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How to Break up with Someone with Integrity

by | Feb 13, 2024 | RELATIONSHIPS

how to break up with someone

Navigating a breakup is like attempting to tiptoe through a minefield of emotions, and let’s face it, it’s about as easy as untangling headphone wires. When it comes to parting ways, especially when mutual friends and family members, mental health considerations, and the desire to remain friends are in the mix, an empathetic and compassionate approach is key.


If you are the one to initiate the breakup, it’s best to create a clear plan instead of turning it into a battlefield of blame grenades you are throwing back and forth at each other. Clear communication is crucial to avoid going in with a sledgehammer of open wounds which will lead to defensiveness and inability to truly hear one another.


For many, initiating a breakup can come with intense anxiety, rumination, grief, and anger (all of which are all valid emotions) so this article will aim to walk you through how you can treat this conversation like tending to a delicate flower – handle with care.


Initiating a Break Up with Your Partner

Timing is Everything


Before diving into the specifics of how to break up with someone kindly, it’s important to recognize when the time is right. Assess your own emotions and make sure you feel grounded in your power, separated from reactivity, and connected to your empathy. Just as you are considering the timing for you, consider the timing for your partner. There is never a “good” time to break up but you can try to make sure they are in a space where they can absorb and process the news.


Choose the Right Setting


Selecting an appropriate setting for the breakup conversation is vital. Opt for a quiet and private place where you both feel comfortable and can express yourselves without interruption. This creates an environment conducive to open communication. (Note: this only applies to relationships where you do not feel your safety will be compromised. If you have a reactive partner, protect your safety at all costs which means to handle this conversation in a more public setting or with a friend present.)

Breaking the News


Initiate the breakup conversation with honesty and clarity. It is essential to be direct yet gentle. Start by expressing gratitude for the time you’ve spent together and acknowledging the positive aspects of the relationship. Then, transition into your own feelings and experiences, using “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory. Clearly articulate the reasons behind your decision without assigning blame.


For example, you might say, “I’ve been reflecting on our relationship, and I believe it’s important for both of us to grow individually. I have noticed that our goals and values are evolving in different directions, and I think it’s best for us to part ways.” Be prepared to listen to your partner’s perspective and allow them space to express their emotions. It’s crucial to approach the conversation with empathy, understanding that the end of a relationship can be challenging for both parties.

Involving Trusted Friends and Family


After the initial conversation, rally your community. Invite your friends or family into your healing process and let them know how they can offer emotional support or additional perspective. Community after separation (even when you initiate the separation) is a key factor in moving forward with love.

The Importance of Mutual Friends


When mutual friends are involved, the breakup becomes a shared experience beyond just the two individuals. It’s crucial to recognize that people may take sides, and there may be changes in the dynamics of the friend group. Remember that you’re not out to recruit an army; you just want a safe and drama-free exit.

Post-Breakup Healing


In the months or years following a breakup, prioritize self-care and personal growth. Take inventory of the ways you want to show up differently in future relationships and the ways you are proud of yourself for showing up in this one. This may involve seeking support from a mental health professional who can provide guidance and coping mechanisms. Remember that healing is a gradual process, and it’s okay to take the time needed to move forward.

Social Media Etiquette


In the age of social media, it’s crucial to be mindful of your online presence post-breakup. Avoid posting negative or blaming content, as this can create unnecessary tension. I recommend muting or blocking them so you are able to move forward without their presence at the top of your mind. This will be difficult but it will also be a direct path to faster healing.

Seeking Professional Help


Sometimes, the emotional toll of a breakup can be overwhelming. If either party is struggling to cope, encourage seeking help from a mental health professional. Therapy can provide a safe space to process emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms. If therapy is not available to you, you can also check out a somatic Breakup Journal.

Maintaining Boundaries


As you navigate the post-breakup period, establish and maintain clear boundaries. This may involve limiting contact for a while to allow both individuals to gain emotional distance. Respect each other’s need for space and time to heal. I know it can feel tempting to shoot a quick “hey just checking in”  or “I saw this and thought of you” text, but these messages will stir up wounds or longings that are not helpful for either of your separate journeys forward. Choose to focus on yourself and your healing instead of checking in with them.


From Personal Experience


When I went through my breakup last spring, I made it my mission to operate with immense personal integrity. In the weeks leading up to the dissolvement, I decided that despite what cruelty he threw at me, I would leave the relationship with my integrity, kindness and empathy intact. This was difficult at many points, but by following the steps above I am able to reflect on the way I handled the breakup with immense pride.


As I look back almost a year later, I am able to look back without any shame or regret. I can look back with admiration for my strength, bravery and empathy which will always speak louder than words. This is why ending a relationship with compassion and empathy is fundamental to our growth, because we can move on without the shackles of shame. Breaking up with someone kindly, truly involves a combination of empathy, clear communication, and a commitment to mutual well-being.


By leading every step with integrity, prioritizing mental health, involving trusted friends and family, and being mindful of the post-breakup period, you can leave this relationship with your sense of self and personal integrity.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.


Author Bio

Rachel Overvoll is a Somatic Sex and Intimacy Coach at Modern Intimacy and author, living in Colorado. She works with clients to move beyond shame, step into safety in their bodies, and to live a life embodied in pleasure. Using her credentials from the Somatica Institute and Kinsey Institute, she works through the mediums of embodiment and self attunement to support clients as they step into the power of their authentic selves.



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