How to get out of long term relationship

How to Leave a Long-Term Relationship

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Leaving a relationship is never easy, even if there is relief on the other side of the process. But obviously leaving a short-term relationship is different from a long-term one: With more investment in time and intimacy, the tangling of lives of these relationships makes the untangling more difficult. And when there are kids or money or the literal breaking up of a household as part of the mix, it’s made all the harder.

Here are some guidelines to hopefully make the emotional untangling less painful:

Be clear about your message.

Sometimes your leaving is not a surprise: It’s been talked about for months. Or no, it's one you’ve been privately gnawing on. Whether or not there's advance warning, unless the ending is truly mutual (and few are), your announcement will be a shock to the other party and set off a grief reaction. Likely their first question is: Why?

You want to work out your explanation to this question carefully in advance. Ideally talk more about you and your feelings, rather than about the other and their behavior. You don’t want to be angry, you don’t want to be blaming. Instead, you want to be as calm as you can, be clear, give a reason that you can state in one or two sentences.

The danger here is that your message is not clear. If you offer vague or contradictory reasons, the person is likely to be confused, or will instinctively look for cracks in your argument to push on, or will read into your message what they want to hear. Similarly, if you pile on too much information while the other person is understandably in shell-shock, they will either get overloaded and not be able to process what you are saying, or will again hear what they want to hear, rather than what you are intending to say.

Be clear about your bottom line.

This is the answer to the other person’s likely next questions: What does this mean, where do we go from here, what are the next steps? Again, you emotionally want to sort this out in your own mind ahead of time: You want a divorce; or you want a separation so you have time to sort out your feelings. Be honest and clear, even if your clarity right then is that you are not completely sure. But if you feel you are sure, don’t be cruel, but don’t mince words or beat around the bush.

Like your why-message, if you are vague in order to avoid hurting the other person’s feelings, you are only giving hope where there is none, or leaving the other person confused and tempted to hear what they want to hear rather than what you are saying.

Be clear about the rules of engagement.

This is the second part of what happens next. Are we going to see or talk to each other — when, how often? If children are involved, are we still going to do things as a family — when, how? By being clear about you want, about what you are willing to do and not do, it not only allows you to get what you want on the table, but by your clarity helps the other person become clearer too.

Start with your own ideal vision of next steps, and decide on your bottom lines — what you absolutely are or are not willing to do, what you are willing to negotiate and compromise on — so you don’t get emotionally pulled into doing something that you don’t want to do.

Control contact.

Sometimes the other person copes by pulling in and cutting you off for a period of time. But more likely you will be barraged with texts or calls or emails in an attempt to change your mind, to get more information, to see you and talk, to draw you in. Under such a constant message assault, it's easy for you to quickly feel frustrated, annoyed, overwhelmed. To avoid this, be proactive rather than reactive. Define your own policy on communication, set boundaries — that, for example, you won’t respond to text messages, or will only talk on the phone at certain times.

And you want to follow through on what you say. If you don't, if you are inconsistent, the danger is that you create intermittent reinforcement. If, for example, you say that you're not going to respond to texts, but then suddenly do because you’re lonely or feeling regretful, the other person will read into this, thinking that you’ve possibly changed your mind, that what they said tugged at you in some way. This only stirs up hope or encourages the other person to reach out in the same way again and again. To avoid this, it’s usually better to define a contact policy for yourself that you can follow.

Hold steady, but be compassionate.

You want to be calm, clear, and consistent, but that doesn’t mean you want to be insensitive. Hold to your bottom lines and message, but also acknowledge the pain that you have created and what the other person is feeling. You don’t generally have to do anything more than say, "I know this is difficult for you, that you would like this to all be different and change, and I’m sorry this is so painful for you." The acknowledgment itself can be soothing to the other. By showing empathy, while taking responsibility for your actions and staying clear and firm, you are compassionately affirming the reality of the situation.

Have a plan for your worst-case scenarios.

Even with all your clarity and firmness, your anxiety is apt to stir up all kinds of worst-case scenarios: What if he does_____? She does_____? This can create dread that keeps you awake at night.

