You know your relationship has run its course and you want to end it, but you want to know how to end a relationship nicely, not with malice and hate.

There are two sides to the end of any relationship. The person who wants to end it and the person who’s surprised by the breakup. Either way, both people experience the pain of the breakup, but if it’s right for you, it’s something you need to go through.

And there are ways to end a relationship nicely. It’s possible he feels the same way but is also wondering how he can end things with you without hurting your feelings. You won’t know until you confront the situation.

Today, I have for you the do’s and don’ts of how to end a relationship nicely, but before we begin with that, allow me to take a few moments to show you signs that your relationship is truly over.

how to end a relationship

Signs Your Relationship is Really Over

Below are signs your relationship is over, but it’s important to note that some of them can be overcome, usually with couples therapy.

You Have No Emotional Connection

Love is an emotional connection, and while many couples love one another, that love can dissipate if other things get in the way. There are four behaviors, sometimes called the four horsemen of relationship destruction, that can get in the way and destroy your emotional connection. They are criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.

These behaviors can drive out any emotional connection you may have had.

There can also be no emotional connection if one or both of you were raised in an environment that lacked an emotional connection between the parents or all family members. If this is the case, you or your partner might not know how to form such a connection.

What this looks like:

  • You don’t feel comfortable sharing your vulnerabilities
  • There’s no spark between you
  • You don’t feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings
  • The old fun banter between you is gone

What little connection there seemed to be is now gone, and with it goes the relationship.

Communication Between You is Negative or Non-Existent

Good communication is at the core of any great relationship, but when relationships break down, poor communication is often one of the reasons.

In this situation, there is probably little to no communication, positive or negative. Instead of discussing problems, you both shove them down and pretend like they don’t exist.

You might feel like you’re walking on eggshells all the time, knowing there are volatile issues lurking just beneath the surface.

If one of you feels like the other is walking all over them, there is likely a communication problem lurking.

Feeling like all you’re doing is keeping the peace means things have broken down to a point that might not be recoverable.

On the other hand, the communication between you may be aggressive and confrontational. You argue a lot and it always feels like one or the other of you is picking a fight for the sake of arguing.

When this happens, one or both partners are experiencing frustration and that frustration continues to build, like steam in a pressure cooker. Venting your anger lets off the steam for a little while, but it just builds up again as soon as the lid to your emotions is put back on.

Trust is Eroded or Non-Existent

Trust is another vital element of a good relationship, and when it’s gone, the result is destructive.

There are a few ways in which trust disappears. The first is that it never was there. If one of you has trust issues, you’ll find it difficult to trust anyone. This often comes from having your trust broken badly sometime in the past.

Of course, trust can disappear if one of you has an affair, and that type of break is recoverable, but it takes a long time.

Trust can also be broken if someone is caught in a lie. The seriousness of this break in trust is correlated to the significance of the lie.

In any case, if there is no trust, you don’t have some of the solid bricks for the foundation of your relationship.

Sexual Attraction is Gone

The sexual attraction between two partners is important. There are times during a relationship when this attraction comes and goes, but if it seems to be gone forever, it’s a problem.

Physical intimacy is critical to sustaining a relationship. When you touch one another, oxytocin is released, supporting the feelings of love and connection.

If you’re dating and abstaining from sex, this doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed. Note that I said the physical intimacy involved touching, not specifically sex.

If you feel the attraction and you want to enjoy that physical intimacy, you don’t have a problem. It’s when the attraction is gone, and you have no desire to touch him that you have a problem.

You Don’t See Him in Your Future

If you’ve just started dating, chances are you won’t see him in your future, and you shouldn’t, but if breaking up with him is this big of a decision, I’m guessing you’re not in a newer relationship.

So you look into your future and you don’t see him. Maybe it’s a gray haze or maybe you don’t see anyone yet, but whatever you see, he’s not there.

You might feel as if your lifestyles are too different or there’s just something about him that doesn’t feel like it fits.

The reason doesn’t matter. The point is that he doesn’t feel like he belongs in your life long-term. It’s okay. When we date, we’re trying people on. Sometimes, they just don’t fit.

You DO See Someone Else in Your Future

So you don’t see your current boyfriend in your future, who do you see? Fantasizing about a relationship with someone else is also a relationship red flag.

Having fantasies about someone else is normal to a degree. It’s when those thoughts make you feel guilty and seem to upset your inner peace that they become a problem.

Are these thoughts distracting you from your relationship? Is your fantasy about someone you know? Do you fantasize about having sex with him, or is it less specific?

Some fantasies are healthy if they aren’t damaging what you have now, but if they’re taking away from your relationship, they’re another red flag.

