9 Words to Use (and 9 Words to Avoid) During a Breakup

Whether your relationship is making you unhappy or you’ve simply drifted apart, making a decision to leave your partner can be very emotional. To help you manage your emotions and ensure that you can have a positive, constructive breakup, use these nine words and phrases when you’re talking to your partner – and avoid the other nine.

Use: “I Feel”

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According to Verywell Mind, when ‘I feel’ statements are used correctly, “they can remove an accusatory tone from the speaker’s statements and allow people to express their point without getting a defensive reaction.” Examples of this are ‘I feel like we’re moving in different directions’ or ‘I feel we need different things.’

Avoid: “You Never”

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Using ‘you never’ statements can make the other person feel attacked by the conversation, which can lead them to be defensive rather than open to your thoughts. Avoiding phrases such as ‘you never listen to me’ or ‘you never make an effort’ is important to reduce the risk of hostility.

Use: “I’ve Noticed”

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If there have been changes in your relationship that have led to your unhappiness, using ‘I’ve noticed’ can help to highlight these changes or issues without making a direct accusation. This allows you to have a more objective and less confrontational conversation.

Avoid: “You Always”

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This phrase can often exaggerate issues, which can make the other party feel defensive and leave no room for a balanced discussion between the two of you. For example, a sentence such as ‘you always put your own needs first’ is likely to make the other party feel the breakup of the relationship is solely their fault, promoting resentment.

Use: “We”

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Including both partners in the issues or situations surrounding your breakup can help to create a sense of mutual responsibility for the end of your relationship. This can also help to encourage partnership when it comes to stepping away from one another, allowing for a peaceful separation.

Avoid: “It’s Your Fault”

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Directly blaming someone for the breakup of your relationship can escalate what should be an emotional and respectful conversation into an argument. If you do need to explain that their behavior is wrong, Forbes suggests sticking to the facts rather than your opinions and focusing on the behavior itself rather than the character traits of the individual.

Use: “Thank You”

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Thanking your partner for the time and experiences you’ve had together during your relationship can create a positive atmosphere, allowing you both to move forward from the partnership feeling a sense of mutual respect for one another. You could do this by saying ‘thank you for the memories’ or ‘thank you for the time we’ve shared.’

Avoid: “Whatever”

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Dismissing your partner’s feelings or thoughts in this way can seem very disrespectful and leave them feeling hurt. In order to promote mutual-respect within the conversation, try to avoid leaving them feeling undervalued, as this can undermine the significance of the relationship.

Use: “I Understand”

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By saying you understand, you demonstrate that you are listening to your partner and empathizing with their feelings. Self says, “Validation is important in a breakup conversation, though it’s key to remember that validation does not equal agreement.” This means you should be understanding without letting it sway your opinion.

Avoid: “I Don’t Care”

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The phrase ‘I don’t care’ can suggest that you are indifferent to your partner’s thoughts or the end of your relationship. This could deeply hurt them and potentially escalate the situation further by increasing their level of emotional distress. A phrase such as ‘I don’t care how you feel’ can also leave long-lasting emotional scars on your partner.

Use: “Respect”

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Statements such as ‘I respect your need for space’ or ‘I respect your feelings’ help to ensure that each party honors your shared history and the significance of the relationship. It also helps to ensure each person maintains their dignity and cares for each other during the conversation.

Avoid: “You Should Have”

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By saying things such as ‘You should have been more attentive’ or ‘you should have changed,’ you can make the other person feel guilty or inadequate. This can have a negative effect on your conversation with them, as they may become defensive, reducing your chance of constructive communication.

Use: “Let’s Be Honest”

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This phrase helps to encourage both parties to be truthful about their feelings and the situation, which allows for a clearer conversation. According to Healthline, “It can feel tempting to soften the blow with white lies, but ask yourself how you’d feel in their position. You’d probably want to know what really went wrong, so show them the same courtesy.”

Avoid: “You Always Ruin Everything”

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Generalizing someone’s behavior in a negative way can be hurtful, and this can risk ending the relationship on a bitter note. Phrases such as ‘you always ruin everything’ or ‘you always make things difficult’ can escalate conflict between the two of you as your partner may feel defensive.

Use: “Please Understand”

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If the breakup is out of the blue or your partner isn’t looking at things from your perspective, using phrases such as ‘please understand that I need to be honest about my feelings’ can help them see things from your point of view. This helps to foster a cooperative and understanding atmosphere.

Avoid: “You’re Overreacting”

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Telling someone they’re overreacting can make them feel that you are dismissing their feelings or emotions. This invalidation can lead to them feeling isolated or misunderstood by you, so try to avoid phrases such as ‘it’s not that big of a deal.’

Use: “This Isn’t Easy for Me Either”

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While you may feel you want to stay strong in your opinions and thoughts, it is also important to show that it’s not an easy decision or process for you either. By letting them know that you’re finding ending the relationship to be a challenge, you show your own vulnerability and make the conversation more balanced.

Avoid: “You Never Cared”

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You might be ending a relationship because you feel that you didn’t feel that your partner showed you affection, but this doesn’t mean they didn’t feel affectionate towards you. Using this statement also invalidates past affection, which could erase the positive memories you shared together.

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