Put these to rest by mapping out a game plan for each of these worst-case situations. Figure out, for example, what you can or want to do if they won’t allow you to see the kids, were to show up at your work, or if they were to bad-mouth you to your friends or family. You may need to do some research about what are appropriate options or next steps; you may want to consult an attorney. What you don’t want is to do nothing, to have no plan. This will only keep you in a state of dread and make you feel like a victim of the other person’s possible actions and reactions.

Talk to the children.

Ideally, you both want to sit down with the kids and let them know in a calm way what is unfolding. If that is not possible, do the best you can on your own. You'll want to give the kids a few days' notice to any moving out; this gives them time to process what you are saying and space to ask follow-up questions. If you stretch out the leaving-time too long, young children will think it isn't going to happen; older children will be anxious the entire time, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

What to say to the children? Obviously, whatever you say will trigger their own grief that they will have to work through with time. But because their worlds are smaller and more concrete, what children usually need to know about most is what will change in my world now that you are not together. Map out as much as know in detail — that yes, they will be staying at the same school, that they will spend the weekend with the dad, etc.

Avoid giving them adult details of your adult problems. Say that this is not their fault, that these are adult problems and adult decisions. And although things are changing, that yes, this is going to be hard for a while, but you are on top of it, ready and able to both care for them and help them through it. Let them know that they are not responsible for fixing the family, that they don't need to worry or take care of you or the other parent.

Work up lines.

Family, friends, and co-workers are naturally going to be asking you what happened. Decide in advance to whom and what you want to share. For those outside your intimate circle, work up some lines so you are not sidewinded at an office party with questions and trying to think on your feet.

Consider counseling.

A counseling setting, with a mental health professional or a minister, can provide a safe place to untangle, to have deeper conversations about the relationship, to make sure that your messages are heard by the other person, to get advice about managing children, etc.

That said, be clear with the other person what you see to be the focus and purpose of the counseling before you sit down in a session — for example, not to work on the relationship, but to have a safe place to be clear about what is unfolding and why; or a place to figure out how to best support the children; or to have a place to check in on how the separation is going and/or the current state of the relationship.

Expect your feelings to change.

Even if your messages and bottom lines are clear, expect that you, too, will be on an emotional rollercoaster for a while, because you, too, are grieving. Even if the relationship was terrible, grief still sets in, because the grief is a natural element of the untangling and ending process, because it is still a loss that you need to resolve. So, expect to experience waves of second-thoughts, regrets, and loneliness. This is normal.

Get support.

This is a major transition point in your life, one that is difficult to do all alone. Before stepping out the door, line up in advance people you feel comfortable turning to for support. And if, for whatever reason, you lack these supports, consider individual counseling to help you move through this time.

There's no way to avoid the stress that these changes will create, but your overarching goal is to be clear, consistent, and as calm and compassionate as you can.

It’s the best you can do.

How to Break Up With Someone You Live With: 15 Tips

Where love exists, so does the possibility of heartbreak, and at some point, you may realize you and your partner have no future together. Even when this fact is perfectly clear, ending the relationship can still be pretty tough — especially when you cohabitate.

If you’ve come far enough to move in together, you likely have some pretty strong feelings for each other. Calling it quits, then, might seem like a waste. Yet love and positive regard can’t overcome every obstacle, and staying in an unfulfilling relationship will likely leave you both miserable down the line.

Not all relationships thrive, but this knowledge may not make your breakup process any easier. The prospect of breaking up when you live together might feel even more stressful, and that’s absolutely normal. If you’re not sure how to begin, we’re here to help. Our guide can help you navigate the breakup with consideration and respect, for your partner and yourself.

Relationships end for any number of reasons.

Perhaps a few months of sharing living space cast light on a few key problems — late nights out with no communication, disrespect for your personal space, or regularly forgotten chores. Maybe you ignored these problems at first, hoping they’d resolve themselves. When that didn’t happen, you tried to address them, but your efforts had little impact.

The specific circumstances might vary, but once you realize there’s no way forward, ending things sooner rather than later can save you both time and pain.

Decide what to say

Chances are, you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about breaking up before making up your mind. Now you’re certain, but you still aren’t sure how to tell them.

