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Is there a Good Way to Say Goodbye?

Dear Philippa,

This guy and I have been dating a few months. At first it was hot and heavy but now it's like why am I going out with this person? He's a sweet guy but just not the one for me. How do I tactfully tell him its over?

�Beth, Bend, OR


Dear Beth,

We all would like to be able to leave the other person smiling when we say Sayonara. That is often unrealistic�especially when the other person is happy with the status quo.

My father used to say that sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. This means: don't postpone the unpleasantness to protect someone. Telling someone goodbye is like pulling off a Band-Aid�you have to end things quickly so the other person can get over the pain and heal. The longer you wait, the more they live in false hope and develop more of an attachment to you.

Where you tell someone goodbye is as important as when you do it. I remember someone calling off a long relationship with me at a restaurant because he thought I would be less likely to make a scene there. Wrong! I was so shocked that I sobbed loudly in public�probably more than I would have in private. I felt even more hurt that he chose such a public place to dump me.

Of course men feel just as hurt and angry as women when the other person ends the relationship. Everyone deserves a place where the world isn't watching them get dumped.

If you don't want to tell this guy goodbye at your place, how about during a walk or anywhere that is somewhat casual, less public, but not too private?

Now for the big question: "what to do you say to him?" You could say, "I think you are a great guy, and I'd like to stay friends, but�"  I hear men everywhere cringing at those words. The last thing a guy wants to be told is that the woman he feels romantic about wants to be just a friend. You may well end up as just friends, but let that happen naturally, not as a consolation prize for losing you.

How about a straight out, honest approach that emphasizes you're the one with the problem, not him? Try, "John, I've been trying to figure out what I want in a relationship and I'm still not sure what I'm looking for, but I just don't think we have it."

And if he says, "But Beth, we get on so well together and we like the same things�.", you can say, "I'm sorry John, but that's not the way I feel."

Be prepared that whatever you say there is going to be an ouch from the other person. The best way to judge what to say to someone in these circumstances is to ask yourself what you would want to hear. They say "what goes around comes around." The fact that you care about being tactful says a lot about your character. Dating the wrong people is just practice so we can figure out what we want and recognize who is right for us. Ultimately ending a relationship or having a relationship end opens up our lives to wonderful new possibilities.



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