You Aren’t There for One Another

When we have a partner in our lives, it means we’re there for one another, good times and bad. But when you feel alone in your journey, even though you have a partner, that’s when you know there’s a problem.

Your guy should be someone you can call when you have a flat tire or when your dog dies. He’s someone who will be there for you when something tragic happens and vice versa.

But when you aren’t there for one another, there’s a problem.

Sometimes a disconnect occurs when you both seem to be traveling different paths. Your goals may be to further your education or your career while your partner wants to travel. You may want kids while he had a miserable childhood and doesn’t want any.

Regardless of where the disconnect is, it’s breaking down the very core of your relationship. One of the reasons we seek out partners is to have someone to share our path and our goals. We want someone we can lean on from time to time and someone who will lean on us when necessary.

how to end a relationship

How to End a Relationship Nicely

Now that you have a few of the signs and you still want to know how to end a relationship nicely, let’s get to it.

The ideal outcome of a breakup is that you both walk away knowing it was for the best, especially if you have children together or work together.

Moving forward, you need to put the memories of the relationship in a place where you can access them and feel good while still knowing it was for the best.

How to End a Relationship | Do it as Soon as You Know

Don’t let things drag on when you know it’s time to end it. The result is that the good feelings you want to retain will be lost. Communication will break down if it hasn’t already, and those four horsemen will appear.

The sooner you end things, the better the experience will be for both of you. I know it’s going to be difficult, so read the rest of the tips before you proceed.

Have the Conversation in Person

Breaking up by text or email is a cheap shot, and it kills any chance the two of you have for a friendly relationship afterward if that’s what you want.

Find a time when the two of you are getting along. Breaking up during an existing fight won’t give you the chance to do things the way you truly want to.

By breaking up with him in person, you’re giving value to the relationship, which helps you both deal with the aftermath.

Also, if you can maintain a calm discussion, you can eliminate subsequent questions that will come up later.

How to End a Relationship | Use “I” Language

When you break up, try not to be accusatory. Use “I” language. What that means is instead of saying, “You always work late and leave me home alone,” say something like, “I feel like I’m alone anyway due to your long work hours,” or “I feel lonely.”

When you do this, it makes it more difficult for him to argue about the breakup. When you use “you” language, it prompts him to want to excuse his behavior or dismiss it as your poor perception.

It’s hard to argue with someone’s feelings when they state them as “I feel” or “I felt.”

Be Honest with Him About Your Feelings

I know what you want to do is end it and get out but take the extra moment to be honest with him about your feelings. However, while honesty is important, too much honesty can be hurtful. You don’t need to give him a twenty-minute dissertation on what went wrong.

You can say something like, “I feel like our goals are incompatible” or “I don’t feel like we’re sexually compatible.” Those are excuses that have enough honesty to be legitimate, but not too much detail, nor do they contain any accusations.

Also, don’t use cliché excuses like It’s not you, it’s me. People say that when they mean something else.

How to End a Relationship | Avoid Arguing or Allowing Him to Protest Too Much

What you don’t want to happen is that this discussion devolves into an argument. Of course, he’s going to be blindsided if he wasn’t feeling the rift between you, and that might make him a little argumentative. But that’s a reflex reaction. He’s hurt and that’s a natural reaction to feeling hurt.

If he begins to protest or argue with you, it’s time to end the conversation. This is not where you say, “okay maybe we can try again” or give in to his request for a second chance.

At the very least, you need time apart so you can regroup.

It’s also not a good time to throw in, “But we can still be friends.” While you may want this, it should naturally occur over time. Trying to be friends starting tomorrow doesn’t give you both enough time to reflect and heal from the wounds of the relationship and breakup.

Be Kind and Express Your Feelings About the Breakup

He’s going to feel shocked and pretty bad, but if you share your own sadness at the breakup, that will go a long way.

Recall a couple of good memories from your past that you can take with you. Something like, “I never hiked the foothills before I met you, but thanks to you, I have something new I can enjoy.” This helps him see that he had a positive impact in your life.

Again, you don’t need to go into a lot of detail or spend three hours sharing memories. One will do the trick. Your goal here is to let him know that you’re sad too but you’ll take some good things with you.

Don’t Provide a List

While everyone wants to know why someone just broke up with them, it’s not helpful and it quickly turns into a blame and shame game that’s unkind and hurtful.

Stay general, try not to blame him for everything because he isn’t to blame for everything. You both played a role in where you are now.

If he keeps asking why, it might be time to end the conversation and allow him time to work through his feelings on his own. Otherwise, you’ll end up either arguing or right in the throes of that blame game.

How to End a Relationship | Listen, Don’t Just Talk

He will have things to say too, and you should listen. This isn’t a You show. It’s the end of something you both once valued.

