The individual who desires the breakup knows and understands the personality, ideologies and behavior of the other more intimately than those outside the relationship. Though you may share mutual friends, it is only the person breaking up that can call the shots on how to safely, yet kindly initiate the painful process of letting someone go. Sometimes, however, involving a trusted friend can offer insight that validates your gut feelings about the best approach to move on, while avoiding devastating, angering or devaluing the other person's ego, confidence or self-worth.
If the relationship has been long-standing, face to face, though more difficult, allows the other person the consideration of a discussion rather than a one-sided communication that silences the person being left. However, if experience with the person generates fear, email offers the safety of distance, and is advisable when even the remote possibility of violence exists. Yesterday's local St. Louis news broke a story about a breakup that escalated from a man who went to his recent ex's home to return his key. During the visit, an altercation occurred, culminating with the young man shooting his ex partner, who died on her neighbors porch screaming for help. The young man then shot the deceased woman's daughter twice, but didn't kill her. He got in his car and headed for north St. Louis, where he was apprehended. He got out of his car with a gun and was shot to death in the street by the police.
I would consider removing my important personal belongings prior to the breakup, if possible, to avoid any confrontation with an upset ex-partner. In the heat of the moment, emotions are often unpredictable. Today's internet world makes for less risk whenever personal contact with another person carries any physical risk. Given some space and some time, the majority of people see things from a rational point of view, whereas immediate reactions are colored by personal hurt, often with raw, volatile emotions.
Careful consideration, and thoughtfully chosen words, always with personal safety in mind, whether face to face, by phone or email, can allow for relationship endings that perserve equal dignity, self worth and honesty in moving forward.