Can You Break Up with Someone without Hurting Them?

There is no such thing as a clean break up. Break ups are painful for both parties even if, and sometimes especially if, you are the dumper and are concerned about hurting someone who you’ve come to care for deeply. However, while break ups are naturally messy there are ways to do it as to inflict as little pain as humanly possible. If you find yourself in the position of the dumper here are some things to keep in mind to quickly and kindly rip off the relationship Band-Aid.

Try Not to Lie.

When initiating a break up lying about the reasons for the split is incredibly tempting. It is usually people’s first strategy for “not hurting someone” but it fails, pretty much every time. You may think you are protecting your soon-to-be former SO by lying but really you’re only avoiding your own pain, discomfort, and guilt. Lying is both misleading and unfair to the other person. Even the best, most believable lie (“I’ve decided I just want to be single for a while”) can leave them brokenhearted but hopeful, only to have their heart DOUBLE-broken when they see you start dating someone else, whenever that may happen. Don’t leave them hanging onto false hope. There are other ways to soothe your own guilt, like going for a long walk or asking your best friend for a hug.

Choose Your Words Carefully:

For instance, don’t go into too much detail about why you think they’re wrong for you. Some words can really get stuck in people’s heads. If you can keep the message clear and succinct, you’re doing a kindness: “I just don’t have those feelings for you [anymore] and I’m sorry.” No false hope, no unnecessary analysis about their suitability as bf/gf material.

Be Respectful:

Break ups are an incredibly vulnerable experiences that can leave people feeling emotionally raw. It is deeply personal and not something that should be advertised to the world. If you had a healthy relationship with this person you owe it to them to not gossip about the details of the break up, keep the specifics close to your vest. Talking over your decision and the difficult feelings that come with it in private with your friends is obviously totally acceptable. Just be sure your friends are capable of keeping it to themselves.

Be Responsive to Their Feelings.

Since you once shared an intimacy with this person, when ending a relationship you can’t go cold turkey. Be open to having a conversation but don’t delve into all the reasons for the breakup as this will most likely upset them further. Be calm, be straight forward and hope they respond in a mature manner. If they freak out or start hurling accusations or insults at you then thank god you’re breaking up because it was probably an unhealthy relationship. Ultimately, you can’t control how they respond. Be prepared for potential tears but stay strong and keep in mind that you are doing what’s best for you! Do not put this one person’s happiness above your own. Your happiness is equally important to theirs.

You’re your own person, you’re responsible for your own feelings, and they’re responsible for theirs.

Break ups are tough but you must lean into their uncomfortable nature in order to access your own peace of mind. Remember that all wounds heal with time.