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Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.  ~Winston Churchill

Telling the truth to a stranger is easy. Telling the truth to a lover is much more complicated and delicate. And in the handful of relationships I’ve had over the last few years, I have yet to meet the man who could speak his own truth. I have always had to do it for him.

My brother Mike shakes his head in disbelief at the sorry state of manhood today, one that requires his sister to “man-up” and do all of the work. But on some level he gets it. Breakups aren’t easy and sometimes they can be messy. Still it’s as puzzling to him as it is to me.

In an attempt to get some clarity, I once asked one of these men why he just didn’t tell me he’d had a change of heart.   He said it was because he was afraid I would get too emotional because I got emotional just asking the question.  I will admit to watery eyes but at least my voice was steady.

The shift from boyfriend to let’s be friends happened so quickly I was caught off guard – thus the watery eyes.  Believe me; I’d rather chew broken glass than break down in front of a man. In most cases goodbyes come as no surprise. The signs are everywhere.

From the male point of view, it seems it’s much easier to be the gradually disappearing man, to show me rather than tell me that he has changed his mind.  As the daily phone calls, e-mails, texts evolveto every second, third or fourth day and then a week or two, you can hear him asking himself, “How much longer do I have to keep this up, so I don’t look like a complete jerk, and she gets the message?”

Sadly, his thought process has nothing to do with me and everything to do with his self- image and his ability to look himself in the mirror every morning. It’s the age-old question of: is it better to rip off the Band-aid with one tug, or progressively, painfully peel it back?

I am an advocate for the former method.  Tell me and tell me now! Gradually peeling the Band-aid back allows all sorts of nasty things to get between your skin and that protective covering you called a relationship. It keeps me wondering, waiting and — worst of all — hoping.  I magnify every contact and examine it for hidden meanings.  Didn’t we just have a great conversation?  Didn’t he compliment me over dinner?  He just said “we…” But false hope is nothing but a false friend.  Don’t count on it.

If you allow the connection to linger, your confidence and self-esteem become infected by doubt.  All of a sudden, you’re questioning your looks, career, even your taste in décor.  And you’ll find yourself asking:  What could I have done differently? What do I have change in order to heal the wound?

Sure, ripping off the Band-aid does sting, whether you do it or someone else does it. But when it’s done, it’s done.  Tugging at it a little at a time only opens you up for a prolonged and painful separation.  Either way the outcome is still the same.

Given the fact that, today, there are so many ways to break up — e-mail, voice mail, texting, via your personal assistant (located in India), and the infamous Post-It note — it really begs the question: Is breaking up all that hard to do?

If you have a good/bad break up story, I’d love to hear about it.

*Excerpted from the book

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/jrroman

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