Home » Mental Health » How to Break Up with Someone: 6 Helpful Steps

How to Break Up with Someone: 6 Helpful Steps

The end of a relationship can be difficult. Usually, people think of the person being broken up with as being most affected by the event. Entire movies are made about the emotional repercussions of being broken up with. However, a break up can also be challenging for the one initiating the break-up. It can be difficult to know when to break up and the right approach to take during the process of breaking up. If you want to approach a relationship break up with compassion, consider using the following tips.

Is it Time to Move On?

Not every relationship will last a lifetime. It is a sad and unfortunate fact. However, the resolution of a relationship is sometimes the best choice a person can make when one or both parties are unhappy. You may be thinking of ending your relationship if you are indeed unhappy, if it no longer seems emotionally rewarding, and if you generally lack the commitment to maintain the relationship. In these instances, you might be thinking about and ultimately decide that it is time to move on.

Preparing Yourself

Before you take the big step of ending a relationship, it is important to really think through the decision and prepare yourself mentally for the process. The biggest challenge may be making that decision. You may want the perspective and advice of others before you finalize your decision. You may also want to consult with people who know you and know your relationship, about the approach you should take.

Talking It Over with Friends and Family

As you attempt to make your decision for whether to break up, you will likely want to talk it over with friends and family. This will help you avoid making an impulsive decision. Share your thought processes and reasons with them and see what they think. They may be able to help you move towards a final decision and help you identify some ways to initiate the break-up.

Getting Perspective on Your Relationship

Getting perspective on your relationship can require some thought. Writing in a journal or putting your thoughts down on paper, with a pro and con list, can be helpful to increase your perspective and to mentally work through the decisions you are making.

Sometimes you may find that you want an outside perspective on your relationship from someone who does not necessarily know you and your partner. In these cases, it can be helpful to talk to a counselor or therapist. These professionals will not necessarily tell you what you should do. Instead, they will help you talk through your decision-making factors. Their goal for you will be for you to be able to make your own decision that will be best for you.

If you have an interest in seeing a counselor, you can research for one online. Many people even pursue counseling through online platforms. This will allow you to get the perspective you want from the comfort of your home with convenience and total confidentiality.

Getting Clear on What You Want

As you talk to people including friends, family, and perhaps even a professional counselor, you will get more perspective to help you make your decision and to help you decide how to initiate your break up. Ultimately though, it is up to you to decide what you will do and how you will go about it. After you get all those perspectives, do take some more time to think through things on your own and be sure you are doing what you want to do, not just what others say you should do. Once you feel very clear and certain about your decision, then you can proceed.

Breaking Up

Research has shown that when you initiate a break-up, there are many different strategies that can make it go better. Practically speaking, you should be certain to find a time when the two of you can really talk through the break-up. Generally, it is then helpful to approach your break up with a positive tone to reduce the other person’s negative reaction. You might do this by saying some positive statements about the time you spent together and your appreciation for them as a person.

Next, use these 7 tips for a compassionate break-up and to help the process go as well as it can:

  1. Say the Words, “I want to Break Up”

Sometimes, during a break-up, people attempt to make statements that seem nicer, believing that will be more compassionate. However, it often just leads to confusion and uncertainty from the other party. During a break-up, you need to be absolutely clear with the other person so that they are certain to understand that the relationship is ending.

Simultaneously, this does not mean that you need to be cruel or say things in a hurtful way. Instead, directly stating that you want to break up should be sufficient to make it clear.

  1. Be Honest and Open

During a break-up, it is important to be open and honest with the other person. Being honest and open then, will be important so that there is nothing left unsaid and nothing for the other person to keep wondering about. If you have ever been broken up with, then you may know that it can leave a lot of questions, especially wanting to know ‘why’ it happened.

As you initiate the break-up and discuss through it, be honest about your thoughts and emotions. As the other person asks questions, be open as you answer them. Putting everything out into the open now will be better as it helps bring closure for you both.

