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  • 8 Tips for a Better Breakup

    8 Tips for a Better Breakup

    By Kelly Jones

    Whether you’ve been going out for three weeks or have been together for decades, moving past your relationship’s “best before” date is never easy.

    The last thing you want to do is hurt their feelings. But in the end you have to think of yourself – and you want out. From picking the right moment to the language you use, from choosing your breakup location to coping with the dumpee’s emotions in the days that follow, these tips will help you hold ‘em then fold ‘em.

    Preparation Rage
    Cutting someone out of your life isn’t a decision you’ve made lightly, so take the time to plan the way you deliver the news. The more you put into the preparation, the less likely they are to become irrational. That said, some dumpees — even though they know a breakup is the right thing to do — will come to tears anyway. Think through what questions your soon-to-be ex-flame might have and plan appropriate answers.

    Know Who’s On First
    Your best pal may have been the first to know you felt something special for your most recent heartthrob, but that doesn’t mean they get first dibs on the news of the decision to break up. Be respectful of the person you’re about to say goodbye to and tell them before anyone else.

    Face-to-face Face Value
    Yeah, I know, it’s easier to deliver sad news over the phone, email or through text message. But you know deep down the right thing to do is endure those awkward, uncomfortable breakup moments in person. If you don’t extend this courtesy to your future-ex, there’s no chance in hell you’ll ever be friends with them or any of their hot pals. And if that’s not motivation enough, consider it a deposit into your Bank of Karma, saving yourself from being surprisingly dumped on Facebook — and in front of all your friends to boot.

    Timing Is Everything
    From orgasms to surprise birthday parties to stand-up comedians to a well-cooked meal, timing is everything. Apply this life theme to your breakup plan too. Don’t drop the bomb right after having sex or before a momentous event. Avoid special occasions — holidays, anniversaries, birthdays — at all costs. You may be ruining their day, but you don’t have to ruin that same day of the year, every year, for all eternity. If your dumpee is a social butterfly, consider a Friday dump so they can distract themselves with friends over the weekend. Or if your soon-to-be ex is a bit of a workhorse, make a plan for Monday so they can keep themselves busy at the office while adjusting to their new single status.

    Location Location Location
    Equally important is the spot you choose to deliver the news. A neutral venue with no sentimental value to either of you makes an ideal location. While there is some benefit to breaking up with someone in a very public place (like an intimate restaurant) in the hopes that fear of embarrassment would deter them from overreacting, it’s a bit of a cop-out. The place you choose should allow some opportunity for walking or finding more quiet spaces if needed, such as a park or shopping mall during non-peak hours.

    Planned and Delivered
    To avoid mixed messages, get your thoughts and decision across clearly, honestly and simply. It’s likely they too have felt the relationship disintegrating. By letting them know about the sadness you feel, you become an ally in sorrow rather than a tyrant of bad news. Without being accusatory (it’s you, not me), let them know what you’re feeling (it’s me, not you) and that you’ve decided it’s best to part ways. There is nothing wrong with having different expectations of a relationship or partner, just as there is nothing unnatural about falling out of love. Avoid lying to save hurt feelings. Instead choose your honest words carefully. Being considerate of their feelings can only be beneficial to you down the road — especially if this person is someone you’ll see again through friends or in work environments.

    Let the Defense Take the Floor
    Your dumpee may react in a myriad of ways — from laughter to tears to straight-faced seriousness to disbelief. Give them time to let the news sink in, and then let them talk about how they feel (if they want). Even if they guessed it was coming and know that it’s the right thing to do, some may try to persuade you to change your mind simply because they’d prefer to withstand an OK relationship than be without one altogether. Reply that you have heard their words but that you have made up your mind. If you let on that you’re wishy-washy on the issue, you’ll never move on. If possible, let them decide when to end the conversation.

    The Aftershock
    Your ex may try to convince you to get back together in the days that follow. And if there’s stuff to collect from each other’s houses or occasions where you’re seeing each other after the breakup, it’s sometimes easy to fall back into old patterns and start fooling around again. Although we’ve all heard that breakup sex can be mind-blowing, the repercussions far outweigh the short-term benefits of a quickie. Hard as it is, avoid getting intimate with your ex. Who wants to go through the motions of breaking up with someone a second time?

