How to End a Relationship

10 min read

Maclynn (formerly Vida) offers their advice on how to end a relationship in a way that leaves both parties feeling heard and respected. Take a look at our article to learn more.

It goes without saying that when a relationship ends, it hurts for both parties, especially when it’s someone you love. There is some debate on whether it’s more difficult being the one who ends it than the one who is on the receiving end. The shock and sudden loss of a partner in a relationship can of course be extremely difficult to take, but in equal measure, having the courage and foresight to see that the relationship isn’t working for one reason or another can be just as difficult.

The entire process is emotionally taxing for both, and despite there being a strong amount of information available to us on how to manage a breakup, it’s always going to be a difficult transition.

In this article, we’ve outlined some helpful ways to gently end a relationship. It must be said that no breakup is easy when it concerns someone you love and it’s impossible to control the emotions of another, but our advice ensures that the way you break up with someone is empathetic and respectful.

First, we have a few key points to mention.

Don’t Look Back in Anger

Arguably one of the most important aspects to consider and address when considering a breakup is alleviating any animosity to ensure you and your partner can look back on the relationship in a positive light. It’s important that you are able to accept the reasons why the relationship isn’t or wasn’t working and accept the reasons for the breakup. The same goes for the person you are ending it with. The way you deliver the breakup must veer towards a positive light to ensure their memories and experiences throughout the relationship are not ruined.

In essence, it is crucial that both you and your ex-partner are able to acknowledge and reflect on the good parts of the relationship while accepting the reasons it ended. This will make it much easier to get through it because you should both have a sense of closure and respect regarding the relationship.

You will both be hurting during and after the breakup, but as long as you can walk away knowing you shared good memories with each other, the process should be easier than if you came away angry and with negative experiences.

Being the One Who Ends it Comes With its Drawbacks

Something that’s not commonly addressed is that those who know that they need to end the relationship may go through just as much pain as the person who is being broken up with. This largely depends on how long they have been contemplating the breakup. The longer you have been anticipating this, the more anxiety and dread looms, which is why it’s important to address it quickly before it begins to overwhelm you.

The harsh reality in most social circles is that the person who is broken up with receives more sympathy than the one who has had the courage to end it. It’s not uncommon for the one who ends it to feel hurt, regret, guilt and confusion long after they have ended the relationship. You will wish and hope that you are able to end the relationship without pain, but rarely is this the case. The hardest part is processing your decision to end the relationship while feeling confused about your decision and ultimately blaming yourself.

However, these feelings are completely normal. It is normal to feel bad about the breakup, when you love someone, it’s incredibly difficult to end it and place the blame on yourself, despite knowing it’s for the best. The important thing to remember is not to delay, it will make things more difficult and you may end up staying together out of fear of hurting their feelings – but this will be far more damaging in the long run.

Here are Points to Consider Before You Break Up

Understand That This Won’t Be Pain-Free

The first point is to remember this is not an easy road. As stated previously, there is no pain-free way to end a relationship. However, once you accept this, you can better prepare yourself for the aftermath and in time, get closure and move on.

Try to Do it Face-to-Face

In the modern age, it’s easy to break up with someone via text or email, but that’s no excuse to do this. Everyone deserves to be told in-person the reasons why the relationship isn’t working so they can understand their partner’s point of view. If a face-to-face breakup is not possible, it’s a good idea to try to call or FaceTime them so that you’re still able to properly articulate your feelings and respect the process.

Be Honest, But Don’t Give Too Much Detail

It’s common for the person who is being broken up with to want to know every little detail about where it went wrong and what influenced your decision. There might be a number of reasons why, some of which may not be nice to hear, so it’s important to answer correctly to help maintain your partner’s dignity but to also avoid hurting their feelings unnecessarily. For example, as opposed to saying, “I want to be with someone more ambitious”, you could instead say “I don’t think our long-term aims are aligned anymore”.

Try to Avoid Arguments, Stay on Track

In some cases, the person who is being broken up with may react angrily if they’re surprised at the breakup. They may try to provoke you to get a rise or protest the reasons you should stay in the relationship. Remember, deciding to break up with someone takes time and courage, you have come this far, so don’t let their opinion or pleas to remain together stop you if you are sure this is the right thing to do. Try to do this amicably and remain on good terms.

Express Sympathy (This Should Come Naturally for Most)

It can sometimes be difficult to express sympathy or sadness when it comes to breaking up with someone if you’re trying to save face. However, allowing your emotions to show is often a good thing because it shows your partner that you care about the relationship and their feelings. You might want to mention some good things that happened during the relationship that you’re grateful for, whether that’s learning how to become a better cook, getting physically fitter or saying how much you enjoyed the time you spent together. Ending the relationship on good terms is important for many people and something you should aim for.

