How to end a relationship on good terms? This is a question that often gives people sleepless nights as they stand at the cusp of a breakup. Unless the relationship has been deeply toxic, abusive, or unhealthy, this is a question that warrants some deliberation from the person pulling the plug. After all, ending of relationships can be a bitter pill to swallow and trigger an excruciating grieving process.
Handling the breakup conversation sensitively can not only blunt the blow to some extent but also make it possible to keep things cordial with your soon-to-be ex. So, how can you end a relationship on good terms? Well, the first step is to craft your break-up speech carefully and handle the situation with a generous smattering of patience and compassion. So yes, an amicable split does take more effort than just shooting a polite message to end a relationship, but on the bright side, it also helps avoid a lot of drama.
However, striking a balance between breaking up on good terms so that things don’t get so bitter that you can’t be in each other’s life anymore and making sure your compassion doesn’t open the gates to a complicated on-again-off-again situation can be a tight rope to walk. To help you maneuver this process, we bring you some breakup advice, in consultation with psychologist Anita Eliza (M.Sc in Applied Psychology), who specializes in issues like anxiety, depression, relationships, and self-esteem. Her breakup tips and guidance will help you figure out how to end a relationship gracefully.
7 Valid Reasons To End A Relationship
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Before we get to how to make a clean break from a partner without burning bridges, we must address another pertinent dilemma: how to know when to break up with someone. You may have been thinking about breaking up, but before you act on those thoughts, it’s imperative to be 100% sure that this is what you want so that you don’t end up regretting your decision or going back and forth between breaking up and getting back together.
If thoughts like, “My boyfriend is perfect, but I want to break up” or “I want to break up with my girlfriend but I love her” are clouding your mind, a look at the following perfectly valid reasons to end a relationship may help you gain perspective:
1. The relationship is getting in the way of your success and growth
Brie was enjoying her budding romance with a guy she had met at the gym when she landed a much-awaited promotion at work. The requirements of her new role required greater commitment and energy, ten-hour workdays and constantly having to leave town for meetings. Her busy schedule became a constant bone of contention in the relationship, and Brie thought it was best to end things with her boyfriend since it was all still new and neither was too emotionally invested yet.
If you find yourself in a similar situation where a relationship or your partner is getting in the way of your success and growth or you feel guilty about prioritizing your goals and needs above them, it may be best to part ways. Particularly if it’s a new relationship. While we all like to have someone to come home to, it might be unfair to keep a partner just hanging or benching them when your mind is occupied elsewhere.
2. Lack of emotional satisfaction
You might be drifting apart, are too different in your worldview, or may have other priorities that prevent you from giving your 100% to the relationship. Any of these factors can get in the way of the emotional connect you feel with your partner. If a relationship is not emotionally comforting, it’s time to rethink whether it’s worth it. If the warm hugs, kisses, and smiles are missing or do not evoke the same feeling as before, it’s a perfectly legitimate reason to end a relationship.
Related Reading: 21 Dos And Don’ts Of Breaking Up With Your Girlfriend
3. Being treated as an afterthought
“You should never settle for being treated as an afterthought in a relationship. Intimate relationships require a consistent effort from both partners to thrive. If your partner doesn’t actively try to create space for you in their heart, mind, and life, it’s an indisputable relationship red flag that warrants your attention,” explains Eliza.
If they keep dodging your calls and forgetting important dates, chances are that they are not prioritizing you. It is pointless to hang on to the hope that they will change their ways. The best recourse is to figure out how to end a relationship that is not going anywhere and cut one’s losses.
4. Abuse and manipulation in a relationship
The most vital piece of ending relationship advice we have for you is to never put up with toxicity, abuse in any form, or romantic manipulation in a relationship. The red flags of an abusive/toxic/manipulative partner may include:
- Demeaning you
- Invalidating your feelings
- Isolating your from your loved ones
- Playing mind games to control you
- Using threats to have their way
- Displaying unhealthy jealousy
This is not an exhaustive list since the range of unhealthy relationship behaviors can be wide-ranging. However, if your gut instinct tells you that you’re not being treated right, and your partner makes you feel anxious, smothered, and overwhelmed rather than safe, secure, and loved, you need to figure out how to get out of a relationship that puts your mental health and physical well-being in jeopardy. Don’t worry about leaving a relationship respectfully, in this situation; you need to prioritize self-preservation above everything else.