Allow him to speak, as long as it doesn’t devolve into an argument or him begging you to take him back. At that point, a productive conversation is over and it’s time to end it.

If he asks questions, answer him as honestly as you can, again avoiding too much detail.

how to end a relationship

How to End a Relationship | What to do After the Breakup

Following the breakup, there are a few steps you should take to keep things moving in the direction you want.

Go No Contact

Unless you have children together or own a business together, go no contact for a few weeks. This gives you both time to come to terms with the breakup.

It also makes a clean break of things. If you do share children or a business, keep your conversations to those topics and avoid any talk of the relationship or breakup.

Stay Single for a While

While I know you’re lonely and maybe you even have another guy in mind for your next relationship, stay single for a while.

Being in a relationship changes who we are. You learn new things, you discover new things you like and dislike, and sometimes, your confidence takes a hit.

You’ve been a we for some time now and you need time to adjust to being single again before you jump back into a relationship.

Rebound relationships are relationships that happen when you’re trying to avoid the pain of the breakup. They never last and you’ll just be going through the whole breakup thing again.

Remove His Stuff from Your Life

If you didn’t live together, you probably have stuff at his house and he has stuff at yours. Gently box up his things and after a few weeks have passed, send him a text letting him know you will be dropping it off on his back porch.

It’s best to choose a time when he won’t be home unless you’re concerned about it being taken. You can also ask him to have your things ready for you to pick up at the same time.

Don’t be mean about it and don’t break his things. Just box them up and give them back, just like you want him to do with your things.

How to End a Relationship | The Don’ts of a Breakup

There are also a few things you shouldn’t do when you break up.

Don’t Break Up in Public

This might feel safe, but it’s unkind. You aren’t allowing him the chance to show any emotions he may be feeling.

He’ll have questions and being in public makes it more difficult to have an honest conversation.

How to End a Relationship |Don’t Break Up at Your House

You need to have the advantage of being able to leave when you’re ready. If he’s at your house, you’re stuck with him until he decides to leave, which may be later than you’d prefer.

Also, it allows him to be home to experience his emotions and he won’t be out driving around in a fog, an accident waiting to happen.

Don’t Give Him False Hope

If you really want to end things, don’t give him a lifeline like, “But we can still be friends,” or “Maybe in a few weeks we can try again.”

Even if you believe both of those statements, this isn’t the time to deliver them. He’ll hear only that and will hang onto that as a hope that this is temporary.

Don’t Try to Be His Support System

Now is not the time for you to be his bestie. You. Just gave up that job. Let him go to someone else he’s close to for support and comfort.

Trying to be that person to him confuses him and makes him think it’s not over.

Do NOT Have Breakup Sex

I know a couple who had breakup sex and then had to co-parent a child who was born as a result. They actually tried to get back together after they found out about the pregnancy and then had to go through an even uglier separation later.

Breakup sex just confuses things. The sex was good so why does the relationship need to end?

Just don’t do it. Walk away first.

Do Not Seek Revenge

You’re the one initiating the breakup, yet it’s sometimes the person who starts the ball rolling who later decides on revenge.

Revenge is petty and it won’t serve the purpose you want, which is to make you feel better about things.

I knew a man who initiated a divorce, then proceeded to keep his wife’s mail, forcing her to lose her real estate license. Additionally, he accused her of abusing their children and several other hurtful things.

What he really wanted was to get her back, which he eventually admitted, but by then, he’d done so much damage that there was no way. They share a home-flipping business, so the damage he did also negatively impacted their business. Without her real estate license, she was unable to work that end of their business.

Are You in a Healthy Relationship?

Is your relationship healthy or unhealthy? Sometimes, it's difficult to tell if you're in the middle of it. Things can seem fine, but there's something niggling in your mind...something doesn't feel quite right. Click the button below to read more articles that will help you figure it out.

How to End a Relationship | Wrap Up

There’s a lot here to chew on, but lots of solid advice on how to end a relationship nicely. Later, after the hurt feelings have subsided, if you want to be friends, you can, but be clear that you don’t want a relationship any longer and make sure he can handle friendship only.

By trying to keep things from getting ugly, you’re sparing both of you a lot of regrets later. Nobody ever feels good about an argument after they’ve had time to consider it. By keeping things on a friendly plane, you keep the door open to at least tolerance later.

This is especially true if you share children or a business.

Being amiable also allows you to move forward more quickly since you have fewer hurt feelings and regrets to deal with.

Knowing how to not date a jerk includes embracing your single life and taking the time to become a confident, independent woman. Riding Solo, a book written specifically for women who want to do just that, walks you through overcoming the stigma of being single on to becoming that independent, confident woman. This places you in the best possible position to find and date wonderful, great men who are not jerks.

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