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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

How to Say 'Goodbye': By Request

To the friend who has requested I write this particular blog: "BITEME" and "Pfffffftttttt" are the two things that have popped into my mind as I ponder how to address this most delicate subject. Clearly you have more faith in my ability to show a modicum of diplomacy and tact than I do.


Well, here goes nothing.

In dating, until you find the person you want to spend all of eternity with, whom also wants to spend all of eternity with YOU, there will always be someone who has to say, "Goodbye".

It's not fun, it's not easy, and let's face it: it just plain stinks (yeah, notice I didn't say "sucks"? I did that just for YOU, buddy. . .pffffft)

The most important thing here is that you DO say, "Goodbye". No being a slimy coward and either hoping they 'get the hint' by your evasive non-committal behavior while you string them along or leaving them wondering because you went 'poof'. (Yeah, buddy, that was for you, too. . .rofl)

"Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"

The Ballad of Reading Gaol, by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

In other words; say it firmly, clearly, and with finality.

Something that has worked really well for me, when the men involved actually had the huevos to follow through, was an upfront agreement between the two of us to let the other know the moment we felt it was no longer working for us. With that upfront agreement in place, it was so much easier and painless to say it wasn't working. It seemed that with that agreement there also came an attitude of it not being a big deal if it wasn't working and we needed to part ways. That took so much pressure off us. It made it a painless parting of ways. Seriously.

So, whether there is an arrangement in advance or not, just how do you tell the person you are dating that you are no longer interested?

Well, first off, there are a few things NEVER to say.

"It isn't you, it's me" and "Let's be friends" (or something of that nature) are two of them. Those lines are overused, cliche, vague, borderline insulting, and lame.

When it comes to saying the farewells, it is actually a kindness to say it clearly and be done with it. There is nothing kind about dropping vague hints, going poof, or stringing someone along. Those behaviors are cowardly, immature, selfish, and cruel. Is that who you are? No? Then be a grown up and show some kindness and respect for the feelings and needs of the other person and tell them what is on your mind. Seriously.

How you say your adios may be colored by your particular situation, but some good basic lines are:

"I'm really sorry, but this isn't working for me any longer, and we need to end this."
"I promised you I would let you know if this stopped being a good thing for me. That time has come, and I am really sorry."

Consider this, as well: if you cannot show a simple courtesy to someone you are dating; if you cannot consider the feelings and needs of the person you are dating; if you cannot put being kind to someone else ahead of being a chicken (doing for yourself); if you cannot formulate simple words such as, "I am sorry but this is no longer working for me." what on earth makes you think you are even remotely ready for a relationship or marriage to begin with? In a marriage there are a lot more difficult things you will have to discuss over the years, and you absolutely have to always put the needs and feelings of someone else ahead of your own.

Having said that, there is some final gender-based advice I must leave you with.

Gentlemen, it is of the utmost importance that you make your goodbye final, firm, and clear for a reason aside from the one stated above. We ladies have a tendency to read hope into situations where we can find even the most minute shred of an opening. We also have this sick inborn need to 'fix' people, so whatever you do, do NOT make it sound like you or the situation is something which can be 'fixed'.

Ladies, if the man finds the courage to say, 'buh-bye' to you, for Pete's sake, tell him 'thank you', count your lucky stars, and move on. Spare him and yourself the waterworks, hysterics, and drama. He isn't for you. No, he really isn't. . .he just told you so. Move on. No looking back allowed.

Breakups are not the end of the world. If you think about it, they really are just the beginning of the great and permanent relationship that is out there ahead of you. You may have to go through many 'goodbyes' until you get to the 'I Do's, but so what? The only thing that matters is what you do with your experiences to make yourself the best partner you can be for the wonderful person out there looking for you.

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