How To Break Up With Your Partner In Japanese

Arigato! Sayonara!

By Hilary Keyes
May 22, 2019
Lifestyle, Relationships

The right vocabulary to express your emotions when it’s all over between you two.

Nobody wants to think about ending a relationship, especially at the height of it, but sadly this happens more often than not, and hey, breaking up isn’t always bad news. Sometimes you just have to say it to secure yourself and even your ex-partner a new (and hopefully, better) life. But of course, you’ve spent a significant amount of time with that partner and you certainly don’t want to hurt their feelings — but you still want to make sure that the message is sent.

To help you in the process, we’ve put together a quick guide, a few typical phrases to use if you want to cut ties with someone you have been romantically involved (or, help you understand what you are being told in case you’re the one being dumped…).

As in most other cultures, in Japan, there tend to be three different ways of breaking up with someone. Some people go for the soft break-up, the standard “it’s not you, it’s me, but let’s be friends” approach. Others, who find themselves in relationship limbo, go for the neutral “let’s see how he/she reacts” approach. The rest choose the “screaming insults and selling whatever he/she gave you on Mercari” approach. If you’re going for the first or second one, you may wish to start with a conversation, explaining your reasons. The third requires less explanation and more slang, so jump straight to that section.

The standard, most common and civilized way of ending a relationship in Japanese is by saying “wakarete kudasai” (別れてください, please break up with me), or the more casual “wakareyo,” (別れよう), which simply means “let’s break up.” If you want to initiate the conversation, suggesting that there are bad news in the typical “we need to talk” way, you can approach your partner by saying  “watashitachi, hanashiatta hou ga ii ne” (私達、話し合った方がいいね) or the more simple and direct “hanashi ga aru” (話がある) — I have something to tell you.

Soft break-up phrases: Use when you care for your soon ex-to-be

Gomenne. Kore ijou otsukiai suru koto ga dekinai.
I’m sorry, I can’t date you anymore.

Anata no sei jyanai. Watashi no sei.
It’s not you. It’s me. (It’s not your fault, but mine)

Watashi wa anata ni fusawashikunai to omou.
I don’t think I’m good enough for you.

Anata ni wa motto ii hito ga iru to omou.
I think there’s someone better for you (than me).

Ima made arigato.
Thank you for the time we’ve spent together.

Tsukiattete tanoshikatta yo. Kedo mou owari ni shiyo!
Dating you was fun! But let’s call it off.

Shiawase ni suru koto ga dekinakute gomenne.
I’m sorry I couldn’t make you happy.

Wakare wa tsurai kedo, kansha shitemo shikirenai yo. 
It’s hard to break up and I can’t be more grateful (to you for the time we spent together).

In-between phrases: Use when you feel like it’s over but aren’t completely sure yet

Konna ni hanareteshimatteitan dane.
(I realize that) we’ve grown apart.

Tomodachi no mama de iyo.
Let’s just be friends.

Kyori o oita hou ga ii to omou.
I think we need a break (some distance).

Aishou ga yokunai to omou.
I don’t think we’re right for each other.

Shibaraku hitori ni naritai.
I want to be alone/I need my space for a while.

Anata ni daiji ni sareteinai.
You don’t care about/love me.

Hard break-up phrases: Use when you couldn’t care less  

Mou ii. Suki ni shite.
Whatever/I’ve had enough. Do whatever you want.

(Anata ni wa) ni do to aitakunai.
I never want to see you again.

Kimochi ga sameteshimatta.
I’m not into you anymore (literally ‘my feelings for you have grown cold.’)

Hokani suki na hito ga dekita.
I’ve fallen in love with someone else.

Otagai, hokano hito o sagasubeki da to omou.
We should start seeing other people.

Anata to no shourai ga kangaerarenai.
I can’t picture us having a future together.

Anata to wa korekara yatteikenai to omou you ni natta.
I started feeling as if I can’t foresee any future with you.

Watashi no shikai kara ima sugu kiero. *
Get out of my sight right now.

Anta nanka dokka icchae *
Get lost!

*Use these two with care (unless you really want to pick up a fight), typically if you have a very solid reason to blame your partner for something.

Stay safe

Ideally speaking, after you’ve talked things over with your partner, you’ll come to a mutual understanding and officially become each other’s exes. Ideally. I have had exes who seemed completely apathetic about the whole relationship turn into clingy wrecks, and conversely, guys who seemed mad for me disappear like a ghost. You never really know.

If you’re afraid or uncomfortable with how your partner will react if you try to initiate a break-up, have fears of being stalked by your ex, or have any other concerns regarding the post-breakup period, I strongly encourage you to ask someone to be present at the breaking up site, do it in public or over the phone or email if you really have fears about your safety. You don’t have to handle this alone.

There are even wakaresaseya (別れさせ屋) or professional relationship-ending companies, who will, for a fee, end a relationship on your behalf. They may do it directly, or they can even make your partner cheat, giving you the means to dump your partner — although if you need to force someone to cheat in order to justify your wish to end a relationship, you should probably take a break from dating for a while and get yourself sorted out first.

Last but not least, if you’re reading this article because someone has expressed their wishes to break up with you, there are plenty of ways to recover after a break-up. Finding the best one to suit you might introduce you to something that positively impacts your life.

As Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all…” You got this!

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