Everyone’s situation looks a little different, so there’s no set script to follow. If you feel a little stuck, these guidelines can help:

  • Be honest. 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.
  • Keep things simple. Limit your explanation to a few main issues instead of sharing a list of grievances.
  • Avoid unnecessary blame. Accusing them of destroying your relationship or taking the blame yourself won’t help anyone. Try to stick to a more neutral explanation.


Writing down your thoughts can help you sort through them.

Prepare for questions

Most people want answers before they can come to terms with a breakup, so they may ask why.

It may not help them to hear every single detail — “You’re terrible at dishwashing,” “You like boring TV,” “You never listen to anything I say.” Still, offering some explanation of big-picture problems could help them make changes that improve the outcome of their next relationship.

It’s understandable to regret hurting them, but your first priority is supporting yourself. With that in mind, try brainstorming answers that reflect your needs, not their faults:

  • “When it comes to communication, we’re just not on the same page.”
  • “I see myself with someone who shares the same priorities around finances and household responsibilities.
  • “We have such different interests that I don’t feel connected when we spend time together.”

Give them time

After the conversation, they may feel stunned, devastated, angry, and confused. You can’t help how they feel, but you can offer compassion and kindness by giving them space to process.

Even if you’re planning to move out, offer them some time alone before you start packing up. Have an overnight bag with essentials ready to go, and set a time for you to come collect your things.

When it’s your house or apartment, they’ll need a few days, at the very least, to find somewhere to stay. Plan to discuss boundaries and sleeping arrangements. You might, for example, offer to sleep in the guest room or on the sofa.

When you share a lease, you’ll also have to decide who goes, who keeps the deposit, and so on. Making a list of considerations beforehand can help you avoid forgetting things in what might become a tense or emotional situation.

Enlist support

Once you know it’s time to break up, telling a few trusted friends and loved ones can make your next steps much easier.

Your social circle can offer emotional support, first of all. It’s understandable to have conflicting feelings. Breakups can cause plenty of distress, even when you initiate them. You’ve shared your lives and a home.

You might still love them and grieve the necessary loss. But when love and regret give way to second thoughts, loved ones can validate your decision and remind you of the reasons behind it. Friends and family can also offer a temporary place to stay and help you move out.

If you’re worried about your partner’s reaction, ask a friend to come over or wait outside. (Find tips for navigating a breakup with an abusive partner here.)

You know what you want to say. You’ve practiced in front of the mirror, or with a friend, and you finally feel ready to have the talk.

These tips can help you have a successful conversation.

Give them some warning

Clueing in your partner to the impending breakup can help them begin processing what’s about to happen. They may have even noticed the same warning signs you have and already feel the winds of change blowing in.

Instead of “We need to talk,” as they’re headed out the door, try:

  • “I have something important to discuss with you. Will tonight work?”
  • “I’d like to have a talk about our relationship. Do you have time this evening?”

Choose a low-stress time

While it’s best to talk as soon as you make up your mind, you might wait a day or two if they’re facing a big deadline or another temporary source of stress that requires their full attention.

Since you’ll want to plan for enough time to share your feelings and hear theirs, avoid having the conversation at bedtime or before work. If you have children, make sure they’re occupied and out of earshot.

Be clear and kind

Aim to start off by explicitly stating your desire to break up so you avoid any misunderstandings.


  • “I care for you very much, but this relationship is no longer working for me. I want to break up.”

It can feel scary to come out and say, “I’m breaking up with you.” But indirect options, like “I don’t think things are working out” or “Maybe we should break up” can lead to long conversations with unclear resolutions. You might remain firm in your desire to end things while they walk away with the impression that it’s still possible to repair the relationship.

Stay calm

They might get upset, even angry or tearful. You might feel some emotions surging, too. That’s completely normal. You care about each other, and you’ll both be affected by this.

That doesn’t mean you have to let them shout at you or put up with any other type of outburst. If things get heated, avoid letting your own emotions get the better of you. Instead, leave the room, get a drink of water, or take a walk around the block. Call a friend if you feel scared or unsafe.

If they seem too upset to continue talking, suggest picking up the conversation when they feel calmer.

