How to Break Up Gracefully

No matter how long you've been with a person - whether it's been a few dates or a marriage - breaking up with someone is gut wrenching for both parties. However, once you've come to the conclusion that you do not want to stay in the relationship any longer, it's your responsibility to bring it to a smooth end. Here are a few tips to break up with your lover with dignity.

Break up in person: Nothing is more cowardly or immature than a phone call, a Dear John letter or an e-mail.

Choose an appropriate place: If you're worried about the other person becoming violent or emotionally out of control, choose a quiet restaurant or an open park. Being in public will keep emotions in check. However, not all emotions can be checked at the door, and a breakup in public could lead to even further humiliation for the person being dumped. If you think that may be the case, go to the person's home where he or she is in a comfortable environment - and, if necessary, you can flee without having to wait for a bill.

Choose an appropriate time: Try to stick to a neutral day. Breaking up with someone right before a big test, on his or her birthday or just after a beloved pet was run over is not going to make this any easier.

Prepare what you want to say ahead of time: There are reasons why you're breaking up with this person, and he or she has a right to know what they are. By having a plan, you won't find yourself being talked into a corner or even out of the breakup. Without being cruel, be honest and straightforward and avoid any waffling on the subject because you don't want to leave the person with false hope. You're breaking up - no negotiations allowed. However, acknowledge the person's feelings and leave him or her with some self-respect by graciously allowing that you're the one who can't work with the relationship. "Reassure the other person that they're worthy," suggests Dr. Tracy Cabot, author of "Letting Go: A 12-Week Personal Action Program to Overcome a Broken Heart." "Take the blame and don't give any."

Make a clean break: Don't give your now ex any mixed messages by stopping by, calling - or spending the night. That's like ripping a scab off slowly.

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