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How to End a Long-Term Relationship like a Grown-Up

Ending a long-term relationship involves heartbreak. It is up to you to minimize the damage as much as you can, making a clean break from your partner.

How to End a Long Term Relationship

Ending a long-term relationship is never easy. There’s no “good way” to end a relationship. Minimizing the damage and hurt as much as possible matters most.

If you’re the one who decided to end your long-term relationship, it is particularly hard. Come to think of it, long-term relationships are hard to come by and even harder to end. The memories you share, the plans, and all the other practical entanglements (your stuff, room keys, bank accounts, and even custody of kids) that you must untangle.

Be sure it is what you want

Despite any misunderstanding or lost love you may have with your partner, keep in mind that you shared something precious. Something you thought of as big as life itself. Don’t just throw that away. [Read: How to know when to end a relationship: 12 subtle signs]

So before you end your long-term relationship, first be certain this is what you want and that your decision is final. And then, plan how to make a clean break.

Why you should end the relationship as smoothly as possible

The rougher the breakup:

#1 The longer it takes to move on. There may still be loose ends needing to be tied up or closure needed. When you break up in the heat of the moment, you say things out of anger or spite, and may even regret them later.

#2 The more damage there is. In a rough break up, everybody’s dignity, self-esteem, and overall mental and emotional well-being go through the ringer. A rough breakup can be physically and emotionally violent and scarring.

#3 The higher the costs, especially if you are married. Think: two cars, two places, custody battles, lawyers, and many more. [Read: How to breakup with someone you love the right way]

You owe it to your partner, yourself, and your long-term relationship, to make a clean break. Preserving both your dignity and respect for each other.

Now let’s get down to it, shall we?

How to end a long-term relationship

The biggest mistakes you make when ending a long-term relationship are: not telling your partner why you’re breaking up with them, not understanding why you want to breakup in the first place, not talking things out, and not considering there might still be a second chance for you both.

While being in a relationship can take a lot of work and commitment, getting out of a relationship takes as much out of you for a shorter period of time — even more. There’s the stress and burden of hurting your partner and yourself. As well as telling both your families you have gone your separate ways. [Read: 14 valid reasons to break up with someone that you love]

Making that clean break matters to you both. So without further ado, here are the essential steps you need to take to end a long-term relationship the right way.

#1 You have to be certain. There’s nothing worse than breaking up with your partner, leaving them utterly devastated, and coming back around after a few days to say, “Ta-da! I’m here, I changed my mind.”

The point is, if you’re going to end it, be VERY SURE. If there’s an ounce of doubt or a glimmer of hope that your relationship can still run its course, then inspect that doubt, or maybe even hold onto that hope. Make sure you are ending the relationship for the right reasons. In the end, it’s going to be worth it for the both of you. [Read: 12 of the worst ways to break up with someone who loves you]

#2 You have to be calm. Always be in the right frame of mind if you decide to end a long-term relationship. Never decide or break up with your partner in the midst of an argument or any stressful situation. Being calm and collected allows you to better express yourself as well as listen to what your partner has to say.

#3 Your partner has to be calm. While putting off the announcement for long is not a good idea, you still need to choose the right timing. A time when your partner is calm and in the right state of mind too. If they are stressed about something else, had a particularly rough day, or are not feeling well, then try to hold off on making the break up announcement.

If you throw into the mix your break up at a moment of high stress, then your partner will be a hundred times more devastated, and that is still an understatement. [Read: 15 of the worst things you can say during a breakup]

#4 Do it in person. At least have the courage and decency to breakup in person. Never breakup via a DM or a text, or even announce you’re breaking up with your partner on your social media account. No, no, no. You owe it at least to your long-term relationship to make an effort to talk to your partner face to face. It’s a sign of decency and maturity. And you care enough about your partner to look them straight in the eye and break the news. 

#5 Avoid unnecessary publicity. Never EVER tell anyone such as your friends or family you’re going to breakup with your partner BEFORE you actually end the relationship with them. Chances are, the grapevine is one fast vessel for such hot gossip, and your partner may know of the news even before you could talk to them.

Again, don’t break up on social media, such as commenting on your partner’s post that you’re breaking up with them. Also avoid breaking up in a public place where there is high traffic.

#5 Find the right place. Choose the right place for ending your long-term relationship. Make it a safe and private place, such as a far-off booth in a restaurant. However, if you’re worried about violence, make sure to have a friend nearby or do it in a more public place. Just make sure neither of you feel unsafe or overexposed. The key, being considerate of your partner’s feelings. [Read: How to successfully break up with an obsessive lover]

#6 Be the bigger person. Chances are, there will be a lot of tears. And anger. Whether or not your partner behaves badly, remember they may be hurting.

So take the high road: be honest, kind, and considerate. Don’t fight fire with fire and always act on good conscience, even if that’s the last thing you do for your soon-to-be-ex partner.

#7 Find the right way. Be generous enough to answer any questions your partner may have about your reasons for breaking up with them. Remember to be honest, but avoid blaming or criticizing. Choose constructive, positive words making your partner better listen and understand your reasons, even if they hurt.

#8 Don’t look back. After breaking up with them, you may feel bad and wonder how they are. You may even be tempted to ask how they are. Fight the urge to keep in touch, at least right after the break up. Most of all, don’t hop in bed with them after breaking up. Break up sex leads to disaster, after you’ve ultimately decided to cut ties with the person. [Read: Can you be friends with an ex after a break up?]

After ending the long-term relationship

After ending your long-term relationship, you may find yourself overwhelmed with a mix of emotions: anger, confusion, sadness, remorse, relief, fear, and joy. However, rest assured time really does heal. Take things a day at a time, and allow your ex-partner time and space as well. Don’t initiate any further contact as this may make things worse for the both of you.

Spend time with your family and friends. Pick up where you left off in the book you’ve been dying to read again, find a hobby, and continue to do the things making you happy. Keep growing as an individual. [Read: 8 small ways to deal with big changes in your life]

As for your ex, delete their contact details to keep from getting in touch with them. Unfriend them from social media to avoid post-breakup drama. Let them know beforehand to avoid any further hurt feelings.
Ending a long-term relationship is like closing a big chapter in your life and throwing it away.

[Read: 9 year love: the pain of ending a long term relationship]

Take to heart the lessons you learned, personal growth, and the time you have to once again rediscover yourself all on your own. Make this a positive time in your life and use this to be a better partner in your future relationships.

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Tiffany Grace Reyes
Tiffany is a wordsmith who has played with words ever since her letter-to-the-editor was published nationally at the age of 9. Since then her writing has gone f...
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