The Only Guide to Breaking Up You’ll Ever Need

By: Jason Lee

Breaking up sucks. We tried to find a more eloquent and appropriate word for it, but sucks seemed to do the best job of embodying the crud that is breaking up. Whether you’re the one doing the deed or you’re on the receiving end, it’s never pleasant.

But all that negative Nancy stuff being said, there are some things you can do to make the breaking up process a little less terrible. That is the goal of this guide. We can’t zap all the crud out of breaking up with someone, but we can equip you with the tools, tricks, and tips you need to make it as not-terrible as possible.

We’ll start by talking about exactly step-by-step how to break up with someone. Then, we’ll give you some special pointers for unique situations like breaking up with someone you live with, breaking up with someone you love, breaking up with someone nicely, and a ton of other unique scenarios.

After that, we’ll talk about how to know when it’s the right time to break up, reasons to and reasons not to break up, and then answer your most pressing questions about the entire process.

And to close, we’ll get to what we think is the most important part of this guide—how to get over a breakup. We have a lot to cover, but this is an important moment in your life (and in someone else’s life). Take your time with this information and you’ll be able to get to the brighter other side of this breakup in no time.



How to Break Up With Someone – 8 Steps

Quick Note – If you’re not certain you’re ready to break up just yet, we recommend coming back to this section after reading a few of the later sections on knowing when it’s time to break up and reasons for and against breaking up.

But if you’ve already made the decision and are just wondering how to do the deed, let’s get into it.

First, we do want to preface this section by saying something important. No two breakups are ever going to be the same. Relationships are between two unique people and every situation is going to be wildly different. We share that because we want you to know that you can tweak and adjust these steps as needed to fit your situation.

With that said, let’s get into the steps on how to break up with someone. We’re also going to include specific sections to read in addition to this section for unique situations like breaking up with someone you love, someone you live with, someone you just started dating, and several more.

Step 1 – Make sure you’re at peace with the decision.

You should never ever ever start a conversation to break up with someone if you’re not 100% sure about your decision. Yes, you can have talks about your relationship and the future, but if you’re planning on breaking up and you aren’t 100% at peace with the decision, you’re making a mistake.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to know that you’re at peace with your breakup decision.

  • Are there any alternatives to breaking up that you might be okay with?
  • Are you using the threat of a breakup to try and make your significant other do something?
  • Do you feel like there’s a chance this breakup isn’t going to be permanent?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to take a little time to reconsider your plans.

A ‘yes’ answer to any of these questions doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t break up, but it does mean you need to spend a little more time coming to terms with your decision before proceeding.

Once you’ve completely come to terms with your breakup and you can say confidently, “Yes, I want to break up with my significant other permanently,” then you’re good to move onto the next step.

And finally, remember, there is nothing wrong with breaking up with someone you don’t want to be with. That is 100% within your rights, so don’t feel bad that you’ve come to this conclusion.

Step 2 – Determine the best time and location to break up.

There is no perfect place and time to breakup with someone but there are plenty of places that are awful. Again, this whole guide on how to break up with someone isn’t about making it go smoothly, it’s about minimizing the negative as much as possible.

The first rule of thumb when it comes to when to break up is that sooner is always better than later.

When you put off the inevitable, you’re not doing anyone any favors. Bad news does not get better with time. And the longer that you delay the other person’s ability to start getting over you, the more you start to be in the wrong.

That being said, we’re not saying to just blurt out you want to break up the first second you see them. You do still want to be a bit strategic about it. We’re talking more about the difference of a few hours or days being okay, not the difference of a few weeks or months (which is not okay).

Here are our general rules that you can use to pick the time and place to break up.

  • Ensure that you’re having the conversation in person unless that’s logistically impossible. Breakups should happen in person.
  • The more private the location, the better. The chances are high that your significant other is going to have an emotional reaction to this that it’s only fair to allow them to have it in private. The only exception to this is in situations where you think they might become overly aggressive or violent. In those situations, potentially consider doing it over the phone or in a public place.
  • Don’t breakup with them right before an important event. If they have a big job interview or test the next day, maybe wait until after that to have the conversation. The catch here is that we’re only referring to things under about two weeks away. If they have a big event several weeks out you don’t want to disrupt, you’re doing more harm than good by delaying things.
  • Make sure it’s a location that warrants a serious conversation.
  • Don’t go somewhere that’s sentimental to both of you if at all possible.
  • Ensure it’s somewhere you can easily leave. The most important example is not breaking up over dinner. If you break up partway through dinner, then you both are stuck awkwardly waiting for dinner to conclude or for the waiter to bring the check.
  • Don’t schedule a date and plan to do it at the end of the date. If you’re going to breakup, do it at the beginning of the hangout/event you plan to do it at. Putting on the fake show through the event is unhealthy and they’re going to get mad knowing you were doing that.

If you take all of these things into consideration, you should be able to find a good place to have the conversation and break up. And if you’re still stuck and just want us to tell you where to do this, consider grabbing coffee somewhere that is not crazy busy or has somewhere like a park that you can go for a walk once you get your coffee.

Step 3 – Have a plan of action for after the breakup.

One of the most forgotten and neglected steps of the breaking up process is having a plan of action in place for after the breakup. Right now, you have a clear mind and don’t have an upset significant other in front of you rattling your emotions. This is your most clear-headed time to devise a plan to get over the breakup.

