How To Break Up With Someone Without Hurting Them

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So, you know that your relationship is over. You need to end things. But how do you break up with someone without hurting them? What’s the best way to go about it, to cause them the least amount of pain? Well, in this post – we’ll break it all down, with how to break up with someone without hurting them. Well, hurting them the least amount that you can, anyway! 

Breakups Hurt, Naturally…

Now before we get into this, it’s worth mentioning the fact that it’s highly unlikely that you can avoid hurting your partner / soon-to-be-ex completely. 

Unless the relationship has turned into more of a friendship and this is what they want too, there is always going to be some amount of pain.

I mean, even when the breakup is a mutual decision – there will still naturally be some feelings of loss that come anyway. That’s just how it is…

Your partner has been a big part of your life. You’ve shared things, become intimate, grown close, and been together (in most cases, for a significant amount of time.)

So to then lose that with them – there is always going to be a period of readjustment and some sadness (for whatever reason) there.

Recommended Read: How Heartbreak (Literally!) Affects The Brain

However (and this is where the good news starts to come!), there are ways that you can go about breaking up with someone, to hurt them LESS.

And the fact that you’re here, reading this now – is certainly a good sign already. You care about this person. You, yourself, are a good person. This isn’t going to be easy. But remember…

When it comes to relationships – what’s right for one person is naturally right for the other. Everyone deserves to be loved and wanted, fully and completely, in return. So if the relationship isn’t working for you, the relationship with you, also isn’t right for your partner. It has to be equal.

With this in mind, that means that although you may be hurting your soon-to-be-ex by breaking up with them – in the long run – you’re causing them less pain and freeing them, as ultimately, it would have had to have ended at some point anyway. 

You’re letting them go, for the right reasons. And – even if they don’t see that right now – in time, they will.

So how do you go about this? How do you break up with someone without hurting them? Well…

How To Break Up With Someone Without Hurting Them

When it comes to how to break up with someone without hurting them, think of this as your tick-list…

1) Make Sure You’re Sure About This

The last thing you want to do is break up with someone, only to then give them mixed messages and confusion – when you then wonder if you’ve done the right thing.

Now this doesn’t mean that you have to know 10000% for sure. It’s a hard decision to make. You may be torn at times (and that’s normal.)

But deep down, you know in both your heart and your gut, if breaking up is the right decision.

This won’t be a decision you’ve made over-night and you’ll have far more reasons why you “should end it” than you “shouldn’t”.

It’s at this point that you want to move forward with the breakup. 

That way, you’re consciously making this decision, are happy with this decision (or as happy as one can be at the prospect of a breakup!) and you aren’t going to mess your soon-to-be-ex around.


  • Grab a piece of paper and write down all the reasons why you SHOULD break up with your partner, and why you SHOULDN’T. Write as many reasons that are relevant to you as possible.
  • After this, analyse the list. Which side has more? Which things are the biggest deal to you? Highlight and circle the most important things.
  • From this you can analyse and conclude to confidently make sure that breaking up definitely is the right decision.

Just Bear In Mind: Often we can make excuses. For example, you might notice some things on your list that you’ve written “but if this changed…” or “if it was just like this…” or “well, maybe I’ve just got to be more like this…”

The thing is, have you already given it time to change? Have you already tried to work on the things that you needed to and it’s not been enough? Is your relationship simply beyond repair?

Be honest with yourself about your situation and don’t stay out of fear of change.

Relationship Review
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How To Break Up With Someone Without Hurting Them

This leads me onto my next core essential when it comes to how to break up with someone without hurting them…

2) Don’t Drag It Out

Yes, you’ve got to be sure you want to break up, when you go to break up with someone.

But try not to umm and arr, going backwards and forwards, having the same arguments, the same problems and the same discussions over and over again. 

The right relationships will still have their challenges and these are worth fighting for (no matter how much work it may take.) But if you find that:

  • Your partner doesn’t tick your key boxes.
  • There are major incompatibility issues.
  • There are things missing in your relationship.
  • You’ve never been 100% sure about them…

… Then rip the band aid off. Putting them through the torment of whether or not you’ll end it, or what will happen next, only makes it worse.

And yes you could say, “well, they could end it”, and this is true, but if they’re not brave enough to do this or not really want this, so you have to step up and do it. Take action. Be the bigger person.

3) Make It a Firm, Final Decision

Likewise, if you know you’re going to end it, and you’re in the “breakup conversation”, don’t drag out the conversation by being unclear of confusing.

Make it a firm, final breakup in the fact that you aren’t leaving any doors open.

You’re not trying to make them fight for the relationship or feel like maybe there could be room for you to change your mind (or that perhaps your mind isn’t fully made up yet.

It is, right? Otherwise you wouldn’t be in this situation.

You should have already had conversations prior to this one, where you asked the tough relationship questions and talked about the things that weren’t working or the things that need to change…

And if you’re now in this situation where you want to break up with someone, we’re assuming – it didn’t work.

For this reason, this is now how it’s going (and has to) be. But the clearer you can make this (although it’s tough to hear), the easier it actually is for your soon-to-be ex, as they’re forced to accept it (even if they don’t really want to!)

4) Do It Face To Face

Now it goes without saying, if you want to break up without hurting someone, you will at least have the respect to do it in person, face to face…

This may be harder to do, but it’s far better and more personal that way.

You’re not taking the trash out here – you’re letting go of a REAL PERSON. A person you still care pretty deeply about. So no matter how tough it may be to get the words out, or to see them upset, know that it’s better for them this way.

Struggling to actually do it? Don’t know what to say? Then write out a “text”, then read it to them. That way, you can express things, exactly how you feel.

