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.

What to Say to End a RelationshipIf 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. Dump ‘Em will also help you know what to do after a breakup.

What to Say to End a Relationship

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.

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.

Choose the “least worst” time and place

can't say it's over

What to Say to End a Relationship

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.

Practice saying the words that will end your 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.

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.

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.

Recognize how difficult it is to end a relationship

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.

Be empathetic

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.

If you have any tips for saying it’s over to someone you care about, please comment below. I can’t give advice on what to say to end a relationship, but it may help you to share what you’re going through.

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My prayer is for a peaceful ending to your relationship. May grace and joy be yours.

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15 Responses

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    The most important thing you could ever do – the best, most valuable gift you could give yourself – is to get emotionally and spiritually health!

    Take time to pull away from the hurricane of emotions that rises when you think about what to say to end a relationship, how to heal after a break up, what people will think, how your boyfriend will react, etc. You need to be still, be calm, and focus. Center yourself. Connect with God.

    Seek solitude, and connect with yourself. What do you want out of your life? What do you need, and where are you going? Write down all the emotions and thoughts that are swirling around in your head. Get all that stuff out, and start to go beneath the tornado.

    That’s where you’ll find peace. Especially if you pray, and connect with Jesus. He is the source of freedom, peace, and love…and He will help you heal from whatever happens in your life.

    Get emotionally and spiritually healthy by taking a step back from the frantic emotions and people, and by being still. And, read books that help with the issues you’re facing. Talk to wise people who can help you grow and learn.

    I wish you all the best as you move forward. May you make wise decisions – and most importantly, may you connect with God for peace, joy, and freedom in your life!


  2. Tracy says:

    I i dont know how to say this i mean these tips may help me but ohkay i fell in love when i was 13 years old and we had the best best time ever i mean me and my boyfriend after a looonnggg time he told me he loves me but as a kid his parents got him engaged to his cousin . I was so very very sad . I have turned 17 now and everything is still the same . I always BEG him to tell his parents that he loves someone else not his cousin but ME but my boyfriend always told me he doesnt wanna upset his parents . Its been years and im crying and crying . I have made my mom cry my dad cry . I want to yell at him for the damage he has caused me but i love him so much . He makes fun of me he doesnt talk to me and doesnt let me talk to other people . I am a TEENAGER and i need help please . What should i do because my boyfriend doesnt let me have friends i am a loner now and my life is miserable i cry so much i cry rivers . What will happen if i say Goodbye will i be ohkay or will i end up dying . Im death inside already please i need help :,( i am here all alone

    • sherri says:

      Hello Tracy

      In sociology and psychology, self-esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. Self-esteem is your overall opinion of yourself — how you feel about your abilities and limitations. When you have healthy self-esteem, you feel good about yourself and see yourself as deserving the respect of others. When you have low self-esteem, you put little value on your opinions and ideas. You might constantly worry that you aren’t good enough. When you said he was engaged to his cousin, is this a cultural thing or religion thing? You are just 17, you life and life experiences are ahead of you. Do NOT BEG a man/boy to do or tell anyone anything, he has made it clear that he doesn’t want to upset his parents, but listen he doesn’t mind upsetting you…bottom line is he doesn’t love you like he says he does…..You need to get out your last BIG CRY after that release it to GOD, so that GOD will send you someone that deserves you. God doesn’t want you miserable, a loner, dying, dead inside…. How is you boyfriend not allowing you to have friends???? I don’t understand that…are you his prisoner? You are the one in control of your destiny NOT some 17 year old that doesn’t love you…learn to LOVE yourself Tracy, you are worth it. Do some reading on self-esteem, that is how you will say goodbye to him…and hello to the next one!

  3. keturah says:

    I need help ending a relationship. I love this guy. We were neighbours before. He asked me out and I accepted. I fell in love with him and now we are having issues he doesn’t call and he only chats with me once in a while. I love him but I also want out. How do I end this relationship?

  4. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Dear Nan,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing your experience of how difficult it is to hear that your relationship is over. My prayer is that you find healing and joy in your life, and that you move forward with hope and faith in your future.

    Ending a love relationship is so painful, whether or not you were the one to say it’s over. But, if you believe that your relationship ended for reasons that are good, then you will heal faster. Trust that this relationship wasn’t meant to be, wasn’t good for you, and needed to end. That will help you heal.


  5. NANA AMA says:

    is hurt when u love a person and the person does not. how are you going to stop hurting yourself.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!


  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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?

  12. 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 !!!!!

  13. KHUMBELO says:


  14. 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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