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Here’s how to break up with someone respectfully

by eharmony Editorial Team - May 2, 2022

Most relationships don’t go the distance and deciding how to break up with someone is never easy – there’s a reason ghosting is so popular. Even though it can seem easier to just leave the person on read, it can be disrespectful to your prospective ex. If you’re wondering what to say to break up with someone, we have a list of tips and sample texts for how to break up with someone nicely.

What to keep in mind when breaking up with someone

Sometimes the reasons for breaking up are obvious like cheating. But other times, a relationship simply doesn’t work out, which makes understanding how to break up with someone a little more complicated. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

1. Ghosting is never the answer to how should you break up

While ghosting may seem like the easy option, it really isn’t. It leaves you and your partner with no closure and wondering what went wrong. If you decided that you wanted to commit to this person, clearly there is an emotional connection and respect in the relationship. As hard as it may be, it’s best to have the conversation.

2. Think about what you’ll say

You don’t want to actively hurt your partner, which is why it can be so hard to figure out how to break up with someone. Make what to say to break up with someone easier on yourself by planning it beforehand – make notes, talk it over with a friend or therapist, or simply spend a few minutes before the actual conversation thinking through what you want to say.

3. Be direct and keep the focus on the relationship

It can be tempting to use the breakup conversation to air all your grievances, but resist. Instead, keep the conversation short and stick to the reasons the relationship didn’t work, rather than any faults of your partner. Think of it like ripping off a Band-Aid – it’s better done quickly and cleanly.

4. Don’t attempt to keep the friendship

This might be controversial, but it’s rare a pair of exes can become friends. For the sake of your sanity, and new relationships in the future, it’s best to go no-contact. And yes, that includes looking up your ex on social media. Make the split a clean break and it will heal cleaner and likely quicker. We suggest unfollowing your ex on all social media and even deleting their number if you have to.

5. Acknowledge that it hurts, and that’s okay

Breaking up is hard, even if you’re the one doing the dumping and even if you ended the relationship for good reasons. Allow yourself to feel those emotions and grieve if you feel the need – it’s a totally understandable reaction. You should also feel free to lean on friends and family for support, and schedule me-time or self-care if you need it.

How to break up with someone by text

Although breaking up with someone is best done face to face, there are times when a text can be a better option, like if it’s a more casual relationship. Here are some tips:

Keep it short and simple

Texts aren’t emails. Resist the urge to over-explain and stick to the facts.

Example: ‘Hey [person’s name]. I’ve enjoyed spending time with you, but I don’t think we’re a good fit for the long term. I wish you all the best.’

Double-check your spelling and grammar

Even without autocorrect’s tendency to be the ducking worst, you should always double-check your messages for errors and for clarity. Plus, while there’s nothing inherently wrong with GIFs, emojis, or abbreviations, a break-up text is best written in more proper English.

Example: ‘Hey there [person’s name]. I’m sorry, but this doesn’t seem to be working, and I think we would be better off seeing other people. I do wish you the best and am sure you’ll find a great person.’

Avoid clichés

The popularity of “it’s not you, it’s me” makes it a bad choice for a break-up text and using clichés might give the impression you didn’t put any thought into the message. It’s best to personalize the text if you can, while keeping it kind.

Example: ‘Hi [person’s name]. I really enjoyed debating DC versus Marvel with you (DC all the way), but I don’t think there’s enough of a spark between us to continue this relationship. I wish you the best, though.’

How to break up with someone in-person

Breaking up with someone face-to-face is infinitely harder than by phone, email, or even text, but it’s the right thing to do. If you’ve been together for a long time or have made a significant commitment, then you should break up face-to-face. Some tips for how to break up with someone in person:

Don’t drag it out

Just as when you’re breaking up with someone over text, it’s best to keep things short and simple in person.

Tip: Even if you have a list of reasons why they’re a terrible person, resist the urge to tell them every single one. It might be cathartic, but it won’t be particularly useful or productive – save the litany of their inadequacies for drinks with your friends instead.

Pick an appropriate time and place

One of the keys for how to break up with someone in person is choosing when and where. This will depend on several factors. For instance, you don’t want to break up the week before Christmas or 20 minutes before they have a major presentation. It’s also better to break up with someone in private so they can react without fear of onlookers or judgement.

Tip: Have a friend nearby (either physically or on the phone) so you have support during and after the conversation.

Prepare for a range of reactions

One of the downsides of breaking up with someone in person is that you’ll be there for the immediate aftermath, which could go any number of ways – they may get angry, they may be sad or upset, they may beg you to change your mind. First, remember that you can’t control their reactions, just yours. Second, stick to your initial decision – you had good reasons to break up, and their reaction doesn’t change that.

Tip: Figure out how you’ll react to a variety of possible reactions, so you’re not blindsided into making bad decisions.

Endings are hard but sometimes necessary

Every new beginning is some beginning’s end, and the same is true for relationships. There’s no doubt that breaking up is tough and figuring out how to break up with someone is tougher – even when you’ve decided what to say to break up with someone. But letting go of old relationships leaves room in your life for better ones – and eharmony is a great place to begin your search for love once again.

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