THE BLOG
02/18/2008 01:58 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How To Break Up: Part II

This piece is for Breaker Uppers everywhere; those who have broken our hearts, liberated us, made us grow up, showed us their true colors, and acted as a pivot point for much of our romantic lives. We've all known them, dated them, heard about them, or been them. Despite their ignominious reputation (how many are known only by expletives?) or exalted status (there is a small glory in being the one who breaks up rather than one who got broken up with), most people would prefer to be in this relative power position rather than on the receiving end. But when there is love involved, or even a lot of like, breaking up with someone is often quite difficult, and breaking up 'well' harder still. Whether the relationship is simple, complicated, or indefinable, there is always pain in a break-up. For the benefit of both parties the hurt should be minimized as much as possible, and maturity and consideration should be of the utmost importance. So, if you are going to initiate a break-up, here are some tips to keep in mind...

Don't Slooowly Disappear - Just End It

The disappearing act is a favorite break-up choice, particularly for people in non-committed relationships. The rationale: We're not 'serious' so there is no need to formally break up. The M.O.: I'll just become unavailable and uncommunicative enough so they end it first.

This is the coward's way out. It's also unfair, disrespectful, and shouldn't be used by anyone over the age of 16. Ending a relationship might feel unnecessary, or even presumptuous, but you owe it to any person with whom you've been intimate or shared time. Put it this way, if you've see someone with any regularity, it's only fair let them know you won't be seeing them anymore.

Don't Mince Words

Wishy-washy break-ups are the worst. You've probably been there before: the conversation ends with a nervous hang-up or a hug goodbye, and you still aren't 100% certain why you broke up, or if the relationship is actually over. When you're certain that you want to end it, be unequivocal in your delivery so the other person knows it's over. That doesn't mean be harsh, it means be clear. If your about-to-be ex wants to know why you're ending it, be honest - just don't be harsher than necessary. A harsh example: You're moody, needy, and you need sex lessons. A less harsh example: I need more space than what makes you comfortable, and I just don't see a future for us. See the difference? You're clear enough about your reasons, they're clear about your reasons, and it doesn't pour salt in the wound. You can't make a break-up hurt-free, but you can make it hurt less.

When It's Ok To Feel Happy About It & Show It

Sometimes you're breaking up with someone who's done you wrong. Cheaters. Liars. Tantrum throwers. Mooches. Good riddance to 'em, and no need to be especially gentle in your goodbye. Be mature, make it brief and move on - not to set an example for them, but to make it easiest on yourself. And if your about-to-be ex is really a dirtbag, it's a great idea to have a new date lined up for the same day.

When It's Ok To Feel Happy About It & Not Show It

The flip side is when you're breaking up with someone who is perfectly nice, and whose company you have enjoyed. Often they're the people friends tell you to keep because he or she is so nice, so smart, so crazy about you. But for whatever reason you don't want a relationship with them, or you simply can't stomach the thought of spending more time with them. Don't ever sound rushed or show your relief during the break-up -- it will only unnecessarily hurt a decent person. This tip might seem like a no-brainer, but coldness, meanness, and obvious disinterest are sadly common in this kind of break-up. Don't be that person. This is the #1 time to rise above it, be the bigger person, and protect someone's feelings. Remember, this is someone you chose, with whom you shared a bed (probably), fun, clothes, sometimes everything in your life - for a little while, at least. If a relationship simply doesn't work out, be gentle in the ending of it. The break-up is probably coming as a surprise to them, so be understanding in their need to digest the news. And remember, these are the exes who have the best chance of being your friend down the line.

Don't Drag The Relationship Out

There are so many relationships that drag on for months (or even years) after they've unofficially ended. Then, during the break-up, it comes out that you wanted to end it long ago. Bad, bad, bad thing to say. If you care for someone, don't let them think that you spent part of your time together fantasizing about leaving them. It may be true, but it doesn't have to be shared. For the sake of the other person's overall quality of life, let them go if you don't want them anymore - you're not doing him or her a favor by staying. When it comes to romantic relationships, if your heart isn't in it, you shouldn't be either.

The Biggest Myth

The #1 myth about breaker uppers is that they're happy to end it and they don't give the break-up, or their ex, another thought once it's over. To those on the receiving end of a break-up it's probably the single most hurtful thought. You know this isn't true (unless you're a cold-hearted player who doesn't care about the people with whom you share a bed) and in the end you should always let someone know you care for them and will miss them. The official ends of relationships are often awkward, ill-timed, full of rejection, and you might still love or very much like the person you're leaving - and hurting. That said, try not to emote to the point of breaking down, even if you feel inclined to do so, because it drags out an already difficult conversation and won't change the outcome.

Breaking up well benefits both parties and the best way to achieve that end is to make it clean. Remember, unless your about-to-be ex is a complete dirtbag, it's important to end a relationship as well as possible. Not only will you run into your ex from time to time, but you'll want to look back on your romantic life with as little regret as possible and a sense of respect - for those you've loved (or liked), and for yourself.

Click here for How To Break Up: Part I