The past several years, I have encountered all types in the dating world.  Here are the top 10 characters that I prefer to avoid:

1. Control Freaks
2. Narcissists
3. Problem Accumulators
4. Commitment Phobes
5. Players
6. Drama Queens
7. Socially Awkward
8. Emotionally Unavailable
9. Incredibly Insecure
10. Psychos

Not all these traits can be screened out right away, so as the saying goes, you may have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince or princess…

Luckily, I have met several perfectly decent guys, and sometimes there just isn’t enough chemistry or we ruled each other out as geographically inconvenient (which is why you can’t take things personally.)  As long as we all had fun while it lasted, were honest with one another and treated each other with respect, I’ve found it is possible to maintain friendships with past lovers, and yes sometimes these lines may blur, but always there is profound respect because we followed the Golden Rule.

Now we may all disagree about if/when you owe anyone an explanation, and what that needs to look like.  I’m a big fan of an in person discussion with someone that I’ve been seeing for at least 5 months.  That’s just my thing, but if you can’t do it in person, then pick up the phone– do not just send a text or email, a lot gets misconstrued when you cannot hear the tone in someone’s voice.  And for the love of God, just keeping it simple.  I stick to either: (1) this can’t continue any longer or (2) this isn’t working out.  If someone has follow up questions, I may try to be more specific, like “I want something more serious” or sometimes when it’s the opposite, “I don’t want something so intense right now.”  No matter what, there is no point in attacking someone’s character or re-hashing past arguments.  You can vent your disappointment to another buddy another day.  If you want to exit gracefully, you need to deliver the message and get the hell out or off the phone fast.

Some of you may be wondering why not go into details, and well let me ask you this- if you are dealing with a narcissist, do you really think that s/he is going to take kindly to the fact that you think they are totally self-absorbed?  Do you really think drama queen will keep it together if you tell them that you can’t take the emotional roller coaster ride any more?  I highly doubt a commitment phobe is going to be inspired to commit as I’m breaking up with him, and the only thing a control freak is going to want to do is try to re-assert control of the situation.  Do you get my drift?  Explanations with these folk is pointless, and in fact with those that have anger management issues you really have to think twice about the in-person good-bye because it may just not be safe.

I realize that closure conversations are hard, well except for me, I have to do them every day– literally, I am often the one sending the “Dear John” letter on behalf of my divorce clients, and many times I’ve had to plan the escape plans and draft the final good bye messages for spouses.  So maybe this helps you understand why for me it is difficult to comprehend how some people out there can just go radio silent.  The question I keep asking myself when I hear these stories of people going MIA is how would that person feel if roles were reversed?

For those that may feel inclined to go radio silent, I am going to take a wild stab in the dark here, but I’m going to guess that you hate conflict.  Those that want to avoid conflict are the ones that will want to just run away from a difficult conversation, but I have to ask you how do you think it is possible to get through life without learning to confront challenging situations?  Maybe the best way for you to see the problem with just walking out is to ask yourself this: how would you feel if someone treated your mom, sibling or child this way?

We all have very different emotional capacities, just as our IQs can vary greatly.  Some people truly lack emotional agility, so for those of you that may be struggling because someone just left you in the lurch, let me just assure you that the lack of a conversation isn’t a reflection on you, but rather on the other person.  S/he may really not be equipped to handle conflict and exit gracefully.  As one of my friends very nicely pointed out- which would you prefer silence or an out of control meltdown?  Having experienced both, I can honestly say that silence is hands down preferable to witnessing a terrifying emotional outburst.

The final point I want to make is that it is a small world, and here in DC it’s a very small town, so if you don’t behave with your dates, word will get out.  People talk, and they love gossip, so try your best to minimize feeding into that, and when in doubt just stick to the Golden Rule, or perhaps remember it this way: don’t do unto others what you would not like done to you.