This is the right way to break up with someone you may still love. You deserve to make this process as smooth and painless as possible.

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1. Do It Face To Face

I’ve got many relationships that have ended over the phone or even via SMS. I think this is the reason why it has been so hard for me to get over them. Since I didn’t get closure, many things felt still unresolved. I had questions I wanted to ask my exes. Sometimes, I wish I had seen their faces when they broke up with me, but all I got were a few pathetic crying emoticons. Moreover, the months after such breakups were filled with thoughts and plans to meet up in person to talk about the things that led to that decision. By doing it face to face, you’re going to have a clean break right off the bat.

If you still love your partner but there are other reasons for your relationship to end, you have to show respect for the other person and break up in person. This will give both of you the closure you need to move on with your life.

2. Be Strong (And Forget About Breakup Sex)

If the two of you are still in love with each other, but there are considerations that require a breakup, chances are you might be unsure about your actions. You may be uncertain whether to end things or give your relationship another try. Maybe this is just a bad moment that shall pass. Maybe moving on is a big mistake. You can’t afford this level of indecision. Think about everything thoroughly, take a decision, and stick to it no matter what.

Be firm, and resist having breakup sex, no matter how tempting it may be. This is only going to make both of you suffer, as you’re going to start doubting your decision. This won’t bring anything good.

3. Define Your Boundaries

Setting boundaries after a break up is a must. You also need to make breakup behaviors very clear from the very beginning. This will make it easier for you to make the transition to the next stage of your relationship, to either friends or strangers. Boundaries will help you avoid getting hurt even more after the sad moment when you break the news out. I still remember the time just after I broke up with one of my exes when I was really hurt finding out he had hooked up with someone new. The reason I felt hurt was that we were still in contact, talking to each other every day as if we were still together.

Setting boundaries between you and your ex will help you avoid a lot of unnecessary pain. In addition, it will help you establish the role you’re going to play in each other’s lives for the future. Are you going to still be connected to social media? Are you still going to call each other? How often? What are you going to talk about? What is going to be the rule about hooking up with each other again? (Side note: Don’t do this.)

4. Take Some Time Apart

If you’re still in love with your ex, breaking up isn’t going to end immediately after you do it. You’re still going to miss them a lot. You’ll feel the need to call, text or see them. In my last relationship, after the breakup, I missed my boyfriend every single moment, while watching our favorite shows, while making dinner, and in many other situations. I knew we weren’t good together, but my heart still felt like we could still hang, at least for a while.

The right approach is to take some time apart and give yourself the time to heal and to get over each other. The transition from lovers to friends isn’t something that occurs in an instant only because you’ve both said: “we’re done.” You need time to process everything that has happened, or you might end up having sex or even worse, getting together again. By prolonging the breakup, you do nothing else that prolonging the pain and the time until you’re going to feel ready to move on.

Breaking up isn’t easy, especially when you still care about your partner. Nonetheless, if this is the right decision for you, then you need to go ahead and make it. Be direct and firm, and make sure you set your boundaries after you’ve decided to break up and continue your lives without each other.