Relationships are complicated, there’s no way around it. Sometimes through no fault of anyone in particular, things just don’t work out the way you thought they would and you decide you need to end the relationship. Ending a relationship is never easy and it’s inevitable that someone will be hurt in the process. But there are ways to “let someone down easy” so to speak. You may have no choice but to break their heart, but you don’t have to stomp on it.
Take time to make sure this is the right decision for you. Ask yourself if you have exhausted all other methods of improving the relationship. It’s a big decision and it should not be taken lightly. Make sure it’s what you really want and it’s not just that you’re angry with your partner for something small or having a bad day.
Do it in person. Do not break up with someone over the phone, email, text message, etc. It’s disrespectful and it only intensifies the pain your significant other will feel.
Have your reasons ready because you are going to be asked for them. It’s best to be honest. You can soften the blow by phrasing things carefully, but never make excuses. Your partner will only lose respect for you. If your reasons are hurtful, make everything general and non-specific. There’s no need to tell your partner, for example, that you never loved them. Say something like “I feel that we’re not right for each other”.
Do not be critical of your partner when giving your reasoning. Try to phrase things so that you are blaming the relationship itself rather than your partner. There is no need to bring up past arguments, transgressions, or anything else you’ve already moved beyond. This will only lead to an argument and that’s the last thing you want.
Do not be wishy washy or leave the person with false hopes if you know that the relationship is definitely over. This will only drag the situation out and prolong the person’s pain. That’s not fair to them.
Understand their feelings and acknowledge that they are hurt and that it will take some time. Don’t try to invalidate their feelings.
Let them determine when the conversation is over.
Do not allow compassion to be confused with intimacy. This is unnecessarily confusing for the injured party.
Be prepared to have to repeat the conversation, possibly several times. It can be difficult to accept when a relationship is over. Keep in mind that you had time to adjust to the decision while it’s all new to them.
Do not react with anger if your ex decides to “get revenge” on you by betraying your trust, calling you over and over, etc. Try to be understanding that they are reacting based on hurt and that it will be temporary.