Are you thinking about or planning to break up with your significant other and you don’t want to hurt her in the process? Are you worried about how your significant other might respond? Are you wondering how to end the relationship in a respectful, dignified way?

Breaking up is never, ever, easy, but it’s perhaps even harder to simply continue on in a relationship one isn’t happy with. Breaking up with your partner nicely is all about being honest while letting them down softly. Try to be understanding, available, and compassionate when you do it, and you won’t have someone who loved you turn into someone who hates you. Here are nine breakup tips that enable you to break up with your significant other with dignity, class and respect:

1. Prepare your partner ahead of time. Drop hints that you aren’t satisfied with your relationship. Have “relationship talks” or just ask leading questions from time to time. Stop spending so much time with your partner. And tone down the spending. If you buy your partner an expensive gift, and then dump them, he/she won’t know what to think.

2. Make sure your partner is the first to know you’re calling it quits. Tell you partner first before others. If they find out from your friends (or worse, their friends) that the relationship is over and that you’re moving on, your partner will hate you forever. Be honest with your partner and tell them that you care about them, but you’re no longer in love with them.

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3. Find a neutral place to end things. Your partner shouldn’t have to live with the break up everyday at their house, when you break up at your place, you’re shifting the power dynamic in your favor. So, when at all possible, break the news some place neutral.

4. Be a caring, respectful human being and end it in person. Remember, Britney Spears once called a relationship off by text message. Don’t be a Britney! You owe it to your partner to tell them that you don’t want to see him/her any longer in person. Breaking up with someone over text message, e-mail, or—worse!—social media is just plain cowardice.

5. Don’t complicate things. Tell your partner directly that you don’t want to see them. Prepare to explain why because they will ask, but don’t feel that you have to relive the entire relationship through the break up process.

6. Look at it from each perspective. View things from your partner’s perspective and enable your partner to hopefully see your perspective on things as well. When you are viewing and communicating with your partner as fellow human being with the same needs, fears and emotions, your partner can cope with the break up better because he/she will at least feel heard and respected.

7. If you want to end the relationship, end it. It’s likely that your partner will ask you to reconsider. He/she might do this at the time you breakup or through texts, calls and in person meetings afterwards. Remember that things aren’t going to change if you get back together. There’s a reason you want to break up, so stick with it.

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8. Make sure the time is right. The reality is that there’s never a perfect time to dump someone. However, there are times that are worse than others. If you dump your partner before a major holiday (Christmas, Valentine’s, Birthday, Anniversary), you’re going to look like you just didn’t want to buy a gift. Also, be sensitive to other stressors in his/her life. Don’t dump him/her the week before a major career event or while his/her parent has gone into the hospital for one or two issues. Suck it up and stay in the relationship for another couple of weeks.

9. Know that the breakup will make your partner upset. Regardless of how you go about breaking up with your partner, unless it is a mutual breakup, he/she will express anger, hurt, resentment, jealousy and envy. Just be prepared for it.

Remember, however sad and difficult, we have to accept that endings happen. It’s tough either way when you decide to end a relationship, but by showing your soon-to-be ex some respect, you make it possible for their wounds to heal just a little bit quicker with fewer arguments, less damage, less pain.

-Mr Menor (Love Doctor)

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