How to Tell Someone You Don’t Love Them Anymore

Falling out of love is a complex and emotional experience, and expressing those feelings to your partner can be even more challenging.

How do you find the right words? What if they react poorly? Is there a way to minimize the heartache?

These are all valid concerns, and I’m here to help you work through them. I’ll share tips, insights, and practical steps you can take to ensure the conversation goes as smoothly as possible. By the end, you’ll feel more prepared to handle this life-changing moment. Trust me, you’ve got this.

Be Sure of What You Want to Do

Knowing what you want is the first step to any big decision, and ending a relationship is no exception. Before you even think about the “how,” you need to be crystal clear on the “why” and the “what.”

Ask yourself tough questions: Are you simply going through a rough patch, or have your feelings fundamentally changed?

This isn’t the time for maybe or sort of. You owe it to yourself and your partner to be certain. When you are sure, you’ll be able to approach the conversation with a resolve that’s kind but unshakable.

Choose the Right Time and Place

Timing and setting can make a world of difference. You don’t want to spill it while you’re at a friend’s dinner party, and halfway through the dinner, you think, “Now’s good.” Nope, definitely not!

Choose a moment when neither of you is stressed with work or other commitments. Pick a quiet, private place where you can talk without interruptions — somewhere you both feel safe and comfortable. This isn’t a conversation for a packed coffee shop or, worse, a public event.

It’s not just about the where and when, though. It’s about the headspace, too. Make sure both of you are in a relatively calm state of mind, ready for an important talk. The last thing you want is to drop this kind of news when emotions are already running high.

Plan What to Say

Oh boy, where to start, right? You may feel tempted to wing it, but let’s not. Planning doesn’t mean scripting every word, but having a clear outline in your head can prevent the conversation from turning into a runaway train.

Here’s a few pointers on what your plan could include:

  • Start with your key message: Make it clear that your feelings have changed. This keeps the conversation focused.
  • Clarity is kindness: It helps prevent misunderstandings down the line. They may not like what you’re saying, but they can’t fault you for being muddy.
  • Consider their perspective: You’re sharing news that will deeply affect them, and how you deliver it matters.
  • Stay compassionate but firm: You aim to strike a balance that says, “I care about you and I respect you, which is why I need to be upfront and honest about how I feel.”

After laying out your thoughts, be sure to give them space. Like a ton of it. Their world just did a 180, so give them enough room they need to process.

"Write a script that starts with the opening sentence you will say (i.e., “We’ve both been unhappy for a long time and I think it’s time to talk about going our separate ways.“). Your script should not have more than four sentences. Think of it as an elevator pitch—be succinct and state your goal clearly—ending the relationship."

Nancy Fagan, LMFT | Founder, Relationship Resolution Center

Be Honest and Direct

When the moment arrives to have the talk, remember to be honest and direct. Dancing around the subject isn’t going to do either of you any favors. It might be tempting to soften the blow with little white lies, but in the end, honesty pays off.

Just remember though, even as you’re being direct, do it with a touch of gentleness. There’s no need to be harsh or cold about it. Think about speaking to them with the kindness you’d want if the tables were turned.

Yes, the truth hurts, but we can always choose to deliver it with a bit of compassion.

"Honesty is vital in every relationship. And when love is over, it is better to be straightforward and honest about your feelings than to continue to live a lie. It is not fair for your partner or for you to be in a relationship where one person is no longer in love."

Ana De la Cruz, LMFT | Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Writer, ChoosingTherapy

Take Responsibility for Your Feelings

This is a toughie, but it’s important to own up to your feelings. It’s not about what they did or didn’t do; it’s about how you feel. Start your sentences with “I feel” or “I’ve realized,” not “You make me feel,” which can sound blame-y.

Taking responsibility means you’re not pointing fingers. Believe me, this approach will foster a more amicable atmosphere and it shows that you’re coming from a place of self-reflection and honesty.

"If we are at the forefront of changing someone's life, leading the scenario, the first thing to keep in mind is to 'take responsibility.'

Once we take ownership of the decision, we free our minds from the burden of not keeping up with commitments and the guilt attached to the choice of moving on, for it can tie us down like no other feeling."

Sushree Nishtha Om | Psychotherapist and Motivational Counsellor,

Use “I” Statements to Express Your Feelings

Using “I” statements helps keep things straightforward. Here’s what this looks like:

  • I feel that our paths are going in different directions.
  • I’ve found that my feelings have changed over time.
  • I need to be true to myself and how I feel.