5. Trust issues
Trust issues can be a valid reason for ending a relationship with someone you love. If your partner is a compulsive liar, shows signs of dishonesty, has cheated or betrayed your trust in the past, or continues to engage in behaviors that make you insecure, it’s time to assess whether you’re right for one another. it might be time to re-assess how good they are for you.
On the flip side, it can be equally hard to build a wholesome, healthy relationship if your partner struggles with trust issues, which make them suspicious of you and you always find yourself proving to them that you’re cheating or sneaking around behind their back. Our breakup advice to you would be to rip this bandaid off sooner rather than later.
Related Reading: Trust Issues – 10 Signs You Find It Difficult To Trust Anyone
6. They refuse to compromise
Eliza says, “Compromises are an integral part of a healthy relationship as long as they are mutual. But when only one partner keeps compromising and the other insists on having their way, the relationship can become tiresome and frustrating. Of course, telling your partner that you want to break up isn’t the only solution to this issue.
“If it is a long-term relationship and both partners are invested in one another and their future together, they can work things out through better communication and consistent effort. However, if despite stating your needs or telling your partner that their lack of flexibility is adversely affecting your relationship with them, they refuse to make amends, it may just be in your best interest to walk away.”
7. Falling out of love
If you’re spending an inordinate amount of time wondering, “Can lost feelings come back?” or “How to tell someone you lost feelings for them?”, perhaps it is time to acknowledge that you’ve fallen out of love with your partner and need to move on. It is not unusual for people to fall out of love with their partner – or fall in love with someone else. In fact, it is one of the most common reasons relationships end. So, if you find yourself at this crossroads, don’t prolong your agony and that of your partner. You are thinking about breaking up, might as well have a conversation and go through with it.
How To End A Relationship On Good Terms?
Now that we’ve covered the reasons to end a relationship, let’s get to the question of how to end a relationship on good terms. To be brutally honest with you, no amount of tips and tricks is going to make leaving a relationship easy or pain-free for anyone. That’s why, many people wonder, “Is it possible to end a relationship on good terms?”
Admittedly, the ending of relationships inevitably brings pain and hurt in its wake. However, by putting some thought into how best to convey this to your partner and looking for nicer ways to express your feelings – or lack thereof – you can make the process somewhat easier for the both of you. And perhaps, even find a way to stay friends once you’ve both processed the trauma and the pain.
While you can’t control your partner’s reactions to your decision to end things with them, you can certainly make an effort of breaking up on good terms. Broadly, this entails speaking from a place of compassion, and avoiding behaviors such as blame-shifting, name-calling, yelling, hurling accusations, or saying hurtful things. Given that you may find yourself struggling with empathy and compassion may not come easy when you’re dealing with a person whose actions may have contributed to your decision to call it quits, here are 10 actionable tips on how to end a relationship on good terms:
Related Reading: How To Break Up With A Guy Nicely?
1. To end a relationship gracefully, do it in person
How to split up amicably? How to end a relationship without hurting the other person? Well, if there’s one ending relationship advice to make this experience less harrowing, it is that you must do it in person. Nobody wants a death note sent to their inbox or postbox. It doesn’t matter if you come up with the most polite message to end a relationship, breaking up over text is impersonal and rude.
Whether you’re ending a long-distance relationship with someone you love or pulling the plug on a new relationship that doesn’t feel right, you must meet your partner in person, look them in the eye, and let them know you want to break up. Eliza says, “A face-to-face conversation is always the most mature way of letting someone know you want to break up with them. It shows that you value them and feel that you owe them an explanation of why you want to end the relationship.”
The lack of intimacy in online conversations allows people to bottle up their emotions instead of talking things out honestly. That’s why so many people resort to ghosting in the online dating space. If you want to stay friends with your ex, have a cordial relationship with them, or at the very least, don’t want them to hate you, you must give them the closure they need to heal and move on.
2. Avoid public places
Knowing when and where to have ‘the talk’ is just as important as knowing what to say in a breakup conversation if not more. Whether you’re ending a relationship with someone you love or someone who still loves you even though you may not feel the same way about them, emotions are bound to run high at this time.