  • 10 Things They Shouldn’t Know

    10 Things They Shouldn’t Know

    By Brent Turnbull

    Honesty in a relationship is the best policy… most of the time.

    There are, however, certain things that it is best to put in a vault, encase in concrete and rocket into space on a collision course with the sun. OK, that may be overstating, but you definitely need to exercise a little discretion with your information sharing. It’s not a lie, just a wise withholding of details.

    10. I’m Really Insecure About…
    We all have our insecurities. You might think your legs are too skinny or that everyone is more successful than you. You may envy your girlfriend’s best friend Matt from high school or your boyfriend’s co-worker Sharon. Keep it to yourself. Like it or not, women like confidence in a man and admitting to this kind of worry will either seem insecure or untrusting. For men, it is just downright annoying to hear these kinds of worries and, truthfully, they may take it as a sign of “high maintenance” tendencies.

    9. Mementos from Your Ex
    So there’s this box that you have buried in the back of your closet, behind the shoes you never wear and the trophies from childhood sporting triumphs. This box contains all that remains from that special relationship immediately preceding the current one. It could be as harmless as the first rose he gave you or as salacious as some naked photos you decided to snap one drunken night. Doesn’t matter. Having held onto them is damning enough to raise suspicions that you still harbor feelings for your ex and are just waiting for them to call you to break up with your current love.

    8. Masturbation Frequency
    We all do it — some more frequently than others — but it’s best to play this close to the chest. Admitting that you touch yourself is no biggie, but telling them that it’s close to every other hour might raise uncomfortable questions in their mind: Am I dating a sex maniac? What, I don’t satisfy you on my own? So when you’re asked — and you will be — be demure. After all, “Wouldn’t you like to know?” sounds so much better than “24 times a day.”

    7. My Family Hates You
    Pretty obvious. Still, I’m constantly surprised by friends who share familial doubts with their partners. Revealing this information only serves make them angry or insecure around your family and in the long-term poison any potential relations between them. So when Mom says, “She’s just not good enough,” work on changing her opinion and keep your partner out of this negative loop.

    6. I Just Love to Flirt
    Everyone flirts to some degree — you likely flirted with your partner before you got together. But now that you’re together they don’t want to hear about your flirting ways. Put yourself in their shoes: How would you like to hear about all of the people they’ve flirted with during the day? Doesn’t feel good does it? If it really is harmless flirting, then don’t make them worry about it. Keep it to yourself.

    5. Notches on the Belt
    It may feel good to have so many conquests but it definitely won’t to your sig-other. In fact, it’ll make them feel downright un-special. That being said, if you have had a randy past, do yourself a favor and get yourself tested. Starting the relationship with a clean slate is a good idea for everyone involved.

    4. You Sounded Just Like My Ex
    You compare them to your ex. You compare their kissing, the quality of their jokes and their crazy (or not so) moves in bed. They don’t need to know. Nobody likes being compared. It’ll drive them crazy if they feel like their every move is being weighed against an invisible standard.

    3. I Don’t Like Your Friends
    Talking badly about your partner’s friends is one of the worst things you can do. Insulting their friends is like insulting them — “You have such bad taste.” Also, strategically, you need her friends as allies to stick up for you from time to time when things get rough. If you need to trash talk their friends, save it for a night out with yours.

    2. Your Cheating Heart
    You might think that you’re close enough to reveal these details, but in reality they will never be ready to hear that you’ve cheated on an ex. It doesn’t matter why it happened and that it will never happen again. You’ll come off looking like an amoral ass, with a plummeting trust factor to boot. And, every time you’re in a questionable situation they’ll automatically assume the worst.

    1. I’d Bang Your Friend
    Your partner wants you to like their friends, just not too much. Confessing that you think one of their buds is hot is definitely a bad move. For one thing he/she probably has a sense of competitiveness about the attentions of the opposite sex so you’ll be stepping into a minefield of envy and past hurts. Secondly, they’ll never trust you around their friends again. And that’s no way to start building a life together.