Give them a chance to talk

Once you’ve explained that you want to break up and why, it’s their turn to talk. They’ll probably have plenty of feelings about your decision, and listening empathically, with your full attention, shows you respect those feelings.

Answer their questions, but be mindful of circling or unproductive conversations. Don’t be afraid to end the discussion if they keep challenging the breakup or asking you to reconsider.

Plan to revisit practical matters

You’ll need to talk about financial matters, such as splitting shared bills and dividing up belongings you purchased together, including electronics, appliances, and furniture.

Still, sorting through finances and shared possessions can be a lengthy process after even the most amicable breakup. If you feel overwhelmed right now, agree on a time to go over these important details.

After you’ve had the breakup conversation, you might feel relieved that it’s finally over. Yet finalizing the end of your relationship can open the door to some new challenges, especially if you’re breaking up in the middle of a pandemic.

What if we’re stuck together for a while?

You may not have the financial means to change your living situation right away. This might make you think twice about breaking up, but it’s generally best to talk it out rather than maintain the relationship under false pretenses. Then you can have a candid discussion about options for going forward.

Go into the conversation with some research under your belt. If you’re the one who needs to move out, you might let them know you’ve been saving up for a deposit and outline your timeline for finding a new place. If they moved in with you, extend the same compassion you’d hope for in their shoes and give them time to process the breakup and look for a new place to live.

When you own or rent together, next steps may involve negotiating a short-term plan to continue sharing space. This can be tricky, but it’s not impossible, as long as you establish clear boundaries. Talk about who goes to the guest room or sofa and set up a schedule for common areas and time alone, if necessary.

COVID-19 considerations

Lockdowns and other restrictions can cause serious complications for relationships and breakups. On top of your existing stress, you now have to navigate another life change and all the complicated emotions that come with it.

If either of you hasn’t been working, you might not have the money to move. Staying with family or friends might involve a quarantine period and other extra precautions, if it’s even possible. If you have a new place lined up, you might struggle to find moving help.

As you navigate plans for moving out or temporarily continuing to cohabitate:

  • Be patient, with yourself and with them.
  • Respect their boundaries and stick to yours.
  • Agree on what to tell friends about your situation.
  • Communicate respectfully.
  • Avoid letting physical closeness pull you back into old relationship patterns, like cuddling, sleeping together, or having sex. It’s natural to crave that comfort, but it will only renew the hurt when things do officially end.

What do we tell the kids?

Breakups become even harder when children are involved. You can find more detailed guidance for co-parenting here, but these tips can get you started:

  • Decide together what you’ll tell them beforehand.
  • If one partner isn’t the legal parent but still has a close relationship with the kids, consider potential visiting arrangements. If you share legal custody, you may need to consult a lawyer.
  • Talk to the kids together, if possible. Be honest, but keep your explanation simple.
  • Be prepared for questions about the breakup and future living arrangements.

Don’t forget your pets — they’re family, too. Pets you brought with you will probably leave with you, but what if you adopted a furry friend together? As long as you’re not leaving an abusive situation, consider setting up a co-ownership or visitation plan so you can both spend time with your pet.

Now that it’s over, what next?

Don’t force friendship

You might want to maintain a friendship after the breakup, but they may not feel the same way, especially if the breakup came as a surprise or significant blow.

There may be room for friendship in time, especially if you had a satisfying relationship. For now, though, it’s important to respect their needs and give them space.

Take care of yourself

Yes, you made the choice to break up, but you can still grieve your loss.

If you felt strongly enough about them to move in with them, you probably thought the relationship had lasting potential. Realizing otherwise can hurt quite a bit, even if you don’t immediately realize it amid the more pressing challenges of ending the relationship. When the dust settles, you might find yourself overwhelmed with sadness, regret, loneliness, and other emotions you shoved aside.

Good self-care practices can always help you cope, so make an effort to stay active, seek support from friends, and spend time on relaxing hobbies.

Professional support can also help. A therapist can help you work through lingering doubts, grief, and other unresolved feelings about the breakup. Therapy also offers space to become more conscious of your contribution to the relationship and explore changes to enjoy more successful relationships in the future.

Moving in together often seems permanent, but it doesn’t always mean a relationship will flourish. Some people just aren’t suited to each other, and this often only becomes clear after you spend more time together.

