A Brigham Young University study revealed that for optimum effectiveness, cut the "it's not you it's me" and the “I love you, but I'm not in love with you” – being brutal is best.
Researchers asked 145 people to rate the importance of factors like clarity, consideration, directness, efficiency, honesty, specificity, and reasonability when receiving bad news. They found that the most valued qualities were clarity and directness, basically – provide a tiny buffer but don’t beat around the bush.
"An immediate 'I'm breaking up with you' might be too direct," study author Alan Manning said in a press release. "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."
He also explains why most people tend to drag the process out.
"If you're on the giving end, yeah, absolutely, it's probably more comfortable psychologically to pad it out — which explains why traditional advice is the way it is," he said. "But this survey is framed in terms of you imagining you're getting bad news and which version you find least objectionable. People on the receiving end would much rather get it this way."
So while cutting to the chase might feel awful for you, you can take solace in the fact that's it's probably how they'd want to hear it...