How to break up with your partner as smoothly as possible

Relationship expert Chantal Heidi offers tips on how to properly end a relationship with a partner. Getty Images

Breaking up is hard to do, but is there a way to do it without hurting anyone’s feelings?

It’s a tough question to answer, but relationship expert Chantal Heide believes a smooth and respectable breakup is possible for some people – it just depends on few factors.

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“For the person who’s doing the breakup, it’s a difficult position to be in especially if you’re not a callous person – and most people aren’t,” she says. “You tend to want to be a happy person and want to help people be happy alongside you, and this situation goes against all of that. What you’re doing is you’re leaving somebody behind physically and emotionally and that can be really hard to do because we don’t really want to hurt people, fundamentally.”

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Despite any hurt feelings that may be felt by either party, Heide says it’s important to keep in mind that a breakup can actually be a good and healthy thing.

“A breakup can be a good thing because finding a compatible partner who contributes to your happiness and helps you excel and evolve as a human being should be your ultimate goal,” she says. “And having this person in your life helps you create a foundation from where you can accomplish your greatest goals.”

So how does one go about letting someone down gently?

Heide offers a few tips and insights.

The best outcome happens when…

It’s normal to feel a little hurt or unwanted when a relationship ends, even if it is amicable. However, if both people realize the relationship for what it is instead of what it could be, then the breakup will be a lot smoother, Heide says.

“If both people are very firmly planted in reality and the present moment and not creating any sort of fantasy about the future then it is possible for two people [to walk away unscathed],” she says. “If they’re both seeing the relationship for what it is and recognizing that there’s a lack of compatibility and that there’s probably someone better out there for them, then I’d say both of them would be relieved of the breakup.”
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However, if one person is blindsided by the breakup, or if there’s infidelity involved, then chances are the relationship will not be ending on good terms.

How to break up the right way

If you’ve been in a relationship for an extended period of time, then respect must be given to the person when the breakup happens, Heide says.

“When breaking up with somebody the considerations you need to have are how long have you been together and what kind of person were they in the relationship,” Heide says. “So if you’re only breaking up with someone after a month then it should be a quick and easy breakup. You don’t need to assign a lot of time to help get them through the breakup. If they’re so attached to you after one month then that’s a dysfunction and you should be moving on quickly because they shouldn’t be obsessed with you after only a month.”

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Do the breakup privately and in person, Heide says, and do not do it over an email, text message or phone call.

“Really be considerate for the other person and their feelings,” Heide says. “Give them some time and space for you to be able to help them through this moment because it is going to be emotional for them, which is why you want to do it privately and give them that opportunity to go through their emotions.”

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Be supportive and understanding of their emotions, Heide adds.

And once you’ve given them an explanation of where you’re coming from, allow them to ask any questions and say their piece, Heide says.

If you’re the person who’s been broken up with, Heide says to step back and come to terms with reality.

“Bring yourself into reality and don’t mourn what didn’t happen or that castle in the sky that you created in your head,” she says. “Really think about what wasn’t working in the relationship and seek something better for yourself next time.”

When it can be tricky

If a relationship was abusive, then the breakup needs to be quick, Heide advises.

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“You shouldn’t give them a lot of time because an abusive person views the amount of time you give them as power for them and you don’t want to give them anymore power,” Heide explains. “That type of breakup should include an explanation of why you’re choosing not to be with them anymore, then just move on a cut things off.”

If that person doesn’t seem to be accepting the breakup then it’s not your problem. It is something they’ll have to deal with, Heide says.

In these cases, Heide suggests to do the breakup in a public place. That way others will be around should anything – like an outburst – happen.

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