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How to Break Up Gracefully

There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but some are better than others. Learn the dos and don'ts of ending a romantic relationship.
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Don't Break Up Over Email

The tabloids widely reported that pop star Britney Spears broke up with her now-ex-husband Kevin Federline via a text message. But text messages, emails, or other high-tech message delivery systems are not the best medium for ending a romantic relationship.

Social networking sites, including MySpace and Facebook, allow users to post comments on one another's pages, but they should never be used to end a romantic relationship. Nor should web sites like Breakup Butler, which delivers several types of prerecorded breakup messages ranging from let-them-down-easy to downright mean.

"If it's a casual encounter, a text message is OK. But to my mind, it's better to call and speak or go out to dinner," Lieberman says.

"The news of a breakup should never be broken over text or email," says Alison Arnold, PhD, a therapist in Phoenix who is also known as 'Doc Ali,' the life coach on the VH1 series Scott Baio Is 45 ... and Single. "Texting a breakup is the coward's way out," she says.

Stick to the Relationship Facts

"Face-to-face or phone contact is a must," Arnold says. "It's important to give the person with whom you are ending the relationship the chance to ask questions and feel the sentiment underneath the words."

Be as direct and honest as you can, she advises. "Don't engage in tit-for-tat arguments. Stick to the facts: 'It's not working, it's no one's fault, we need to make a change.'"

Can You Be Friends With Your Ex?

Whether or not two people can remain friends after a breakup depends on the two people and their feelings about the end of the relationship.

"If someone is very much in love -- and [then] broken up with-- and forever trying to get back with that person, then having a platonic relationship does not work," Lieberman says. "If you are still in love with the person and want them back, the best thing to do is go cold turkey."

While many a jilted lover claims to seek closure by going back just one more time after a breakup, such closure is a "fantasy or a hope," Lieberman says.

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