How to Break Up with Someone Respectfully – 5 Crucial Tips


We all have times in our lives when we need to break up with someone. It could be someone that we’ve only been seeing for a short while, and it could be that we want to end a long and serious relationship, or possibly even get a divorce. However, many people don’t really know how to break up with someone respectfully.

The more serious the relationship is, the harder it is for us to break up with our partner. It could be because we are afraid of being alone or of change in general, we are used to being in that relationship, or we just don’t want to hurt the other person.

When breaking up with someone who took a substantial part in our lives, it’s important to do it respectfully. Of course, your partner may be hurt, sad, disappointed, or upset, but they need to feel appreciated and respected.

When you break up with someone in a respectful way, you gain their respect, and you also feel good about yourself later. So without further ado, here are 5 crucial tips on how to break up with someone respectfully.

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Make Sure You Have Tried to Fix Things


Before you learn how to break up with someone respectfully, you first need to make sure you’ve respected your partner in the stages leading to the decision to break up.

Since we’re talking about someone who was a significant part of your life, it’s important not to just decide to break up on your own, but to do the respectful thing of sharing your concerns and issues with your partner, before reaching any sort of decision.

Sharing your issues with your partner makes your partner feel a real part of the relationship. It also allows your partner to suggest solutions or voice his or her own concerns that also need to be addressed.

Remember that the earlier you share your issues with your partner the better. If your partner doesn’t know what’s wrong, don’t expect a change of behavior, but rather a growing problem. And what’s easy to fix when it’s still small, may be much harder to fix when it’s already big.

If you haven’t tried to fix things until now, it might already be too late. Once you start thinking about a break up, usually your subconscious actions move things towards that target anyway, making the relationship even worse.

But even if you think it’s too late, talk to your partner about your issues, and try to resolve them together, or reach an understanding that they cannot be resolved and you need to break up. You may be surprised by the outcome of the conversation.

Another important thing to remember is that the issues you have in your relationship may be connected to you. There may be things in your behavior, or in the way you see things, that should be changed.

An honest and open conversation with your partner about the issues you’re having in your relationship may uncover some things that you need to change, and you should be open to listening, accepting, and evolving.

And make sure that if both of you reach a decision to try to fix things, you are fully committed to it and not just doing it half-heartedly. If you don’t do it wholeheartedly, you are guaranteed to fail.

Be Confident That Breaking Up is Your Final Decision


How many times has it happened to you, that you broke up with someone, then you were back together again, then broke up again, and so on? This is definitely not how to break up with someone respectfully, and honestly, you’re wasting a lot of time and emotional energy in that process.

You need to have a clear decision of whether you want to stay or leave. If you keep on changing your mind, it just means you haven’t put enough thought into your decision making in the first place.

You go back to someone you’ve just recently broken up with for one of two reasons:

  1. Your partner convinces you that you’re making a wrong decision or that things will change.
  2. You feel the loss of your partner (a substantial part of what you were used to is gone), don’t find ways to compensate for that, and go back to being together just so you won’t feel that loss.

So how can you make sure that breaking up is really your final decision, and that you’re not going to play this back-and-forth game?

This kind of clarity and finality can only come once you know you have exhausted all options. It cannot come from just deciding things on your own. This is why you have to talk to your partner and try to fix things, as we have already outlined before.

If you see that nothing changes no matter what you try, if you know that your partner is aware of the issues but does nothing about them, if you see that the relationship is affecting you in a bad way, or if you’re positively sure you don’t want to be with your partner anymore, then you can be confident that your decision is going to be final, as it should.

Just make sure you take some long quiet time with yourself to really think about things before reaching the final conclusion. You may find that your conclusion is to stay.

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Have a Face-to-Face Breakup Conversation


While breaking up with someone you’ve only dated once can be done through a text message, and breaking up with someone you’ve dated for several times should be done through at least a phone call, more substantial relationships require a face-to-face conversation (or a video call, if there’s no way to have a face-to-face conversation soon).

People who don’t know how to break up with someone respectfully (or simply don’t care), will go with the option of breaking up in a phone call, or worse – an email or a text message.

Why do they do that? Because it’s hard to break up. It’s hard for the person breaking up. They know they are going to cause pain to their partner and they don’t want to see it and feel it.

That’s exactly why a face-to-face conversation is the respectful way to do things. It shows your partner that you’re just hurting them and running away, but rather that you’re there with them to share the pain. You are there to answer questions. You are there, so they can see your reactions to what they say.

Yes, it is hard, and you might be tempted to go the easy, disrespectful way. But remember, you would’ve wanted to be treated with respect as well.

