5 Steps to End a Long-Distance Relationship [the Right Way]

5 Steps to End a Long-Distance Relationship [or Make it Work]

You are in a long-distance relationship that isn’t working. So you are thinking to break up. You are probably having doubts about what to do. Do you keep trying to make it work? Are you ready to move on?

If you have these doubts, take a few minutes to reflect on your situation. This article will guide you through 5 steps that will help you involve your partner, so you can decide together.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings.
  2. Share your feelings with your partner.
  3. Ask your partner how they feel about your relationship.
  4. Share your worries and concerns.
  5. Together, make a decision that works for both of you.

You might ask yourself: Can I make it work? Is long-distance a problem? Will it work if we were to move in together? Is this relationship worth saving or has it run its course?

These doubts can be overwhelming. But there is an easy and healthy solution that I will share with you in this article. You can use it to get a different perspective or as a practical guide. 

If you want to resolve your long-distance relationship dilemma today and have a pen and paper nearby, let’s dive right in…

STEP 1 – To End a Long-Distance Relationship: Acknowledge Your Feelings

A long-distance relationship can be hard. A romantic relationship needs physical contact. Lack of physical intimacy can leave you feeling stressed and frustrated.

After some time, your feelings for your partner may fade or you may start having feelings for someone else. It’s scary to observe yourself losing feelings for the person you are with. But that’s the nature of feelings; they change all the time.

The healthy thing you can do is to:

  • Recognise this change.
  • Acknowledge the new feelings.
  • Make a plan to act on them.

You have your reasons to want to end your relationship, but what about your feelings?
While reasons are fairly simple to understand, feelings can be more confusing. For example, you might want to break up is the right thing to do, but you may feel nervous and sad.

If this conflict between thinking and feeling gets too much, ask yourself:

  • Are you making a change because you think it’s what you should do or because you feel excited about what it will bring?
  • Are you recognising your feelings or telling yourself how you should feel?

Recognising our feelings isn’t an easy task. 
Our parents and society give little importance to how we feel and our everyday conversations reflect as much. So, making big decisions such as ending a relationship, it’s common to feel overwhelmed and confused.

Luckily, there is a solution…

  • Make a list of concerns you have about your relationship and the long-distance.
  • Write your reasons for breaking up (this one is only for yourself).
  • Use this reference to work out how you feel.
  • Make a list of positive and negative feelings.
  • Be clear, be specific.

Tip: Before you can explain to your partner why you want to break up, first, make it clear for yourself.

STEP 2 – To End a Long-Distance Relationship: Share Your Feelings With Your Partner

When was the last time you told your partner how you felt? How did you express these feelings?

When we try to express ourselves without first being clear on how we feel, it may come across as a mix of blame and judgements. It’s common for couples in disagreement to blame each other for the situation they are in. And, until each person takes responsibility, it will be very hard to come to an agreement.

So, why would you want to share your feelings and how can you do it the right way?

In step 1, you made 2 lists: your reasons for breaking up and your feelings. Let’s leave the reasons aside for now and focus on your feelings. Sharing your feelings can be a very intimate experience that can leave you feeling vulnerable. To know that you are making the right choice, you need to be honest with yourself and your partner.

  • Find a good time for both of you to talk.
  • Tell them you want to express your feelings.
  • Use the list you made earlier to express your positive and negative feelings about this relationship.
  • Ask them to repeat back what they heard you say.

Tip: Avoid talking about your intention to break up and your reasons. Stay with your feelings.

STEP 3 – To End a Long-Distance Relationship: Ask Your Partner How They Feel About Your Relationship

With the first 2 steps, you have taken a different approach to your situation. By sharing your feelings, you opened a door to honesty and authenticity. Now, it’s time to acknowledge your partner and their feelings. This has 2 benefits: it involves your partner in this process and highlights their significance.

Once they see that their feelings matter, they will feel included and will be less defensive. Knowing how they feel will help you see your relationship from their perspective. Isn’t it what the relationship is about?

Now that you were heard and understood, create the same opportunity for your partner.

  • Thank your partner for hearing your feelings.
  • Tell them that now you’d like to hear how they feel.
  • Help them find the words to describe their feelings.
  • Make a list of their feelings.
  • Say their feelings back to them.

