There are so many searches asking, "how to break up with your boyfriend without hurting him," or "how to break up with your girlfriend without hurting her."
So let me preface this article by speaking directly to you, the person who thinks you want to break up with someone.
You might even still love this person but don't see a future with him or her.
I want you to know that in my business, I've found that many times people want to leave a good thing for the wrong reasons.
"But that's not me," you're thinking. "I've got a good reason."
Maybe you do, but I also want you to consider and entertain the idea that maybe you don't before I discuss how to break up with them.
Maybe, just maybe, you are going through a down time in your relationship that is a normal and a natural part of being in love in a relationship.
Maybe it's not as exciting as it once was.
Maybe you are unsure of the future or maybe you are looking at another person through grass-is-greener eyes and thinking that it would possibly be better to be with that person than the person you are with now and with whom you want to break up.
A lot of times people who break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend but find out later that they left a good thing.
So all that I want to say to you is that you need to be sure.
Does this relationship belong in the trash heap?
Or could it possibly be salvaged?
Do the two of you just need a vacation away together?
Do you need a heart-to-heart conversation?
Do you need to tell this person what you need that you are not getting or that you have been hurt?
Yes, communication is important and that means that you do not expect the other person to read your mind but should use simple language to tell them what you want and need if you aren't getting it (and them tell you as well).
Research has indicated that people who are able to sustain lasting relationships before they marry stay married longer and are more likely to be married for life than those whose pre-marital relationships don't last very long.
That means that by working on your current relationship, even if you don't end up marrying that person, you are contributing to the success of your future marriage.
The bottom line is, the odds are your relationship can be saved.
There is a lot of value in a long, stable relationship and I hope that you do not realize that too late.
You aren’t perfect either. Reconsider. Don’t make life harder than it has to be.
Breaking up with someone is usually an awkward, painful and depressing event.
Sure, sometimes it can be refreshing but if we wanted the relationship to work and have come to realize that it won't, it can be a very sad time.
Most of us don't want to hurt the other person when we break up with them.
In fact sometimes we allow the relationship to go on longer than we feel we should because we don't want to hurt that person, especially if that person has strong feelings for us that are no longer reciprocated.
So how might a decent person approach this difficult situation?
It will come up for the majority of us, even if it is simply us deciding we don't want a third date.
So we'd better be prepared.
I've been on both sides of this dramatic dance and have compiled this list to help walk you through the process if you decide you must break up with someone.
Most often it is not possible to break up with someone without hurting them, but I am going to walk you through how to cause the least amount of pain possible.
First: Make sure you really want to break up. All relationships go through down times and you need to make sure this is not simply a temporary dip.
Take your time and do your best to picture your life without being in your current relationship with this person.
Decide whether or not the issues that have you wanting to break up are based on current circumstances or if they are permanent issues that cause you to feel the two of you are best served by going your separate ways.
Sleep on your decision.
Second: If you've gotten past the first part and know that you need and want to break up with this person then you need to plan your words and timing carefully.
The most famous person in history coined The Golden Rule which says, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12).
So your top priority needs to be ending your dating status with this person with grace and love, even though it will not be romantic love.
You need to break up with them "as you would have them" break up with you.
No one wants to be dumped, but if it's going to happen there's certainly some ways that we would rather not experience.
Most of us don't want to hurt the other person when we break up with them.
If we do want to hurt someone than we need to step back and evaluate our own emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
It's going to hurt them no matter what, so it's best for us to try to hurt them as little as possible. Now is not the time for vengeance.
We should treat others with care. So that means we don't break up with them in an email or voice mail or text and certainly don't ghost them.
We should give them respect and care by talking with that person face to face.
Yes, it's difficult and awkward but you should choose to care and show compassion toward the person you're about to break up with by doing it that way.
Third: Sometimes in an effort to show compassion, you might end up leading the other person on.
That means that instead of ending the relationship as planned, you are talked into hanging on a little longer because you don't want to hurt your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Usually this ends up causing more pain in the long run.
So let me encourage you to refer back to the first rule and if you are certain you want to break up then do nothing less.
It's like ripping off a band aid. It certainly hurts but it isn't prolonging the pain by a timid series of attempts.
So make a clean break if breaking up is definitely what you want to do.
It's better to allow the other person to start the healing process then to give them false hope.
Tell that person that you care about them but want to break up.
Use language that is clear and without loopholes so that they will know what they're facing.
Wish them the best and mean it. Tell them you are sorry. Then leave.
Don't make this a long process because by dragging out the meeting you only allow them to think they might be able to talk you into staying in the relationship.
It's also common that they will want a continual series of last kisses, hugs, or other forms of affection.
You don't want to hurt them so you might give in and this will only confuse each of you and cause more pain to the person on the other end of the break up.
Words are enough. Keep a cool head, be polite and sensitive and then walk away.
Fourth: This part is not much easier than the others.
You need to set up boundaries that you don't want the other person to cross.
If you know the other person still wants to get back together with you, you will need to be considerate enough to them that you don't accidentally give them hope that you also want to reconcile.
So for the first several months especially, if you do interact with your ex you'll need to focus on limiting your interactions to small talk.
It's important you don't undo the clean break from the third step with your words.
It is my opinion that both people have to be on exactly the same page if a friendship is ever to come from the ended relationship.
It's possible, but rare and difficult.
So take that part very slowly or not at all.
Sometimes, if your ex is ever going to emotionally move on, you must limit your friendship and contact.
That might sound harsh but it can sometimes be the price paid for a romantic relationship that went bust.
If you have mutual friends it would be wise to be very careful with your words around them because it's likely your ex, if he/she wants to get back together, will be probing them for words you said that might suggest you want them back.
Don't share the details with mutual friends. You're better than that, right?
You know that could end up getting back to your ex and hurt his or her feelings. It's not necessary.
Share with someone who does not know your ex if you must, but don't keep talking about it constantly.
Last: Life goes on. It does but that doesn't mean you jump into another relationship the day after initiating a break up.
Only you will know when the time is right but it's not healthy for you to intentionally start another romantic relationship that quickly.
It's also not fair to your ex.
For example, it would be very unfair for them to see you kissing another person only a couple of days after you broke up with them.
It might cause them to believe you were cheating on them with that person while the two of you were together.
That can delay their healing process and cause a tremendous addition of unnecessary pain.
So be fair to yourself and your ex by taking the post breakup stage slowly.
Give yourself time to be with friends and time to be emotionally ready for another relationship if that is what you want.
Lastly, don't rule out getting back together with that person.
After a time apart, you might miss them and start thinking about what it would be like to get back together with them.
You never know what the future holds and you shouldn't beat yourself up for missing them and thinking about getting back together.
You are human, after all, and will go through changes and reflections that cause you to have a better understanding of yourself and life.
Maybe the breakup was right at the time you did it, but wrong now.
It happens. If you want them back after breaking up with them, and you have given yourself enough time to know for sure, reach out to them, apologize for hurting them, tell them that you still love them and ask if they'll consider taking you back.
Tell them you know it might take time for them to make up their mind.
I've written an article about a good process to getting them back after breaking up with them that you may read here.
No one wants to break up with someone but it's usually part of life.
Don't be reckless with other people's feelings, but don't be controlled by them either.