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Breaking Up: What to Say

You've decided it’s time to break up. Here are some ideas for how to have a talk that's direct, honest, and kind. Adjust the words to fit your style.

Tell the other person that you want to talk, then follow these steps:

1. Say something positive about the time you’ve been together.

For example: "We've been close for a long time, and you're important to me."

Or: I'm really glad we’ve gotten to know each other.”

2. Say what's not working (your reason for the break-up).

For example: "But I'm not ready to have a serious relationship right now."

Or: "But you cheated on me, and I can't accept that."

Or: "But we're arguing more than we're having fun."

Or: "But it just doesn't feel right anymore."

Or: "But there's someone else."

3. Say you want to break up.

For example: "So, I want to break up."

Or: "So I want us to be friends, but not go out."

Or: "So I want to stay friendly, but I don't want to be a couple anymore."

4. Say you're sorry if it hurts.

For example: "I don't want to hurt you."

Or: "I'm sorry if this isn't the way you wanted things to be."

Or: "I'm sorry if this hurts you."

Or: "I know this is hard to hear."

5. Say something kind or positive.

For example: "I know you'll be OK."

Or: "I know we'll always care about each other."

Or: "I'll always remember the good times we had."

Or: "I'll always be glad I got to know you."

Or: "I know there's another person who will be happy to get to go out with you."

6. Listen to what the other person wants to say. Be patient, and don't be surprised if the other person acts hurt or upset by what you’ve said.

Being direct, honest, and kind is best. It's respectful and makes breaking up easiest for both people.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date Reviewed: Oct 20, 2023

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