…one knowingly hurts the other
In most separations, there are a breaker and a breakee, the breaker being the one who initiates the dissolution of the relationship, often regardless of what the breakee might think about it. While a breakup may be painful for both parties, it is usually much harder on the breakee than on the breaker, especially in a long-term relationship.
Over the years, I had my share of breakups and was more often the breaker than the breakee. So yes, I have had to hurt people, people I never wanted to hurt, and knew in advance how my decisions would make them feel. I never enjoyed it, but I knew it had to be done so that I and my partner-turned-ex could move on to more loving or more fulfilling relationships.
Unfortunately, I also had to cut off a few friends as I felt our friendship no longer made sense. I wanted things to end peacefully, but I couldn’t see any way to cut them off that wouldn’t hurt them. Those decisions I don’t regret, as time has shown me that I had made the right calls back then.
What I do regret is cutting off some exes because I thought it would be less painful for them. In the process, I lost some of my best friends, leaving holes in my heart that no one else can fill. As much as I would like to reconnect with them, I am afraid I may have ruined my chances at new, platonic friendships with them.