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How to Say It’s Over and End a Relationship

How do you find the right words? Ending a relationship with someone you once loved (and perhaps still love) is hard. It hurts to break up, but you can say good-bye with love and compassion. These tips will help you figure out what to say to end a relationship and say goodbye to someone you care about.

The best book I’ve ever read on ending a relationship is Dr Henry Cloud’s Necessary Endings. It might be a bit much to give this book to the person you’re breaking up with, but it offers excellent insights into saying goodbye. This book is about the necessity of closure and even gives tips on what to say to end a relationship. And it’s not just for romantic relationships; Dr Cloud’s advice applies to endings of all types.

“Getting to the next level always requires ending something, leaving it behind, and moving on,” writes Dr Cloud in Necessary Endings. “Growth itself demands that we move on. Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.”

Is it time to break up with your boyfriend? Whether or not you feel stuck in a relationship – and even if you feel eager to see it end – give yourself time to grieve your loss. It’s hard to say goodbye, even when a relationship has to end.

What to Say to End a Relationship

You can end your relationship without completely crushing your boyfriend. After all, you once loved him — and at some level, you probably still do love him. Saying good-bye won’t be easy, but you want to do it with as little heartache and drama as possible.

If you’re ending a relationship with someone who is struggling with emotional health issues, read How to Break Up With Someone Who is Depressed. That kind of goodbye is a little different.

1. Say good-bye in person, face to face

What to Say to End a Relationship
What to Say to End a Relationship

I know it’s painful and difficult to end a relationship, but your boyfriend deserves a face-to-face good-bye. Even more meaningful is a discussion about why the relationship is over. Don’t use email, voicemail, or text messages (or Twitter or Facebook or YouTube) to end a relationship, even if you’ve only been together a few weeks or months. Don’t just disappear, either. It’s not easy to tell someone it’s over, but if you ghost him you’ll never forgive yourself.

2. Choose the “least worst” time and place

Some of the worst times to end relationships are right after family funerals, on New Year’s Eve, at huge public events, and just before birthdays. When you’re figuring out how to say a love relationship is over, you’ll never find the best time and place – but you can choose the least worst ones. Choose a place that’s private, and allows your boyfriend to react without being embarrassed. This will help you know what to say to end a relationship.

3. Practice saying the words that will end your relationship

Before you meet, rehearse the most important things you want to say – but don’t give a totally “canned” performance. Say something like, “I’m sorry to say this, but I just don’t see us going forward together. You deserve to be in a wonderful relationship, but I don’t think I’m the one.” By the way — if you’re ending the relationship because of physical or emotional infidelity, you might be interested in rebuilding trust after a betrayal.

4. Talk about your boyfriend’s strengths

It may feel weird to talk about your boyfriend’s positive qualities when you’re ending the relationship, but it will help him. Share what you like about him, what worked in your relationship, and how sad you are that it has to end. Be honest about what drew you to him in the first place, and why it hurts to have to say goodbye. Your boyfriend will remember these things later…perhaps for the rest of his life.

5. Allow yourself to grieve and feel guilty

You’re a kind person who cares about what you should and shouldn’t say to someone you love. Ending a relationship doesn’t mean you’re selfish, wrong, or bad. It just means it’s time to move on and close that chapter in your life. You have your reasons for saying good-bye. Don’t let your boyfriend make you feel guilty or try to convince you to stay in the relationship. You’ll be doing it for the wrong reasons. When you don’t know what to say to end a relationship, be honest. Tell him you wish you had the perfect words, but you need to be honest with him.

6. Tell the truth: you don’t know what to say

Do you feel sad, afraid, awkward, or terrible about saying it’s over? Tell your boyfriend just how hard it is to break up with him. Be as honest as you can without hurting his feelings unnecessarily. Say something like, “I don’t know how to say this because it’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but there’s something you need to know.” Describe how you feel and why you need to end the relationship.

