How to break up with someone

As the classic saying goes, breaking up is never easy. For either of you. It can lead to a lot of ice cream and tears. And that’s true even if it’s done in the best way possible. So if you’ve decided it’s definitely over, here’s our guide for how to break up with someone.

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How to break up with someone 

You’ve made up your mind: the romantic relationship is over. Now you’ve got to figure out how to break up with someone. We won’t lie, It’s not going to be pleasant. However, you can try to make sure the break up goes as smoothly as possible with these break up tips:

Tell them in person: Unless they’re abusive, breaking up face to face is the decent thing to do, no matter how tempting it may be to hide behind a phone call or a text message.

Pick a good time: Probably best to avoid breaking up on their birthday, or right before an important exam.

Keep it simple: Plan what you’re going to say and practise it beforehand. Get to the point quickly; it’s better for everyone if the breakup conversations are done with as quickly as possible – it should be like pulling off a plaster.

Don’t backtrack: You’ve made your decision. Giving them false hope and / or leading them on won’t help anyone in the long run.

Be honest: Don’t make up fake reasons for ending it. That doesn’t help either, especially if they find out.

But not too honest: Being dumped hurts. No need to rub salt in the wound by listing all the reasons why you stopped fancying them. Also, if you find yourself falling for someone else – best not to mention it for a while.

Let it sink in: Don’t immediately demand all your stuff back, or ask if you can stay friends. Give them time to process what’s happened. Space will be good for both of you.

Accept that they’re hurting: However gently you’ve handled things, they may well see you as the baddie. It’s not your job to make that better. Let bygones be bygones and move on.

After the break up

So you’ve googled ‘How to break up with a girl’,‘How to break up with your boyfriend’ or ‘How to break up with your partner’ (not that they’re that much different) and done the break up. Now it’s time to take care of you. 

You may need some moral support, so arrange to see or call some friends and family after breaking the news, just anyone you have healthy relationships with. You can always cancel if you end up not feeling like you can talk just yet.

Some people just feel relieved, but others have quite the mixed bag of feelings. “Expect it to hurt even though it’s your decision,” says Paula Hall, a young people’s counsellor for Relate. “You’re probably going to miss them. You’re making the decision about whether it’s right to end it, not whether you love them, so give yourself some credit and allow yourself to hurt a bit.”

The other person may expect you to deal with their feelings, too. “Some people get very angry, bitter or upset at being dumped and react very badly,” says Paula. “You have to be prepared for that.”

Try to be understanding. Unless they’re trying to use hurt feelings as an excuse for abusive behaviour. If you want to find out about warning signs of an abusive relationship, click here.

When you’re the one being dumped

Your partner says it’s over, but you don’t want to split up. “It’s tough, I’m afraid,” says Paula. “It takes two people to make a relationship work, but only one person to break it up.”

You could ask if they’re sure. Have they definitely had enough of the whole relationship, or is there one clear problem that needs fixing? But if their mind’s made up, you’ll need to accept their decision – however broken-hearted you feel. “If they’ve decided it’s not going to work, then it’s not going to work,” Paula says.

For some tips on how to get over a breakup, see this article.

The practical side of breaking up with someone

As well as those pesky emotions, you’ll have some practical issues to deal with:

If you live together: You’re both responsible for any shared finances, such as tenancy agreements, council tax and utility bills. Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and Shelter can help if you need advice about your rights. Not only is the aftermath complicated but the whole ‘how to break up with someone you live with’ saga is no walk in the park either. You might even end up having to lodge with a family member for a while.

Dividing up shared belongings: If there’s stuff that belongs to both of you, you probably won’t get to keep everything you want. Work out what’s really important, and be willing to let some other things go.

Wanting to destroy mementos: You might feel like erasing all evidence you were together – deleting photos of the two of you, or selling that pricey gift on eBay. But you might end up regretting it, especially if you’re left without photos of significant events in your life.

Handling mutual friends: Accept that it’s going to be a bit strange for a while” says Paula. “It tends to sort itself out little by little. In the mean time, don’t make people feel like they have to take sides – do what you can to avoid drama.”

Can you stay friends after breaking up?

Staying friends is a nice idea in theory, but it’s not always possible – especially if one person’s still holding out hope for a reunion, or the idea is just too painful. If you choose to do so, defo let some time pass before you reach out – at least then some healing can happen.

Next Steps

By Anne Wollenberg

Updated on 26-Nov-2021