Here are the things we think you should include in your post breakup plan. A lot of this will depend on where you’re at mentally. If you’re already fully over things versus if this is something that’s going to hurt you as much as it hurts them, it will change things.

  • Where are you going to go immediately after the conversation? Who are you going to call or go see? You are going to need to vent and decompress, so have a plan in place for this.
  • If you’re going to be severely impacted professionally (like it will be hard to focus on work), do you need to get anything in place prior to the breakup? Do you need to get someone to cover for you on some projects? Do you need to schedule to take a day off?
  • Are you already over things and ready to get back out there? If you are, we do recommend doing that a bit more privately and not in view of your ex. A great place to do this that is out of the limelight is through online dating. Here’s a list of our favorite online dating apps for post-breakups that you may want to consider checking out
  • Are there any logistical things you need to consider? If you have stuff at their place or theirs at yours, how are you going to handle getting that back to each other? If they have keys or passwords to things, how are you going to handle that transfer?
  • Are there security concerns? We hate saying this, but some people don’t take breakups well. Are there locks you need to change, or do you need to stay somewhere else immediately after the breakup? It’s not a fun topic to think about, but it’s something you realistically may need to consider.
  • Are you going to need a break? Simply put, do you need to schedule a few days off and some activities to unwind.
  • If you’re going to be affected heavily, are their vices you need to get out of the way? For example, if you don’t want to heavily drink to get over things, do you need to remove alcohol from your house? Again, not a pleasant topic, but we’re all about being real here today.

If it helps, you can absolutely write all of this down and answers these questions one by one to make sure you’re all set to go.

The more prepared you are to take care of yourself, the smoother things are going to go. Additionally, your planning is going to have a positive effect on your significant other either directly or indirectly.

Step 4 – Prepare for the day of the conversation.

Now that you have your plan in place for how you’re going to react post-breakup, it’s time to talk about the day of. Are there things you can do to ready yourself for the conversation and the inevitable? Absolutely. Here are our favorite tips.

  • Make sure you’re rested and not intoxicated. A clear mind will go a long way, especially if there are a lot of emotions involved.
  • Renew your confidence in your decision. Rethink through your resolve and your decisions to give yourself the confidence to go through with things. This is another area where having your after-breakup plan in place will go a long way.
  • Chat with a cheerleader. If you have a friend that has been walking through this with you, let them pump you up for the conversation. Knowing you have that support will go a long way.

These are little things, but they can do a lot to get you ready for what is probably going to be a tough conversation and day.

Step 5 – Be prepared for their potential reactions, questions, and comments.

The last piece of your preparation is taking some time to think about how they’re going to react, what they might say, and how they might feel. You’re never going to 100% be able to predict their reactions, but you can do a pretty good job of guessing the most likely outcomes.

The purpose of this is two-fold. Number one—it prevents you from being blindsided by a reaction or comment. Number two—it allows you to think about how you might react or what you might say to these reactions.

For example, if you think they might say that this isn’t fair, you can be prepared with what you want to say to that. Or if you think they’re going to try and blame you for something, you can be prepared for that too.

The more time you take to prepare beforehand (without going overboard and driving yourself crazy), the better the potential outcome of your breakup talk.

Step 6 – What to say when you’re breaking up with someone.

Now that you’ve completed all the prep work, it’s time to actually break up. And it’s time to talk about what you’re going to say. As we mentioned earlier, things will be a bit unique based on your situation, but we can guide you in the right direction. Don’t be scared to tweak some of these breakup talk suggestions to fit your situation.

First, you’ll want to preface that you’re about to have a serious conversation. We prefer doing this once you’re together in person and not hours or days before. When you say, “Hey we need to talk,” hours before you have the breakup talk, they are going to start freaking out and it throws things out of whack.

But early on when you see them to have the talk, let them know that you want to talk about something important. If you’re getting coffee, you can wait until after you get your drinks, but this is something to mention right towards the beginning of your meeting.

“Hey, I want to talk about something important to me,” is a perfect phrase that gets the conversation going.

Immediately following that, you’re going to want to let them know what the talk is about. There is no sense in beating around the bush. Direct communication is always best when breaking up with someone. Something like, “I’m not happy in this relationship,” is a perfect way to break into it. They might try and interrupt you after that (especially if they now see what is coming), but if they do, politely ask them to please let you finish what you have to say and you’ll happily listen to them after that.

From there, tell them why you aren’t happy with the relationship. This is where things are going to be wildly specific to your situation. Be direct, be honest, and don’t try and sugarcoat things.

This is the most important part. After you share why you aren’t happy, you need to definitely say what you want to happen. No matter what, there should be no sugar coating or beating around the bush here. Tell them that you have decided the best thing to do is for you two to break up.

  • Don’t use other words for breakup that could be misconstrued (example: go our separate ways, split, take a break, etc.)
  • Don’t say that you ‘think’ you should break up. Say that you have decided you need to break up. This is not a negotiation; you’re stating how you feel.
  • Be confident but kind in how you speak.
  • Don’t leave any room for ambiguity.

This part may feel harsh but the clearer you are, the better it will be for them. This also prevents them from thinking there is some sort of opening to change your mind.

Step 7 – Be prepared to answer their questions—within reason.