7. Give your boyfriend time to respond

Ending a relationship can involve anger, tears, bitterness — or no reaction at all. It depends on your boyfriend, you, and the circumstances. Part of saying “our relationship is over” involves letting your partner share feelings and emotions. Remember that the initial reaction might be awkward (even scary and painful!), but it’ll soon wind down…and you both will be able to talk calmly. Soon, you’ll both be at the letting go and healing stages. When you’re thinking about what to say to end a relationship, allow time for silence and even shock. Give your boyfriend time to absorb what you just told him.

Also, be prepared for the possibility that your boyfriend won’t accept the fact that your relationship is over.

8. Be empathetic

You’ve been rejected; you know how bad it feels. It might help your boyfriend if said something like: “I can understand that you’re angry and hurt. This isn’t the way I wanted our relationship to work out. I’m sorry for hurting you.” Ending an unhealthy or unhappy relationship is painful, and it could be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.

If you have any tips for saying it’s over to someone you care about, please comment below. Ending a relationship is a little easier when you can talk about what you’re going through with people who are facing a similar struggle.

Are you struggling with your relationship? Get free help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.


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19 thoughts on “How to Say It’s Over and End a Relationship”

  1. I love this guy, but not love love. i’m not allowed to date according to my parents. we have been dating for almost a year now and i’m my parents don’t understand so it’s a secret relationship. i don’t know if this is gonna work out or if he is the one. he is crazy about me so i don’t know if i want to lose someone special like him or if im doing the right thing by letting him go.

  2. Yes but we are still not able to leave him and he still loves me. I m deoressed plz advise.Cant do without him at all.

  3. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Shikha,

    I don’t think you should take revenge on the man you’re having an affair with. You can’t give him a commitment or a real relationship, and he wants to settle down and build a life with a wife.

    If you can’t give him what he needs, how can you begrudge him for leaving?

  4. Dear maam,

    I have a very peculiar problem , im married and ahve 06 yrs old daughter , it was a love marriage and by the time went my husband stopped giving attention tome and nver hugged me or appreciated foe anything i did, due to some pressures o finanacial or we wanted to have our own house and he was worried for accumulating money and took me for granted .I also work at the sqame place .Meanwhile i met a person at my work place and fell deeply in love wit bim .He cared for me a lot and was completely loyal to me.He even asked me for the marriage propoasl but i denied due to social pressure and my daughter.
    03 yrs our relation went and now this new person got married as his parents told him , now i am toatlly depressed and broken.I vcant take it that a new girl has entered his life and im trying to make problems in his life.
    He ahs asked me to wait till he joins back he will speak to me , but i have no patience and hate him like anything.He z in a process of settling with his wife which i cant take out of sheer jealousy and I m destroying my life happiness.

    Please advise wat shuld i do and how should i react to this situation..
    he should be given time or revenge.

  5. Hello Tracy

    In sociology and psychology, self-esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. Self-esteem is your overall opinion of yourself — how you feel about your abilities and limitations. When you have healthy self-esteem, you feel good about yourself and see yourself as deserving the respect of others. When you have low self-esteem, you put little value on your opinions and ideas. You might constantly worry that you aren’t good enough. When you said he was engaged to his cousin, is this a cultural thing or religion thing? You are just 17, you life and life experiences are ahead of you. Do NOT BEG a man/boy to do or tell anyone anything, he has made it clear that he doesn’t want to upset his parents, but listen he doesn’t mind upsetting you…bottom line is he doesn’t love you like he says he does…..You need to get out your last BIG CRY after that release it to GOD, so that GOD will send you someone that deserves you. God doesn’t want you miserable, a loner, dying, dead inside…. How is you boyfriend not allowing you to have friends???? I don’t understand that…are you his prisoner? You are the one in control of your destiny NOT some 17 year old that doesn’t love you…learn to LOVE yourself Tracy, you are worth it. Do some reading on self-esteem, that is how you will say goodbye to him…and hello to the next one!

  6. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    The most important thing you could ever do – the best, most valuable gift you could give yourself – is to get emotionally and spiritually health!

    Take time to pull away from the hurricane of emotions that rises when you think about what to say to end a relationship, how to heal after a break up, what people will think, how your boyfriend will react, etc. You need to be still, be calm, and focus. Center yourself. Connect with God.

