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50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

Okay, we don't really have 50 ways. In fact, there is no good way. Grit your teeth, buy some protective gear, and suffer through with a maximum of grace and tact.

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Some have said that break-ups are easier for the "dumper" in a relationship. This only holds true if you're a selfish, uncaring bottom dweller who deserves to be in pain for callously dumping somebody who cares about you. The rest of us would rather deliver a speech on quantum physics to a crowd of drunken longshoremen than have the "talk" with their soon-to-be-ex.

The ideal situation in breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend would be to "gently" lay it on them - to explain how you feel and how you've come to this conclusion. There are certain places you could take your partner to make the process easier. A restaurant, for example, is a nice public space where over dinner and drinks you can avoid provoking a scene - and entertain those sitting around you. As to the "speech," you'll probably plan it all out in your head, rehearse it several times and even use your best friend as a pseudo significant other to ensure as smooth and painless a breakup as possible.

Since the key word in any breakup is "nightmare," quickly accept that your "best possible scenario" was a naive pipe-dream. Don't be surprised if your well-rehearsed speech gets cut off mid-syllable by a loud gasp, expletive and/or brutal kick in the groin.

On the other hand, if you get through your speech and your now-ex has nothing to say, then hit the deck, because the fallout is coming! The problem is, you just don't know exactly when. Whether it hits you right away or in stealth mode, expect to be subjected to every possible variety of verbal (and possibly physical) retaliation.

Since you probably can't wear protective gear in your favorite restaurant, the only really decent thing to do is to brace yourself for the tears, the reproaches, the anger, the vehemence, and the bitter, bitter stabbing words with which the ex will try to tear your soul into shreds. Or worse, the begging, pleading and endless stories about all of your best times together. Try to answer your partner's questions - "why" is a common favorite - and repeat what you've said a couple of times to get them used to the idea.

Do not - this cannot be emphasized enough if you're looking for maximum pain reduction - engage in angry rebuttals or continue to listen to their pleas for weeks on end. It's hard to break off a relationship with someone that you cared for at one point, but realize that no matter what you say, you'll never answer the "why" question to your partner's satisfaction. If by some stroke of genius your answer is to your partner's satisfaction, then you're a hero and you should be hosting your own talk show.

After you've ended the relationship, expect to be tormented by guilt - nobody does this without feeling like the scum of the earth, unless they are the scum of the earth. Your ex - even if they're outside pelting rotten eggs at your apartment or launching an e-mail smear campaign against you - was once an important part of your life, and only time and patience can usher them out.

Ideally, you'll realize you did right thing when you finally experience relief at having ended the relationship. It's at this point where, unless you happened to be dating anyone named Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger or Michael Meyers, the nightmare ends.

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