After you speak your peace and give your deliberate statement that you clearly want to breakup, they are going to want to talk. They might want to argue, they might want to try and convince you otherwise, they might want to blame or shame you, they might be okay with it—regardless of where they’re at, they will probably have comments.

Listen to what they have to say. The one caveat to this is that you don’t have to listen if they’re being mean, abusive, or unfair to you. If they just want to talk and ask questions, that’s okay. You should be willing to give them answers to questions that are legitimate.

Don’t let this drag on forever, though. At one point, especially if they’re trying to convince you to stay with them, they’ll start repeating themselves and talking in circles. At that point, it’s time to end the conversation and go your separate ways. Give them a reasonable amount of time to talk but then they will have to realize it’s happening and it will be time to head your separate ways.

Step 8 – Enact your after breakup plan.

Once the conversation and the breakup are complete, it’s time to enact that plan you created in the previous steps. You’ve now successfully broken up and it’s time to move on to the next chapter of the process and your life.

In the coming sections, we’re going to talk about a few specifics you may want to take into account for unique situations. All of these sections are designed to be used in conjunction with this section.

Breaking Up With Someone You Love

Sad Girl Who was Broken Up With

Breaking up with someone you merely like isn’t fun, but it’s not that bad. Breaking up with someone you love, though, can be one of the most painful experiences ever. Often, these breakups happen because you’re making a hard decision to help the person you love, often at the expense of your own happiness.

First, we commend you for doing this. If the split is truly what is best for them and you, thank you for being man or woman enough to do what is hard.

Second, we want to share a few thoughts that might help you ease at least a little of the pain of the process.

Here are a few specific tips for breaking up with someone you love.

  • Realize it’s going to be hard on you. – No matter how strong you think you are or how unaffected emotionally you are, breaking up with someone you love it going to be hard. They’re probably going to cry, express a lot of things that really hit deep, and may say things you’re not expecting. Understand that this is most likely going to affect you and that having an emotional response to this is okay.
  • This should never be blindsiding them. – When you break up with someone you are just getting to know, it’s fairly common that it comes out of left field/they don’t see it coming. When you’re breaking up with someone you love, though, it should never really come as a surprise. No, we’re not saying that you need to leave out clues or tip them off that the breakup is coming. What we are saying, though, is that you should be communicating what you’re unhappy with or what isn’t working far before you even start looking down the breakup road. This should give you time to make an attempt to work things out or at least give them the courtesy of knowing that you’re not on the same page.
  • Triple check there are no other options. – If you’re breaking up for logistical reasons (you’re moving, they’re getting a new job, etc.), make sure you’ve taken the time to explore all of the possible options. Is there a way you can make it work (if you truly want it to)? Are you just taking the easy way out or maybe missing an option that’s hiding in plain sight? We’re not saying that there is some way that you’ve missed, but at least take the time to explore. This will make you more confident in your decision and also help you handle any rebuttals or disagreements during the breakup itself.
  • Put extra effort into your after breakup plan. – Because breaks up with someone you love are a lot more impactful and may carry a higher risk to your emotions, it’s imperative that you put a lot more time and effort into your after breakup plan (what we discussed in the previous section on how to break up). The higher the emotional stakes, the more important it is to have a good safety net of a plan in place.

Here’s the bottom line. Breaking up with someone you love is a lot higher stakes than breaking up with someone you are still getting to know. Because of these higher stakes (for you and for them), put a bit more time into your preparation for the process and prepare for things to be a bit more intense.

Breaking Up With Someone You Live With

House at night

While the last section was about the most emotionally difficult breakup, now we’re going to talk about the most logistically difficult breakup—breaking up with someone you live with. If it’s someone you live with and someone you love, we do recommend reading the previous section first as this section is going to deal a lot more with the logistical side rather than with the emotional side of the breakup.

When you don’t live together and break up, you both have your own personal sanctuaries (home) you can retreat to in order to deal with the pain. When you live together, though, that becomes troublesome and can create issues if you’re not properly prepared.

Here are some tips we have for those of you looking to break up with someone you live with.

Step one of breaking up with someone you live with is fully understanding the legal and contractual aspects of your living situation. No, we’re not talking about the handshake and verbal agreements you have. We’re talking about who is on the lease, who is on the mortgage, etc.

We’re not having you do this to prepare to screw over your soon to be ex, but we’re doing it for two other reasons. Number one—it protects you in case things don’t go smoothly so you have a place to live. Number two—it helps you prepare better for situations where a joint discussion needs to happen.

Let’s look at a few of the potential living situations you may be in pre-breakup.

If it’s your place only…

If you’re the only one on the lease or the mortgage, this is the safest position to be in. At the end of the day, if everything hits the fan, you’re the one who legally has the right to stay put and doesn’t have to leave.

When this is the case, most situations will warrant the person you’re breaking up with moving out and finding somewhere else to live.

Do you have to kick them out immediately after the breakup? Usually no—unless it gets ugly. Here are some specific tips we have for these situations.

