How to Break Up with a Boyfriend Who Still Loves You
Breaking up with your boyfriend is never easy, especially when he’s still in love with you. It’s nearly impossible to avoid hurt feelings during the end of romantic relationships. While it may not feel like it in the moment, the temporary pain of the break up is better than dragging out issues and avoiding the inevitable. You can make the break up process better by preparing beforehand, by being respectful and honest during the break up, and by taking steps to move on.
Approaching the Break Up
Confide in someone you trust.It can often be helpful to reach out to a trusted family member or friend for advice. This can help you figure out the best way to end things with your boyfriend. Be careful about who you talk to; you don’t want rumors of your break up to get to your boyfriend before you get the chance to talk to him about it. Sometimes confiding in an immediate family member is less risky.
Make a plan for the break up.Go over the break up in your head or write it down in a notebook. Prepare what you’re going to say, and contemplate how he might react. Being prepared makes it easier to properly express and explain in the moment, which will be better for both you and your boyfriend.
- Not making decisions about what you’ll say can lead to more confusion for your boyfriend.
- It’s an emotional moment, which might make it tough to be clear-headed if you don’t think about what you’ll say beforehand.
Practice adjusting mentally and emotionally to single life.Start brainstorming new activities to try and ways to stay busy once the break up has happened. As soon as you go from being in a relationship to single, it can seem like a negative change. Work on seeing the positive aspects of this change so that you’re in a good place when the break up actually happens.
- Journaling positive thoughts can help you change your perspective about being single.
Breaking Up with Him
Break up in person.While it might seem easier to you, breaking up with someone in a text message, in an email, or on the phone isn’t the way to go. Your boyfriend deserves being broken up with face-to-face. This is the considerate thing to do because it allows your boyfriend to freely react, ask questions, and feel less alone. Just as you’re expressing your emotions, you need to let your boyfriend do the same.
Don’t blindside him.Instead of bringing it up abruptly and in an uncomfortable location, pick an appropriate time and place to break up. You may have already started separating emotionally from your boyfriend, but consider that he will have some catching up to do. Easing him into the break up as much as possible.
- You might say, “Hey, could we meet up today or tomorrow sometime? I’d like to talk with you about something important.”
- Avoid breaking up right around birthdays, Valentine’s day, or funerals of loved ones.However, don't continue to put it off and make excuses.
Start by showing that you care.It will really soften the blow if you initially communicate that you value your boyfriend.
- You might say, “We’ve been close for a long time and you’re really important to me.”
- You could also say, “I really like you and I’m glad that we’ve spent time together and have gotten to know each other”
Use “I” language.Starting statements with “I” instead of “You” will make your boyfriend feel less blamed and/or attacked.
- Consider saying, “I understand where you’re coming from,” if your boyfriend gets argumentative and upset.
Be emotionally supportive and sensitive.While breaking up, acknowledge the emotional toughness of the situation.
- To be supportive, you might say, “I know this is hard.”
- Even if you don’t think you were the reason for the break up, taking ownership for at least some of the blame will make your boyfriend much less prone to depression and stress after the breakup.
Make it clear that it’s over.Try to be honest and straightforward without being abrasive. Avoid saying things like “maybe one day we will get back together” or “part of me still loves you.” This is a tough part of breaking up because if you are too harsh, you may come off as heartless, but if you aren’t firm, you’ll give your boyfriend false hope.
Be ready for a reaction.Your boyfriend will probably feel confused, angry, and/or sad. Do your best to be comforting and understanding when this happens. Answer any questions that he has while remaining calm and kind.
- Make sure to end the conversation if he becomes hostile.
Handling the Aftermath
Give him space.Even if you want to be friends with him, it’s important that you initially give your boyfriend time to heal. Resist the urge contact him so that he can adjust on his own and without you to lean on. You both need time to reflect, process, and recover from the breakup in order to move on. There’s a chance that later on you’ll be able to be friends, but don’t expect this or attempt to make it any time soon.
Deal with your guilt and grief.It’s painful to let go of someone you care about, especially when you’re the one who let them go.
- Remember that there was a reason you broke up with your boyfriend. While breaking up might have caused him short term pain, it prevented drawing out the pain between the two of you.
- Own your feelings. If you want to cry, let yourself cry. Don’t hold your emotions in, or it will be more difficult to truly move on.Don't expect the breakup to be easy just because it was your idea.
Move forward with positivity.Once you’ve grieved, get rid of reminders of your boyfriend. There’s no need to have his old T-shirts and pictures of you two lying around. Then, start a new by keeping busy and socializing with people you care about.
- Spend time doing whatever makes you happy--hiking, dancing, cooking, etc.
- Consider taking on a challenging new workout routine.
- Try volunteering with a friend.
QuestionMy boyfriend doesn't have many people in his life but me. I want to break up with him, but I really don't want to hurt him because he is a good guy. What do I do?
Clinical Social WorkerClinical Social WorkerExpert AnswerYour boyfriend's lack of friends and support is not your responsibility. It is no reason to stay together. And in breakups, you can never prevent hurt--in another person or in yourself. Just because you break up with someone does not mean that you don't think he is a good person.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I break up with my boyfriend on the phone?
Clinical Social WorkerClinical Social WorkerExpert AnswerYou can use the phone if you live far apart, if you expect him to become very angry, or if you expect that you will not be able to pull it off in person. This article has some helpful advice for how to talk to him. It is important to remain respectful, kind and fair. Allow pauses for him to also speak. You can apologize for breaking up over the phone if you feel you have to do it that way because you were afraid you would lose your resolve.Thanks!
- Giving your boyfriend space after the breakup also means on social media. If you can’t resist engaging with him, consider deleting him as a friend.
- If you live with your boyfriend, you should start looking for a new place to live before the break up.
- Avoid getting into a rebound relationship before you’ve healed completely from the break up.
- If you’re in an abusive relationship, breaking up with your boyfriend is different. Only break up with them in person if you're comfortable with it, and make sure the break up is in a public place.You might also want to have someone go with you when you pick up your things.
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