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How to break up with someone respectfully

Do it in person. 

It ain’t cool to send a text or do it over Facebook. It may feel easier for you in the moment, but it’s the last time you’ll be face-to-face with this person in this way, so front up and see them face-to-face. They may also keep seeking face-to-face time with you to get some answers, so think about how long you want to drag this on for. The more closure you can give them, the less likely they are to keep contacting you afterwards.

Do it in a safe and private place.

Since you might both be upset, privacy is essential BUT in case they flip out (you never know) choose a place that’s safe. Somewhere in public and during the day, maybe like a park or the beach. Have an exit strategy if you need to – such as someone to come pick you up or an "appointment" you have to leave for at a certain time. Let a friend or family member know what you are up to and have them close by or let them know where you are going and when you should be done by, if necessary.  

Be clear.

Before you talk to them, write down what you want to say so it's clear in your mind. Make sure you clearly say that you are breaking up with them. Don’t feel like you have to come up with reasons that sound good. Even if the only reason is that you just don’t want to be with them anymore, then say that. That is a good enough reason.

Stay strong.

Your partner may desperately try to convince you that they will change... they will make it give them another chance. It is important to stick to your guns and don’t just give in. Even if you believe what they are saying and you want to give them another chance, it’s probably best for you to go through with the break up and then think about whether you want to change your mind later. You don’t want to end up feeling trapped rather than relieved.   

Be calm.

Pick a time when you are both calm, ready to talk and ready to listen, rather than bringing it up when you’re fighting. Use language that isn’t blaming, judging, attacking or really mean. This will put them on the defensive and could cause a fight rather than a talk. If you feel you’re getting worked up or angry during the conversation, take some deep breaths or a five minute break to calm down.


Don’t back down or change your mind, but also let them have their say about how they feel. Don’t interrupt. Don’t defend. Just listen and only when they are finished, share with them about what they have said. Remember, they are probably feeling shocked, angry, sad, and a whole lot more. Give them the space to share with you how they feel but if they get abusive or threatening feel free to say that they do not have the right to speak to you like that and if they continue, then leave the conversation. 


Have good boundaries after the break up about how much contact you have with each other. It’s important to give each other time and space to heal. You might agree to not have any contact with each other for a certain time (like a month) to get used to being away from each other. Remember, to stick to it. This takes a lot of strength. If they text or call you when you agreed you wouldn’t talk to them, it means not replying. It also means not giving them false hope. No late night texting saying that you miss them – even if you do! Give yourself and them space and time!