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Dating Tips Advice Column:
Breaking it Off Respectfully

Dear Dating Tips,
I have had contact with four intelligent professional women (out of a couple of others who contacted me) between 25 to 29 years of age via Match, and we have been getting along very well via emails and Video IM etc., for over a month now. My personality, interests and core values (financial education, family, spirituality etc.), amazingly mesh with each one of theirs and they all opened up their feelings to me with less inhibitions. Now, I am a professional in my early 30s and I want to get married to one of them.
The challenge I have right now is that I never imagined (because of the so-called uneven male to female ratio) that my profile would attract this number of top quality ladies to me after sending e-mails to them. I have struck a robust friendship with them, they haven't offended me in any way, and I would NOT want to just totally cut them off. (In honesty, I would like to maintain contact with 3 out of 4 of them on strictly platonic basis). From the face-to-face discussions we've had, they all want to have a family of their own in the near future! (Please note that I haven't even told them about my desire to get married to either of them yet).
The BIG question is: HOW do I "diplomatically" disengage from 3 of them in the weeks ahead (kindly suggest some words/phrases to use), so that I can focus on just one of these ladies like a laser beam, without making it seem like I am just another cut and run player? ~ Settling Down

Dear Settling Down,

It's hard to judge from your letter whether you have met these women (in the first paragraph you mention your communication has been via email, IM, Webcam, etc.), yet in the second paragraph you say, "from the face-to-face discussions". It's important to know the level of involvement you've had with these women in order to best approach how to part ways.

If your communication has been strictly online, then the process of being up front and honest is most important. Online, too many guys and girls just "drop off the face of the planet" leaving the person they were communicating with wondering what happened. This is wrong. It is far better to be honest than to just disappear.

Besides words/phrases, your actions are of vital importance. For example, if your profile is still up, you must remove it before breaking it off with these ladies. If you tell a lady that you are about to enter into a serious relationship with someone else and your profile remains "active" (and they will check) then you will come off as insincere and a liar. Thus you must first remove your profile. The next step, if your communication has been online only, is to IM, email, or call the person and simply be honest. But in being honest, be careful not to offend or inadvertently patronize them.

The simple truth is that the best way to break it off is to do it from your heart versus asking a friend, etc. how they would do it. But in doing so, be respectful. "Because I respect you I want to be honest in letting you know that..." and make sure the issue is about you. "I feel I need to..." It's important to remember that no matter what you say, the person will be hurt if they were becoming attached to you. And this will be more true if they removed their profile because of you. Nothing you can say is going to stop the pain. And this brings up the subject of inadvertently patronizing the other person. Women generally hate the line, "I think we should just be friends". Therefore it is best to leave it up to the woman to make this determination or approach to you at a later time. When a guy breaks up with a woman who loves him, she needs time to heal. You do her a disservice by trying to keep the channels of communication open or by trying to be the shoulder for her to cry on when you're the reason she's crying.

Your specific question was about words and phrases. This is an example, however you must make it your own in order to come off as sincere (which it sounds like you want to be).

"...I know we've connected and I feel attracted to you intellectually and physically, but I've grown more attached to another person..."

By going along these lines you are being honest and you are not inadvertently insulting the other person.

Now if your relationship with any of these women has been in person then things change. Email, IM, or phone is not good enough for parting ways. To gain any ounce of respect, you must break it off in person and at her house. There are two reasons for this:

1) Breaking it off in person shows that the person was valued enough for you to do the right thing. Breaking up in email makes the person feel cheapened and makes you look really cheap.

2) By breaking up at her house you are keeping her in her own familiar and "safe" environment. She won't have to drive while trying to deal with her emotions or reactions. Plus by keeping things private, you save both of you the embarrassment that reactions may cause in a public environment.

In conclusion:

1) Be Honest.

2) Don't make the person feel inferior. Make it about you.

3) Don't rush communication after breaking up. Give the other person time to heal and let them make the decision.

4) If your relationship has been in person, break it off in person and at her place.

~ The Dating Tipster

> - The best approach to find the one. <

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