How to Break Up With Someone

  1. Use “I” Statements

Think back to a conversation you have been in where someone started many of their statements with “you.”  Statements such as “you make” and “you cause” may enter your mind and leave you feeling blamed, defensive, and generally not good. Using “you” at the start of your statements can immediately set the other person on edge as they expect a bad outcome to the rest of the sentence. Then, they miss some of the information conveyed.

During a relationship break up (or any difficult discussion) you can use “I” statements to make the conversation go better. If you have never heard of “I” statements, it is an easy approach to learn. You simply make sure to start your statements with “I” so that you are essentially highlighting your personal experience, owning your emotions, and you do not necessarily seem as though you are blaming the other person for the situation.

  1. Avoid Blame

Aside from being careful to phrase your statements in ways that will not sound blaming, you should also generally avoid directly blaming the other person for the situation, during a break-up. In most cases, the end of a relationship is not necessarily either person’s fault. It could just be that the two of you have grown apart or are no longer compatible.

If you direct blame during a break-up, it could just lead to an argument and it will also lead to hurt feelings. It may be much more challenging to find a positive state of closure.

  1. Explain Your Thinking

During your break up, you should certainly explain your thinking. When you are serious about a break-up, you have probably given it some serious thought. Sharing some of those thought processes with the other person can be helpful so that they know you have indeed really thought this through, that it is not something you take lightly, and that it is a final decision. Explaining your thinking can help you and the other person avoid questions later.

  1. Give Them Space for Their Emotions

A break up will likely be emotional for both parties. To be compassionate, give the other person some space for their emotions. They may cry, and they may have a lot to say. Simply walking away would be very unkind. You had invested time in this relationship and if you continue to care about them, wait through the emotional reaction. Give them whatever support you can and at some point, make sure they connect with other supports.

  1. Stick with Your Decision

When you break up with someone, it is important to think through your decision before you have that conversation. Once you initiate the break-up, it is important that you stick with your decision. Going back on the decision will lead to a great deal of confusion. The only thing worse than a break-up is a cycle of breaking up and making up.

During the process of breaking up, also be careful not to send mixed signals to the other person. It can be helpful to plan out whether and when you will communicate again. Then, follow the plan that the two of you set up. Otherwise, if you just continue to contact them too much, they may start to think that you want to get back together.

After the Breakup

After the break-up conversation, aside from being respectful of any communication rules you and your ex have set, you will also want to do some things to take care of yourself and your emotional reactions.


After a break up (or at any time you are dealing with many intense emotions) self-care will be important. This means attending to the basics of daily life that every human needs, so they can stay physically and emotionally well. Self-care can include eating and sleeping. It can also include taking a day off work, meditating, and doing things that will help lift you resolve your emotions.

Lean on Your Support Group

After a break up it is the perfect time to lean back on your support group of friends and family. Of course, this will be easier if you have already talked to family and friends about the break up before it even happened. Then, they will know to be ready to provide support. Even if they did not know, reach out to the people whom you know you can trust and receive support from. If your friend and family group is lacking, then this may also be a time to seek professional help.

Plan Your Social Media Approach

When you break up with your ex, you may want to discuss the approach the two of you will take on social media. Do you plan to announce it right away? Of course, you will ideally plan to be kind to one another. Beyond that, be thoughtful about your own approach to social media and how you will use it at this time. Consider if you want to use it for support or if it would better for you to take a step away from it, so that you are not potentially bombarded with questions.

Move On

A break up can be a difficult process for both people involved. You will have emotions about it before, during, and after. Once it is done, you can start the process of moving on. You broke up with that person for a reason and now this is the time to make your life different than it had been.

This time of transition can also be a time of growth for you. Many people will be figuring out who they are again, after a break-up, especially if the relationship lasted for a long time or if it occurred at a formative point in your life. If you need assistance sorting through this process, rediscovering yourself, or simply with moving on to the next phase of your life, you can seek the help of a counselor.

For some people, relationship break-ups are necessitated by unhealthy relationships. If this is the case for you and after the break-up, you need help resolving the emotional repercussions of that relationship, then that is also a time to seek therapy or counseling. A licensed mental health provider can assist you in working through any difficult parts of your past and your past relationships, to help you move on.

Scroll to Top