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Blue Skies

How to tell people you’ve separated
5 essential groups and tips on
what to say

Image by Richard Jacobs

When you're ready, there are certain people you'll need to inform about your separation. If you leave it too long, they might have found out from your ex first, which might be less than ideal. It's probably better coming from you so they hear your version of events first.

Here we’ll look at who you should tell first and some techniques for talking to them about it. I'll also give you some examples of what you could say.

Who to tell

Sooner or later, people will find out you’ve separated. Here are some ideas for who you should be telling first.


If you have children, make them top of the list.

They should hear about the separation from you, rather than someone else.


Make sure they’re kept up to date with your current details.

They might need new addresses and new emergency contacts.


They are a great resource and can keep an eye on how your children are coping.

Family & Friends

Turn your mind to how and when to tell various family members, friends and possibly work colleagues.


If you receive government benefits, keep Centrelink up to date with your current situation. You never know, you might even be entitled to more benefits!


Make a note of who you need to tell.

You could arrange a face to face meeting or give them a call.

I wouldn’t recommend using Facebook to break the news. Remember, with social media today, news spreads quickly. If you or your ex decide to announce something using social media, people are going to hear about it very quickly.

Prioritise who you talk to and when and be sure to keep track of who you’ve told.

Think carefully before you start

How do you want people to view the separation?

People will judge you by what you say and how you say it!

If you don’t want people to gossip, try not to give them any ammunition.

Consider your audience

Is the person you’re talking to a gossip or someone you trust?

A close friend will want to know what they can do to help.

The parents of your child’s friend will ask when they can arrange a playdate.

What to say

People will always want to know why you separated.

If you don’t want to talk about it, you could just give a few details to satisfy curiosity.

Personally, I like to keep these sorts of conversations short. If y1ou don't feel like going into all the details of your relationship breakup, you could try and deflect the conversation onto something else, such as asking about their family (people love talking about themselves).

If your separation is amicable...

You could say you think it’s for the best. Let them know you want to remain friends with your ex and you don’t want anyone taking sides.

Tell people your children are happy to have quality one on one time with each parent.

If your separation isn't so amicable...

Be even more careful about what you say and although you might not want to - avoid bad-mouthing your ex! 


Criticism often sticks to the person who voices it. Depending on who you're talking to, mudslinging might make them feel uncomfortable. You don't want to run the risk of alienating yourself.


Try and focus on the situation and not your ex.

What next?


Start making a list of things you need to do. Staying organised will help you get through this really difficult time. Our separation guide has a step-by-step guide to help you with all the things you need to do and think about after separation.

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