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How to dump someone without being a jerk

Anna Pulley, @annapulley

RedEye's sex columnist

2:59 PM CST, November 28, 2012

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I’ve been dating a girl for about six months now, and we don’t see each other often, but even so, it’s become obvious to me that we’re not compatible. I don’t think she’ll be torn up about this or anything, but how can I break up with her in a way that lets her down gently? Any tips are appreciated.--Delicate Dumper

Breakups are the worst--the crying, the disappointment, having to re-monogram of all your towels, etc. However, I’m glad that, even though things didn’t work out as planned, you are still taking this gal’s feelings into consideration. This is especially important around the holidays, when being single is worse than a cheese log from Gary Busey. Here are some tips to help you soldier through.

 

Do it at their place

This is courteous for a few reasons. One, it’s a safe space where they feel comfortable. Two, it saves them the horrible experience of crying on the bus. Three, it frees you to leave should things get out of hand, which is much less awkward than trying to forcibly remove someone from your own space. I’ve heard compelling arguments in favor of dumping someone in a neutral place, like a park or bar, the prevailing theory being that the dumpee is less likely to “make a scene.” So, I guess if you’re dating someone psychotic, that’s not a bad plan. Just don’t make it a place they frequent often or that has symbolic resonance, because then that place will forever be tarnished.

 

Do it in person

Don’t dump someone over text or email (unless you don’t know the person’s last name). Be a grownup. The convenience of technology doesn’t excuse us from being decent human beings. She let you see her naked. The least you can do is give her a parting that’s more than 140 characters.

 

Make it about you and your needs

Because breakups are emotionally charged, if things get heated, it can be challenging to not tell them how pathetic it was when they ate croutons for dinner (it was just one time!) and how they snore like an epileptic lawn mower. Resist those urges! Be a person who keeps their cool and who keeps the focus where it belongs, not on petty insults. “I feel like we’re not compatible” is worlds better than “These are the ways you fail me as a partner.”

That said, don’t lie or make wishy-washy statements that give the dumpee hope for reconciliation. And please please please, don’t spend an hour telling them what a wonderful person they are. It sounds nice in theory, but I assure you, telling someone you’re 86ing how amazing they are doesn’t make the dumping more endurable. If anything, it comes off as condescending or confusing. So does immediate talk of “friendship,” for that matter. Leave that topic for another time, preferably six months to a year.

Good luck! 

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