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One of the “compliments” that I get most about my adorable 16 month-old son is that when he grows up, he’s going to be a “heartbreaker.” While I know this is meant in the most complimentary of ways, one day it got me thinking about raising a man/child and how my (and his father’s) influence on him will determine how he treats women in the future – assuming he’ll date women. In fact, when it comes to matters of the heart, gender makes no difference.

However, assuming that he’ll date women, I want to be the one teach him how to treat women when it comes time for him to be in a relationship. I know men think differently and usually with their hormones, so teaching him to be emotionally mature and compassionate when it comes to a woman’s feelings may be difficult to do…at first. My hope is that I’ll set the foundation for respect early so that he knows women aren’t toys to be played with or there simply for his physical pleasure.

That all being said, everyone will experience a heartbreak in his or her lifetime…if you live long enough that is. And my son will be no exception – God willing. I said God willing because I feel it’s a rite of passage that leads to growth and understanding. And just as everyone will inevitably experience heartbreak one day, one might also have to be the one breaking a heart or two as well. And if my son will be a “heartbreaker” one day, I want him to be a good one.

So how do you become a “good” heartbreaker? While breaking up with someone is never fun, there is a way to do it – whether we consider it “easy” or not is a different story. However, there is a direct way to do it that might be less painful in the long run, and that is making a clean break. Elbow to the nose.

Now that may sound harsh, but there is a graceful and gentle way to be direct. Being blunt doesn’t mean being tactless or mean-spirited. It just means being honest, and that is what I hope my son values more than anything when dealing with another person’s heart. What most people fail to realize is the human heart is very resilient when it comes to emotions, even hurt ones. I can handle the truth, but I can’t handle being lied to. I can’t handle being manipulated. I can’t handle false hope or disappointment the same way I can handle honesty…even if it is the brutal truth. And I think most people would agree. Anything else is emotional terrorism. So if you are the type to make the other person angry or miserable so that they’ll break up with you, you’re a bad heartbreaker. If you are the type to tell someone else that there’s hope…later…for the relationship even though you know there isn’t and you’ve already emotionally moved on, then you’re a bad heartbreaker. If you tell them it’s “you” and not “them” when it really is them…you’re a bad heartbreaker. And that’s what I don’t want my son – or anyone – to be.

So how do you break up the “right” way. There probably isn’t a complete right way to do it, but first I’d advise someone to do it when you know the relationship has run its course and not a minute later. Drawing it out just makes it worse – rip the Band-aid and get it over with. Secondly I’d advise breaking up in person. Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people cowardly break up over text, email or even social media. Unless you caught your man or woman butt naked in bed with your best friend or family member, they deserve that much respect and courtesy.

Lastly, be honest. Tell him or her the reason you feel the relationship isn’t working and that you want to end the relationship. Be calm, tactful and respectful, but be direct and stick to your guns so that they don’t get the idea that they can somehow change your mind or get you to stay. And don’t ask to be friends unless you really mean it. Even if YOU can be friends, the other person may not be ready to just be friends yet, so allow the other person to express their emotions without being defensive or dismissive. Listen to what they have to say, wish them well and don’t insult the person or get into an argument over the breakup. You want to leave the relationship with dignity just as much as you want to give the other person the dignity they deserve….even if you truly believe they don’t deserve it.

Heartbreak is never easy, but it can be manageable if done in a thoughtful way. If I can teach my son, who is gonna be a heartbreaker one day, how to do that, then that’s one hurdle out of many I’ll be glad I got over.

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