What if your partner flips out and you get into a big argument? What if they start sobbing inconsolably? Or saying hurtful things in anger? That’s precisely why you need a space where you both can express yourself without inhibition or feeling self-conscious about the quizzical glances of onlookers.
Eliza advises, “Avoid breaking up with someone in public as it can embarrass them or make them feel cornered. A private setting is ideal for such a conversation. It’d be best if you do it at their place, so you can leave when you feel the need to, or in a neutral setting, such as a friend’s hour.”
3. Plan out your break up speech
Want to end things on good terms? Then you must plan what you want to say to them. A breakup conversation needn’t resemble a work presentation and you do not have to read from a curated list. At the same time, you can’t just say you’re not into it and be done with it. Clarity is important.
Besides, when emotions are running high and your partner is pleading with you to give them another chance, it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed and not be able to clearly articulate why you’ve arrived at the decision to end the relationship. A little preparation and planning come in handy at times like these. Make a mental list of instances, occurrences, and thoughts that you want to bring up during the conversation.
Eliza says, “How you phrase your words during the breakup is the most important thing governing its outcome. It’s best to tell your partner the things that didn’t work for you or bothered you rather than blaming them for how you feel.” Knowing what went wrong will help both of you ensure that you get closure and you can move on without bitterness or resentment.
4. Leave room for their feelings
When you are leaving a relationship, you have already decided that it is what you want to do. But that may not be the case for your partner. If they didn’t see the breakup coming, they may feel blindsided. The suddenness of it all can bring up a lot of emotions. Make sure, you hear them out. After all, there are two sides to every breakup.
Remember, compassion goes a long way in ending a relationship on good terms. Eliza says, “Evaluate the reason for breaking up and have a proper conversation where you let your partner say their piece. It’s likely that the partner you are trying to break up with may not want to do so. Being calm and yet assertive about your reasons is important in such a case.”
Related Reading: How To Break Up With Someone Who Loves You?
5. Use ‘I’ language to end things on a good note
There should be no room for words like “your fault”, “I cannot believe you…” or “stay away from me” if you want to end a relationship in a good way. An accusatory tone and hurtful words will only fuel a potentially volatile situation. While you have every right to share the real reason behind your decision to call things off, you have to be mindful of your choice of words. Here are some phrases you can use to avoid a messy breakup:
- “I strongly feel that”
- “I hope you do not take this too personally”
- “I’ve been uncomfortable lately”
- “I no longer want the same things as you”
While it’s perfectly reasonable, and also necessary, to share your reasons for breaking up, avoid going into too much detail as it can open up a can of worms. You both may end up digging up past issues, which can quickly lead to the blame-game, and make you feel bad about the trajectory of your relationship.
6. Mention the good memories
Is it better to end a relationship on good terms? Yes, of course, it is! And here’s why: a relationship, even if it didn’t last, must have made you happy at some point and contributed to your growth as a person. To remind your partner that you will continue cherishing them, bring up the good times and tell them how much you enjoyed making memories with them. That’s the key to figuring out how to get out of a relationship without trampling all over the other person’s heart.
Mention the times they made you feel less alone or taught you an important lesson. It’s good breakup etiquette to try and make the other person feel better, especially if they didn’t expect it will end like this and are still coming to terms with this reality. Stirring in this hint of positivity in the breakup conversation will make it easier for you to reconnect once the dust has settled on your breakup. Who knows, you may find a trusted friend in your ex!
7. Discuss taking time off before being friends again
You can go from being romantic partners to being close friends immediately. You need some time apart to heal from the pain, recuperate emotionally, and grow as individuals. It is a good idea to follow the no-contact rule and agree upon a duration for which you’d like to steer clear of one another. It can be anywhere from a few weeks to a month, 6 months, a year, or more.
You and your ex too may need time before you’re ready to be in each other’s life again, despite your efforts to leave a relationship on good terms. The fact that you decide to break up in the first place indicates that there was something amiss in your connection. The negative emotions associated with the unpleasant memories of your relationship can flare up and make things bitter if you start engaging with each other too soon.