Breaking up with someone you live with can feel incredibly difficult, but remember: You’re making the choice that’s right for both of you, even if they don’t yet realize it.

Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.

How to get out of a sick relationship? Psychologists advise

What is a co-dependent relationship? Why not try to change your partner and fight his bad habits? Mikhail Labkovsky, Berendt Greg and Nastya Butenko - about why you need to run away from a sick relationship and how to do it.


Unhealthy relationships in psychology are called codependency. In Kondakov's illustrated dictionary, this concept means an abnormally, affectively colored dependence of one person on another. If someone's life becomes the "center of the universe", your mood and well-being depend on it - this is the first marker. The second sign of codependency is a constant feeling of guilt. The third is a constant desire to save a partner.

The cause of codependency is low self-esteem, lack of concentration on one's own "I" and the idea of ​​unconditional love.

In social psychology there is a concept - "Karpman's Triangle". According to this theory, codependent people can play several roles: savior, persecutor, and victim. At the same time, they can change them periodically depending on the situation.

The well-known psychologist Mikhail Labkovsky calls a similar model of relations neurotic. He gives this concept a simple and understandable explanation. If you do not get pleasure and joy from communicating with a partner, we are talking about a sick relationship.

Read here why you can't build a serious relationship.

The psychologist is sure that the root of the problem must be sought in early childhood. If, for example, a child grew up in a family where talking in a raised voice and assault is the absolute norm, he develops a concept: love is impossible without pain and suffering. When the baby grows up, he will subconsciously look for a partner who can provide it for him.

Labkovsky is convinced that neurotic relationships prevent a person from enjoying life! And this is a real tragedy.

BeautyHack expert psychologist Nastya Butenko shares this point of view, believing that codependency is a direct path to the loss of one's own “I”: “I will cook dinner, he will be happy. I will put on beautiful underwear to please him. I will clean the apartment, even if I don’t have the strength to do so.”

The problem is that a man entering into such a relationship, as a rule, comes from the same family where there was an unhealthy psychological atmosphere. And here the most interesting begins. The man and woman begin to reverse roles. She then saves him. He is the victim and she is the persecutor. It is unbearably difficult for both of them in such a relationship. But they cannot refuse them either. A couple in a circle torments each other, acting in different roles.

How to get out of a sick relationship?

It is quite difficult to get rid of codependency. As a rule, we are talking about the study of family scenarios and scenarios of previous relationships.

Nastya Butenko. Psychologist

C Tip #1: Understand that you have your own life

You should have hobbies that have nothing to do with a man - something that brings pleasure without a partner. Find a hobby or activity that you enjoy doing and no one else.

C Advice #2: Therapy

When a person knows that he is codependent, but continues the relationship with his partner, there is only one way out - therapy. First you need to understand whether we are really talking about codependency. If so, only a specialist will help. Even if you find interests on your own and abandon the relationship that you have now, you will then enter into them again. Go to a psychologist who works with codependency and don't even think about it.

Mikhail Labkovsky. Psychologist

Tip #3: Do what you want

But first, admit to yourself that you are neurotic. When you are faced with a choice, there should be only one motivation - your own interests. You don't have to eat borscht if you like chicken broth. Make a choice consciously, without fear of consequences.

Tip #4: Always say what you like

“Why are you doing this to me?”, “You are a fool” and other similar phrases should be forgotten. Start any dialogue with the phrase "I don't like it because." Always talk about your feelings without complaining or insulting your partner.

Tip #5: Make a deal with yourself

There is one easy way to get out of a sick relationship - to want! Addiction is not a disease. You may well agree with yourself by setting boundaries that cannot be crossed. How to understand that the relationship has exhausted itself, see the link.

Tip #6: decide if you need to get out of a sick relationship

People never give up what they love. If you live in regular scandals, then this is for something. Just understand: this is not love, but a problem that needs to be solved. There is no point in fighting what you like.

