“Should I tell my friends if I want to break up with someone?”

—Casey*, Binghamton, New York

Casey,
Breaking up can be really difficult. There are a lot of questions around when, where, and how to break up with someone. Sometimes we try to avoid or delay it, but if you are thinking of breaking up with someone, you should go directly to that person first. Your friends will be there for you afterward, but they don’t need to be the first ones to know.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes

Step back for a moment. Your relationship with your partner is personal and private. Would you want your friends to know that you’re going to get dumped before you do? You might feel betrayed, disrespected, or embarrassed. The breakup is going to be hard, but you can go about it in a way that is fair for everyone.

The best way to break up

Breakups, although uncomfortable, can be handled respectfully. Here’s how:

  1. Be honest with the person about why you want to break up. You can prepare what you’ll say ahead of time. Try to use “I” statements and be kind.
  2. Avoid breaking up over social media or via text message. Tell your significant other in person while in a private place.
  3. Don’t end things on a bad note by criticizing the other person. Make it about your needs, not about what they did or didn’t do during the relationship.
  4. Be prepared for anger. This will be an upsetting time. Give your former partner time and space if needed. It is possible to be friends eventually, but it’s much more likely if the breakup is handled well.
  5. Take care of yourself. Even if you initiate the breakup, it can be hard for you too. Give yourself permission to feel the emotions and let your family and friends in on what you are going through.

Find out what your peers have to say about breaking up.

*Name changed for privacy