, perhaps a year or more, when you see one another, it won't hurt as much, and maybe then you can try to be friends with a clean slate. Even then, be sensitive and respectful about what your ex needs––she or may need more time than you. If that's the case, don't just foist yourself on the ex in an attempt to become friends some time later.[5]
    • If your ex asks "Can we still be friends?", say, "No, we can't still be friends. For now, though, I think it's best we just let things end." If pressed, say, "Look, we started out as friends and went past that. To be friends, we'd have to go back, and frankly, I don't want to go back. We need to go forward now. That means we need to put some space between our broken relationship and any new relationship we might form. Let's take a break, take some time, and give each other the space we need to heal and move on. At some later point, when we meet again, we might be able to put our anger aside and be friendly. Let's leave it at that." However, make this the last contact between you two. Make the break final with no further contact ever.
    • If there are mutual friends that are shared by the both of you, inform them of the breakup and also inform them that you will not appear at any functions that your ex-lover will be present at and if that means they have to choose sides, so be it.
  2. Image titled Be a Good Friend Step 14
    Take some time to deal with your loss. Sure, you're the one who did the breaking up, but in most cases, that doesn't mean you want to have a night on the town to celebrate your new freedom. What people don't understand is that the person who did the breaking up is often in just as much pain as the person who was dumped. In some cases, the person who does the breaking up feels even more pain, because he may also be plagued with feelings of guilt, even if he knew it was the right thing to do.[6]
    • After the break-up, take some time to yourself to reevaluate your life and think about what you can do to be happy in the future.
    • It's okay if you want to spend a week or two crying, writing in your journal, and just holing up in bed. But after that, it'll be time to get out in the world again and to slowly start to get back into the swing of things.
    • Calling a good friend in your time of need can make you feel better. Going out to the clubs to get obliterated off alcohol the night after your breakup probably won't make you feel better.
  3. Image titled Move On Step 12
    Enjoy your post-relationship life. After a few weeks, or a few months have passed, you will slowly start to enjoy your life again. By now, you and your ex should have separated your things and have found a way to avoid each other, which should already be helping the healing process. Once you're starting to feel like yourself again, you should take pleasure in your friendships and your close relationship with your family, and pursue your old hobbies as well as pick up some new interests.
    • If you want to start feeling like your old self, you should avoid doing the things that you and your ex loved to do together for a while, whether it's going hiking in your favorite spot or having drinks at a certain bar.
    • Make some changes. To feel new, rearrange your furniture, clean your car, and pick up a new hobby you've never done before, such as volleyball or art class.

Additional Help

Breakup Opening Lines

Coping with Negative Reactions to a Breakup

Sample Ways to Get Over a Breakup


  • Be firm and completely honest from the beginning to prevent your partner from hanging on and believing you might come back someday.
  • Don't spark an argument or be confrontational if you can help it. If necessary, wait until everyone has calmed down to have the breakup talk.
  • Don't play games or start ignoring the person before you break up with him. If you want it to be over you should break it off sooner rather than later.
  • Spend some time apart for a while; and definitely give the other person time to cope before he sees you with someone else. A minimum of one week is usually a good rule, but it varies depending on how involved you were and for how long you dated. If you were together for a year or more, or if the breakup felt particularly intense, avoid "rubbing the other person's nose in" the breakup. Ways to avoid being mean about seeing someone new include taking your new partner to new places rather than going to places you used to frequent with your ex. Be the bigger person, and allow your ex to keep as much of his old life intact as possible––you have moved on, and it has become much easier on you because you're already prepared for the end. By allowing your ex to maintain old forms of stability, you are taking the high road while leaving your ex with some dignity.
  • Do not wait until after sex to break up with someone. It's hurtful and very selfish.
  • Break up in person, never by text!


  • Avoid giving the hope that it can continue. If you have made the decision to move on, then you must make that absolutely clear. If there is still something salvageable, then don't break up. Instead, focus on how you will work together to salvage the relationship. Breaking up should not be a threat or a way to get someone to change.
  • Don't say, "It's not you, it's me." That's offensive and trite, even if true. Most people are aware that this is code for "I am not telling you the real reason but it is something about you, only I lack the courage to say so."
  • Don't back down if he begins to cry. Remember why you're doing this!
  • Never make him feel totally responsible for the breakdown of the relationship.

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