1) The Setup
This preliminary stage usually gets overlooked by low-level Lotharios, but lay this foundation and you’ll dodge the backlash—and hurled vases—when you kick her to the curb.
Set a date. Give yourself two weeks, then end it on a Saturday morning, says Jenn Berman, Ph.D., a relationship psychologist. That way she’ll have some time to deal with it before work on Monday. Way to ruin her weekend, Romeo!
Play bachelor. As doomsday approaches, start hanging out with the boys, eating without her, and avoiding long-term plans. Sounds selfish (it is, if by selfish you mean awesome!), but weaning yourself out of her routine slowly will ease the eventual blow to her fragile psyche, says Sam Horn, author of Concrete Confidence.
Distract her. “The rule of thumb: A busy gal is a less brokenhearted one,” says Berman. So before you cut her from the team, encourage her to get involved in time-consuming activities: Triathlon training, learning to speak Mandarin, and even brushing up on her witchcraft skills are all good options. This will ultimately help her deal with the shock of you dropping the buh-bye bomb and will give her something to do besides sob uncontrollably for the next few days.
2) The Speech
If you’re not careful, the giant hunk of awkwardness that is the breakup conversation can turn on you faster than a cracked-out pit bull. To help you maintain control, we sought advice from a corporate downsizer who happens to be a master of serving up shit sandwiches.
Go to her. “Do it at her place. It’s her comfort zone, and a place you can leave,” says Howard Campbell, founder of Campbell Career Coaching in Chicago, who has helped companies fire more than 15,000 unsuspecting souls.
Get her attention. Kick it off with this corporate preamble: “I want you to know this is going to be a difficult conversation.” Next, tell her the decision was extremely hard to make, but it’s final. Then tell her she’s a wonderful person, but you need to go in a different direction. (Here’s where you might need to duck!)
Make it final. “When someone is fired, the first question is always, ‘Why me?’ Then they try bargaining,” says Campbell. “What they’re not getting is that it’s final. Expect the same reaction. When she asks why, avoid giving reasons—it will give her hope that she can bargain them away. Instead, just keep rehashing that it’s final, and how hard this decision was to make.”
3) The Aftermath
This is the most important and nuanced phase (but includes the most sex!). Screw this up and you could have skipped all this work and simply sent her a text message—“I h8 U. It’s ovr…LOL!” Here’s how not to blow it:
Don’t call. For the first six months, even if you’re calling to tell her you’ve joined the priesthood, she’ll think you want to get back together. “You’re not doing her any favors,” says Berman. Let her heal in peace—while you enjoy the perks of freedom. Namely, a fresh batch of strange!
Test new waters. When trolling for newness, steer clear of her colleagues, her friends, her twin sister—at least for a few weeks. Play tag too close to home and the backlash will not only hurt her but will forever kill any chance you have of bedding her hot, single gal pals.
Score some ex. If you’ve followed our breakup plan and given her about six months to get over it, there’s no reason she shouldn’t be singing your praises—and be willing to meet you for drinks, says Berman. Once the booze starts flowing, reminisce about the good times, especially the X-rated ones. In the morning, make like a good ex and get out—but not before stealing back all those T-shirts you let her borrow!