Tip: Make this moment about your partner. Help them stay with their feelings and avoid reasons and judgements.

STEP 4 – To End a Long-Distance Relationship: Share Your Concerns

If both you and your partner could share your feelings, you’ve done the hardest part. Now that you have heard each other and connected at the heart, it’s time to work things out. Remember the list of reasons and concerns about the relationship you made in step 1?

In the spirit of understanding, your partner needs one of them, right?

Part 1 – Understand your partner’s view, worries and concerns on your relationship:

  • Tell them you would like to check what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Ask your partner how they see your relationship.
  • Make a note about their concerns about your relationship and the long-distance.
  • Tell them what you wrote, so you are crystal clear you heard them right.

Part 2 – Once you’ve heard their perspective, share your concerns and worries about your relationship with your partner:

  • Use the list you made in step 1 to share what’s bothering you regarding the relationship and the long-distance.
  • Ask them to say it back to you, so you know they heard you correctly.

Tip: Making notes will help you keep on track and remain objective.

STEP 5 – To End a Long-Distance Relationship: TOGETHER, Find a Way Forward That Works for Both of You

The last step is all about communication. Many relationships fail because of poor, limited or one-sided communication. So far, you’ve done an incredible job connecting with your partner. You involved them in your decision and faced your situation together. In doing so, you’ve addressed your reasons for ending your relationship and minimising future regrets.

This process eliminates unnecessary doubts and struggles. Avoid compromising what’s important for you and discourage your partner from compromising what’s important to them. This will take you back to square one.

Get creative looking for solutions:

  • Layout all the notes on the table.
  • Look at all the feelings and concerns from a 3rd perspective to help you see it objectively.
  • Separate the relationship problems from long-distance problems.
  • Different options may include breaking up, temporary separation or making it work.
  • Decide on an option that works for both of you.

Tip: Create a plan based on your feelings, rather than creating feelings to suit your plan.


Ending a long-distance relationship can be an emotionally challenging experience. Driven by emotions, it’s easy to make a decision that you may later regret. You only get one shot at ending the relationship the right way. The process described above gives you a chance to approach your situation with more awareness. You may even resolve your issues and stay together.

If you still separate, you will enjoy learning about yourself and your partner. And you can use this skill to have a healthier future relationship.

By going through this 5 step process, you have regained the power over your decision. You’ve reflected on your feelings, desires, and goals to get clear on what you want. You’ve assessed your situation objectively. When you start a relationship, both of you are equally responsible for everything that happens, including the breakup. This means that you should make all your decisions together.

Whatever choice you will make and whatever happens, you will know that you’ve done the best you could.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should you end a long-distance relationship?

You should end a long-distance relationship when are no longer feeling that it’s making your life more wonderful. Avoid making a rash decision just because you feel angry or upset one day. However, if these feelings become a norm, then it may be time for a change.

How do you end a long-distance relationship?

If you feel that your relationship is no longer working for you, end it. But do it right. Your relationship was created by you and your partner and if it’s to end, it has to be both of you who end it. Avoid making a unilateral decision and informing your partner about it as a matter of fact. A little understanding will help both of you move on.

Is it normal to have doubts in a long-distance relationship?

Doubts are part of life. The lack of touch in a long-distance relationship makes it hard to know how your relationship is going. This uncertainty together with other negative feelings you may experience gives rise to doubts. The best thing you can do is address them straight away with your partner.

Why do long-distance relationships fail?

Physical touch gives you the reassurance that your relationship is going well and it also can let you know when there’s a problem. Lack of physical contact makes it hard to navigate your long-distance relationship. The only way to maintain the emotional connection and understanding is with effective communication (article).

Getting Some Help

I hope that this article answered some of your questions. If you are struggling and could do with more help, send me a message so we can talk about your situation in more detail.

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alex larryngton - health and relationship coach

Hi! I’m Alex.

Welcome to my blog. I spent my past 13 years learning and practicing holistic therapies. I also like to reflect on life and understand human behaviour. Over the past 19 years I’ve red different books from Dale Carnegie and Louise Hay to Joe Navarro and Marshall Rosenberg.

Feel free to browse my articles on relationships, health and check out the faq pages for common questions. 

If you need help or just want to connect, I’d love to hear from you.

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