  • If they can find someone else to stay with while they sort out their next place to live, that’s the best. While it might feel like the right thing to do to let them stay, that’s never healthy if it can be avoided.
  • Once they’ve found somewhere, start making arrangements for them to collect all of their things. If you want, you can start boxing things up for them so they can come pick them up without having to spend a lot of time at your place.
  • If you’re worried about anything, have someone else there at the house or apartment when they come to collect their things. This will also help prevent any more unnecessary awkward conversations or temptations that you might have to do something that won’t do you any good.
  • While you can help them in finding somewhere new to live if you want to, it’s ultimately their responsibility now to figure that out. You don’t have to be mean, but don’t let them use you as a crutch or take advantage of your kindness (possibly in hopes of trying to rekindle the relationship).
  • Do not ever get destructive with their stuff or just toss it out on the curb. While we aren’t lawyers and have no desire to be, we do know that you can get in hot water if you start damaging their things or putting them out where they can get stolen or damaged (IE the curb or the front yard).

If it’s their place only…

When it’s their place and you break up, you should already have a plan in place of where you’re going to go post breakup. Do not expect them to be hospitable and let you stay as long as you need to find a new place. While we’d hope they extend some courtesies to let you get your things and such, you should never plan on this.

Here are some great tips for those of you about to break up with someone you live with and you’re not on the lease or the mortgage.

  • Be as proactive as possible before the breakup happens. Try not to do things that might encourage the conversation to happen earlier than you’d like, but get as much done as you can. Things like getting most of your stuff rounded up or at least knowing where it is, setting up a place to stay short term and long term after the breakup, and putting any other protections in place you need to for your things are all smart moves.
  • Don’t expect them to do much to help you. Are we repeating ourselves? Yes, we are. This point is that important. While they might have been the sweetest bf or gf while you’re in the relationship, people are prone to change when they get dumped.
  • Weigh the logistics into your planning process of when and where to break up. For example, if you have the conversation at your house but you don’t have a vehicle lined up to tote your stuff away, that’s a misstep.

If it’s a joint space…

If you’re looking to break up with someone you live with and you are both jointly on the lease or the mortgage, this is the most intricate and delicate of situations. Hooray, right?

The reason this can be the most intricate of situations is that just because your emotional commitments are coming to an end because of the breakup does not excuse you from your contractual commitments.

Here are the most important tips you need to know to try and make this break up go as nicely and smoothly as possible.

  • It’s going to require a conversation. – Plain and simple, you’re going to have to talk about this with your soon to be ex. There’s no way you can come up with a solution without including them in the process or at least getting their approval. Be okay with this.
  • It’s not going to get solved in one day. – When there are contracts involved (leases, mortgages, etc.), you aren’t going to be able to solve all of that in one day. Expect there to be multiple conversations and the need for mutual cooperation for at least a few weeks or even months to get everything square away. Again, be ready for this.
  • Don’t let them use the contract as leverage. – Sometimes when people don’t want to break up, they’ll do anything and everything to try and keep you around. One thing we’ve seen people do is drag their feet on paperwork and compliance when it comes to separating legal agreements because they think that somehow that might entice you to stick around. Don’t let them do this. Set deadlines. Follow up. Do your part. And if they keep dragging their feet on things, exercise the options you have to put the necessary and fair pressure on them.
  • Come with some ideas of options. – While you can’t make the decision of what is going to happen before the breakup, you can take the time to brainstorm out some fair options. Remember that you’re not looking for what’s best for you, but you’re looking for what is most fair to both of you. Additionally, having multiple options in place is a great way to show that while you’re not going to be together anymore, you still care. It can also help to streamline the speed of the process, which is a win for everyone.

Breaking Up With Someone You Just Started Dating

people drinking coffee on a first date

When you want to break up with someone you just started dating, it’s tempting to overthink the process. And honestly, that temptation to overthink the process usually means you’re just a really nice person, which is not a bad thing.

That all being said, when it comes to breaking up with someone you just started dating, it should be a pretty straightforward process.

Here are our tips and thoughts for those of you looking to cut ties early in a new relationship.

  • Good on you. – Seriously, good on you for being able to figure out quickly what it is that you want and don’t want and having the resolve to act on it early. Too often, people know right away that a relationship isn’t going to work out but they drag it on for weeks, months, and sometimes years! That’s not fair to anyone (including yourself). So, kudos on you for choosing to react and act on your feelings fast.
  • Don’t let them guilt you into a long explanation. – Should you share with them why you’re breaking up with them? Absolutely. Should you give them enough information so they can have some closure? Absolutely. However, if they continually want you to keep explaining why and they want to argue with you, that’s not okay. We’re not talking about a 10 year relationship or a marriage here. You went out a few times, it didn’t work out, and that’s okay. Dating is about finding the person you’re compatible with, which means part of that process is finding a few people you’re not compatible with along the way.
  • Don’t let them get mad if you get right back out there. – If you’re breaking up with someone you just started dating and you’re not emotionally upset about it/ready to move on—then move on! Live your best life. Sure, you can try and be a little discreet to protect their feelings if they’re upset, but at the end of the day, you do need to do what makes you happy. Just don’t go rubbing it in their face and keep it discreet where possible.

Breaking Up With Your Fiancé

Black and white picture of couples hands who are engaged

If you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not going to work with your fiancé and it’s time to break up, take a seat. You probably already understand that you’re about to embark on a whirlwind adventure that is not going to be that fun.

Does that mean you should avoid it and just go through with the wedding? 10,000% no, no way. While this isn’t an easy road, it gets way messier and way harder after you tie the knot.

