After spending four years together, you may be comfortable and familiar with your boyfriend's family, friends and hobbies. Breaking off a long-term relationship can be devastating for both parties involved, whether the breakup comes as a surprise or is a long-anticipated move. Though there is no way to spare your boyfriend the pain of an ended relationship, there are several strategies that can soften the blow when you enter that final discussion.
Consider your feelings about the relationship before you make your decision. Breaking up can be a cruel blow to your boyfriend, and it may mean that getting back together is impossible if you change your mind later on. Spending some time apart, taking a break from the relationship or seeing a counselor together may be the better option in your situation.
Practice what you plan to say to your boyfriend. He may show numerous emotions when you break the news, ranging from anger to relief, according to the website TeensHealth. These reactions are normal, but you should not back down from breaking up in the heat of the moment.
Arrange for the breakup to occur in person, if possible, advises Match.com. You should never end the relationship by text or email. The "silent treatment" -- no longer answering your boyfriend's attempts at contacting you -- should also be avoided.
You need to explain to your boyfriend why the relationship is ending without assigning blame or insulting him in the process, according to TeensHealth. Honesty is okay -- it is fair to say that you have different goals for the future or that previous infidelity cannot be overcome.
Make your expectations clear. Telling your boyfriend that you can still be friends after the breakup or claiming that you are too busy for a relationship now when you actually want to date someone else can give him false hope, according to eHarmony.
Watch your words around mutual friends after the breakup. If you do have anything to say about your ex-boyfriend, you should keep it positive, according to Match.com. If you hear that your ex-boyfriend has said untoward things about you, douse the flames by not responding to it.