How to Breakup: Ending a Relationship Amicably

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As the song says: “Breaking up is hard to do.” It’s even harder if you want to do it peacefully.

When a relationship runs it’s course, there’s no way of getting around there being hurt feelings, shocks and upsets for both partners, even if they know in their hearts that it’s the right thing to do. 

Although there probably isn’t a way to make your breakups pain-free, there are certainly a few things you can do to lessen the pain a little for everyone involved…

Be gentle

It’s obvious, but handling your breakup with the lightest possible touch is so important if you’re serious about minimizing the pain involved. So, before you go ahead and bite the bullet, take some time to think back over your relationship, not ignoring the negative stuff, but focusing as much as you can on the good times you shared together. This will likely put you in a kinder mood where you will be able to do the necessary with a lot more warmth. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to get bitter and start bringing up all the bad stuff now. You've already decided that it was over.

Do it quickly

Oftentimes people drag out their breakups for a number of reasons. They are sure they should part ways, but may be comfortable with their partner. They may live together and have other shared financial obligations, and so much more. But, in order to stop wasting each other's time and space, you should aim to end your relationship as soon as you know it isn’t working out. The sooner you do it, the quicker you can start the grieving and healing process.

Always do it in person

There has been a growing trend for people to break up with their partners digitally- text, Whatsapp and even Facebook. (To be honest, if you have a serious relationship with someone, even parting ways over the phone is disrespectful.) This is one of the worst things you could ever do to someone. It’s hurtful, cowardly and can leave your ex feeling more hurt and confused than they might otherwise feel. You’ve shared your life with them for however long, so the least you can do is tell them how you feel face to face.

Don’t lie

It can be tempting to lie about the reasons for the split, but chances are this will only hurt your ex more. It’s beneficial for you both to know the real reasons for your split so that you can both reflect on it and learn from your mistakes. Obviously, there’s no need to be brutally honest, and a small amount of sugar-coating may be fine, but don’t drop any outright lies, and be as clear as you can possibly be - don’t leave any room for ambiguity. That can only prolong the process.

Don’t pay the blame game

Ask a divorce lawyer and they’ll tell you that the most brutal cases they’ve worked have almost always involved spouses who love to play the blame game - people who never take responsibility for their own role in their breakups. This isn’t surprising because failing to take responsibility for your own life is immature. So, if you had a part to play at the end of your relationship, acknowledge it and move on - it will do you both good.


Listen to what your ex has to say without butting in or trying to argue the point. When they’re done saying what they need to say, just ask them if they have any questions and try to answer them honestly. When you’ve just been broken up with, you can feel like you’re on shaky ground, confused and upset. Often, you need closure and for closure to happen you need to feel listened and explained to. You can give your ex that.

Cut contact after it is done

It may not be the case with every relationship, but in the normal course of things, it’s far easier to have a good breakup if you cut off all forms of communication with your ex as soon as the deed is done. If you keep on texting and talking, one of you might get the wrong idea that there’s still a chance, or you may just end up prolonging the agony for a few more weeks.

Don’t do it in public

It’s really never a good idea to break up with someone in public. A lot of people are tempted to do just that because they hope it will stop their partner from making a scene and make it easier for them. But, imagine how humiliating it must be to be ditched in full view of a whole restaurant or park full of kids and you’ll soon see why it really isn’t a good idea. Choose a place that’s as private as you possibly can.

If you think your ex may react badly or event violently, then it may be permissible to find a slightly more public place to do the deed, but you should think carefully about your choice and maybe take a friend to wait nearby.

Don’t do it at home

If you don’t live with the person you’re breaking up with, make it easier on yourself by breaking up at a place that is not your own home. Why? Because that way, once it’s done you can get up and leave, take a walk, catch your breath before having to be in the presence of your now ex. If you do it at your home, you may struggle to get them to leave when they’re experiencing such tough emotions, and then there’s the fact that, if they aren’t expecting it, they may not be in a good place to drive once you’ve said the words.

Don’t try to comfort them

It can be tempting to try and comfort your ex once you’ve broken up with them, but this is, generally speaking, a really bad idea. They need to know immediately that it’s over and they need to start building a new support network. You can’t be a shoulder for them to lean on anymore and the sooner they come to realize this, the easier it will be for them to start to heal and move on.

Do not have sex

In the same vain as above, some people find that after such an emotional conversation they are back in the sack with their ex. Sometimes people don't know what to do with the emotions so they just try and find a release in this way and end up having breakup sex, but almost immediately regret it. It makes for a messier, less respectful breakup overall and that is exactly what you don’t want to happen. It may also give your ex false hope that things aren’t quite as over or that they can be worked out.

Don’t badmouth them

No matter how irritating they were or how much you think they've wronged you, don’t be tempted to start badmouthing your ex to anyone. That will just make you seem bitter, and if it gets back to your ex, it could set their own healing back significantly. Sure, if you really need to vent, choose one trusted person who you know can keep their mouth shut and talk thew relationship over with them, but don’t be unnecessarily mean and don’t spread it around your whole social network. The aim here is to be as healthy and adult about your relationship breakdown as possible and gossip is never mature or healthy.

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