This makes a world of difference because it’s coming from your perspective, and we’re all entitled to our own feelings. Plus, it’s a respectful way to frame a difficult truth, don’t you think?

Express Your Concerns in a Kind and Empathetic Way

Think of it this way: Approach the conversation with as much empathy as if you’re handling a porcelain vase — with a lot of care. Be thoughtful about your words, try to understand how your partner might feel, and express your concerns gently. Compassion goes a long way here.

Remember, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. Words are powerful, and in this case, they need to be sprinkled with a little bit of sugar — not to sweet-coat the truth, but to allow dignity on both sides of the conversation.

Avoid Clichés and Excuses

Ever heard the old “It’s not you, it’s me”? Ouch, that one’s been done to death, hasn’t it?

When you’re explaining your feelings, try to steer clear of those tired clichés and find authentic ways to convey your message. And excuses? They just muddle the waters. So keep the convo free of those. You’re looking for clear skies, not foggy explanations.

Be real, because that’s what this moment deserves. A genuine, heartfelt reason is a solid ground for the end of a chapter. It helps both of you to understand and get closure.

Avoid Placing Blame or Making Accusations

Remember we talked about taking responsibility for your feelings? Well, this point goes hand in hand with that. It’s tempting to point fingers and list reasons why you think things aren’t working out — but that can quickly spiral into the blame game.

Instead of saying things like, “You never do this,” or “You always do that,” focus on how the relationship isn’t fulfilling your needs anymore. It’s not about whose fault it is. It’s about two people who have grown apart, and now it’s time to acknowledge that with kindness and maturity.

"Honesty doesn't mean being harsh. Don't blame the other person for what's not working. Be gentle while still being honest, as negative statements can be detrimental to their mental and emotional wellbeing."

Sushree Nishtha Om | Psychotherapist and Motivational Counsellor,

Listen and Acknowledge Their Response

After you’ve shared your heart, it’s time to pass the mic. Give them the floor to respond. You’ve had your say, now let them have theirs. They’ll likely be a whirlwind of emotions, so be ready to listen — really listen and understand their feelings.

Acknowledge what they’re saying, too. Sometimes, all someone needs is to feel heard. “I see where you’re coming from,” or “I understand why you’d feel that way,” can be like a verbal nod, showing that you’re really tuned in.

Be Prepared for Questions and Be Willing to Answer Them

Questions will come, trust me. They might be tough, they might be many. But openness is key in these moments. Here’s what you can do to make this part smoother:

  • Keep your cool: Stay calm, even if the questions get a bit intense.
  • Be honest with your answers: If they ask, they deserve the truth.
  • If you don’t know, say so: It’s okay not to have all the answers.

This is about closing the book with the respect it deserves. Dodge or refuse to answer, and you leave pages dog-eared and marked with question marks. Nobody likes a story that ends on a cliffhanger.

"When those words are spoken, your ex will likely have questions and it’s important at this moment to answer them honestly and directly, leaving no room for miscommunication."

Dr. Darcy Sterling | NYC Relationship Therapist, Ask Dr. Darcy | Host, E! Network’s "Famously Single"

Don’t Give False Hope

A hopeful heart can be a resilient thing, but in breakups, hope can sometimes do more harm than good. Be clear that this is the end, not a hiatus. Don’t sprinkle any “maybes” or “we’ll sees” into the conversation.

False hope can lead to lingering, waiting, and a whole lot of pain. Acknowledge the bond you shared, validate the experience, but be firm about the future. No one should be anchored to a “what if.”

Offer Closure and Clarity

When you’re having this tough conversation, it’s absolutely essential to leave no room for doubt. Your partner deserves to know exactly where they stand so they can begin to heal and move on. Offering closure means being open about the fact that the relationship is over and there’s no turning back.

Provide clarity by explaining your reasons in a way that’s comprehensible and leaves no unanswered questions.

"Give the person enough time to process it and discuss it because they will need closure. Making an announcement and then throwing them out the door immediately afterward isn't the way to go."

Susan Trombetti | CEO and Matchmaker, Exclusive Matchmaking

Don’t Make Them Feel Like a Fool

Nobody wants to feel as though they’ve been played for a fool, so tread carefully. During the conversation, be mindful of the words you use and how you recount the history you shared. It’s about respect. You both entered the relationship with hope and sincerity, so honor that as you say your goodbyes.

