Breaking up is hard enough

Valentine’s Day is not without a sense of irony. Although it’s the holiday for lovers, it also seems to coincide with an epidemic of breakups and lovers’ spats. I have no scientific evidence behind this whatsoever; it’s just something I’ve noticed.

Perhaps we realize that we’re no longer like all those annoyingly happy couples that are suddenly everywhere. Maybe February provokes relationship Darwinism: The constant cover of clouds and frigid temperatures are so depressing that only the strongest, healthiest bonds survive the month. Regardless of why so many relationships hit the skids, if yours weathers the rigors of February, you can probably breathe a sigh of relief until the next potential calamity comes along (e.g. someone’s birthday or an anniversary).

Sadly, we can’t all be so lucky. If you’re one of the unfortunate sweethearts-turned-sour planning to end your relationship this week, the following are some pointers to help get you through with your dignity (and life).

Make sure you mean it: You can’t go stampeding into a breakup. Think this through — or risk disaster. Are you sure want to do this? Are you ready for everyone to give you the “So close to V-Day?” interrogation? Can you hold off until March? The only reason to hurry things up is if you’ve started to throw sharp objects at each other.

Don’t try to scare them away by demanding really freaky sex stuff: You never know what someone might agree to.

Do all the necessary prep work: Start retrieving your DVDs and clothing from your significant other’s place. Backpacks or baggy pants come in handy here. You might also want to remove any knives, throwing stars, or books with sharp edges. If you’ve got a television or something valuable over there, unplug it and act incredulous that it won’t work. Insist on taking it in for service to get it out of there. You’ll thank me when your last memory of your television is not the sight of it being thrown out a window.

Trust no one: You have no friends come breakup time. If you even breathe a word of your plans to any human being, it will find a way to your lover. Gossip is not to be trifled with. It not only defies physics by moving faster than light, but also defies thermodynamics by constantly increasing in energy. Don’t even share your plans with a guy in a coma; he might wake up and ruin everything.

Carefully choose your medium: I have to insist that you be a man (or woman) about this. No phone calls, text messages, IMs, or e-mails. Do it in person. If it must be impersonal, a singing telegram adds a nice touch of class. Also, you could attach a letter to a puppy — who could stay mad at a puppy?
Don’t start with “We have to talk”: No conversation in human history beginning with “we have to talk” has ever ended well. Because everyone knows what “we have to talk” means, the mood will already be sour. Avoid those doldrums with an original, zesty scheme to initiate the breakup. Perhaps “I have a surprise for you...”; “A good metaphor for our relationship is The Titanic for the following reasons...”; or “Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘breakup’ as....”

Be respectful and firm: There’s no need to start with the insults. Those come later, when you’re drunk. And don’t let them change your mind! If you lose this argument, you forever mark yourself as a vacillating wuss. Stick to your guns!

No, you may not have one last beastly rendezvous for old times’ sake: Don’t even ask.