There’s no getting away from it: this is going to be a difficult conversation. The longer you delay it, the more anxious you’re likely to get, but take time to get it right: prepare what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Rehearse, if necessary – and get the feedback of a trusted friend.
Unsurprisingly, few people receive the news that you’re breaking up with them with unmitigated joy. Rejection hurts - no matter how it’s served. Given this, you can expect your partner to challenge you, to attempt to change your mind, and yes, possibly to become outright hostile. Through all of this remain calm. Stick to your script. It’s helpful to have a phrase which you can return to, such as “this just isn’t working for me anymore”.
Anyone who has been close to you for a decent amount of time can tell when they’re being given the brush off, or worse still lied to. Don’t insult your partner’s intelligence, and treat them with some respect. Be specific about the reasons why you want to end the relationship. Also, whatever you do, don’t use the condescending “It’s not you, it’s me”. There are few worse lines.
However, while being specific, avoid being brutal and hurtful. Jibes about their appearance and their lacklustre performance in bed are a big no-no. If you've met someone else, don’t start comparing that person’s attributes with your partner’s. Be sensitive and sympathetic. Before you open your mouth, just ask yourself “is this appropriate?”
Remain calm and avoid a boxing match between you and your partner.
Breakups are painful, and of course, your partner is going to be hurt. Acknowledge this – and your role in causing this hurt, but at the same time stick fast to your desires. You have a right to be happy too. Apologise, but don’t overdo it. Emotions are going to be running high, so your job is to defuse the situation before it descends into a slanging match of biblical proportions.
Focus on how you both feel rather than listing your partner’s faults. Crucially, you should also listen to how they feel and what they have to say. They will inevitably have questions: hear them out and answer them as clearly as you can. For god’s sake don’t get into the “but you did this” game and start dragging out their wrongdoings from years back.
Choose the right place to have this most delicate of conversations. No heaving cafes full of screaming kids, or worse still romantic restaurants full of loved-up couples. Don’t compound your partner’s sense of failure and rejection by insisting that the entire world must witness their emotional distress.
The end of a relationship means precisely that: curtains, finish. You need to make it quite clear – in the kindest way possible – that you're moving on. All roads have now been exhausted, and this is one flame which cannot be rekindled. Moreover, that means no ‘friends with benefits’ arrangements or lingering emotional baggage. Stand firm and be fair.
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