Being honest about your feelings now, regardless of how close you are to the wedding (or even if it’s today), is 100% the correct move.

So, what additional considerations do you need to take into account when you’re breaking up with your fiancé? Here are some things to consider.

  • It doesn’t matter how close to the wedding you are. – Yes, we are repeating ourselves again, but for good reason. There is never a situation where it’s too close to the wedding or you’re too far into the process to make breaking up the wrong move. It doesn’t matter if it will hurt the feelings of family or friends, if you’ve made significant deposits, or you’re worried about the backlash. You cannot marry someone you don’t want to marry.
  • Don’t delay longer than you have to. – Should you take extra time to make sure you’re sure when you’re looking at breaking up with your fiancé? Absolutely. But the second you know that is the right course of action, it’s time to have the conversation. Still follow our tips from earlier about where and when to break up with them, but expedite that process.
  • Worry about the logistics later. – In earlier sections, we talked about coming up with plans for the logistics when you’re breaking up with someone. When breaking up with your fiancé, though, we recommend having the conversation first and figuring out how the pieces are going to fall later. Why? It’s because you’ve already made a serious commitment to this person and you need to give them respect of as much heads up as to your new feelings as possible.
  • Expect some steep backlash. – While your family and friends may rally behind you, expect theirs to think you’re the worst person on planet Earth. They may say some pretty hurtful things and do as much as possible to make your life difficult. While it may be tempting to get mad at them for this, you have to understand they’re operating from a place of limited information. They may not be privy to all of the reasons the relationship isn’t working out.
  • Keep your private information private. – We just talked about how their family and even your family and friends won’t have all of the information about what is going on and why. Is it their business? Not really. We recommend coming up with a response you can repeat that tells a little of why things are happening but keeps private business private. They may make you feel like you’re required to tell them why, but honestly, it’s your life and you don’t have to do that at all.
  • It should not surprise your fiancé. – Much like we said when we talked about breaking up with someone you love, your fiancé should not be caught off-guard that you’re breaking up with them. It should be quite clear to them that there are problems that you’ve discussed. If it’s not, it might be time to have a serious conversation first before making a final determination about the direction of the relationship. The only caveat to this is that telling them before the wedding actually happens will always supersede waiting until after a serious conversation.

If you’re looking to break up with your fiancé and want some more tips, we recommend reading the sections on breaking up with someone you love and breaking up with someone you live with (as they are applicable). There is some crossover of information but also a few unique tips and pointers in there that may be helpful to your situation.

Breaking Up With Your Boyfriend

Sad man in a silhouette

Spoiler alert—this section is written with a heavy reliance on some gender stereotypes about how the majority of men react when they’re broken up with. Additionally, it’s written heavily from a heterosexual point of view, but still should be applicable in a lot of other types of relationship arrangements. If you don’t feel like you and your boyfriend fit within these guidelines, feel free to skip on to the next section. We’re doing our best to serve information to the largest number of people to offer the most help.

When it comes to breaking up with your boyfriend, there are a few things that you can do to make things easier and a few things you should be prepared for. Here are some of those thoughts:

He may appear to move on faster than you expect.

While there are a lot of studies out there that point to the fact that men may be more emotionally affected by breakups than many women, that points more to how they’re feeling on the inside. How they act and what they do may be wildly different.

Be prepared for your new ex-boyfriend to immediately get back out there on the dating market, join dating sites right away, and even go as far as to start spitting game to your friends. Does this mean he’s instantly over you? Most likely not.

However, men have a tendency to try and…how do we put this nicely…”bang out their feelings?”

Men tend to try and look for comfort and solace after a breakup through physical means.

Again, this does not mean that he’s over you, but it’s something you should expect to potentially encounter.

He may ask a lot of questions about whether or not it’s someone else.

Men have a tendency to be jealous creatures, especially when it comes to women. Often, the first place a man’s mind goes after getting dumped is whether or not he’s losing out to another man. If that’s not the case, reassure him, but don’t let him badger you for facts that don’t exist.

If it is the case, it’s up to you how much information you want to share. On one hand, the fairest thing to do would be to be honest and let him know what’s going on. It may upset him more, but it will really help with his processing and getting over things.

On the other hand, you’re about to be broken up and there could be some situations where it’s better not said. For example, if you’re worried that he might get violent or do something to hurt the other guy, it might be best to keep that information private. This is heavily going to be decided on a case by case basis.

He may want one last physical encounter before you part.

While we’re never here to tell you what to do, we can make a strong recommendation. If your soon to be ex-boyfriend wants to have sexual relations “one last time” before you officially break up, don’t do it. Even if it’s something that you feel like you want, it’s going to do nothing but impart longer-term pain for a short, small piece of gratification.

Be the bigger person here and protect both of your feelings.

Breaking Up With Your Girlfriend

Women who is sad outside by some plants

As we mentioned in the last section, this bit of advice is written from a strongly heterosexual point of view and relies heavily on female stereotypes. It’s impossible for us to give advice for every unique situation, so we’re doing our best to deliver help and guidance to the largest number of people. If you don’t feel like your gf or your relationship falls into those guidelines, check out some of the other sections we have in this guide that are a bit more generic.

With that said, let’s talk about some of the things to be aware of, tips for success, and what to expect when you’re breaking up with your girlfriend.

