It may difficult, unpleasant and messy but that’s even more reason to act like a gentleman.
Do it in person
This is absolutely non-negotiable — you owe your partner the courtesy of looking them in the eye and breaking up with them face-to-face. No texts, no calls, no ghosting her out, no faking your own death, no stowing away on an oil tanker bound for Ecuador . . . the conversation will be nails-down-the-chalkboard uncomfortable, but only a coward would deliver the bad news any other way.
Choose the right time and place
Leaving her in a pool of tears in the middle of a busy cafe or five minutes before she walks into a job interview is utterly thoughtless and ungentlemanly. Opt instead for a private, quiet place — perhaps over a cup of tea at either of your homes — to at least spare them the embarrassment of a potential public meltdown.
You know she’s going to ask ‘why?’ (perhaps accompanied by an expletive or two), so come armed with an answer. And no, impersonal cliches (“It’s not you, it’s me”) or a lazy non-answer (“The spark’s just not there anymore”) don’t cut it. Calmly, respectfully, and honestly articulate the road blocks that made you want to exit the partnership.
And be firm
No second-guessing, no wiggle room, no ‘maybe in the future’, no softening your stance if the puppy dog eyes start weeping — you need to walk away leaving her in no doubt that things are over. And spare her the half-hearted ‘let’s stay friends’ — if you do maintain a connection, it won’t be thanks to some platitude you toss out in the wake of the wreckage of your relationship.
Treat her with respect
Whether it was a couple of dates or a years-long relationship, you shared something, so don’t spoil that with a messy break-up. Let her speak and hold your tongue while she does, but if things turn sour, carry yourself with dignity and don’t get dragged into a slanging match — that means walking out, if you have to. And don’t gleefully spread the news, ragging on her, either — tell the few people who need to know in a muted, respectful tone.