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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
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.