How long you’ve been together matters.

If you’ve been dating your girlfriend for just a few weeks, things should go fairly smoothly (as smooth as they can). If you’ve been dating for a long time, though, expect there to be a lot more involved in the process. We’ll touch on some of those things that are “more involved” in the coming sections.

Try your best not to blindside her.

We are not going to say that women are more emotional than men or anything like that, but some women do tend to invest more heavily in relationships than their male counterparts. And when this happens, it means that they’re more vulnerable to harsher emotional effects from a breakup.

Knowing this, it would be the right thing to do to try your best to protect their feelings as much as possible. If you are starting to feel like things aren’t working, consider having a conversation about it before you make a final decision on breaking up. It’s not necessary, but this at least lets them know there may be something not right. If your girlfriend thinks everything is amazing and then she gets dumped out of the blue, it could have a lot more profound and negative effect on her.

Be discreet if you’re already over things.

Generally, the person doing the breaking up is a lot further along in the healing process than the person getting dumped. And when it comes to men, whether true or not, we like to tell ourselves that we’re over things.

If that’s the case and you start getting out there to meet other women, at least try and be discreet about it. Stay away from her friends romantically (at least for a while but maybe forever), don’t parade new women around in front of her, and be cognizant of your social media presence. Yes, she will probably be looking at your posts and pictures; don’t do something you think will hurt her feelings.

Be honest.

This is a tip that we could have also put on the breaking up with your boyfriend tip sheet (so don’t think it’s here for any reason in particular), but it’s imperative that you’re honest throughout the breakup process.

Lying accomplishes nothing. Even if you messed up and that’s the reason for the breakup, tell the truth. If you’re leaving her for a reason you know she’s going to hate, tell her anyways. Yes, it will make that breakup conversation a lot more intense, but you’ll sleep better at night knowing it’s all out there.

Breaking Up With Someone You’re Not Dating

This might sound like a silly question—how do you go about breaking up with someone you’re not dating? Well, in fact, the question is a lot more common than you might think and also arguably a lot less silly than you might think.

Often in relationships or at the beginning stages of a potential relationship, two people can have disconnected ideas about where things are. One person might think that they’re in a committed relationship, while the other person might think they’re just getting to know each other.

If this has happened (or something similar) and you need to break up with someone you’re not dating, here’s how you do it.

There is no room for ambiguity—period.

Clearly, the reason you’re having to break up with someone you’re not dating is because they got confused about the status of your relationship (or lack thereof). What this means is that when you share the news with them, you need to be extra certain you’re not confusing them further or leaving room for misconceptions.

Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t sugarcoat anything. Don’t use phrases or words that might be open to interpretation.

You don’t have to call it a breakup.

If you call what is happening a breakup, you’re going to send the signal that there was a committed relationship in the first place. This has the possibility of confusing the other person even more.

Instead of breaking up, you’re merely clarifying the status of the relationship.  

Here’s roughly what you should say to them. “I know we’ve been spending some time getting to know each other lately, but we’re not going to work out romantically. We’re better off as just friends and nothing more.”

It’s direct. It’s clear. There’s no room for ambiguity. And it’s done in a tasteful way that protects their feelings.

Breaking Up With Someone Nicely

Speaking of protecting feelings, a lot of people are worried about how they’re going to come off when they break up with someone. More specifically, people want to know how to break up with someone nicely or in a polite manner.

Here are some tips and thoughts for people looking to dump someone with some class and tact.

Realize breaking up isn’t a bad thing.

Most people who ask how to break up with someone politely or nicely are doing that because they’re good people who don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Kudos to you for being one of the good ones. However, sometimes when you’re worried so much about someone else’s feelings, you aren’t able to see that what you’re doing really is not a bad thing.

Staying with someone you don’t want to be with is a bad thing. Breaking up with someone you aren’t compatible with is a good thing. It frees both of you up to find the person you’re most compatible with. If you can understand that breaking up may cause pain and may make people cry but is still a positive step forward for both of you, it can ease a lot of the worry about how you’re going about it.

Being direct and forward is actually better for them.

The biggest mistake you can make when trying to break up with someone nicely is to sugarcoat what you say or beat around the bush.

For their sake, don’t do this. Be direct. Get it out there clearly so they don’t have to try and decode your messaging and figure out what you’re really trying to say.

This may seem like it’s harsher, but it’s not. Think of it like ripping off a band-aid versus slowly peeling one off. You don’t have to be mean about it, but be direct and say what needs to be said.

Don’t insult them.

There are a lot of breakups where the person getting dumped did something wrong. And while we’re about to tell you to be honest when you break up (and you should be), you don’t have to be mean. For example, if they have a terrible personality that you’re not a fan of, you can say that nicely. Maybe you tell them your personalities don’t match instead of telling them they have a terrible personality.

Small changes in word choices (especially the adjectives and descriptive words) will go a long way.

Give them the benefit of an honest explanation .

As mentioned, you need to be honest with why you’re breaking up with them—even if that’s going to hurt. Don’t leave them wondering why you broke up or in a place where they find out later the real reason. Suck it up, be courageous, and tell them the honest reason you’re ending the relationship.

Respect them with the appropriate time and place.

