Here’s how to break up a dating relationship positively, kindly, and effectively:
1. Be able to clearly articulate your reason for breaking up.
Realize it’s probably related to an unmet relationship “requirement” that is non-negotiable and preventing you from moving forward in this relationship.
2. Make an appointment to talk.
Ask to meet with your soon-to-be ex by saying “I have something important to discuss, when is a good time for you?” Be sure you can talk uninterrupted and undistracted.
3. State your decision plainly, clearly, and in a calm, firm, matter of fact, nonjudgmental way.
You are simply stating facts- the fact about your decision and the fact about your reason for your decision. Do not try to convince your partner if they disagree. You’ve made your decision, you’re doing what’s best for the both of you to be able to move on towards what you really want, and don’t expect your partner like it, want it, or agree with it. This is about you, so do NOT make your partner wrong or blame them for the relationship not working for you.
4. Do not give in to requests to “compromise” or “work it out.”
You already have all the information you need to make your decision, so don’t question yourself or allow yourself to be swayed. One of the biggest relationship mistakes I’ve made is to be a “nice guy” and agree to give the relationship a chance for one more year. It was a miserable year and my reason for needing to move on from the relationship didn’t change one bit. Please note that these suggestions are for dating (pre-committed and pre-marital) relationships, NOT for committed relationships.
5. Do not feel guilty or blame yourself for the failed relationship or “hurting” your partner.
A relationship has to be a good “fit,” and if it isn’t you can’t fit the round peg in the square hole. You might feel responsible or awful, but don’t allow those feelings to sway you from the above steps.
6. Be kind and positive.
Acknowledge the good in the relationship and the good times you’ve had together. Be compassionate and accepting of the feelings and POV of your soon-to-be Ex. Breaking up is hard because you’re both attached, but attachment is not the same as love and doesn’t mean the relationship should continue.
7. Attempt to part as friends, even if your partner is having a strong negative emotional reaction to your decision.
Realize that their reaction is largely involuntary as it’s really hard to be your best self when you’re feeling hurt, dumped, betrayed, etc.
8. Don’t push if the discussion is getting out of control.
Take a break and meet at another time when one or both of you have had time to process your reaction to this decision.
9. Realize your goal is to promote a positive outcome for both of you.
Just as you are freeing yourself to be able to find the love of your life, you are freeing your soon-to-be Ex to be able to do so as well. Whether or not they accept this is not always in your control, so be prepared to move on unilaterally if necessary. Trust that everything works out in the end as it should.
10. Acknowledge the value and gifts of the relationship and the value and gift of breaking up.
Acknowledge the great times that you’ve shared together. Acknowledge what you’ve enjoyed about the relationship and learned from it. Acknowledge that you are both on a journey to find the love of your life and the life that you love, that this relationship was an important steppingstone on that journey, and that you both are now much closer to achieving your dreams, just not with each other.