Berendt Greg. Author of Promise Doesn't Mean Marriage or He Just Doesn't Like You

Tip #7: Don't waste your time

Understand one simple thing: if a guy doesn't call, he doesn't want to. This is a common truth for a psychologically healthy person. Your partner is not busy, has not flown to the moon, has not lost his mobile. He does not want! Do not waste your precious time on a person with whom you have different goals.

Tip #8: Learn to See the Negatives

We are taught from childhood to see only the good in every situation. But the drinking spouse is not a story to be taken as a lesson. Accept that your case is the rule, not the exception, and move on with your head held high.

Tip #9: Understand that one act is followed by another

One act is followed by a series of others. And they will disappoint no less. Do you want to be upset for the rest of your life? If not, take action.

Tip #10: Don't make excuses for your other half

It takes too much of your time and effort. Yes, parting with a person whose last name you have already managed to try on is not easy. But imagine without illusions what awaits you if you stay. Yes, at first after a breakup, you will feel pain - this is normal. But after it there will come a period of bliss and self-development.

Rule #11: Review your requirements

Promise yourself that you will never meet a person who does not respect you, does not invite you on dates, does not make joint plans with you, or abuses drugs or alcohol. And keep the promises you make to yourself.

How to end a long-term relationship without causing pain

Love does not leave without a trace. Even if, after a long relationship, you realize that the wrong man is next to you, you can’t just take it and stop loving him. After all, over the years spent together, he became a kindred person for you. Even if there is no romantic connection left between you, you are still connected to each other by common happy moments in the past, common dreams and plans for the future. Leaving him means hurting someone close. will give some tips on how to behave so that the breakup causes less suffering for you and the person for whom there is no longer a place in your life.

Decide for yourself

A breakup isn't always about accusations, tantrums, and cymbals. Sometimes it happens that having lived with a person for many years, you suddenly realize that you have fallen in love with another. Nobody is immune from this.

But often the former connection does not let us take a step towards our destiny. After all, this means that we have to go through a difficult period of uncertainty - who knows if you can find happiness with a new chosen one, or this romance will turn into a complete disappointment? In addition, someone will have to change their daily habits, someone will have to get used to other people's children. In other words, get out of your comfort zone.

Keep all these torments to yourself. If your passion has cooled, but warmth remains in your soul towards your partner, do not torment him, do not force him to become a participant in your internal conflict. Do not seek advice from friends and relatives, no one will fully understand what is going on in your soul and what is pushing you to leave. You must find the answer yourself, but if the decision is not made in his favor, do not delay leaving.

Do not look for someone to blame

Feeling guilty, a person who decides to leave a long-term relationship subconsciously tries to find something in his partner for which he could be blamed for the breakup: “He spends too much time at work ”, “He is not capable of romance”, “He drinks” - there are many options. We begin to look for the cause - a convenient springboard, starting from which, we can break out of the vicious circle of relationships that have ceased to bring us satisfaction. And this springboard turns out to be an already neglected ex-lover. Both are guilty, and it makes no sense to find out whose fault is more.

Do not pity your partner, but respect his feelings

Pity is not a feeling on which a happy family can be built. Unlike empathy, it puts you above your partner, shows that you perceive him as a weak being, unable to take care of himself. But is it really so?

Read also

Pity is the worst helper in relieving the pain of breaking up a long relationship. If you both accept that you are adults who cannot always be in charge of the twists and turns of fate, you will no longer need to make excuses or feel sorry.

If you have already realized that a breakup is inevitable, but at the same time you cannot decide on the final step because you feel sorry for your partner, you put both of you at a disadvantage. You not only force yourself to live with closed eyes, just not to see a disgusted man, but also deprive him of the opportunity to get sick with you and find a woman with whom he could build a full-fledged relationship.

Only respect and sincere sympathy can help heal the wounds of the person you are forced to hurt. But this does not mean that you should spend long evenings crying with him or discussing the situation in detail. It is possible that your sympathy will be manifested precisely in the fact that you spare him the need to see you or omit the details of what led you to the decision to break up.

Last but not least, take care of yourself

Be grateful for the happy moments you shared, but don't let them play with you by making you rush to the phone and tearfully dial your ex's number at the sound of a song you used to dance to during a romantic vacation. If you feel that some detail in the present brings up painful memories for you, take care of yourself, turn away from this detail.

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