Make sure you break up with them in a place that is private and at a time that makes the most sense. Yes, there is no perfect time or place, but if you want to truly break up with them in a nice manner, put some effort into finding the most fitting time and place to share the news.

Don’t sit on your decision for an extended period of time.

Earlier, we talked a lot about choosing the right time and place and sooner always being better. The longer you wait to break up when you know it’s what’s going to happen, the further you get away from being nice and respectful.

Remember, time in life is a limited quantity, and the longer you keep them thinking things are great, the more time you take away from them getting over you and finding someone who is a better fit.

How to Know When It’s Time to Break Up

Collection of clocks in black and white

For some of you, you came to this guide on how to break up with someone already knowing 100% that it was time to end your current relationship. For others of you, though, you might not be sure if it’s time to end your relationship.

In this section, we want to do our best to try and help you navigate the confusion and decide whether or not you should be trying to fix things or it’s time to cut your losses and move on.

We’re going to share a lot of questions you can ask yourself to come to the conclusion on what’s best for you. While we can’t tell you definitively what the right thing to do is (except in a few situations), we can do our best to guide you to making the right decision.

Situations Where You 100% Should Break Up

If your significant other is abusive in any way, shape, or form or you feel like you’re in an unsafe situation in the relationship, you should 100% break up and seek any help or support that you need. Period. There’s never a reason to try and make it work with someone who is not treating you with the respect, dignity, and safety that you deserve.

Have You Given the Relationship a Fair Shake?

If you’ve only been together for a little while and you’re thinking about ending things, ask yourself if you’ve given the relationship enough time? Have you spent enough time together to truly know if you’re compatible or not? Maybe they’re still getting comfortable with you? Maybe they’re still nervous around you? The only way to find out for sure is through time.

If you’ve been together for a while or a long time and there are problems, have you put in the work to try and fix things? Have you shared these problems with your significant other? Have you given them a chance to address or correct the issues that you’re having? If you haven’t, how can you ever know if things are going to work out or not?

If you have done everything and it still feels wrong, though, it’s probably time to break up.

Are You Just Suffering from a Grass is Greener Complex?

When you’re in a relationship, your temptations to the rest of the world don’t just go away. Other people may still be interested in you. You’ll still find other people attractive. You may find moments where you’re thinking about jumping ship for someone else on the other side?

Is this always wrong? No. Yes, if you’re just having short-lived temptations, you shouldn’t just break up. However, if you’re looking elsewhere because you’re not happy with your current situation, it may be time to break up.

Take the time to ask yourself whether or not this is just natural temptation that will pass, or if there are serious problems with your current relationship that are manifesting themselves in this way. If it’s the first, it’s probably not time to break up. If it’s the latter, it might be time to either have a serious conversation or head for the hills.

Reasons Not to Break Up

Now that you’ve explored a bit about whether or not it’s time to break up, we want to share a few scenarios where it’s not the right time to break up.

Here are 5 reasons not to break up with your significant other.

  1. You still have hope. ­- If you feel like there’s still hope and a chance that you’ll be able to correct the problems you’re having, don’t call it quits just yet.
  2. You haven’t exhausted all of your options. – When there are problems in a relationship, you may be tempted just to run and break up. However, the adult and proper thing to do is to try and fix those issues. If you haven’t talked with your bf or gf about the problems and tried every option available to fix them, it’s probably not time to break up.
  3. You’re only breaking up because your friends or family told you to. – Should you seek advice on your relationship from people close to you? Yes! However, you are the ultimate decision maker when it comes to what to do. If the only reason you’re going to break up is because they told you to, don’t do it. It’s your life, not theirs.
  4. It’s only because things are getting challenging. – Relationships are hard. And often, things can happen that make them harder (like people moving away or getting new jobs or issues with family, etc.). When that happens, don’t let a tough situation get in the way of a happy relationship. Yes, you may have to work a bit harder, but breaking up should be the last resort option on your list.
  5. You decided on your own it’s what’s best for your significant other. – Sometimes people think that the best thing they can do for someone else is break up with them. Maybe you have issues in your life you have to work through? Maybe they’re foregoing an important thing in their life to stay with you? While it’s noble to want to do this, it’s not your decision only. Talk with them about it and if you decide together to break up, okay. But you don’t get the right to make decisions for someone else or to pretend you know what’s best for them.

Reasons Breaking Up is Hard to Do

If we know one thing about break ups it’s this—they are not easy. But why? And why does it matter? Well, by understanding the reasons breaking up is hard to do, we can better equip ourselves to handle the tall task with a little more confidence.

Let’s take a look at several reasons why breaking up is so hard to do.

We Don’t Do It Often

One of the best ways to get good at something is to practice it. Unfortunately (or fortunately), break ups aren’t something that a lot of us get a lot of practice at. Not only that, but every breakup is wildly different from the next, so the things you learn from one often won’t carry over to help you much with the next. This lack of familiarity with the process can make things pretty hard.

Pro Tip: We don’t want you to go out and get a lot of experience breaking up with people, but what you can do is ask friends who have been through breakups before for their advice.

Feelings Will Be Hurt

Whether it’s yours or theirs (or both), feelings get hurt during a breakup. And knowing that you’re going to be the one that is going to be initiating those hurt feelings is not a great feeling.

Pro Tip: Take solace and relief in the fact that breaking up with someone is actually a good thing. Yes, it will hurt their feelings, but it helps both of you get one step closer to finding the right person.

