All breakups exist on scale of hard to gut-wrenching. There’s no way to magically help you get over them, but expressing yourself in a breakup letter can make things easier. Letters give you time to sit and compose your words calmly and thoughtfully in the way an emotional conversation might not allow. They also allow your ex to understand what happened from your point of view. When they receive the letter they can’t rebut what you’re saying, they can only accept and reflect on your words. A breakup letter isn’t in place of a face-to-face conversation, but it’s a good follow-up, a parting note for someone you once cared about.
If you’re having trouble figuring out how to start your breakup letter, here are some examples of different kinds of breakups for you to draw inspiration from.
1. The “People Change” Breakup
Most breakups happen when two people drift apart. Start by acknowledging how great things were once, then let your ex now how you felt at the end. It’s important to show how things fell apart, so your partner is clear. Remember, this letter isn’t about blaming them, just showing what happened. Leave any anger out of it.
There was a point in my life where I was sure we were the same person. I couldn’t get enough of you. You challenged me but always listened to the answer. You asked me for more than I could give, and I was the better for it. I still think about that night we stayed up all night on the beach and you told me you knew I was special even though we’d just met. Even today, I’m sure you meant it.
But it’s not like that anymore. We don’t see each other as special. We’re each other’s after work obligations. A friend that you promised to see but hoped would cancel. There’s no joy in it, but that’s not a relationship I want to be in. I’m not mad, but I’m not happy either. I’ll always look back on our relationship as something beautiful in my heart, but we didn’t do the work to keep it that way. I’m not blaming anyone. That’s just how it is, and that’s why it’s over.
2. The Disrespectful Breakup
This type of letter is for breakups that were particularly nasty, usually involving lies or cheating. The point isn’t to take unnecessary digs—it’s about holding your ex accountable for betraying your trust. Write this letter for yourself without regard for your ex. This is about acknowledging your hurt to move past it.
Obviously, you know it’s over, but that’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing because there was a lot of yelling the last time we talked, and I didn’t say what I needed to. At least, I didn’t say it in the way I needed to. I loved you, and you hurt me. You betrayed my trust, and I feel like I’m going to be messed up forever by this. Do you know how that feels?
I loved you, and I know you loved me, or at least felt something close to it. If you walked out, it would’ve sucked, but I could’ve handled it. But instead you chose to lie. For how long? I don’t even know at this point.
The person I thought I knew would’ve treated me with more respect. I don’t care if you read this, but I hope for the sake of whoever you end up with that you do.
3. The “Follow Your Dreams” Breakup
This type of letter is for situations where somebody has to move for school or work to follow their passion. Sometimes, other things take precedence over a relationship, even a relationship with someone you love deeply. Acknowledge your love for your ex. Remind them it’s not their fault that it happened this way. This is one of those times to use the cliché it’s not you, it’s me and actually mean it.
It sounds cliché, I know, but this isn’t about you. It’s about me. I have to take the job, because it’s what I’ve been working towards for the last five years. You know that. You were with me for a lot of it. And it’s not your path to come along. You can’t just leave everything you have behind to follow me. I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to give you what you need if you do.
Someone once told me 90% of love is timing, and that feels right, right about now. I’m sorry that this is the way things happened, and I’m not just saying that. I loved you, and you’ll always have a special place in my heart. Please don’t be mad at me.
4. The One-Sided Breakup
Sometimes, you know that it’s never going to work out. You gave it a shot for long enough, and it isn’t happening. This style of breakup letter requires that you be cold, not mean, but cold. You can’t leave any room for ambiguity here. The breakup is coming from you, so you don’t want to give them hope that they can win you back. Let them know how you feel in no uncertain terms and allow them to ask questions, but after that remind them it’s over for good.
I don’t know how else to put it, but I’m just not feeling what we have anymore. I thought it was what I wanted, but it’s not. You’re not a bad person. You’re smart, kind, and attractive, but that element X—the spark, the passion, the zing, whatever you want to call it—is missing.
I’m sorry if it came as a surprise. If you look at both of us on paper, us as a couple makes sense, but you and I both know that’s not how love works. I can’t do this anymore. I need to move on, and you do, too. If you have any other questions, ask away, but after that we can’t talk.
5. The “Let’s Be Friends” Breakup
This style of letter is for breakups that were mutual when the passion fizzled, and you’re looking to just be friends. There’s no anger here. The biggest hurdle with writing these letters is making sure that you emphasize that you’re willing to put in the work to be friends. Don’t be mistaken, it is work. It can get awkward sometimes, so it’s important to acknowledge that and move on, full steam ahead.
I think you saw this one coming. Well, I know you did. We talked about it a ton. Funny how it works out that way sometimes. I want you to know that I did love you, but this feels right. Thanks for everything. I really mean it and I’m excited for what’s next.
Before I sign off, I just want to say, let’s not make it weird. I meant it when I said I want to be friends… I actually want to make it work. I know everyone says they will, but then it just fizzles and everyone involved feels weird about it. We have it too good to let that happen. Anyway, chat soon.
Breakup letters are a way for you to get closure when you weren’t allowed to express yourself in person. When emotions run high, it’s sometimes hard to get out what you need to say. Figure out which type of situation you’re in and write the appropriate letter. Good luck.