Nobody likes to be broken up with using clichés. It just doesn’t feel genuine if the words you’re using sound like they’re coming from a movie rather than, well, you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t plan what to say during a breakup. You just have to use lines that are actually meaningful.
Clinical psychologist Daniel Sher tells Bustle you should think carefully about the wording of your breakup before you do it. “If necessary, word it to yourself and ‘practice’ beforehand so that you can focus on promoting understanding rather than potentially hurting or insulting your partner,” he says. “On the other hand, whilst you want to have thought things through, you also don’t want this conversation to seem contrived or inauthentic.”
What most good breakup lines have in common is that they don’t make it personal. A breakup isn’t the time to talk about your partner’s character flaws or play the blame game. Sher advises putting as much of it as possible on yourself. Give off the impression that it’s not them, it’s you — without actually using a cliché like that.
Here are some lines to use to break up with someone as quickly and painlessly as possible.
1“I Don't Feel We Want The Same Things Down The Line.”
This line helps you avoid making the breakup personal. Rather than something you don’t like about them, you’re chalking it up to incompatibility. “When you notice your lifestyles don't match, it's better to do notice now,” matchmaker Stef Safran, “Chicago's Introductionista” and owner of Stef and the City, tells Bustle.
Another variation of this one is “Our long-term goals aren’t the same,” Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, relationship therapist and founder of the online relationship community Relationup, tells Bustle. “It highlights that you guys are in different places and each of you can’t foresee getting on the other person’s page.”
2“I’m Not Ready To Settle Down Now.”
Some people don’t realize they’re unprepared to settle down until they feel pressure to do it, says Safran. Telling your partner this lets them know both that it’s not their fault and that they’re not going to change your mind.
3“We’re Too Different.”
If your partner has views or lifestyle habits that you strongly disagree with, this is a nicer way to put it than to say “I think you’re sexist” or “you’re too unambitious.” Even if these things are true, there’s no point in critiquing your partner’s personality during a breakup. Saying you’re too different is equally true but softens the blow.
4“A Relationship Shouldn’t Be This Difficult.”
This is a good line to use if you’re fighting all the time to emphasize that you’d both be happier alone, says Milrad. It also might be helpful if you’re in a long-distance relationship or another kind of relationship that’s logistically very hard.
5“We Both Deserve To Be Happy.”
This can work for pretty much any breakup, says Milrad, because whatever the issue is, chances are it’ll make you both unhappy in the long-run. Saying you both deserve to be happy also conveys well-wishes for your partner.
6“I Don't See This Going Anywhere.”
No matter what the underlying reason is, a breakup usually boils down to at least one person not seeing a future with the other. If the more specific reason is hurtful, this may be a better way to go. “Break-uplines that don’t sound cliché or scripted are candid and honest — without unnecessary and/or gratuitously hurtful details,” psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC tells Bustle.
7“I Don’t Think We Bring Out The Best In Each Other.”
Everyone wants this in their relationship, so mentioning it conveys that staying together would ultimately hurt you both, says Coleman.
8“There’s Just Something Missing From Our Relationship.”
You can’t always put your finger on what it is that makes you think your partner’s not the one, and that’s OK. If you feel there’s something missing, that alone is reason enough to end the relationship. You and your partner should understand that you can’t force it, says Coleman.
Of course, don’t say any of these things unless they’re actually true. But if they are, they’re much better than “it’s not you; it’s me.”