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Excuse #4: “It will kill him.”

It won’t Okay, so you don’t want to be the bad guy, you don’t want to hurt him, you don’t want to face conflict, you don’t want to be alone and lonely, and you don’t care enough about yourself to get out. The longer your cling to a dead relationship, the more likely it is that you will grow frustrated and resentful, a lethal combination that often leads to destructive behaviour (an affair, anyone?). No sane person enjoys hurting someone else but think about it this way: were the situations reversed would he be doing you any great favour by staying out of some warped sense of obligation? The truth is, wonderful as you are, he will get over you. End it swiftly and honestly.

Excuse #5: “But the sex is great.”

Enjoy it while it lasts – what more can we say?

Excuse #6: “What if he’s The One and I blow it?”

Trust your gut and follow your instincts. If this guy were the best thing since sliced bread, you’d know it. When you begin questioning things it’s a signal to be more observant. Maybe you’re not ready to commit. Maybe the timing is wrong. But if you’re always wondering if there’s something better out there, you owe it to yourself to explore your options. “But”, you protest, “there’s nothing wrong with him!” If your friends love him, your parents approve, he’s “eligible” and you use the word “should” as in, “I should be madly in love with him”, then you’re not.

Excuse #7: “He won’t commit.”

When you’ve got the white-picket-fence fantasy and he’s just bought an open round-world air ticket, then clearly you’re not in the same relationship zone. If you’re the one who’s eager to seal the deal, here’s a likely scenario: eventually you do get fed up, threaten to leave, issue an ultimatum. He resists, you leave. But then you miss him because you love him, damn it, so you slink back to him. For a while it’s okay, until you start to want that concrete commitment, and you leave again. He knows you’ll come back, because you always do. The break-up/make-up cycle is the stupidest thing a woman can do. The moment you go back on your word, your word becomes meaningless.

Okay, what to do? find out what he thinks he’s committing to, or not committing to that’s so terrible. Is it you? Your pairing in particular, or the concept of eternal togetherness in general that’s got him clinging to his bachelorhood. If he’s just got normal fears and insecurities, lots of long talks and a little therapy might sort things out. On the other hand, if he’s a seasoned soloist with no interest in having a co-pilot, get out now with your self-esteem intact. Why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t’ want to be with you?

As we get older (and the more bridesmaid dresses you accumulate), the more important “landing a man” invariably seems and more pressure comes at you from the breadth society and the depth of your family. Instead of shifting into high-gear manhunt mode, figure out what you hope to get from a relationship – financial security? companionship? confirmation of your lovability? Then find ways to get these things on your own. Change careers, go back to uni, rekindle old friendships, and work on filling your life with happiness and meaning. Life isn’t about hooking up to complete yourself; it’s about making yourself whole first. When you do that you meet other people who are whole and who have something to give back to you. So how do you say goodbye nicely?