You can remember the moment you knew it was over. You saw her flirting with her boss and all you felt was relief. Actually, now that you look back, it's been over for a while. Right that's you sorted, but what about her?
Breakup equals heartbreak. There's no getting around this, especially for the one on the receiving end. How you break up with someone could determine whether they move on with their lives, or whether they still fantasise years later about doing you grievous bodily harm.
So what are the no-nos of breaking up?
The SMS breakup. This is plain low and shows a complete lack of concern for your partner. No one is going to respond well to this and it makes you look bad. Sending something like this: "Sry – it'sgb bc ur ntg 2 me :'( "will classify you in the jerk category. (Translation for those of you who are not SMS language experts – Sorry, it's goodbye, because you are not too good to me, followed by a crying face.)
The grapevine breakup. Just not letting her know and letting other people tell her that you were seen with another woman who couldn't keep her hands off you, is just plain cowardly. Even if the relationship has deteriorated into a snakepit, the least you owe someone is to tell them face-to-face that it's over.
The "I-need-space" breakup. Yes, maybe you do feel a bit crowded, but let's be honest here: This sudden need for space usually has to do with the fact that there isn't space in your life for your current girlfriend as well as your future one – that you have incidentally met already.
The mudslinging breakup. Right, there is not really such a thing as an amicable breakup. Egos are hurt, expectations are dashed and partners come from their corners fighting. There is no point, though, in making your parting words, "You're fat and I think you're no good at your job". All this will achieve, apart from shattering an already bruised ego, is that it will make it impossible to go back and retrieve your two favourite sweaters and four CDs that you couldn't get into your suitcase when you left.
The "I-never-really-loved-you" breakup. This is possibly the most cruel of the lot, as it robs her of all the positive memories of the times you spent together. It negates something that at some stage must have been very real for both of you, otherwise, why else would you have got involved? Or are you the type of person who gets involved with people you don't really care for?
The "my-mother-was-right" breakup. Leave other people out of this. If your mother disapproved of your partner, it serves no purpose to give details regarding her dislikes at this point. All it does is to rub salt into the wounds. She probably knew your mother didn't like her anyway. And the feeling was most likely mutual.
The "meet-Wendy" breakup. This is the breakup method of real low-lifes. It robs the person you're breaking up with from an opportunity to respond appropriately. Whatever they do, will look silly, defeatist, bitchy or pathetic. Have the decency to break up with the first girlfriend – in private - before you move on to the second.
The empty-house breakup. Your girlfriend arrives home from work and at first thinks there's been a burglary, but then notices it's only your things that are gone. This is a low blow. The least you owe is her is some advance warning and a number where you can be reached.
The "let's-be-friends" breakup. This is only a way of softening the blow and giving false hope. OK, so maybe this gets her over the worst, but then, when she realises you meant nothing of the kind, it's back to square one on the misery scale. It is almost impossible once you've slept with someone, to have a normal friendship afterwards.
The "you-need-help" breakup. On some level, everyone needs help. If you couldn't get your girlfriend to go for help regarding, let's say, her drinking problem while you were together, is she going to take your advice now that she thinks you are pond scum?
The "I-can't-help-I'm-being-transferred" breakup. If you are serious about someone in the the long run, you can always make a plan to relocate together – unless you are using the breakup as an excuse to dump the girlfriend. There is also a difference between a temporary transfer and a permanent relocation to Kamieskroon.
The "I'm-sorry,-but-Gail's-pregnant" breakup. This is probably the worst one for your girlfriend to deal with. Not only have you been unfaithful, but the other woman now has a claim on you with which she cannot compete. Even worse if she didn't know that Gail existed.
The "You're-too-good-for-me" breakup. This is a variation on the "It's-not-you,-it's- me" breakup. The only good thing about this is that her feelings will be spared somewhat. But how many people are speaking the truth when they say this? Often what they actually mean is that they've had enough and it's time to move on.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated June 2011)
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