How to Break Up with Someone in a Nice Way

A woman sitting on a balcony wondering how to break up with someone in a nice way.

Breaking up is hard to do. And some people may disagree with this opinion, but I’m just going to say it—sometimes, breaking up with somebody is harder than being broken up with. Being dumped is the pits, but doing the dumping has its own unique set of challenges. Primarily, that you don’t want to hurt your partner’s feelings. So how do you break up with someone in a nice way?

It’s tough, but it can be done. At times, it might seem like there’s no good way to break up with someone. When should you do it? Where should you do it? What should you say? But there are ways to approach it that are kinder than others. Think about it—if you were being dumped, how would you want your partner to deliver the news? Honestly, directly, and compassionately. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to break up with someone in a nice way.

Break up face to face.
Ten years ago, the thought of being broken up with over the phone was horrifying. Now, thanks to the ever-increasing role that technology plays in our lives, it’s not uncommon to be broken up with over text or email. But if you want to break up with someone in a nice way, you owe it to them to do it in person. Will it require some courage on your part? Yes. Will it be more awkward than the alternative? Probably. But it’s the decent thing to do, and it will (hopefully) help them close the book on your time together with less unresolved feelings.

Choose a neutral location.
A big part of the breakup is deciding where to do it. The obvious choice might seem like someone’s home or apartment, because it’s a private place where you can get emotional without worrying about onlookers. But believe it or not, breaking up in public is sometimes better than breaking up in private. A neutral location is good and doesn’t trap anyone if things get to be too much. It forces both parties to stay calm, cool, and collected. Plus, it negates the opportunity for breakup sex, which can cause your split more harm than good. Of course, some serious breakup conversations, like divorce, might be better had behind closed doors. Use your discretion for your unique circumstances.

Know what you’re going to say.
And stick to your guns. You don’t have to memorize a breakup speech, but you should be able to explain why your relationship isn’t working for you anymore and why you’re ending it. Choose your words carefully and be respectful by using “I” statements that describe you and your feelings, not theirs. Instead of saying, You always do X, try saying, I need someone who can offer me Y. Your partner will probably protest and might get defensive about their behavior. But as long as you stick to talking about how you feel, it won’t turn into an argument—which is what you’re trying to avoid.

Be firm and truthful without hurting their feelings.
There comes a point during every breakup when the dumpee asks: Do you think we’ll ever get back together? To alleviate hurt feelings in the moment, the dumper often replies: Maybe. If you’re breaking up with someone and they ask you those eight complicated words, it’s best not to lie to them. You don’t have to go full Taylor Swift and sing “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” in their face, but try not to get their hopes up if you know the answer is no.

Once it’s over, set boundaries.
After the breakup, your feelings probably won’t turn off automaticallyit’s only natural to still care about your ex. After all, the split is still fresh. You might think the nice thing to do is shoot them a text to see how they’re doing. Even though it’s a kind gesture in theory, it can actually have the opposite effect. It’s best to give your former partner some space. If you decide to stay friends, set some post-relationship ground rules so you don’t slip back into old behaviors. If you decide to part ways for good, keep yourself honest about keeping your distance.

Breakups happen. They’re never fun, but they don’t always have to be messy or hurtful. Follow these steps and hopefully your separation will be more respectful than regretful. Remember, think about how you’d want to be broken up with, and try to show the same level of courtesy to your partner. And when in doubt, take the high road.

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