How to dump him -- gently

We all know that breaking it off with someone is never easy. It sucks, to be more precise, and even less fun than getting rejected is actually having to do the rejecting. Okay, maybe doing the rejecting is a little better. Anyway, if you're thinking about blowing a guy off, here are some ideas on how to give him the brush off that won't break his heart too badly -- or destroy his ego.

Rejection after Date One or Two

You gave it a try. You're not interested. He calls. Ideally, he gets your answering machine and leaves a message. What should you do? Do not return that call. Guys would rather think of the various possibilities for not getting a call back -- you got hit by a bus, moved to Africa, died of a brain aneurysm -- than contemplate rejection.

And what if you picked up the phone? What then? First, make a note to yourself to get caller ID. Then, lie. Please lie. Tell him that you just got back together with your ex-boyfriend. This is our very first choice for rejection. Second best is you realized that you are going through a period where you do not want to date at all and just want to focus on yourself. We can stomach this as well. Sure, these excuses might be transparent -- but better to live a lie than face the truth of rejection.

Another possibility, though not quite as good due to possible ambiguity, is the good ol' distancing technique. You tell him you are really busy for the next couple of weeks and will call him when things get less crazy -- a bit confusing for most of us men, but definitely effective and not too painful.

Rejection after Date Three or Four

You really gave it a chance, but it's not happening. What should you do? Again, lie. The ex-boyfriend is still your best bet. Do not tell him you met someone else recently. That smarts. Choosing someone you just met tells him he lost a contest. No one likes to lose. So, make sure to say you met "the other guy" months before and things sparked up again. Another option: Honesty, within reason. If it's simply a matter of chemistry -- or lack thereof -- tell him. Most guys can survive that after just a few dates.

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