8. Be open to hearing about your own mistakes too
Nobody ever said, “We ended our relationship on good terms”, with one person constantly pointing out the other’s faults as they sat and quietly listened to the laundry list. Keep in mind, it takes two to tango. If the relationship has been going downhill for a while, chances are that your partner will have a few complaints of their own regarding your role in it.
Even if they are just harmless mistakes, their decision to bring them up can sting, especially when you’re trying to end a relationship in a good way. If they bring up some of your shortcomings, do not be baffled or get defensive. Listen intently and apologize for hurting them. Avoid getting into specific details, as it can lead the conversation into the territory of placing blame.
9. Thank them for everything
How to end a relationship on good terms? Sprinkle a little gratitude in your conversation. Sure, things aren’t exactly rosy at this time, and you too may be hurting as you in your own way, but I’m sure it wasn’t always like this. You may be headed in different directions now but this person held a special meaning for you at some point and enriched your life. That experience is always going to stay with you.
The best way to leave a relationship on a good note is to thank them for everything they’ve done for you. Telling him it’s over or telling her you want to break up does not have to be a bitter or hateful affair. It can end with a soft caress, a sweet goodbye kiss, and an honest “Thank you for being in my life.”
However, make sure your expression of gratitude doesn’t give them false hope of a reconciliation. Be polite, be genuine, but at the same time, stand firm on your decision. Yes, it’s not easy to end a relationship gracefully, but if this person meant something to you, it’s worth the effort to save them from a world of pain in the long term.
10. Don’t be cold to their tears but don’t get carried away either
When you break up with someone, expect them to be emotionally distressed, even moved to tears. When that happens, you must neither feel bad about your decision nor be so detached that you don’t even make an effort to make them feel better. This can be a tricky balance to strike, and most people end up either getting swayed by this emotional breakdown and start rethinking their decision or act so cold and distant that the other person begins to resent them.
To help you get this part right, Eliza advises, “Breakups can be an impulsive decision or a well-thought-out one. In either case, it can be distressing to the person at the receiving end. It is very important for the person who decided to break up to reflect on the reason for doing so and not be carried away by the emotional reaction of his or her partner.”
To cause minimal hurt to your partner, allow yourself to hold them and care for them in that moment. A warm embrace can make the moment lighter. It’s this hug that they will remember all their life and it will ultimately help them overcome any negative feelings they may have for you. This is a good way of breaking off peacefully, but be careful and be mindful of your boundaries. You don’t want this conversation to end with breakup sex.
What To Say To End A Relationship On Good Terms?
Whoever said, “Words can make or break you”, sure knew what they were talking about. Even the most routine conversations can turn volatile if the choice of words is not right. When you are metaphorically holding another person’s heart and soul in your hands, it becomes even more pertinent to choose your words carefully and eloquently. So, if you’re still wondering, “How can you end a relationship on good terms?”, perhaps this rundown on breakup lines will help:
- “I’m as saddened by this as you”
- “I hope you find happiness”
- “I’m afraid we are not good for each other anymore”
- “I can’t do this anymore and you deserve better”
- “This is unfortunately not what I thought it would be”
- “I love you but we want different things”
- “I’m ending a casual relationship because I want more”
- “I know I can’t say anything to make you feel better right now but I will always wish well for you”
- “I hope we can spend time together as friends someday”
- “It may not seem like it right now, but you will always have a special place in may heart”
- “I wish we could make things work but it was not meant to be”
- Breaking up on good terms requires more thoughtfulness and extra effort. But if the person means something to you, it’s worth the effort
- Before you get to the break-up conversation, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and 100% sure of your decision
- Approach the conversation with compassion and empathy, let your partner express themselves, be gentle but firm, and avoid getting into slinging matches or assigning blame if you want to end a relationship on a good note
- Choose your words carefully to make sure you don’t trample over your soon-to-be ex’s heart
When you tell your partner you want to break up, the conversation can take many twists and turns. From pleading with you to change your mind to lashing out in anger, their reactions can change rapidly as they go through a gamut of emotions. The important thing to remember is to not get sucked into this emotional turmoil. As long as you are mindful of these little things and act from a place of compassion, it won’t be hard to figure out how to end a relationship on good terms.
This article has been updated in May 2023.