Breaking up is hard to do.

But if you have to end a relationship, it turns out that there actually is an ideal way to say goodbye. A new study out of Brigham Young University illustrates that honesty really is the best policy.

This can be hard to come by, especially in an era where “ghosting” (ending a relationship with no explanation) is common, but it turns out that the truth pays off. Keep these details in mind for the next time you need to break up with someone.

The researchers involved with the study asked 145 participants about how they handle bad news, especially surrounding breakups. They had to analyze the situation with regard to factors like clarity, honesty, directness, and consideration.

Then they were asked to rank the traits that were most important to them. The findings showed that people most valued clarity and directness. Translation? If you have to break up with someone, get to the point and be honest, even if you know the truth will hurt. Don’t give a long, drawn out explanation or try to sugarcoat things.

Need some advice on how exactly you should execute this strategy? The study’s author said, “An immediate ‘I’m breaking up with you’ might be too direct. But all you need is a ‘we need to talk’ buffer—just a couple of seconds for the other person to process that bad news is coming.”

Oh, and don’t even think about using the line, “it’s not you, it’s me.” Please.


Lauren Levine is a freelance writer who has contributed to publications and websites including The Charlotte Observer, U.S. News & World Report, American Way magazine, The Huffington Post, Hello Giggles, Bustle, Thrillist, Thought Catalog, and others.