Present your feelings without diminishing theirs. You were partners, and despite the shift in feelings, those memories and shared times deserve respect.

Don’t Ambush Your Partner

This ties back to choosing the right time and place. Ambushing your partner unexpectedly with a bombshell like this isn’t fair play. Set the stage for an honest but thoughtful conversation by letting them know you need to discuss something important — that way, they’re not caught off guard.

Don’t spring it on them after a long workday or before they’re about to head out somewhere.

Much like finding the right time and place, giving your partner a gentle heads-up sets the tone for a composed heart-to-heart. It’s the difference between being blindsided and having a moment to brace for impact.

Set Clear Boundaries Moving Forward

What happens after “The Talk”? It’s time to draw some personal boundary lines. Setting clear boundaries helps both of you know what to expect in order to prevent confusion and mixed signals. If you’re done, be done — no late-night texts or “just checking in” calls.

Here’s what this looks like in practice:

  • Explicitly agree not to contact each other for a certain period.
  • Remove or mute each other on social media to avoid daily updates.
  • Arrange how you’ll handle mutual friends and social events to avoid awkward run-ins.

Don’t Suggest That You Can Still Be Friends

While offering friendship might seem like a nice olive branch, it’s often salt in a fresh wound. They need to rebuild without the confusion of your close presence. Besides, it can be super tricky to switch gears from lovers to buddies on the fly.

It’s okay to leave the possibility open for the future, but right after a breakup, it’s usually best not to play the “let’s be friends” card. Give both your hearts the space to mend and maybe down the line, friendship can blossom from a new, healthier place.

"If you want to salvage a friendship, you should tell them that, but it will ultimately be their decision to make. The saying "time heals all wounds" certainly applies here. After a little time, the two of you may end up having a beautiful friendship."

Amber Lee | Certified Matchmaker and CEO, Select Date Society

Respect Their Need for Space and Time to Process

Recognizing their need for personal space and time after a breakup is a sign of respect. It’s acknowledging that while you’re the one initiating the change, they’re the ones who might need extra time to adjust and deal with their own feelings. After all, healing isn’t a race, and everyone moves at their own speed.

Here’s how to ensure you’re giving them the space they need:

  • Resist the urge to check in just to see how they’re doing. It might seem helpful, but it can disrupt the healing process.
  • Don’t suggest meeting up to “talk things over” unless they reach out for that purpose.
  • Avoid sharing too many details about your own process of moving on, especially through mutual friends or public social media posts.

Have a Plan After the Conversation

Once the words have been spoken and the reality starts to sink in, what’s next?

It’s sensible to have a plan for yourself about what to do immediately after the talk. Whether that means stepping out to give them space or heading to a friend’s house where you can process in peace, having this plan gives you both a clear path forward.

Your plan could be as simple as taking a walk to collect your thoughts or as practical as arranging a place to stay if you’re living together.

By preparing this step beforehand, you also impart to your parting partner that you’re considerate of their feelings, respecting the aftermath of this life-changing conversation.

Prepare for Potential Reactions

Everyone reacts differently to heartbreak, and your partner may experience a whirlwind of emotions. You should mentally brace yourself for anything from shock and silence to sadness or even anger.

It’s important not to escalate the situation, no matter the reaction. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • If they cry, offer a tissue and a moment for them to collect themselves.
  • Should they raise their voice, remain calm and avoid shouting back.
  • In case they walk away, give them that space, don’t chase after them.
"The most common reactions to telling someone you no longer love them are anger, denial, bargaining, begging you to stay. Expect accusations, blame, and insistence on couple’s counseling. Acknowledge your partner’s emotions but stay the course by insisting the relationship is over."

Nancy Fagan, LMFT | Founder, Relationship Resolution Center

Seek Support From Trusted Friends or Professionals

There’s no sugar-coating it: ending a relationship is hard on both parties. That’s why it’s alright — in fact, it’s wise — to lean on friends or a professional like a counselor for support.

Picture this: You’re holding a box full of emotions. It’s heavy, and it’s weighing you down, and you’ve got to move it from A to B. Wouldn’t it be easier if a friend came along to help carry it?

Relationships are complex, and friends who know you can offer a listening ear or a hug when you need it most. A professional, on the other hand, can give you tools and strategies to handle the emotional load you’re carrying.

Don’t try to lift it all by yourself; support is there for the taking.

