The 7 Worst Ways To Break Up With Someone, According To Relationship Experts

by Laken Howard
BDG Media, Inc.

If there's one thing we can pretty much all agree on, it's that breaking up with someone is never a particularly fun or easy task. That being said, there are considerate, gentle ways to go about it, as opposed to some of the more cruel ways to break up with someone — some of which can do serious, long-term emotional damage on the other person.

"A cruel breakup can forever change the trajectory of a person’s approach to relationships," Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, and host of "The Kurre and Klapow Show" tells Bustle. "It can be traumatizing, it can trigger depression, and it can create a basic fear and mistrust of others. A bad breakup can have enough of a negative impact that without professional intervention the person can develop very unhealthy dating and relationship patterns... If you have experienced a significant breakup — and in particular if it is a cruel one — the best thing to do is to go get therapy to help you transition from a place of hurt to a place of strength."

When it comes to something as painful as initiating a breakup, it's pretty tricky to do things the "right" way, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't at least try to be respectful and honest during a breakup, rather than needlessly cold or cruel. Here are seven of the most cruel breakup methods that you should avoid doing, according to relationship experts.



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In any breakup, both partners need to feel at least some sense of closure in order to begin the healing process — and if someone is ghosted by their partner, getting that closure can be nearly impossible.

"Ghosting leaves the person being dumped in limbo with a host of unanswered questions," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "While a clear rejection is painful, it allows the healing to begin and the other person to move on. Ghosting is cruel because it prolongs the healing process and delays closure."


The Slow Fade

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Another crappy way to dump someone? By slowly fading from their life, rather than just biting the bullet and breaking up with them as soon as you know you're no longer interested or emotionally invested.

"If you know that someone has feelings for you, but you have different plans, dragging out the breakup is cruel," Bennett says. "Once you know that your partner is no longer in your plans, it’s best to be upfront from the start. Don't prolong the process."


Making Excuses Or Lying

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Honesty is always the best policy, and the same is true for when you're breaking up with someone, too. Even though hearing the truth about why they're being dumped will be painful for your soon-to-be-ex, it's still better than being fed an obvious lie or BS excuse.

"Giving obvious excuses or lies when breaking up, even if you’re trying to make the other person feel better, only adds insult to injury," Bennett says. "While you don’t need to get into every detail about why you’re breaking up, cliches and lies (e.g. 'It’s not you; it’s me') are just going to make the situation worse."


Breaking Up In Public

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If you're ending an abusive or toxic relationship, breaking up in public for your own safety is totally OK. Otherwise, it can be cruel to deliver such painful news in a public place where the other person will likely be both upset and embarrassed.

"Some people go through the breakup in public to avoid a scene, and there are times when that works," Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "But there are also times when you end up humiliated and in tears, confused, uncertain, and in the middle of a crowded street or coffee shop."


Cheating To End The Relationship

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If you're unhappy in your relationship and having thoughts of cheating, it's better to talk to your partner about those feelings before acting on them — especially if you suspect that your cheating fantasies are a result of you subconsciously wanting to put an end to the relationship.

"Many people choose to cheat on their partner when they want to leave," Davida Rappaport, speaker, spiritual counselor & dating expert, tells Bustle. "Loss of trust and being unfaithful is often the easiest way for some people to end a relationship — they look for their next partner and invariably get caught in the process... When someone cheats on their partner, this can reinforce their partner’s fear of being cheated on in the future so it may take a much longer time to heal for someone or take a chance on a new relationship."


Blindsiding Your Partner

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There's almost nothing worse than being totally blindsided by a breakup: it's confusing, painful, and really difficult to move on from. It's better to communicate your problems and feelings about the relationship prior to dumping your partner, so they at least have an inkling that a breakup is coming.

"When someone ends a relationship by blindsiding their partner, they go out of their way to completely destroy them," Rappaport says. "...They may argue unfairly and manipulate them to the point where their partner loses their self-esteem and their confidence may be shattered to the extent that it may take a long time to recover from the damage done by being abused and mistreated."


Breaking Up Via Text

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As much as the invention of cell phones has benefited humanity, there's one byproduct of their creation that we'd all be better off without: the breakup text.

"When someone ends a relationship by texting or emailing their partner, this can be considered cold and impersonal," Rappaport says. "A breakup by text or email does not give their partner the satisfaction of knowing why their partner decided to break up without talking to them. Not knowing if there was even a chance they could reconcile or work through their problems is emotionally difficult to recover from because that leaves a lot of questions unanswered in much the same way as when someone ghosts."

Truthfully, there's really not a magical solution that will allow you to break up with someone in a totally painless way. It's always going to hurt at least a little bit, but as long as you're at least respectful and considerate of your soon-to-be-ex's feelings throughout the breakup process, the bad news might be a little easier for them to swallow — and as a result, you'll both be better able to move on and find new relationships.