How To Break Up With Someone When You Want Different Things, But Still Love Them

Regardless of the reason why you decide to end a relationship, it can be a really intense ordeal — especially if you still have feelings for your partner. At this point, most of us have learned that it takes a lot more than just love for a healthy relationship to thrive. The hardest relationships to end are often the ones that can't work because of differing or conflicting goals, even if both people still have deep feelings for each other. Let me tell you: Figuring out how to break up with someone when you want different things ain't easy, folks.

Once you've been with someone for a while, you probably have a clear idea of what their priorities, dreams, and goals are for the near and distant future. Sometimes it becomes clear that you both want different things out of life that just can't coexist in the same relationship. “Depending on what the big life goals are, [if they don't align] this can be a dealbreaker,” Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Heidi McBain told Bustle. “If one partner wants to be a digital nomad and travel the world, while the other wants to live close by to their family, these are very different life goals and visions for the future.”

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Although it may be a tough pill to swallow, once you know where they stand on an issue that you can't really compromise on — for example, whether or not you want children — it may be a good idea to face the music sooner rather than later. "Despite our best efforts, we can sometimes be faced with true deal-breakers," psychotherapists and relationship counselors Linda and Charlie Bloom wrote for Psychology Today. "Where it is clear that fundamental differences are too great to bridge the gap between partners, it is wise to acknowledge this reality and to respectfully end the relationship in its present form, moving on separately or in a different form of relationship."

If you've reached the point where you think going your separate ways is probably the best decision in the long run, then it might be time to start a conversation with your partner. If you suspect they are still in love with you and may be blindsided by your decision, proceed delicately.

"The best thing you can do is sit down with them in person (no text breakups) and have a really kind, honest, and compassionate conversation with them," breakup coach and host of the breakup BOOST podcast, Trina Leckie, told Elite Daily. "Do your best to end things on good terms and then go no-contact after that so that both of you can have time and space away from the relationship, gain clarity, and start the healing process."

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Although no contact can be a hard rule to stick to, licensed marriage and family therapist Nicole Richardson emphasized its importance. However, the ideal length of no contact might not be the same for every couple, so this is something you should both try to agree on. "Agree on a period of no contact: 30 days, 60 days, etc.," Richardson told Elite Daily. "If you really care about them and want to minimize their hurt, let them know that you hope you can be friends someday. And in order to make that happen, you will need to make a clean break and not keep in constant contact because that will only drag the hurt out."

No matter how much you believe breaking up is the right decision, talking about it with a partner can be difficult and painful for both of you. Even if it hurts, only you can decide what's best for your future. Although it might take a while to work up the nerve and decide exactly what you want to say, in the end, you owe it to yourself to follow your bliss and do what feels right for you — even if that means letting someone you love go.