More Insights From the Experts

“My personal experience says that we can communicate with truthfulness and express our concerns in a kind and empathetic manner. Before confronting your partner, imagine that you are trying a hands-on baking recipe. It has three simple steps:

1. Collect the ingredients.

  • Try to center your mind on all that you want to express. What is your objective? Take time to reflect on your feelings and the reasons for your decision.
  • Be true to yourself. Pick and choose the ingredients of compassion, kindness, politeness, and empathy, as the person on the receiving end of your conversation deserves this care and respect from you.
  • Give the batter a good mix; of your words, emotions, feelings, and sensitivity.

2. Pour it all into the pan.

When you eventually pour it all into the pan and place it in the oven to bake, remember to appreciate the person in front of you for all the things you admire about them. Do it honestly, as it will establish the bridge of healthy communication.

As you walk that bridge, make them feel respected, acknowledge their contributions in your life, and that you are not simply blaming them for this situation… Confrontations and arguments are a part of this stage of baking. All you have to do is wait patiently until the baking time is over… At any time, please be mindful of your speech as you may otherwise end up engaging in unwholesome thoughts or discussions.”

3. Take the mold out of the oven and unmold it.

The third and final stage of your emotional baking is to take the mold out of the oven and unmold it. Serve it hot on the plate and cherish the good memories of togetherness and love. Where there is no blame game, there is space to embrace the change.

Relationships fail, love wanes, understanding shifts, we move on or out of love; this is an inevitable fact of life.”

Sushree Nishtha Om | Psychotherapist and Motivational Counsellor,

“Breakups are hard but we have all been through them and we all survive. Don’t say things out of guilt that could be misleading or offer false hopes… It’s also important to realize that being “in love” is not a constant state even in healthy relationships.

Ask any happily married couple who has been together for more than ten years and they will tell you that they fall in and out of love with their partner periodically.

Those of us who have chosen long-term committed partnerships rely on things like respect and friendship to get us through the periods of drought where we don’t feel “in love” with our person. That feeling almost always comes back and you learn just to be patient and trust that it will.

Krista Jordan, PhD | Board Certified Clinical Psychologist | Writer, Choosing Therapy

“…Through healing and evolving, I’ve learned to be honest yet thoughtful in my delivery of truth that may harm someone. In sharing what could be devastating news to someone, it is important to consider several things before delivering this news.

  • What positive things can I say that are true and add power to them before the news?
  • Where do you see them going, becoming and affecting others?
  • Why they are incredible and that they do not need to change to be anything but themselves. Most times, people think they should change to be what someone else needs to love them.”

Keya S. McClain | Author and Podcast Host | Self-Publishing Coach, Keya’s Coaching

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you deal with guilt after ending a relationship?

It’s natural to feel guilty after ending a relationship, especially if your partner is hurt by the decision. Acknowledge your feelings but remember that staying in a relationship where you’re not in love is unfair to both of you. It may help to talk to a friend, journal your thoughts, or seek counseling to navigate your emotions constructively.

Can you still care for someone after you stop loving them?

Absolutely. Love and care can exist independently. It’s possible to care deeply about someone’s well-being and happiness even after romantic love has faded. Prioritizing their emotions during the breakup conversation is a way of showing care.

What if you share responsibilities, like children or joint finances—how should that be handled?

When children or significant shared responsibilities are involved, the conversation should include an immediate plan for the next steps. Focus on maintaining stability where possible and commit to discussing the practicalities in depth at a later time, preferably with professional advisors like mediators or financial planners.

Final Thoughts

As we come to the end of this journey, I want to remind you that it’s okay to feel a mix of emotions. Telling someone you don’t love them anymore is a brave and difficult thing to do.

It’s normal to feel sad, anxious, or even a little lost afterwards. Be gentle with yourself and remember that healing takes time.

Ultimately, being honest about your feelings is an act of kindness, both for yourself and for your partner. By having this tough conversation, you’re creating space for both of you to find happiness and love that truly fulfills you. You’ve got this, and you’re going to be okay.

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Leah is a creative soul with a passion for telling stories that matter. As an editor and writer at UpJourney, she channels her natural curiosity and imagination into thought-provoking articles and inspiring content. She is also a registered nurse dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact.

In her free time, she indulges her artistic side as a hobbyist photographer, capturing the world's beauty one shot at a time. You can also find her in a poor-lit room playing her favorite video games or in a corner somewhere, reading and immersing herself in the rich worlds of fantasy and dark academia.

At home, Leah is surrounded by love and laughter, living peacefully with her partner and their three adorable shih tzus.