  • Telling Your Friend She’s Dating a Dick

    Telling Your Friend She’s Dating a Dick

    By Sarah Rowland

    She had all the telltale signs of a woman in love.

    There was the the perma-smile, the upbeat attitude, the sudden loss of appetite and the ever-present glow that can’t be faked with cosmetics.

    I wanted to be happy for her. After all, she had been slugging it out in the singleton trenches for as long as I had. But the problem was I didn’t trust her new beau as far as I could throw him… and with good reason.

    I knew her boyfriend from back in the day. We even dated briefly in college and he wasn’t exactly what I would call a follow-through guy. You know the kind — comes on strong, keeps up the charm till you’re good and smitten and then without warning, does a 180 and retreats so far back emotionally you wonder what the cold-hearted bastard is made of.

    A part of me wanted to speak up and warn her. But in the end, I decided to give her new man/my old flame the benefit of the doubt. I mean people act differently in relationships with different partners, right? Maybe I just wasn’t the one for him.

    I also factored in the time that had elapsed — it had more than 10 years since I hung out with him. So I thought, “Who knows? Perhaps he’s grown as a person since our college days together.” I was wrong. About two months into the relationship, he cut her loose in the cruelest of fashions: left her hanging at Christmas — no calls, no explanation, no nothing.

    She was devastated. I was riddled with guilt. Could I, should I have done things differently?

    I mean it’s been my experience that people only hear what they want to hear. Furthermore, every time I’ve spoken my mind about a friend’s date that she’s not ready to get rid of, it’s only caused awkward tension between me and that friend. So the question is: Is there a right way to tell your friend she’s dating a dick?

    Relationship expert Dr. Susan Campbell says yes. The best way to start off is with a pre-conversation. That way you can sniff out exactly how much honesty your friend expects and/or wants from you.

    “You don’t want to just bust in and say, ‘I think he’s a jerk,’” says Campbell, who holds a PhD in clinical psychology. “I think the first conversation might need to go something like, ‘We’re really good friends and I want to have the kind of relationship with you where I can say whatever I think and feel even if it’s none of my business. Do you want that kind of relationship with me?’”

    If, and when, you get the green light for honesty, make sure your opinion is based on facts. Hunches and hearsay won’t do when you’re dealing with other people’s personal business.

    “I don’t believe in passing on second-hand information,” says Campbell, who has written several books on the subject of honest communication including, Getting Real, Truth in Dating and her latest, Saying What’s Real. “Give specific examples — either something you actually saw [like him in the arms of another woman] or things you remember hearing from her own mouth. So you could say something like, ‘You’ve told me three times that you wanted to break up with this person and then every time you see him, you change your mind.’”

    Those are familiar words for Allen, who is living proof that there are just as many male victims of love as there are female. He dated the same evil woman off and on for more than a year. Several friends tried to warn him about her, but he wouldn’t listen.

    “She was a manipulative liar, which other people saw, but of course I refused to see it — I was in denial,” admits the freelance writer from Madison, WI. “I remember Mary [a friend] telling me that she didn’t trust [evil woman] because she had met her at a party where [evil woman] was all over all kinds of guys.”

    Dave, another buddy, wasn’t as kind in his assessment of Allen’s on-again, off-again girlfriend. He repeatedly told Allen, in no uncertain terms, that she was no good and that it was time to move on — something that Allen wasn’t prepared to do at the time.

    “After that I was kind of leery about running into to Dave when I with her,” says Allen. “I felt like he was judging me because we had had multiple discussions on the subject.”

    This is an example of why Campbell warns against making blatant judgment calls. You risk alienating your friend.

    “I wouldn’t tell the person ‘I think you should dump him or her,’” warns Campbell.”[After you've stated your opinion], just give your feelings with phrases like, ‘I’m afraid that you’re going to get hurt …’, ‘I’m concerned that you….’ or ‘I’m worried that you….’ And leave it at that because really, at that point you’ve done your job. So just honor yourself for taking a big risk on behalf of the friendship.”

