There are times in life when we have to tell people they need to move on. Sometimes this is for friends and loved ones, other times it’s to break off a romantic relationship. And yet there are other instances where you want to shoo away a nosy person getting into your private conversation.
Regardless of the situation, you have to know how to politely tell someone to move on as best as you can.
It is essential to maintain a mindset of kindness when you tell someone to move on. If you know the person well, you can be very direct. With distant acquaintances, you should approach the subject slowly.
Breakup with Friends
There are times when we have to break away from a friendship. It’s difficult to do, but not everyone stays the same. So, in certain cases, you will have to say something out of respect and love for the friendship.
Of course, the nuances of this will depend on the delicacies of details.
- How long have you known this person?
- What is the personality and sensitivity level of the person you want to move on?
- How quickly are you looking you say what you need to?
Once you have a handle on the situation, it’s time to say it. If you’ve known this person for many years, avoid being terse and trite about telling them to move on. Unless they’ve done something to offend you like (e.g. forgot your birthday) or truly break your heart in some way, don’t say “move on” outright. Show a little more tact than that.
For instance, you could say things like:
“We’ve been friends a long time and I appreciate you, but I think it’s time we move on.”
“Lately, we’re not getting along very well, perhaps it’s time we go our separate ways.”
“Look, I don’t want to argue and you hurt me a lot. This last time was the final straw. It’s time to move on.”
Talking to Friends Who Keep Bad Company
But, there may be times when you see the bad company kept by someone you love. You want to tell them to get rid of their friends, but saying this in direct terms may adversely affect your relationship with them.
However, if they keep hanging out with the wrong people, it may negatively impact your relationship anyway. Therefore, you’ll need to devise a plan of action. After all, you have to take care of yourself and try to take care of those you love at the same time. So, you want to use diplomacy and delicacy.
Use of Strategy
What you say, how you say it and when you say it will make all the difference in the world. So, you’ll have to evaluate how much and how badly you feel the need to say something.
There are times when you might be able to slide things into the conversation and other moments where you need to have a sit-down discussion.
Consider the following statements:
“People wear their masks well and sometimes you only see past them when they fall off.”
“You are so much better and deserve so much more than you give yourself credit for.”
“Even you recognize the problems here, perhaps it’s time to move on from these toxic people?”
“Look man, I know you like your friend and I don’t want to be down on them, but something about this person doesn’t seem right to me.”
“Seeing as how they hurt you so much, perhaps it’s time to go your separate ways.”
Moving On from Romantic Relationships
Romantic relationships tend to be trickier than friendships or other people from whom you wish to separate. Unfortunately, many people in the modern world have lost the art of being able to do this. Most of this stems from a lack of inherent compassion and genuine concern for other human beings.
Harsh, crude, rude, or insulting breakups can leave scars that affect people for decades down the road. There is a myriad of scientific studies that prove such breakups can hurt the brain, both physically and psychologically. [1, 2, 3]
Achieving the Delicate Balance
While it may be difficult to be peaceful with someone who hurt you, you must state your case firmly but calmly yet employ compassion while drawing boundaries. It’s a delicate balance and it’s difficult to get right every time.
Now, if the person is straight-up annoying, infuriating, or other some such behavior, then being a little more forceful is okay. You may even have to repeat yourself. Still, the exercise of a modicum of patience if possible.
Breakups Are Akin to Removing Band-Aids
Choose words carefully and take a good, long analysis of how this person reacts to undesirable news.
Think of it as something like taking off a band-aid stuck to your skin and now it’s time for it to come off.
In some cases, you may need coconut or olive oil to slowly weaken the adhesive. For other instances, you just have to rip it off and deal with the sting.
The oil would be a slow separating or using subtle language to signal to the person the relationship is over. Ripping it off would be akin to abruptly ending it with firm, clear words so there is no mistaking what you’re saying. Either method will have benefits and consequences, so you’ll have to weigh those for yourself.
The Gentle Approach
For a more gentle approach, you can say things like:
“This time we’ve spent together has been so amazing. But, I find my feelings are changing and I think it’s time for me to move on.”
“My feelings have changed since we first got together and I need some time to sort things out. It’s best we go our separate ways for now and see where the future takes us.”
“Please understand, I do care about you. But, recent events show we’re not right for each other.”
If you want to go with a more stern and forceful method:
“Look, I thought we had something and you proved me wrong. It’s time to move on.”
“To be honest, there are things about you do not mesh with who I am. I’m sorry if that hurts, but I have to be honest. Please understand that I have to end this now.”
What Not To Say
Regardless of the level of tact, you decide to go with, ensure you don’t say things such as:
- “It’s not you, it’s me”: This is a cheesy, classic brush-off that no one believes, even if you mean it. It lacks originality, and sincerity and comes off as disingenuous.
- “Don’t worry, you’ll find someone better”: Not only does this display arrogance, but it assumes you know what the future holds. While it may seem supportive, it’s really a slap in the face. Certainly, they probably will find someone else, but this is not what they need to hear from you.
Telling Strangers or Other Nosy People to Move On
Sometimes, you’re standing with a friend and looking at something on your smartphone. Or, perhaps you’re having an intimate conversation that’s not for other people to hear. When others barge in, you need to tell them to move on.
There’s no need to be a jerk, but you do want to state your position. First, just stare at the offending party.
You can wince, raise an eyebrow or look blankly at them; do whatever you like. If they don’t get the hint, then say something.
It may be difficult, but try to keep kindness in mind; even if the intruder is being rude. It’s always best to lead by example. Of course, your delivery of the message will be everything, but you could say something along the lines of:
“Excuse me, this is a private conversation.”
“Please move on.”
“We would really appreciate it if you could leave us alone.”
“Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but we’re in the middle of something.”
There may be times when the intruder decides they want to be obtuse and double down on their rudeness. In this case, either move to another area or you can use more forceful verbiage:
“Hey! I’m trying to be nice and you’re pushing my patience. Please leave now!”
“Please move away from here in peace.”
“I asked before, now I’m demanding it of you. Move on!”
As tempting as it may be to turn on the sarcasm and say some clever things, this may do more damage than good. You just want the person to go away, so don’t say things that will egg them on or provoke the intruder to anger:
“Understand, dude, this is a discussion between A and B, C your way out!”
“Mind your own beeswax bub.”
“Just who the heck do you think you are busting in on our conversation like this?”
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.