9 Steps to Ending a Long-Term Relationship

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When you first fall in love, the hope and passion you have for long-term relationship. You don’t know if this is your future spouse or a short fling, but you know that in this moment you are happy. Unfortunately, this feeling doesn’t last forever. At some point, every relationship comes to a crossroads where it either moves forward or comes to a halt. During this transition, both parties have to evaluate their feelings for their partner and how that person fits in with their goals and plans. It’s a difficult time that often leads to breaking off the relationship.

Whether you’re no longer happy in the relationship, feel like you’ve moved on, or just feel that spark is missing, it is important to end the relationship gracefully. When two people have invested large amounts of time in a relationship, breaking it off can be devastating. Make sure to be kind and break if off in the right way by following these steps.

9 Steps to Ending a Long-Term Relationship


1. Be realistic


Long-Term Relationship

Upset man in bed |

Ending a long-term relationship is tough. Be prepared for a roller coaster of emotions as you get ready to have the conversation, as you’re ending the relationship, and after the deed is done. Even if this relationship is not what you want, it can be difficult to leave someone familiar for the unknown. The process may be even more difficult for your partner, especially if this person doesn’t expect it. Have realistic expectations for how the breakup will play out to be best prepared for the moment it ends.

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2. Plan it out

Choose somewhere where you both feel comfortable to talk at length. Don’t do it in public, and don’t do it somewhere where there is a time limit. Hopefully this one is obvious, but never, never, never end a long-term relationship over the phone, email, text, Snapchat, sticky note, and so on (you get the idea). Have the courage to face your partner.

3. Remain calm

Even if the breakup is instigated by something your significant other did or didn’t do, it’s not time to get angry or frustrated. Wait until you are calm before you have the conversation. Out of respect for each other, you should end a long-term relationship gracefully. There should be no yelling or blaming. Be calm and reasonable in your manner and with your words.

4. Honesty wins

Long-Term Relationship


Couple going through a tough time |

During the conversation, be honest about why you are ending the relationship. You don’t have to be mean, but let your partner know truthfully why it didn’t work for you. Maybe you wanted different things from life, or maybe the physical connection was lacking. Let them know all the things you appreciated about them, but be firm in your reasons for leaving. Avoid the cliches like “I just need to focus on my career” or “It’s not you, it’s me.” Everyone knows those aren’t the reasons, and saying them will just leave your partner obsessing over what they did wrong.

5. Stick to your guns

When you end it, your partner may argue with you, tell you you’ll regret it, or cry and beg for you to change your mind. They also may walk out and not let you finish the conversation. Whatever the outcome, stand strong in your reasoning. Don’t be persuaded or act regretful. Remember the reasons why you initiated the breakup, and stick to them.

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6. Decide how to tell others

After you’ve ended the relationship, you’ll need to decide how you want to tell your friends and family. Make sure you discuss it together as your ex may have reasons for wanting to tell certain people right away or waiting a bit to tell others. Be open to their needs but firm in the fact that this breakup is not temporary.

7. Plan how to move forward


Long-Term Relationship

Group of friends enjoying dinner |

Talk about your future without each other, and make sure you lay down some guidelines. There should be no drunken texts or booty calls and no changing your mind two days later when your Tinder profile doesn’t blow up as expected. As difficult as it may be, for both of you to be happy, you’ll want to instigate a clean break. As much as you may want to, you may decide not to try to stay friends. Remaining in each other’s lives could hold you back from moving on.

8. Don’t bad-mouth your ex

Even if you broke up on bad terms, don’t go around disparaging your ex. Be discrete. Let your close friends and family know that you broke up, but don’t slam the person in front of them. Take the high road, and give your former partner the benefit of the doubt.

9. Take time to heal

As tempting as it can be, you should probably avoid immediately jumping into another relationship. Take time to evaluate where your past relationship went wrong and what you want in a future partner. Use this time to reflect on yourself and your downfalls as a romantic partner (trust me, you have them), and work on improving yourself

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