Breaking up with someone, whether you’re on the sending or receiving end, is one of the hardest things we have to experience in life emotionally. Though obviously not pleasant, most people experience this at some point in their lifetime. When things just aren’t working out and you aren’t the match you thought you were, it’s time to move on. But before you do, there’s something that has to happen.

Having this conversation in person might not exactly be something you’re looking forward to, so consider writing a letter to break up instead. We know what you’re going through right now isn’t easy, so we’re here to help. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Handwrite It.

There is literally nothing more of a slap in the face during a breakup than receiving a text message, email, Facebook message, or whatever messaging route informing you of the breakup. If you really can’t muster up the courage to break up in person (and that’s a seriously hard thing to do, understandably!) then the next best thing is to sit down and write a letter. Not type. Write it. Just do it. Not only will it feel good to let your thoughts flow onto the paper, but it will give your ex just that one last physical piece of your relationship to have. It can be a tool that helps them grieve, whether they decide to keep it to read it over and over, or if they choose to burn it along with all of their other memories. Writing a letter helps you both.

Be Sincere.

If you’re trying to break it off on good terms, then you definitely want to watch the tone of the letter. Emotions can easily get the best of us, but if you’re really trying to get them to not hate you, then you need to be sincere. Don’t give false hope by saying “I need a break” or anything along those lines, because it sends mixed messages to your ex that there’s still a chance. Say what you mean and mean what you say!

Be Apologetic.

If you feel sorry, then say it! But definitely don’t say that you’re sorry if you’re not actually sorry. If there’s something you’re sorry for, state it in the letter. Never say that you’re sorry for something and put it on them.

For instance, If you did something to upset them before this whole breakup started, instead of writing “I’m sorry you feel hurt by my actions,” write “I’m sorry that what I did hurt you.”

Do you see the difference? The first example deflects responsibility while the second example accepts responsibility.

Be Clear.

Don’t be wishy-washy during a breakup. Don’t say things that allow it to drag on (and then wonder why your ex won’t leave you alone…) Clarity is one thing that helps people to heal from the breakup and is often sought after during the grieving process.

Explain Why.

If you’re breaking up, there has to be an explanation, some kind of reason, no matter how big or small you view it. You are writing a breakup letter, so let it be the last one to put the relationship to rest! Explain why and give details. Give them so many details that they can’t possibly have any questions about what is happening! Breakups are brutal enough, but to have loose ends and a million unanswered questions… can be torture to someone! So please, just explain why.

State What’s Next.

Is there a next or is this the end-end? Do you want to be friends still? Do you want them to keep away for good? Will you be going into the house and removing your things or theirs? Do you have pets or mutual belongings that need to be divided? If there’s anything to come next after this letter that you’re writing, it should be stated in the letter. Any kind of future contact, how you would like you two to communicate (if at all), and anything involving you two need to be in touch should be brought up in the letter.

Thank Them for the Memories.

End on a positive note. Remember, the goal here is to get them to not hate you after they read your breakup letter. If it was a good and healthy relationship that you’ll look back fondly on, let them know that! Thank them. Thank them for whatever lesson(s) you may have learned. Thank them for the love you felt when you felt it. Thank them for being there when they were. Thank them for being a part of your book of life!

Sign Your Name.

Your real name. Not any pet name that you went by, nothing that will remind your ex of you two being together, but your real name. You’re ending the relationship and you’re ending the letter that’s ending the relationship. Keep it “strictly business,” if you will. Avoid valediction that you’ve used previously in love letters, such as “love always” or “sincerely yours,” and stick with a basic “sincerely” to wrap it up.

Sample Break-Up Letter

Dear Ken,

This is one of the most difficult letters I’ve ever had to write. There has been a lot of tension since our argument when I tore your Nehru jacket. I am sorry for tearing it up, I know how important it was to you.

Unfortunately, it also made me aware of my feelings. I feel like you care more about your clothes and accessories than you do about me. It is for this reason that I’ve decided we should break up.

I do want to thank you for being there for me when I was new to Sunnyside. I will always appreciate the time we spent together and hope we can remain friends.

Sincerely, Barbie

Move Forward.

Truth is, no matter how you end it, it’s going to put you both through a whole spectrum of emotions, all of which are normal. There’s always the chance that they will hate you no matter what you say because everyone handles a breakup differently. The wrong thing to do is to stay with someone because you’re afraid to hurt them. If you truly don’t want to be with them, the right thing to do is to break it off, because otherwise, it’s not fair for either of you. They’re going to feel what they’re going to feel, you just have to accept it for what it is. Trust God (or the Universe, or whatever suits your faith) and move forward.