What to Say to End a Relationship

Breaking up is hard, but you can say good-bye with love and grace. Here’s what to say to end a relationship, and how to say it’s over to someone you care about.

say it's overIf you’re anxious or overwhelmed at the thought of telling someone you love that it’s over, read Dump ‘Em: How to Break Up with Anyone from Your Best Friend to Your Hairdresser by Jodyne L. Speyer and Julie Bossinger. Despite the harshness of the title Dump ‘Em, this book is for anyone who struggles to say it’s over to someone they care about. And it’s not just for love relationships! Haven’t you had to say good-bye to a housekeeper, a therapist, or a personal trainer? This book features personal stories, useful scripts, and interviews with experts. Author Jodyne L. Speyer provides a roadmap to finding your own way of saying “thanks, but no thanks.” You’ll learn how to conquer your fear of confrontation and master the art of the peaceful and permanent breakup.

You can end your relationship without completely crushing the person you once loved (and possibly still love!). Saying good-bye won’t be easy, but you can do it with as little heartache and heartbreak as possible. If you’re saying it’s over to someone you care about who has emotional health issues, read How to Break Up With Someone Who is Depressed.

What to Say to End a Relationship

1. Say good-bye in person, face to face. I know it’s “ugh”, but your partner deserves a face-to-face good-bye, and maybe even 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 love relationship, even if you’ve only been together a few weeks or months.

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 the other person 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 love 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 the strengths of the relationship, and of your partner. When you’re having “the talk”, point out his or her positive traits. Share what you liked about your relationship, and what did work. This tip for what to say to end a relationship won’t make everything all right in that moment, but your partner will remember it later and perhaps feel a little better.

5. Don’t blame yourself for wanting out. 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 partner guilt you into staying in the relationship for the wrong reasons. Knowing what to say to end a relationship is about being honest.

6. Recognize how difficult saying good-bye to someone you care about is. Do you feel sad, afraid, awkward, or terrible about saying it’s over? Tell your partner just how hard it is to break up with him or her. Be as honest as possible; 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.”

7. Give your partner a chance respond. Ending a love relationship can involve anger, tears, bitterness — or no reaction at all! 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” stage. When you’re thinking about what to say to end a relationship, make sure you give your partner time to speak his or her truth.

what to say to end a relationship

“What to say to end a relationship” image by Laurie

Also, be prepared for the possibility that your partner won’t accept the fact that your relationship is over.

8. Show some understanding. If you’ve ever been “dumped”, then you know how bad it feels! Expressing your empathy may help your partner cope with breaking up. You could say something like, “I can understand that you’re angry and hurt. This isn’t the way I wanted our relationship to work out, either. I’m sorry for hurting you.”

Ending an unhealthy love relationship could be one of the most courageous things you’ll ever do – and your newfound freedom can change your life for the better. After you figure out what to say to end a relationship, make sure you don’t fall in love with the wrong person again! Read 5 Ways to Avoid Rebound Relationships.

Fix Your Marriage

If you have any tips for saying it’s over to someone you care about, please comment below…

Before You Go...

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Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
I'm a full-time freelance writer and blogger in Vancouver, BC. I created the "Quips and Tips" blog series; my degrees are in Education, Psychology, and Social Work. I welcome your comments below, but I don't give advice. I can offer you a prayer and a blessing, though! You'd be surprised how helpful a prayer can be....

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9 Responses

  1. Laurie says:

    Honesty is the best tip for ending a relationship. Sometimes knowing how to say it’s over to someone you care about takes a great deal of thought and planning! Better to end well – and softly – than make things worse by saying the wrong things.

  2. Laurie says:

    Dear Kairo,

    I’m sorry you’re in pain; my heart goes out to you. In time, your heartache will heal – and you will fall in love again!


  3. Kairo A. says:

    It’s hard . When you love someone and you realize you have to end your relationship for the benefit of everyone involved. It hurts.
    I don’t know if the wound ever heals completely.I hope the hurt subsides with time.

  4. Laurie says:

    Sometimes it takes time for the person you broke up with to forgive you and heal. It’s not easy to recover when someone says it’s over, and you can’t expect him to just walk away without being hurt.

    If you said it’s over in a hurtful way because you were frustrated, then maybe you need to apologize. There’s a difference between ending a love relationship because you need to move on, and hurting someone you were once close to.

  5. pamela says:

    i have to have help i broke up with my bf and i am a teenage girl and im going thru a whole lot i have a another gf as in im bisexual i like them both but i broke up with him today and i cursed him out and now he is so sensitive and when i did it he wouldnt leave me alone so i cussed him out and then he got upset and has been not over me and i bought my gf a necklace and my boyfriend a santa hat i dont know what to do please help

  6. jane says:

    Yea, what if you were very heavily burdened with belongings and pets, and have no place to go, with no family? Then what?

  7. bronte says:

    hi i’am bronte i really need help i have been in a realationship with my boyfriend for about 3yrs i’am now live with him and his family and now i’am just not my slef anymore or happy i’am always down upset mood and sh**ty me and my boyfriend fight all the time we just cant get along anymore i do love him but i just want to be happy and if we do break up i have no where to go becasuse my family has left me please help me what should i do i’am sick of wake up every day feel like this !!!!!

  8. KHUMBELO says:


  9. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    It’s really important not to drag things out. If you want to end a love relationship, don’t wait and hope it gets better! The longer you wait, the more you will hurt him. And in the end, you will end up hurting yourself for what you have done.

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