How do you break up with a really nice person?
I mean, nice is great. But, like handsome or beautiful, it's just a curtain. And, as we learned on Let's Make a Deal, a curtain is only as good as what's behind it.
Right now I'm working through how to tiptoe and not tromp when ending a relationship.
The Dalai Lama didn't return my calls so I turned to the next best spiritual adviser — the great and powerful Google.
"How to break up with a really nice guy?" I asked the font of all of humanity's wisdom. My screen instantly filled with the first dozen or so of the 153 million results it found. Well, this should be easy.
As I scanned that first page of results looking for the juiciest one to pluck out, I noticed they all seemed to be slightly different versions of the same answer: do it now and do it fast. Seems nice people don't want a slow and gentle breakup. Off with their heads.
So, I bucked up and dialed Mr. Nice Guy's number. Before he even picked up, the do-it-now-and-do-it-fast knife slid out of my hand. And caller ID made it impossible to hang up anonymously and try again later after I had summoned up that mean gene now resting comfortably in the pit of my stomach.
"I don't know; it's just not working …"
"I just don't think we have anything in common …"
"What? Whaddaya mean?"
"I just need some time …"
"I knew this was going to happen. Where's the nearest bridge?"
A half hour later, the call ended, the words, "You know I still love you," trailing out of the phone as I pushed the hang-up button.
Jerry Seinfeld was right. The first breakup never takes.
Scratch off "do it fast."
• • •
I went back to the magic Google ball and asked: "How to break up with a really nice older (I added that) guy (and then Google suggested and I said sure) without hurting him."
This advice floated to the top of the pile:
• Breaking up isn't nearly as complicated as you're making it. Sit him down, tell him that you care about him, but you don't think you have what it takes to make it in the long run; let him vent, and you leave.
How much easier can it be?
• Avoid getting physical for the last time, it's just pointless and can lead to confusion.
• A final kiss and a warm hug can seem weird and bring back memories of old times, but it can help both of you understand the finality of the situation if you're both really ready to let go.
Gee, it feels as if one of us is dying.
• It's just like death. Saying goodbye to a dying person can actually make everything feel more peaceful on the inside. But at the same time, a sudden separation with no good-byes can traumatize you for months.
It IS like one of us is dying.
• And if you ever miss your ex, avoid calling him up or texting him. It won't help you, and it definitely won't help your partner with whom you've ended the relationship.
Pretend he's the one who died.
• • •
Wait! Come to think of it, all the men who've dumped me have done it pretty unceremoniously and, look, I've lived to write about it.
Maybe I should just ask a Ouija board what to say.
I'm pretty sure the planchette would simply drift down to the answer: "Good Bye."