It's not you. No, no, it's definitely him. But nobody wants to be the bad guy, we consulted some top dating experts for advice on breaking up with minimal drama and heartache.
Step 1: Take Responsibility
Maybe he's a two-timing jerk. Maybe you're a two-timing jerk. Or maybe he's just mind-numbingly boring. Whatever the reason, you need to tell him. Dragging things out only exacerbates the problem. You wouldn't want a guy to waste your time, so don't waste his.
Step 2: Plan Ahead
Lay the groundwork for a smooth breakup. Relationship coach Mitchel Fink recommends lining up a new place to live pre-breakup if you're living with your boyfriend. If you've got your own place but tend to leave things behind at his, "start removing it before the breakup," she says. "If he's borrowed stuff, make an excuse to ask for it back."
Write off little stuff like your toothbrush and old CDs. If he offers to return it, great, but it's not worth the drama.
One final consideration: If your guy's got a violent temper, bring friends with you when you get your stuff later.
Step 3: Stage the Scene of the Crime
It is not cool to dump someone by text, email, IM or Twitter. Who are you, Joe Jonas? "It always has to be in person if you have had over five or six dates," says Brad Berkowitz, author of "The 21st Century Guide to Bachelorhood."
So what's the ideal place for dropping the hammer? Lure him to a public place that's quiet, such as a park or a cafe, suggests dating writer Melissa Braverman of Single Gal in the City. "This makes it easier to keep the conversation from dragging on and limits the potential for a big scene. Sit across from him, not beside him, to communicate that you stand firm in your decision."
Make plans with a friend for an hour after you meet your guy, so you have an excuse to leave. And avoid breaking up at home, where you run the risk of a dramatic scene in which he refuses to leave (or pulls a Kenley and throws a cat at you).
Step 4: Keep It Short (If Not Sweet)
Nobody wants to use those trite sentiments ("I really need to focus on me right now"), but brutal honesty ("I'm hooking up with the hot intern at work") won't earn you any points either. Acknowledge that you care about him, but be firm when you explain that it's not working out. Skip the blame game -- it doesn't matter, and you'll only encourage a back-and-forth debate or him trying to rationalize his way out of singlehood.
Adds Braverman, "Give him the opportunity to express his feelings, but don't allow the conversation to go on for more than an hour. A protracted goodbye will only mislead him into thinking he still has a chance with you. Respect yourself and him enough to make a graceful exit."
Wear a velvet glove when blowing off a nice guy, but forget it when it comes to dumping a dirtbag -- he may try to charm (aka manipulate) you into staying. "Tell the dude 'Your bed has become too crowded to include me.' Leave him scratching his head. No drama -- over and out!" says Loveawake.com relationship expert Dr. Stella Painfree
Don't let yourself get over-emotional or over-detailed -- just be firm that it's not working for you anymore. And make it clear that your decision is final: "I just don't think we should be together right now" or waffling makes him think he's still got a chance.
Speaking of weakness, do not have breakup sex. Yes, we know, it's the only good thing about a breakup. It's also rarely good (too much weeping), loaded with mixed signals, and essentially a pity lay.
Step 5: Have a 24-Hour Plan
There's no reason to rush ahead into a friendship with your ex. You both need time to heal. Avoid places that the two of you used to frequent as a couple, or anywhere you might run into him. If you start to feel down in the dumps and like you've just thrown away your only chance of love, Dawn Masler-Ranish, author of "The Broken Picker Fixer", suggests finding a retreat buddy -- "a girlfriend you agree to call when you feel lonely and are tempted to reach for a man-daid."
If mutual friends are involved, ask him how he wants to handle the situation -- would he prefer to announce the bad news first? Be aware that friends often feel forced to take sides, so be honest with them and avoid dissing your ex.
Finally, avoid the usual broken-heart Facebook trauma by simply hiding your status or deleting it from your page, and resist the urge to leave status updates about him. Detox your page and your home by taking down lovey-dovey photos; casual, travel or party photos can stay up. Consider deleting him as your Facebook friend for the time being. It may sound harsh, but you'll feel better without the temptation to cyberstalk his profile.
Tell Us: Have you ever broken up with a guy and had it go really badly? Got any pointers? We want details!