You probably didn’t decide to break up on a whim, so don’t go into it like you did. Think long and hard about why you’re doing this and what you want to say, so that you can go into a conversation feeling strong about your decision.
Don’t drag it out.
And once you’ve made the decision, just do it. You don’t need to give them a head’s up (is any phrase more dreaded in a relationship than “we need to talk”?), but make plans to meet in person, then rip the Band-Aid off.
Give yourself an out the same way you would on a first date by making plans with a friend immediately afterwards; a firm deadline will keep you from feeling like you have to rehash the conversation over and over as your former partner comes to terms with it.
Remember to be kind in the moment.
Never has the golden rule been more applicable: Treat the other person as you would want to be treated. Because breakups involve a lot of feelings, sometimes, our emotions can get the best of us. But if you’re the one initiating the separation, be the bigger person and stick to your practiced script.
Avoid focusing on what you think they did wrong.
“The breakup conversation will most likely be uncomfortable, so be prepared for that,” says Hertzberg. “You can acknowledge how difficult and scary it is out loud. Just because you’re breaking up with someone doesn’t mean you two can’t share a moment of sadness together.”
However you explain that the relationship is over, don’t turn it into the blame game. Instead, make the reasoning about yourself.
You can be gentle while being clear and direct about what you want. “Kindness and empathy really go a long way in a difficult situation like this,” says Hertzberg. “Just validating the other person’s feelings around the breakup can be healing.
Use sentences that reflect your understanding of how the person feels, while also making sure you clearly express yourself.” Remember, this is another human being with feelings, not just some entity on the other end of your cell phone.
Skip clichés like “it’s not you, it’s me.”
The goal of a breakup is to let someone down easy and end things without a lot of hurt and anger; not to shred their self-esteem (you do want them to go on to find happiness with someone else, right?).
A major no-no during the breakup convo is trite excuses (ahem, “it’s not you, it’s me”). “We all know the breakup clichés,” says Bouffard. When you aren’t specific about why this is happening, you rob someone of a sense of closure; they’re stuck guessing what went wrong. And “when people hear a vague reason, they blame themselves more,” she adds.