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Dear Jon Letters: Fifth Sort
In this installment: how to break up with a girl.

by Dear Jon
November 27, 2000

Dear Jon Letters: Fifth Sort_Dear Jon-In this installment: how to break up with a girl. Dear Jon Letters, Fifth Sort. This is an advice column. I give advice because it is what I do best. That doesn't mean the advice is any good.

Dear Jon: What is the best, least cruel way for a guy to break up with a girl?
Sincerely, Nice Guy in Waukegan, IL

Dear Guy: This is a very difficult question to answer. In my past, women have typically broken up with me, and very few cared about the cruelty
quotient. I have heard from some guys that they broke off serious relationships, but these have been guys whose honesty I can question. To hear the other side tell it would be much different.

I would think that women find the "friendship" speech as cruel as men do. The cruelest thing about it, is that it is a lie. Everyone knows that dating makes any post-dating friendship very wierd and uncomfortable.

The hard thing, on those rare occasions when men actually do the dumping, is that women have Cry Power. Most regular guys are utterly helpless and
hopeless when a woman is crying.

This is why men practice avoidance mechanisms. Certainly one main tactic is to Stop Calling. Another tactic is to be unresponsive to gestures of affection and expressions of feeling. Of course, these may all be construed as "cruel."

I am stumped on this one. There does not seem to be any way that a man can safely break up with a woman, because we know that honesty is about the stupidest thing we could try, because it would confirm to her our shallow motives and needs. Imagine putting into words the top three reasons why a guy wants to break up with a girl:

"I'm sorry. I was interested in your body, and now I am interested in someone else's body."

"I don't want to commit to you because there might be another woman coming along who will enthusiastically indulge my adolescent sexual fantasies."

"You're intelligent, sexy, beautiful, and kind, an educated and established professional, and I don't deserve you, but there is a college intern at the
office I can't take my eyes off of. She laughs at my jokes and then asks me to explain them; she doesn't point out factual inaccuracies. She also complimented the tie I bought last year, the tie with the colored golf balls on it that you rolled your eyes at when we were at Dillard's in February, and you said it clashed with my pants, and you sighed when I bought it anyway and said I only got it to prove to my friends that I wasn't completely whipped. So before I ask her out I want to be able to tell her that I'm not tied down."

Honesty is out of the question. By the way, if after six months of seeing this person, she is suddenly wearing boots and picking her nose at dinner, you may find her unusually receptive and accepting of your break-up speech. Trust me. Otherwise, try not calling for a month and then, if she gets through to you, let the conversation take its course. Sorry I can't be more help.

Dear Jon,
In my adult lifetime, and I am old enough to be your father, a female of any age has not been referred to as a "gal" among educated males.
Signed, Rural Wisconsinite

Dear Nite,
Since you wrote, I am going to give you advice, as this is an advice column, and as I give advice whether or not any advice is sought. My advice is, you should get out more. In my adult lifetime, and apparently I'm young enough to be your son, "gals" have always been the equivalent of "guys." Not only equivalent, but equal in status, at least philosophically, because there is still, statistically speaking, inequity in pay for equal work. Not that this has anything to do with me, since I've never had a job that paid me more than peanuts, as my own Dad, a great guy, knows all too well.

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