How to Break Up With Someone Nicely

Love is the most potent of emotions, making the act of ending a relationship notoriously tricky. And while it is no fun at all to get dumped, initiating the breakup can also be pretty awful.

Leaving without causing irreparable hurt or enduring awkward scenes is "difficult to navigate," said Alex Mellor-Brook, co-founder of Select Personal Introductions, especially if that person will remain in your life "socially or workwise, so you're going to bump into them time and again."

So, be kind. "No matter what the circumstances are, I always recommend breaking up in a way that you'd hope someone would break up with you, as empathy can incredibly be powerful," he added.

If you are going through this trying chapter in life, read on for advice from relationship experts on how to break up with someone as smoothly as possible.

1. First, Question Why the Relationship Is Not Working

How to Break up With Someone, How
This may not be any comfort to the person who gets dumped, but initiating the breakup can also be pretty terrible. Valentina Shilkina/Getty Images

Rebecca Lockwood, a coach who specializes in neuro-linguistic programming and hypnosis, told Newsweek: "When we are in a relationship sometimes it's not a good fit, but we can feel as though the breaking up part is just so hard.

"It's important for you to understand why you want to break up with someone as this will help you to come to terms with it yourself and then have the conversation with the other person."

2. Acknowledge It Is OK to Break Up

Relationship breakup advice
Talk honestly and calmly about your feelings, but be kind too. Getty Images

It is "OK to want to break up," business psychologist Dannielle Haig told Newsweek. "You have every right at any moment to realize that this relationship isn't worth pursuing any longer."

How you tell your partner matters, though. "There is no need to leave things on a bad note. You don't have to stay friends but you can reduce the pain for everyone involved by being considered in what you say," Haig added.

"Explain your feelings. Make it clear to someone why it's not working for you in a calm way. The explanation can help the other party understand themselves more and also will help provide more closure for them."

3. Be Candid, But Kind

How to Break up With Someone, How
The end of a marriage can lead a person to question their own identity—who they were before the wedding and who they will become after divorce. rostock-StudioD/Getty Images

Karima Al-Saidi, a solicitor at U.K. practice Maguire Family Law, believes there is no such thing as the "perfect breakup," but honesty is important.

She told Newsweek: "The prospect of separation is daunting and unsettling for most of us, as it calls into question our own identities—who we were before we settled down with our other halves and who we will be going forward.

"Many of us are not only anxious about how we will cope emotionally and practically, but also how our partners and spouses will react to the separation.

"For those of us with children, there is also the added pressure of wanting to ensure that the separation is as amicable as possible so that the children do not become adversely affected and embroiled in adult issues.

"The kindest way to break up with someone is to sit down with them face to face and ensure that you communicate your feelings clearly.

"If you skirt around issues for fear of inflicting pain, you could potentially be giving false hopes of reconciliation, or they may not even understand why you are breaking up with them."

She added: "This will only be applicable in a relationship where there has been no domestic abuse. If you have been in an abusive relationship, your safety is of paramount importance. There are charities and organizations that you can contact to assist you with leaving an abusive relationship."

4. Respect the Other Person

How to Break up With Someone
The key to any sensitive breakup is to talk face to face. amir Khabirov/Getty Images

Max Daniels, an author whose novel The Manipulant tackles toxic relationships, suggests that you "forget what you've seen on that episode of Friends or How I Met Your Mother. The reality of breakups shouldn't be as dramatic."

He told Newsweek: "Try not to play into those stereotypes—doing it over text, saying 'It's not you it's me' and the like. The point is about having respect for the other person. Speak calmly, kindly and in a non-confrontational way."

Daniels also has a warning for those who say they want to remain friends. "A breakup is tough and if you're hoping to have your cake and eat it too, you may need to reflect on whether you genuinely want to break up. Hoping to still be friends is possible, but won't happen immediately.

"People need time. If your hope of remaining friends is for an occasional fling or one-night stand, then you'll be keeping this wound festering for a long time."

5. Be Clever With Compassion

Relationship breakup advice
Find a safe space, free from interruptions, where you can talk confidentially. Getty Images

Rosie Wilby, a comedian and author of The Breakup Monologues, believes a kind breakup is one that will "allow the other person some agency."

"It's horrible to feel that you have no control at all over the situation," she said, describing a discussion with fellow comedian Jessica Fostekew about her separation from the father of her child.

Fostekew told Wilby that "everything about how they broke up and how they would continue to co-parent was up for discussion. The only thing not up for discussion was the fact that the relationship would, sadly, need to end."

Wilby warned: "Bear in mind that while you may have thought about ending the relationship for a long time, the other person may have no idea what's coming. It may be a shock.

"A community known as the Keristans in 1970s San Francisco pioneered a concept of 'graceful distancing,' which allowed each person time to build alternative support networks and acclimatize to the separation. It was a precursor to 'conscious uncoupling,' popularized by Gwyneth Paltrow."

Whichever term you use to describe it, "communication, mutual respect and compassion are essential if you'd like to have some kind of ongoing friendship or respectful way of retaining a sense of family," Wilby added.

6. Avoid Clichés

How to Break up With Someone, How
It's a good idea to express your feelings and accept responsibility for how the relationship has ended Prostock-Studio/Getty Images

Tina Wilson, founder of the Wingman matchmaking app, believes avoiding the banal is best for both parties in a breakup.

"Don't use any cliché lines," she advised, pointing to "It's not you it's me" or "You'll find someone, you deserve it" as some of the most hurtful things to hear if you didn't see the end of the relationship coming.

"Everyone knows these mean nothing and are just said to try and soothe the situation. The ex will then question themselves and over-analyze everything, making the process of getting over the relationship even harder."

How to Break up With Someone
There may be sorrow and anger on both sides but if you've decided to leave, it's fairer not to give your partner false hope. zkes/Getty Images