Avoid Blaming or Shaming

The worst thing you could do when breaking up with someone is blaming them. Making your partner out to be a villain is not a productive or helpful thing to do when breaking up. Be civil, be respectful and listen. They may not have been perfect (sometimes far from it!) but getting into an argument over who did what isn’t going to make the process any easier.

Give Yourself Time to Grieve

Breakups are hard, they’re one of the most emotionally taxing processes we have to go through, and it’s important to allow yourself some time to be sad and to grieve. This is a completely normal part of the breakup process and a natural emotional narrative we must all go through. The important thing to remember is that it’s okay to still care about them, even love them, but equally important to remember why the relationship ended.

Reasons that May Have Lead You to End Your Relationship

1. You were worried about demanding more from your partner

Broaching the topic as asking for more from your partner can be a little daunting, but it remains crucial. If there is no room for open communication and dialogue regarding yours and their needs, it’s unlikely that the relationship has the foundations to continue.

There’s still a stigma surrounding this topic which makes people think that they will sound “needy” or “high maintenance” if they’re trying to open more dialogue channels. This simply isn’t the case. Avoiding communication is the catalyst to unhealthy relationships, so talk, even if it may be difficult to raise.

2. Close friends and family didn’t support the relationship

While you are independent and your love for your partner is your own, it’s still important to take heed of your friends and family members advice and opinions of your partner. If they believe they could be a bad influence on you, whether it’s their lifestyle choices or they simply aren’t making you happy, you should listen to those closest to you.

If you decide against listening to their advice and this turns into lying to your friends and family, this is another sign that this may be turning into a toxic relationship. We also have an article on toxic relationships if you’d like to know more about them.

3. Your needs weren’t being met

One of the most obvious but difficult factors to recognise is when your needs aren’t being met in the relationship. You may notice this in numerous ways, for example, they may not be meeting your emotional needs. This could be failing to meet your required levels of intimacy, not being supportive enough regarding your mental health or career struggles or simply being too distant from the relationship.

Before cutting ties, it’s essential that you try to communicate why the relationship isn’t working and if there’s a way to salvage it.

4. You were seeking those needs from others

It is of course very important to be able to turn to your loved ones to express joy in your success, whether it’s a career, academic or personal achievement. However, if you find yourself constantly turning to others for gratification (as opposed to your partner), this is a clear sign that there’s something wrong in the relationship. You should be able to turn to your partner for everything, whether it’s good news or bad.

It’s great to be able to talk to your friends and work colleagues about your achievements, but if you find yourself always turning to them as opposed to your partner, it may be a sign that you’re not getting the support you deserve or need. When you start seeking emotional fulfilment from someone or others who aren’t your partner, it may be time to end the relationship.

5. There was an obligation to stick with your partner, in spite of your happiness

This one should be fairly obvious, if you feel inclined to stay with your partner, this is a huge red flag. However, many people feel they need to stay with their partners regardless of how happy they are because they have invested time and energy into the relationship. The money investment phenomenon known as the “sunk cost fallacy”, which leads to a continuous investment, despite that choice not making you happy is often compared to this relationship concept of not wanting to let go, despite not being happy.

While it’s important to invest time and effort into any relationship, those factors alone cannot fix every problem. If neither party are willing to communicate effectively and address problems healthily, the relationship probably doesn’t warrant more time.

But simply investing more time in a relationship with someone you love won’t fix the problems. If both partners aren’t willing to work to fulfil the other’s needs, the relationship probably isn’t worth more time.

6. You were working on your relationship for more than a year

When you fall in love with someone and spend years by each other’s side – maybe even had children – there’s typically a much stronger incentive to work through your problems. It might be an idea to speak to a couples counsellor or date coach to try and rekindle the spark with the person you love.

If you have had children, you may also want to try to stay friends after the long-term relationship has ended. Staying friends makes it much easier to deal with your children in an amicable and respectful way. It’s advised that if after a year or therapy or coaching the relationship hasn’t transitioned into a more positive light, it may be time to break up.

Are You Struggling in Your Relationship? Arrange a Personal Consultation With Our Dating Coach Today

If you are looking to try to work things out with your partner, you may have considered seeing a couples therapist or a dating coach. The latter is something we offer here at Maclynn and might be worth considering if you aren’t 100% sure about your breakup decision. If you are curious about what our date coaching service involves, please feel free to give us a call and one of our dating professionals will explain our process and what you can expect.

For more information or to book your private consultation, get in touch with Maclynn today.

| 10 min read


About the Author

Rachel Vida MacLynn

Founder & CEO

Rachel Vida MacLynn is reputed as being a world-leading matchmaking and dating expert. Registered as a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, Rachel advocates a professional matchmaking approach based on psychological principles and professional consultation.

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