How to Dump a Man Graciously – Part 1

Okay, this is a tough one and certainly an area we’ve probably all failed at one time or another (including me!). My screeching fingernails on the black board, worst break-up was thankfully now many years ago. I was talking – what I thought was quietly in another room upstairs – to my flat-mate about how my skin crawled when my then-boyfriend touched me (I know, I know!) – and I’m ashamed to admit it but he obviously heard me because when I finally went downstairs to talk to him straight up, my now ex-boyfriend had left the front door swinging open from his understandably very speedy exit. We never spoke again and I’m still mortified about behaving so badly.

Please learn from my mistakes and never be unnecessarily indiscreet or cruel to boyfriends – even if they clearly aren’t right for you or you’ve only been dating a short time. It will take as much finesse as you can muster to dump him and not have him (and all of his friends) hate your guts but these tips should help…

Charm School Rule 1: Be honest

It isn’t fun to hurt someone’s feeling, especially if you have just ‘gone off him’ and there’s no solid reason for the break-up. However, if you have done something you shouldn’t have done, tell him before he hears it from someone else. It is the least you can do.

Charm School Rule 2: Pick your time and place

If you’ve been out more than three times or you’ve slept together, then ‘phasing him out’ by not taking or returning calls is poor form. You should meet up with him for a quick drink or at least speak to him on the phone – although don’t let the poor guy think you’re going to have a romantic dinner, while all along you’re planning to break it off, and don’t do it in front of his friends or work colleagues or when he’s drunk. There’s no need to humiliate him.

November 4, 2003

How to Dump a Man Graciously – Part 1 (contd)

Charm School Rule 3: Don’t be a bitch

Don’t use ‘honestly’ as an excuse to be bitchy. Listing his faults in minute detail and all the reasons why you believe he’ll never find true love is not the way to go. A good thing to say is, ‘I’ve realized I still have feelings for my ex-boyfriend and it wouldn’t be fair for me to start something serious with you,’ or try saying, ‘I’m really loving being single at this stage of my life. Sorry I’m not interested in getting serious.’ Do not say ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’ It doesn’t really make sense and he’ll know that it’s a line.Charm School Rule 4: If you’ve met someone else

The best thing to do is tell your current boyfriend that you are sorry, that you have enjoyed your time together but you have met someone else. Tell him you respect him and that you wouldn’t cheat on him, so that is why you are telling him now, before anything happens. It may seem harsh, but if you are honest you won’t give him any false hope that he’ll be able to ‘win you back’.

Charm School Rule 5: Don?t make up elaborate excuses

Don?t say that you?re breaking up with him because of things he can?t change about himself ? and that you probably knew about him before you started going out ? such as, ?You?re too short? or ?I don?t fancy bald guys?. If you want to break up because it just doesn?t feel right or your feelings towards him have changed, then say so. Tell him that he deserves to be with someone who is right for him, and that you feel that, even though you have had a great time going out, the two of you aren?t right together in the long term.

Don’t miss part 2 next week!

Kathy Buchanan is the author of Charm School: The Modern Girl’s Complete Handbook of Etiquette and Quit for Chicks. Charm School offers fun but helpful advice on why manners are sexy and how to use them to create the life you’ve always dreamed of. It deals with difficult love, social and work situations like how to ace an interview, help a friend through a difficult break-up, handle cheating flat mates, keep your hairdresser faithful and how to not fall in love with gorgeous gay men. Charm School: The Modern Girl’s Complete Handbook of Etiquette rrp $24.95, Penguin is available in all good bookstores.

November 4, 2003