Ending a relationship can be difficult. There's no easy way to tell someone you need to move on. And sneaking out in the middle of the night, suitcase in hand, usually only works in the movies. Is there such a thing as a good breakup? Not really, but some experts believe there's a right way to go about it.

Eight Rules for Breaking Up

Just as there are ways to ensure your relationship works, there are several ways to make sure your breakup goes smoothly. Here are eight steps you can take to end a relationship smoothly so both of you recover and move on.

  1. Take full responsibility. Whatever your reason for breaking up, don't blame your partner. Remember, it's your needs and desires that aren't being met. That's your problem. Also, remember that it's not possible for your partner to feel fulfilled if your needs in the relationship aren't being met.
  2. Thank the person. Be gracious. Part ways respectfully. Try to clear up unresolved issues, but don't prolong the conversation. If the person is angry, don't argue with him or her. It's better not to communicate.
  3. Be very clear. Be considerate of the person's feelings, but don't back down. It's easy to be misunderstood when you're trying to be compassionate. You need to clearly state that you're breaking up. You may want to say something like: "Don't mistake this conversation. I am moving on." And don't promise to stay in touch, remain friends, or offer to see each other "down the road." This leads to false hopes. If you would like to remain friends with the person, give him or her and yourself enough space to grieve. You need to be apart for a while.
  4. Keep your friends out of it. Don't tell friends, family or co-workers before you break up. After you break up, say as little as possible about the details. While it may be important to confide in friends and gain support, remember that this is a private issue between you and your partner.
  5. Don't put off your breakup until the right time. Break up when you make the decision. Waiting makes it more difficult for both of you. If you're afraid of how your partner will react, break up in a public place. Arrange to have your partner meet you to discuss your relationship. Don't arrive or leave together.
  6. Don't break up on a special day. Breaking up with a lover on his birthday, your anniversary, Valentine's Day or any other significant day is cruel. You'll needlessly ruin that day for your ex for long time, maybe forever.
  7. Don't break up in stages. If you're in an exclusive relationship, don't try distancing yourself by suggesting that you should see other people, or by not answering the phone. This will cause both of you more pain. Think of it this way: It hurts less when you rip the Band-Aid off rather than pull it off slowly.
  8. Be tactful about getting personal items back. Remove personal items from your lover's place before you break up. It's more difficult to retrieve them after a breakup. If your lover has personal items at your place, pack them up and have them ready to hand to him or her, or offer to send them.

By following these eight steps and ending your relationship in a civilized way, you can walk away knowing that you've treated someone you once cared for with the same dignity and respect you would wish for yourself.