And I can assure you, when you disrespect someone you care about or used to care about, it affects you in a negative way, even if you’re not aware of it.

So do the hard and respectful thing, and have a face-to-face breakup conversation.

Be Calm, Kind, Gentle, and Respectful, But Firm and Clear


If you truly want to know how to break up with someone respectfully, pay careful attention now, because this part is going to be one of the hardest things for you to do.

When having the breakup conversation, you need to have a balance of being kind, gentle and respectful, but at the same time, you need to be very firm and clear about your decision to leave.

Remember that at this point, you’re already 100% certain that you wish to leave, so make it very clear. Don’t use any wording that may be interpreted in such a way that your partner will believe there’s a chance to change your mind. Because your partner will look for any crack in your “arguments”, to try to sneak back in.

For example, people who don’t know how to break up with someone in a clear-cut fashion, may say something like “it’s not a good time for me”, which may make the other person just think he or she can wait until it’s a “good time”. Don’t use excuses – tell the truth about your final decision.

It’s also very important that you stay calm, no matter what happens. It is possible that your partner will get upset, start accusing you of things, beg you not to do it, or start crying. However, you should not allow this to affect your decision. That is why you made sure in advance your decision was final.

You can console your partner if needed, and show kindness and care. But don’t get into an argument with your partner. We’re already way past the stage of arguments and discussions. There’s no point to leave while exhibiting bad behavior, even if your partner tries to provoke it.

Use only calm, kind, and respectful words when you talk to your partner in your breakup conversation. It’s over anyway – you should at least feel good about the way that you’re ending it.

And remember to also say nice things about your partner and thank him or her for all the ways in which they’ve enriched you, because they have.

Finally, make sure you let your partner say whatever is on their mind. If they need to unload something, so be it. It will help them close this chapter in their life and move on.

If you’d like to know how to break up with someone without hurting them, then I’m sorry to say that unless it’s a mutual decision, it might be impossible. The only thing you can do is to be respectful and kind, so as to minimize the bad feelings your partner will experience.

Leave No Opportunity to Get Back Together


This relates to the previous point, but requires further emphasis. Since you’ve already reached the final and definite conclusion that you want to break up, you don’t want to mislead the other person by causing him or her to think there’s a chance to get back, maybe after some time.

It could be that you feel that you’ve made it pretty clear that you want to break up, but then you stay in touch with your ex, and he or she considers that as a potential way to get back together in the future.

If you really want to know how to break up with someone respectfully, you need to make sure you don’t mislead your ex, or let your ex mislead himself or herself. For that, we need to define 3 cases for the breakup:

  1. You really don’t want anything to do with your ex anymore. In that case, it’s pretty simple, and you just say that you don’t want to continue being in touch.
  2. You value the interaction with your ex, but he or she still has feelings for you. In that case, you must not be selfish, but rather cut all ties with your ex, at least until he or she heals and moves on. Staying in touch with your ex will only hurt them, since you’ve already moved on, but they haven’t.
  3. Breaking up was a mutual decision, but you still like each other as friends. In that case, you can feel comfortable staying in touch with your ex, as long as you’re sure that he or she has really moved on and doesn’t want to be in that relationship anymore.

This doesn’t mean that there’s no chance that sometime in the distant future you’ll somehow decide you want to get back together. It just means that your decision is final, and you want to make sure you are respectful to your partner by not selfishly using him or her, while they suffer because they want to get back together.

Remember that it’s not enough to know how to break up with someone respectfully. You need to actually do things that are very hard for you, and that you wish to avoid. Doing those things, however, is the best thing for both you and your partner, in the long run.

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In this post, we gave you 5 crucial tips on how to break up with someone respectfully:

  1. Make sure you try to fix things before breaking up.
  2. Be confident that breaking up is really your final decision and that you’re not going to change your mind shortly after breaking up.
  3. Break up in a dignified manner by having a face-to-face, personal conversation.
  4. During the conversation, stay calm, and be kind, gentle, and respectful, but very firm and clear about your decision to break up and its finality.
  5. Make sure you don’t mislead the person into thinking that there’s a chance of getting back together, or staying in touch with him or her while they still have feelings for you and want to get back together.

Breaking up with someone in a respectful way is hard. You need to look into the person’s eyes, tell them things that hurt them, no matter how nicely you say them, and absorb the reaction.

But don’t fall into the trap of doing the easy thing and disrespecting them by breaking up with them in a message or without giving it too much consideration. You will only hurt them more and make them think less of you. Subconsciously, you’ll think less of yourself too.

Now that you know how to break up with someone respectfully, you will find that when you do that, you also respect yourself.

Good luck.

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