    Seek solitude, and connect with yourself. What do you want out of your life? What do you need, and where are you going? Write down all the emotions and thoughts that are swirling around in your head. Get all that stuff out, and start to go beneath the tornado.

    That’s where you’ll find peace. Especially if you pray, and connect with Jesus. He is the source of freedom, peace, and love…and He will help you heal from whatever happens in your life.

    Get emotionally and spiritually healthy by taking a step back from the frantic emotions and people, and by being still. And, read books that help with the issues you’re facing. Talk to wise people who can help you grow and learn.

    I wish you all the best as you move forward. May you make wise decisions – and most importantly, may you connect with God for peace, joy, and freedom in your life!


  7. I i dont know how to say this i mean these tips may help me but ohkay i fell in love when i was 13 years old and we had the best best time ever i mean me and my boyfriend after a looonnggg time he told me he loves me but as a kid his parents got him engaged to his cousin . I was so very very sad . I have turned 17 now and everything is still the same . I always BEG him to tell his parents that he loves someone else not his cousin but ME but my boyfriend always told me he doesnt wanna upset his parents . Its been years and im crying and crying . I have made my mom cry my dad cry . I want to yell at him for the damage he has caused me but i love him so much . He makes fun of me he doesnt talk to me and doesnt let me talk to other people . I am a TEENAGER and i need help please . What should i do because my boyfriend doesnt let me have friends i am a loner now and my life is miserable i cry so much i cry rivers . What will happen if i say Goodbye will i be ohkay or will i end up dying . Im death inside already please i need help :,( i am here all alone

  8. I need help ending a relationship. I love this guy. We were neighbours before. He asked me out and I accepted. I fell in love with him and now we are having issues he doesn’t call and he only chats with me once in a while. I love him but I also want out. How do I end this relationship?

  9. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Nan,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing your experience of how difficult it is to hear that your relationship is over. My prayer is that you find healing and joy in your life, and that you move forward with hope and faith in your future.

    Ending a love relationship is so painful, whether or not you were the one to say it’s over. But, if you believe that your relationship ended for reasons that are good, then you will heal faster. Trust that this relationship wasn’t meant to be, wasn’t good for you, and needed to end. That will help you heal.


  10. Honesty is the best tip for ending a relationship. Sometimes knowing how to say it’s over to someone you care about takes a great deal of thought and planning! Better to end well – and softly – than make things worse by saying the wrong things.

  11. Dear Kairo,

    I’m sorry you’re in pain; my heart goes out to you. In time, your heartache will heal – and you will fall in love again!


  12. It’s hard . When you love someone and you realize you have to end your relationship for the benefit of everyone involved. It hurts.
    I don’t know if the wound ever heals completely.I hope the hurt subsides with time.

  13. Sometimes it takes time for the person you broke up with to forgive you and heal. It’s not easy to recover when someone says it’s over, and you can’t expect him to just walk away without being hurt.

    If you said it’s over in a hurtful way because you were frustrated, then maybe you need to apologize. There’s a difference between ending a love relationship because you need to move on, and hurting someone you were once close to.

  14. i have to have help i broke up with my bf and i am a teenage girl and im going thru a whole lot i have a another gf as in im bisexual i like them both but i broke up with him today and i cursed him out and now he is so sensitive and when i did it he wouldnt leave me alone so i cussed him out and then he got upset and has been not over me and i bought my gf a necklace and my boyfriend a santa hat i dont know what to do please help

  15. Yea, what if you were very heavily burdened with belongings and pets, and have no place to go, with no family? Then what?

  16. hi i’am bronte i really need help i have been in a realationship with my boyfriend for about 3yrs i’am now live with him and his family and now i’am just not my slef anymore or happy i’am always down upset mood and sh**ty me and my boyfriend fight all the time we just cant get along anymore i do love him but i just want to be happy and if we do break up i have no where to go becasuse my family has left me please help me what should i do i’am sick of wake up every day feel like this !!!!!


  18. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    It’s really important not to drag things out. If you want to end a love relationship, don’t wait and hope it gets better! The longer you wait, the more you will hurt him. And in the end, you will end up hurting yourself for what you have done.