Skip to main content



Considering a breakup? This too is a skill that can be learned.

Breaking up can be an agonizing experience. Even when you know a relationship is no longer working, it can be challenging to know when ending the relationship is a healthy choice. Studies from the renowned psychologist and researcher Dr. John Gottman have identified some key indicators that it may be time to end the relationship.



A guide to breaking up with your partner


The first sign that your relationship might be coming to an end unless you work on it is a lack of trust or safety between partners. If there is ongoing dishonesty, betrayal, or even physical violence in the relationship, then it’s generally not healthy and should not continue.
It’s also important to recognize signs of emotional distance, such as increased avoidance and stonewalling—both parties are unwilling to communicate openly about their feelings. While relationships take work and can be salvaged and even thrive, both partners need to take responsibility and do their part.
Another important factor in determining whether a breakup is necessary is the presence of constant criticism and contempt. This can include name-calling, belittling, and mocking the other person.
Additionally, negative sentiment override – where one partner continually sees the other’s actions in a negative light and has difficulty recognizing positive moments – is another telling sign that your relationship is in desperate need to be seen and recognized for the positive aspects it has (or needs work creating positives.)
Finally, if there are fundamental differences between partners, such as opposing values or lifestyles, that cannot be reconciled, breaking up may be the healthiest choice for both parties. Recognizing when these signs are present can help you decide whether to stay together or break up with your partner.
Not everything can be changed, and acceptance of our partner, who they are as a person, and their needs and wants is very important. If there’s no acceptance, then the arguments will continue.
If you find yourself in this situation, remember that it can take courage to end an unhealthy relationship. Couples therapy, of course, is always suggested as the first attempt. Many relationships can get better when these skills are learned and partners know better.
However, if there’s no desire to work on self or the relationship and you are faced with these problems, ending the relationship may be the best choice. In this case, another recommendation is for all parties involved to seek individual therapy. Breaking up can be a difficult process, but with the right support, you can do so in a healthy way.
No matter how hard it may seem, remember that making this decision is ultimately in everyone’s best interest and will lead to healthier relationships down the road.
A man and a woman sitting on a coach, angry. The woman is facing away from the man and her hand is up blocking his face.

6 steps of breaking up with your partner

? Have a conversation: Make sure to have an honest, respectful conversation with your partner about your decision. Be clear and direct while being mindful of their feelings.
? Remain compassionate: Acknowledge that this is going to be difficult for both parties involved and try to remain understanding throughout the process.
? Respect privacy: While it’s important to speak openly about the break-up, respect any wishes your partner has for privacy or confidentiality during this time.
? Seek support: It can be beneficial for both partners to seek therapy after making the decision to end the relationship. This can provide helpful guidance as you navigate through this transition and learn from the experience.
? Know that it’s ok to move on – it is important to recognize that ending a relationship doesn’t mean the end of your life. It is ok to move on and find new relationships or experiences that bring you joy.
? Set clear boundaries and expectations: Make sure to establish clear boundaries and expectations with your ex-partner before moving forward. This includes knowing how many contacts you would like to have and what topics are off-limits for future conversations. This can help ensure that both parties are on the same page about the new relationship dynamics after a breakup.

What to say when you’re ending your relationship:

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard people have a hard time with this process. How do you leave someone without hurting them? How do you avoid them having a negative, strong reaction?

Here are some  suggestions:

* Remind yourself that not every relationship is supposed to last. If you are certain that this isn’t your person, then leaving the relationship is the honorable thing to do for yourself and for them. It’s saving you and them time that’s precious and can’t be returned.
*  Remind yourself that your task is to be direct, clear, honest and respectful (and gentle)  in your communication with this person, but how they respond and what they feel is their part.
*  Remember that you can’t change someone.
Lastly, here’s an example of what you may say.
Please do make sure you say this in person, so it’s more relational and respectful (don’t break up over text or email):
 “I feel (insert emotion, such as nervous, sad, etc.) telling you this because I do care about you (say it only if it’s true). I have been thinking and realize that this relationship isn’t working for me anymore and I need to move on. I don’t want to waste your time or mine. It’s important to me that I am honest with you.” (don’t say you want to stay friends if you don’t mean it).



Leave a Reply