By Sarah Foster Special to Published Jun 19, 2010 at 3:13 PM

Breakups have a long history of being pretty nasty situations.

If you saw the movie "The Break Up," you know that we all have a little trouble and our own ways of ending relationships in a civil manner. They rarely happen without someone getting hurt. Sure, there are the mutual "we just don't work as a couple" breakups, but each of us gets maybe one or two of those freebies in a lifetime.

In most cases, though, someone is not ready to let go.

So how do you let someone down easy when you're ready to move on for good?

Hang your head in shame if any of you answered that with the phrase "via text message." There are very few times when a text breakup is ever acceptable.

A. You're being held hostage in a foreign country and have your mouth duct taped.
B. You've suddenly realized you've been dating someone that makes lampshades out of human flesh.
C. Nope, actually those are the only rational reasons to be that juvenile.

Email, Post-it note or having a friend break the news for you are all completely terrible ways of letting someone down unless you legitimately fear for your health and well-being.

If you're already sure you want to end a relationship, then you should at least man (or woman) up and have the common courtesy to do so face to face. Trust me, this method will win you way more points when it comes to the story he or she is going to tell about the breakup.

When you act like an adult and are honest about what you want, the other person won't feel quite as pissed or sad or homicidal as if, say, you write a little note in sidewalk chalk outside their house. Trust me, if you mess this part up, many people will soon know the intimate details of your sex life and it won't be the good stuff, either.

So this begs the question, what justifies a breakup as opposed to becoming extra difficult to get a hold of? When you're seeing someone regularly (more than once a week) for more than just sex, for longer than a month, in my unprofessional opinion, you need to see them face to face and let them know you're moving on.

This lets the person know without a doubt that there aren't any loose ends to tie up. This is closure.

Don't use cliché lines like, "I'm super busy right now'" or "I just need to focus on my career" you will look like a liar when you run into that person at a bar two nights later.

If it's been a long-term deal then, without question, unless there've been some indiscretions in their behavior, (e.g., cheating, in which case you can change the locks, your number and your in case of emergency person ASAP and let them know via Post-it note.) you need to have a focused, serious talk to make things clear.

Long-term relationships don't typically just end one day. There are signs. There are fights. There is also the silent treatment which leads up to the end. That doesn't make it less painful. Denial will usually keep hope alive for a little while, but when one of you isn't happy, it can become quite obvious quite quickly.

No one wants to get hurt in love, but it is a risk we all take when we agree to date someone and in turn, develop an attachment. Being the dumper isn't easy either so long as you have a soul. Having to let someone down and seeing them get upset or angry is no picnic, but your actions and your technique, no matter how angry the person may be, make a huge difference when all is said and done.

Think of it this way: say you interviewed for a job, then had a second interview. You thought it went well and you felt a good rapport with the people you met, so you're feeling relatively confident about getting a call back. But that call never comes. In fact you don't get more than a two-line email after trying in vain to contact the company and when you finally do get that reply email it is just to inform you that they chose someone else for the position. You'd likely feel less than enthusiastic about that company for a long time to come.

Now on the other hand, if the same situation occurs yet the company makes a valid effort to keep you abreast of the situation pertaining to the position you interviewed for and lets you know in ample time that they have indeed chosen another candidate, you'll likely still feel disappointed and frustrated, but at least you'll still have respect for the employer. They were honest and timely with the information rather than letting it drag on for months all the while giving you hope that a relationship between you still had merit.

Bottom line - leave the middle school games to those under the age of twelve and act like a grown up. If you were just in it for some action then maybe you should've saved everyone the time and energy and made your intentions known in the first place. Not having the brains or to at least show someone the respect of breaking up with them in a manner that proves you're not a total moron just shows you're clearly not mature enough to be dating to begin with.

Like with so many things in life, honesty is usually the best policy when it comes to breaking up. Tiny white lies for the sake of your ‘ex' might be told and that's just collateral damage but for the most part, put it all out there so that there are fewer questions later. A friend once told me it's better to break someone's heart now than lead them on and shatter it later. And I still believe it to be true.

Of course this is all much easier said than done.


Sarah Foster Special to

No, the sex columnist's real name is not Sarah Foster. (Foster is the model/actress that played an ex-lover of Vincent Chase in the first season of "Entourage.") In reality, our sex columnist is a Wisconsin native with a degree in journalism and a knack for getting people to talk to her.

Sarah never considered herself an "above average" listener. Others, however, seem to think differently. Perhaps she has a sympathetic tone or expression that compels people to share their lives and secrets with her despite how little they know her. Everyone from the girl that does her hair to people in line at the grocery store routinely spill the details of their lives and relationships to Sarah, unprompted but typically not unwanted. It’s strange to her that people would do this, but she doesn’t mind. Sarah likes that she can give advice even if it is to complete strangers.

So why the pseudonym? Simple. People tell Sarah these things because for some reason they trust her. They believe she cares and therefore will keep their secrets in a locked vault the same way a best friend or therapist would. Sarah won't name names, but that vault is now unlocked.