It Involves Awkward Conversations

Breakup conversations are awkward, and awkward conversations are no fun. When two people are vulnerably talking about their feelings and one of those two people is probably caught off guard, it can be hard to navigate the conversation.

Pro Tip: Be patient with each other. Don’t yell. Understand that the conversation is going to be a bit awkward but that is completely natural and part of the process.

It’s an Unknown Situation

Anything that you can’t 100% predict how it’s going to happen can be scary and therefor hard. For example, haunted houses are scary and hard for some people to go into because they have no idea what’s around the next corner. With breakups, you don’t really know how the other person is going to react when you share the news with them.

Pro Tip: Do your best to be ready for the most common reactions with some pre-planning like we discussed in this guide. And if someone you didn’t expect happens, take a breath, and do your best to handle it appropriately.

How to Get Over a Breakup

Woman who is happy outside by the water

The last thing we want to talk about today is arguably the most important part of the breaking up process. We’re talking about how to get over a breakup. Here are 11 amazing tips to help you get over a breakup the right way and as quickly as possible.

1. Time is often the only thing that seems to help.

If you try and rush the process of getting over a breakup, it’s only going to cause problems. Additionally, feeling down because it’s taking you a while to get over someone is also not healthy. Understand that it’s going to take time to get over things, as long as you’re spending that time wisely. We’ll share in the next few tips a few ways to make sure you’re shortening the timeframe as much as possible.

2. Avoid relapses of any kind.

The biggest thing that can se you back when you’re trying to get over a breakup is a relapse. What do we mean by a relapse? We mean seeing your ex, calling your ex, stalking their social media, thinking about them too much, hooking up with your ex, etc. Anything that is counterproductive to you getting over them is going to set you back and basically erase all of the time you’ve already banked in the process.

3. Understand that it’s okay and natural to feel hurt and pain.

Some people like to block away the hurt and the pain they’re feeling during a breakup because it makes you at least temporarily feel like you’re doing better. However, you’re never going to truly get over a breakup unless you let yourself realize that feeling this way is natural and okay.

4. Take the time to deal with that hurt and pain.

Realizing that you’re going to feel some hurt and pain is only part of the puzzle. Once you’re there, you have to give yourself the time to deal with these feelings head on. This might include talking about it with a friend, journaling, speaking with a professional, or anything that let’s you address and move on from the feelings. Burying them deep inside is never a good way to get over a breakup.

5. Don’t dwell on things longer than you need to.

Once you’ve dealt with the issues and talked them out thoroughly with someone, it’s time to let your mind move on. There’s a temptation to dwell on things for longer than is healthy, and that’s where your progress can get bogged down.

Once you’ve successfully dealt with things, push your mind to stop thinking about them. You’ll probably have to catch and correct yourself quite a few times, but that’s okay. With time, it will get easier and the slipups will get fewer. If you need to, get an accountability partner to help track your progress. And staying busy in this stage of the breakup healing process is highly effective (only after you’ve dealt with things first, though).

6. Get back out there when you’re ready.

When you’re ready, get back out there! Take things slow. Don’t rush back onto the scene. There are going to be people out there for you to meet whether it takes you a few weeks, months, or even years to get over things. Rushing this part of the process is not going to help you move past things any faster. It will just complicate the situation.

But on that same token, waiting too long and not getting back out there when the time is right isn’t going to be effective either.

7. It’s okay to make some adjustments to avoid seeing them.

Some time apart or permanent time apart from your new ex may be what’s best for your situation. There’s nothing wrong with making some small adjustments to your routine, life, or schedule to avoid seeing them. Eventually you should feel comfortable doing what you want and when you want, but some adjustments in the short term are completely fine (and advised).

8. Get rid of things that remind you of them (temporarily or permanently).

Seeing things that remind you of your ex doesn’t somehow make you stronger. It’s just going to set back your progress of getting over the breakup. If you need to, get rid of or hide the things that remind you of them. This can be a short-term and temporary move or it may need to be something permanent. Do what you need to do to make yourself happy.

9. Rely on your support system.

A breakup is the time that you should rely on friends and family to get through things. Don’t monopolize their time as everyone has important things going on, but lean on them as needed.

10. Set goals to better yourself.

The worst thing you can do to get over a breakup is to sit and sulk. Instead of doing things like eating your feelings, focus your time and energy on bettering yourself! Get to the gym more. Eat healthier. Learn a new skill. Take a trip you’ve always wanted to. By focusing on you, you’ll find that you get over the breakup much faster and you’ll be in a much better place after the fact.

11. Know that you will be okay.

In the end, you will be okay. If you follow these tips on how to get over a breakup fast and the right way, you’ll set yourself up for success. Eventually, the days will be brighter and you will feel better. It might take a while, but if you’re diligent, you’ll get there sooner than later!


Written By: Jason Lee

Jason Lee is a data analyst with a passion for studying online dating, relationships, personal growth, healthcare, and finance. In 2008, Jason earned a Bachelors of Science from the University of Florida, where he studied business and finance and taught interpersonal communication.

His work has been featured in the likes of The USA Today, MSN, NBC, FOX, The Motley Fool, Net Health, and The Simple Dollar. As a business owner, relationship strategist, dating coach, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base with the rest of the world.