5) Don’t Pick Up On Every Single Thing

When deciding what to say when you break up with someone, don’t pick up on every single thing they’ve “done wrong” or every minor detail. (It’s not important now!)

Summarise your key reasons so that they can understand why you broke up, but if you don’t want to hurt them, you don’t need to push further than that, or make a big deal about little things anymore.

Keep your final breakup talk, short and concise. Be honest, open, but amicable…

How to Break Up With Someone Without Hurting Them

How To Break Up With Someone The Right Way

So what else should you do to break up with someone the right way and – actually – reduce the pain? Well, as hard as it may be…

6) Give The REAL Reason

When it comes to how to break up with someone without hurting them, a common mistake is to not say the tough things and instead go with the whole, “it’s not you, it’s me!”

The truth is, this doesn’t stop them from hurting – it just makes it harder for this person to get closure as they won’t understand why it ended.

You’re fobbing them off with a cliche they’ve heard too many times before!

So if you really care about them – tell them the real reason. Or if that reason is too brutal, tell them a “toned down”, as-close-to-the-truth explanation as you possibly can.

So for example, if you’re not attracted to them and have got the ick”, say something like, “I just feel like the spark has gone and things have moved into more of a friendship.” 

Or – more commonly in longer term relationships – if you’ve noticed key incompatibilities but don’t want to rip into their character, say what you LIKE about certain differences that you have, but that that doesn’t align with what you think you need…

(E.G. I love how chilled you are, but I think we’re heading in different directions…)

7) Don’t Use Any Softeners… 

What you DON’T want to make the mistake of doing, is using any softeners like,

  • “Right now, I’m just not…”
  • Or “Maybe in the future…”

I know you’re trying to make it better, but stick to the facts as otherwise, it’s misleading and can leave false hope in there.

8) You Can Still Say Nice Things!

Just because you’re breaking up with someone, doesn’t mean it has to be all doom-and-gloom and you can’t say anything nice or positive. 

In fact, this is one of the key essentials when it comes to how to break up with someone without hurting them!

See, as difficult as your relationship has gotten at times, the fact that you’re here – wanting to end things in the right way – shows you still care about this person, even on a friendship / compassionate level.

So why not choose what note to leave things on? Why not try to make it as pleasant as you possibly can? 

Yes, there will likely still be tears, but if you’re ending things in the best way that you can – they will be tears of mixed emotions and you will both be able to look back on your relationship, overall, in a positive light.

So when you break up with your partner, tell them:

  • What you appreciated about your relationship.
  • What you appreciated about them… As a person.
  • What you hope for the both of you from here.
  • And any best / well wishes!

9) Give Them The Time To Speak

What else can you do to make the breakup easier?

Well, once you’ve said what you need to, make sure you allow your ex to, too. Allow them to speak, to have their say and to get things off their chest. This is really important.

You don’t need to argue about anything, but you should hear them out and give them the chance to ask any final questions that will help them with gaining closure.

After all, after this, you’ll have to cut contact (at least for a little while anyway. You can’t just move it through to friends straight away.)

This means you won’t be able to be there for them anymore, just like they won’t be able to be there for you (otherwise you’re both making it far more difficult for you both to move on.)

But right there and then – you can give them the time, you can show them you care (just make sure you make this clear, it’s no longer on a romantic level), and that’s really going to help to soften the hurt and make the breakup easier & clearer for them to get their head around…

Don't want to hurt my ex

10) Create New Boundaries

Last but not least then, you want to finish the breakup talk with complete clarity – clarity over the fact that (as hard as this is for the both of you) this really is it now, and clarity over what happens next.

We touched on it above, but as good or as bad of terms that things are left on, once you’ve had that breakup chat – the best thing you can do, is cut contact. Why?

Well, click this link to read, as it runs through all the (many!) reasons…

Recommended Read: Should I Block My Ex After a Breakup?

In essence, cutting contact after a breakup makes dealing with it, far easier. So this is definitely one of the boundaries you should set (for both of your sakes.)

Discuss how you will tie up loose ends, agree that (at least initially), you’re not going to speak (at all) and be brave with the next steps (even if it breaks your heart more and more!)

Understand It’s Okay, However They React

Now remember, no matter how good your intentions are with all of this, and how well you plan this out to try to break up with someone without hurting them, they will probably still hurt, to some degree. I just want to again highlight however…

You can’t stop the pain of heartbreak completely, but you can soften it by breaking up with them in the RIGHT way and doing everything you can to ensure that you, personally, haven’t inflicted any additional pain.

Remember, it’s the situation that will be causing sadness here, not necessarily you. And that, unfortunately, is unavoidable. It’s just part of love and life. You have to do what you have to do, and if it’s right for you, it’s right for your ex-partner too.

So if they react in ways that you think are unfair or unreasonable, or it doesn’t quite go “to plan”, try not to beat yourself up about it, and definitely don’t go back on your decision, because in time, you’ll be thankful that this happened, and they will be too.

How To Break Up With Someone Without Hurting Them

So there we have it – the 10 core essentials for how to break up with someone without hurting them. (Or hurting them the least amount that you can, anyway!)

Good luck. Stay being the kind-hearted soul that you so clearly are. And make sure you look after yourself through all of this too…

Sending my very best wishes.


How to Break Up With Someone Without Hurting Them
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Ella Stearn
Ell is a Breakup, Dating & Relationship Specialist & Coach, with over 3 million annual readers, globally. As the Creator of Forgetting Fairytales, her mission is to help you learn to love yourself, find the right person to give your love to, then make it a love that truly lasts.

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