    And in the case of my friend and the non-committal goof who broke her heart?

    “I think a lot of times people do have to play it out and do their own thing anyway, so she might have acted exactly the same way [even if you had warned her],” says Campbell, before adding, “But then again, you might have saved yourself some guilt.”

  • When to Call Your Date

    When to Call Your Date

    By Sarah Fielding

    You’ve got their phone number. Whoo-hoo! Now what? Here’s how to ace the art of calling a date.

    The First Call
    In some ways, making the very first phone call is a lot less stressful than making a follow-up call after a date. After all, you’ve been given a clear green light to proceed. You’ve probably spent some time getting to know each other online. And now you are advancing to step two.

    Who Calls?
    It’s the 21st century: either the guy or girl can make the first move regarding offering their digits or dialing said digits. Keep in mind, though, that whoever does the asking for the first date should probably also do the paying. Or at least offer to pay for the first date.

    When to Call, Part I
    Now is not the time to be shy or to play hard to get. If a prospective date has given you their number call them at the earliest, most appropriate opportunity. Now, I can’t speak for everyone, but unless you know someone’s day-to-day routine, it’s probably prudent not to call before 9 am or after 9 pm.

    What to Say?
    Start off by letting your new friend know how much you’ve enjoyed getting acquainted online. If you’re the one doing the calling, make sure you’ve got a particular date idea in mind, so after the pleasantries have been exchanged, you can say, “Hey, there’s a great new organic café that’s opened in my area, we should go for a coffee sometime.” Remember, if you’ve already got their number, they are unlikely to turn down your invitation.

    Getting the Beep
    If you happen to go through to voicemail on your first call, leave a brief message but never ask for a first date unless speaking to a real, live person. It’s just too impersonal.

    Don’t blather on; just leave your name and number and ask them to get back to you. Simple.

    The Follow-up Call
    Hopefully at the end of a successful date, you’ve been able to suss out whether there’s a possible second date on the horizon. With any luck, you’ll have been given a clear indication that a second date would be most welcome. Now, all you need to do is close the deal.

    When to Call, Part II
    This is one of the biggest issues in dating today. Calling too soon — say, as you’re on your way home from the date — makes you seem desperate and possibly creepy. Calling too long after the date (any longer than three days is remiss) makes it seem like you don’t really care. Ideally, you should call to follow-up and enquire about a second date one or two days after the first.

    What to Say?
    Gushing endlessly about what a great time you had then hatching plans for next Christmas together are massive turn-offs at this early stage. When making the follow-up call, stick to positive, relevant comments about your first meeting. Then let your date know you would like to do it again sometime.

    Call and Call Alike
    When engaging in early phone exchanges with a date, a good rule of thumb is to make sure you don’t call them more than they call you. No, this isn’t one of those ridiculous ‘rules’ of dating. It’s just common sense. You don’t want to come across as needy or stalker-ish, so keep the ‘call and call alike’ rule in mind as you’re reaching for the phone.

    Leaving Another Message?
    Hmmm. Things seemed to go so well on the date. But now you’ve left two messages and still no reply? Don’t write it off completely but don’t call them again either — and certainly don’t ring demanding to know why they haven’t returned your calls. Rather, just play it cool. If they do get back to you, and you’re still interested in seeing them again, it’s your call.

  • How to Give Flowers

    How to Give Flowers

    By Nick Krewen

    When the prospect of romance blooms, one surefire message tells your date you want to see them again.

    Say it with flowers.

    True, people have been expressing their feelings for centuries by offering flowers. And while Janet Gotoweicz of Toronto’s Tidy’s Flowers allows that it’s the thought that counts, she does concede that if you want to make a good impression, certain blooms are more significant than others.

    “Roses and orchids still have a certain amount of cachet,” says Gotoweicz, a 30-year floral veteran. “I think people still see them as special and more expensive flowers than daisies or carnations.”

    And although the rose remains the flower of choice when it comes to Valentine’s Day delivery, other varieties are fast growing in popularity.

