How To Break Up With Someone If You're An Introvert

Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.
Pretty much no human being wants to have a discussion with their partner that will end in a breakup. It's the worst, and you feel like the worst, so finding the courage to do it is half the battle. If you're someone who identifies as an introvert, the burden of responsibility for a breakup can feel insurmountable.
"Introverts don't tend to volunteer their thoughts, feelings, or opinions, especially if it will make someone mad," says Samantha Burns, LMHC, a relationship counselor and dating coach. They may also be more sensitive to negative evaluations from other people, she says. There are different types of introverts — some people are social introverts and others are thinking introverts, for example — but many tend to have a few strong relationships, rather than a bunch of acquaintances. "Losing a romantic relationship can be a bigger void for you than for an extrovert who has many friends and can easily spend time with other people," says Anita Chlipala, LMFT, a dating expert in Chicago.
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The good news is, you don't have to go into a breakup completely blind, and with a little strategic planning, you'll be ready to find your voice and do what you want. And keep in mind that these strategies are definitely useful for introverts in new relationships, too, Chlipala says. "It's better to practice speaking up and addressing conflict with someone you just started dating, because it’s going to be much harder when you’re in love with the person," she says. Here's how to have those tough conversations if you're an introvert.
1 of 5
Don't ghost.

It's easy to think that the simplest way to end a relationship without hurting someone's feelings is to just not end it and disappear into the ether forever — but that's really not the right move, Burns says. "Your partner will read into your disappearance as though you didn't care about them, or feel superior and that they're not worth a conversation," she says. Even though this is most likely not how you feel, it could come across that way.

But if the thought of having one of those tough conversations makes you catatonic, a text or email is better than silence, Burns says. If you only went out a few times and were still getting to know them, Chlipala says a text is also totally fine.
2 of 5
Make plans to talk.

There's never going to be a "right" moment to break up with someone, and trying to do it impulsively can just make you more anxious, Burns says. "As an introvert, you probably prefer to reflect quietly on your own thoughts than to have a long, drawn-out discussion with your partner," she says.

The conversation will be quick and painless if you take time to organize your thoughts before you jump in, but you should communicate to your partner that you want to discuss your relationship beforehand — and don't put it off. "People might assume the worst about their partner's reaction and what might happen," Chlipala says. "For some, the finality of a relationship ending might be too sad or scary, so they keep putting off the conversation to end it."
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Know your "why."

The main reason why people struggle on the receiving end of a breakup is because they don't understand why it happened, Chipala says. She suggests writing down a list of these reasons and reviewing it repeatedly before your conversation. "Emotions can hijack our brains, and we may forget some of the reasons during the conversation," she says. If you've articulated your point of view on your own, the words will flow easier, Burns says. "Introverts naturally tend to compare new experiences with old ones, so your decision to call it quits will likely be well thought-out," she says.
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Remind yourself that you're capable.

If you feel strongly connected to being an introvert, that's great, but that doesn't mean you can't be assertive in your own way, Burns says. "Instead of being fearful or anxious, remind yourself that introverts can be confident, self-assured, and communicative," she says. Having a difficult conversation might not be your personal nature, but communication is part of dating and you'll feel better about your relationships going forward if you say your piece, she says. Some people might prefer writing out thoughts to make sense of them, Burns says. "It can be a therapeutic exercise that helps you get all of your swirling thoughts out of your head and concretely onto paper."
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After your breakup, only hang with your friends if you want to.

Once you get it over with, your friends may want to literally "be there" for you at all times, which is very sweet and well-meaning, but being with people might not be what makes you happy when you're upset. "You want to honor who you are, and as an introvert, if you want to be alone, respect that about yourself," Chlipala says. Tell your friends you want to be alone, and that you'll let them know if, when, and how you'll need their support.
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