How To Break Up With Someone You Still Love: 10 Ways To Say Goodbye

This is the sort of article that makes me wish everyone had an older sister to tell them how the world worked. As it is, not everyone does, so that’s where I step in. For many, your first relationship will be super intense and unlike anything you’ve been through before. As a result, the first time you have to break up with someone you still love is bound to be complex particularly because of the feelings that remain. Read on for ways to soften the blow.

  1. Make a safe space. Just because your relationship is about to end in the romantic sense, that doesn’t mean that you have to burn the bridge completely. You still respect this person and you still have a mutual bond and understanding that means you share a safe space. Keep that in mind when you’re breaking up with them. Maybe you aren’t in love with them, but you owe them this much.
  2. Communicate clearly. This isn’t the time to beat around the bush and waffle. When you have met up and gone through the basic niceties, open with the business of the breakup. Don’t lull them into a false sense of security by talking as if nothing’s happening. You should be able to read their verbal cues, and they should be able to do the same so that it doesn’t come as a total shock. No one wants that.
  3. Make eye contact. You’re being the bigger person and doing more than most people by having this conversation in person, so make that final leap and maintain eye contact. This means that you can make sure you’re both on the same page about where you’re at and there’s no room for misinterpretation. It makes it less soulless and a shared experience. After all, the relationship was shared, so the breakup shouldn’t be a totally one-sided affair.
  4. Make it an open forum. Once you’ve had your say, make sure you give them a chance to say their piece. It doesn’t mean that you give them time to convince you to stay with them, but functions more as an ‘any questions’ type thing. Breaking up will give you closure, so do what you can to ensure that your ex gets the same from the occasion. If they have questions or comments, it’s likely a good way to learn about how to approach your next relationship and not make the same mistakes. Your ex might want to pretend to be already over you, and sometimes you just have to let them so that they can make it out without crying.
  5. Give them an escape. If the conversation is getting too intense or uncomfortable or they aren’t taking the news well, make sure you pick a location that they can leave without fuss. Don’t pick their favorite restaurant and ruin it for them forever after – think carefully about the location. Keep it simple, take them for coffee. It’s never easy to break up with someone you still love (or have them break up with you), so extend some grace.
  6. Suggest a clean break. No one needs to sleep with their ex. It’s appealing because it’s familiar and safe, but it’s also backsliding. You both deserve better, so it’s a good idea to try to quit cold turkey. Unless you’re mutually resolving to be friends, at least mute their socials if blocking them outright is too much.
  7. Remain calm. There’s so rarely a reason to shout, particularly in public, so don’t make everyone around you uncomfortable by getting angry. Say your piece and if it doesn’t go well, abandon ship knowing that you spoke your truth. Be considerate about your words – don’t have a script, but respect your ex enough to think it through.
  8. Don’t make promises. This isn’t the time to lie and say you might see a future with them later on. FRIENDS told us for years how difficult the ‘we were on a break’ trope is to maintain and to keep boundaries clear. To avoid that, just be honest and don’t lie to soften things for them. Your ex deserves the truth.
  9. Let them pick up their stuff later. I know I said to do a clean break, but it would be too dramatic and overwhelming to bring up all the evidence of their life while you’re breaking up with them. Give them space and let one of their friends pick it up when the dust has settled.
  10. Don’t be mean. As long as no one has cheated or betrayed the other, be civil. You are trying to protect their feelings, and that doesn’t mean being spiteful. Keep it honest, but don’t expect any flowers if you’re just insulting your ex. That isn’t helpful.

There you are, a short ‘how-to’ of your first breakup. You’ll learn how to do it more over time when you experience more of life and of yourself, but for now, take it slow, stay safe, and look forward to the future. Don’t let the fear of breaking up make you ignore the signs that you need to break up with your partner!

Hannah has a Masters degree in Romantic and Victorian literature in Scotland and spends her spare time writing anything from essays to short fiction about the life and times of the frogs in her local pond! She loves musical theatre, football, anything with potatoes, and remains a firm believer that most of the problems in this world can be solved by dancing around the kitchen to ABBA. You can find her on Instagram at @_hannahvic.