    “There’s been a real movement towards flowers like orchids, things with scent, like hyacinth, and that sort of thing,” says Gotoweicz. “Also flowers from Holland because of the time of year. So you’re looking at Gerber daisies, tulips, irises, and freesia. In the middle of winter, people get those and go, ‘Wow, this is awesome.’”

    Scent, as long as it’s not overpowering, is brilliant because every time your intended gets a waft of the aroma, he/she will be reminded of you and — hopefully — get all weak-kneed.

    But beware: you might want to check on what kind of flower you’re sending to the object of your affection.

    The art of floriography – the “language” of flowers – warns that sending the wrong blossom can send a devastating message to your beneficiary.

    Highly popular during the Victorian Era (from 1837 to 1901) floriography was such an essential element of social life that people meticulously expressed themselves through floral arrangements. But the presentation of a bouquet — or lack thereof — could speak volumes about their intentions, romantic or otherwise.

    Even the colors of the flora represented different moods and meanings.

    For example, each hue of the carnation offers a kaleidoscope of interpretation.

    According to victorianbazaar.com the carnation itself is generally construed to represent “fascination” or “devoted love.” A red carnation tells your recipient that your heart is aching for them or that you admire them.

    Offer them pink, and it symbolizes that you’ll never forget them. White equals innocence.

    But send them a yellow or a striped carnation and be prepared for hell to break loose: it’s a sign of rejection.

    In fact, when you contemplate the entire color wheel, yellow seems to be the universal troublemaker: a yellow chrysanthemum symbolizes slighted love; a yellow hyacinth, jealousy.

    Other troublesome colors are germane to specific genus: A scarlet geranium represents melancholy; a purple hyacinth asks for forgiveness; and the orange lily is a definite no-no — it expresses hatred or dislike.

    So, if a bouquet of orange lilies shows up at the office, there’s a good chance it’s game over.

    Think maybe a plant is a good idea? Think again. Gotoweicz frowns on sending plants. “Somebody may be thinking, ‘I don’t like sending flowers because they die, so maybe I can send a plant and it would last longer.’ In my head, I’m saying, ‘OK buddy, the idea is not how long this thing lasts. The idea is, ‘I know these flowers are really perishable but you’re worth it.’

    “That tells me that maybe you just don’t get it,” says warns.

    Flowers are great gifts for a number of reasons: they’re pretty, they smell nice, they brighten up a room and they don’t break the bank, although Gotoweicz admits that men — who typically buy more flowers as a romantic gesture than women — aren’t usually budget-conscious when it involves flora.

    Even in trying economic times such as these, she says flowers seem to be the recession-proof way of gifting from one’s admirers.

    “When economic times are great, it’s a very spur-of-the-moment — people come in to buy a dozen roses, and they may look at this big huge vase with four dozen in it and go, ‘Oh, I’m going to take that,’” she explains.

    “In a bad economy, flowers, which people buy with their disposable income, are hit hard at first. But the longer the economic downturn lasts, it’s almost a reverse effect, because it’s something that people can afford.

    “Maybe they can’t afford a car to buy as a birthday gift, but they can afford to buy a nice bouquet of flowers. They become a relatively affordable luxury and then people start spending more on them again.”

    Make no mistake, the blooms and buds can get very costly. Four dozen long stemmed red roses with local delivery on Valentine’s Day will run you about $400. Though you can get a dozen nice looking ones for around $60. Other types of reasonably sized bouquets with fresh cut flowers etc. will cost you between $60 and $100.

    But the beauty of sending flowers (or handing them over in person) is that you can imaginatively dress up your bouquet with a pound of chocolate, a cute teddy bear, a bunch of balloons or a special card. Or you can keep it really simple. And you don’t have to give a dozen.

    “Sometimes,” offers Gotoweicz, “one rose says as much as 50.”

    Of course, if things didn’t go so well during a date, there’s a remedy for that too.

    Go to The Payback.com and you can express your displeasure with a $19.99 (U.S.) order of a half-dozen dead wilted roses.

    If you want to be really cruel, you can spend your $19.99 and order just the stems. Or if you want to be really, really cruel, you can spend your $19.99 and send your ex-date…. wait for it…. “1 Dead Smelly Fish.”