Nothing lasts forever, especially in matters of dating. But even though the song tells us “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” that’s not always the case. Sometimes, if we know exactly why it wasn’t working, breaking up is actually pretty damn easy to do. A relief, even.

So what would make us cut the romantic cord and not look back? A few things, though the official reason we give you might not be the real one. Look no further than a recent study conducted by the dating postmortem website Wot Went Wrong (and yes, the pseudo-British spelling of “what” really bothers me, too).

The site surveyed men and women (though I’m not entirely convinced of it’s scientific integrity), and found that one of the top 10 reasons that women offered for breaking up with a man – in a short term, 6 date maximum situation – was that he was “too tall.” Um, what? Ten percent of women also claimed that the men they were dating were “too high maintenance.” Again, WTF? Haven’t women called “shotgun” on the whole high maintenance thing? Who are these guys they’re dating anyway?

Furthering my contention that this survey was complete and utter bullshit is the fact that, in only slightly longer relationships (1-6 months), women cited the #1 reason for breaking up to be that their “dietary habits differed too much.” They also buried the “You don’t make enough money for the lifestyle I want to have” reason further down the chart, hovering only slightly above “lack of punctuality.” (cough*bullshit*cough)

So allow me to set the record straight, men. Even though we’ve talked deal breakers before, phase outs and even exit interviews, the only way to get an honest answer is to ask a woman who won’t sugarcoat them. Besides, people are notoriously inaccurate when self-reporting data. Sad but true.

I think the most important thing to lead off with is the distinction that women in a long term relationship, where we’re dating you for a significant amount of time (8 months – several years), really only end things for one of two reasons. *Cheesy disclaimer: Yes there are exceptions, but for the most part things funnel into one of two categories. So don’t kill the messenger.* Drum roll please…

Either there’s someone else, or we’ve realized that you’re not The One-slash-we clearly want different things. Sound oversimplified? Nope, it’s pretty accurate actually.

Women generally won’t end things in an otherwise good relationship unless they’ve fallen out of love with you (or into lust with someone else) or unless they’re convinced it won’t go anywhere in the long run. We don’t want to waste your time, or our own. Sometimes there are other life circumstances that might mistakenly make us think we’re not on the same page (i.e. a quarter life crisis or plain old timing), but for the most part, thems the breaks, boys.

Short term dating, however, is a very different story. Women will end things for much less profound reasons, and they’ll likely be less forthright with you about why to spare your feelings. Oh who am I kidding? To spare an awkward confrontation – a move we learned from you, I’m afraid.

Some of the primary reasons we’ll close up shop? Physical attraction, for starters. As in, “there was one initially, but it’s fizzled now and I don’t want to keep hooking up with you.” Or possibly that we’ve already hooked up with you, and it was so lackluster that we’re trying to avoid an encore. I know a man who believes that women should always tell guys outright if she’s just not into him physically, and I strongly disagree. While it would effectively clear up any ambiguity, it would also level someone to hear that. Who wants to be told that they’re not as attractive as they’d previously thought? OUCH.

We’ll also end things if you have annoying habits, like being stingy with money or rarely leaving your couch in your free time. Your friends and/or family could factor into our decision, in both short and long term set ups. Or if you work too much and we fear you don’t have room in your life for us. Scheduling can suck, after all.

Sometimes you bring out something about ourselves that upsets us, like criticizing our physiques, dieting or beauty habits (Think that stuff doesn’t mess with a girl’s head? Think again). Other times, I hate to admit it, but women really do like you for the wrong reasons – as in paycheck reasons – and they’ll flee if they don’t think you’ll provide them with a certain lifestyle, like the survey said. That one always sickens me, but it’s too prevalent to ignore, so there it is.

A huge reason for breaking up with a guy in a short term dating situation, and one that Miss Wingman can’t emphasize enough, is lack of self awareness. Allow me to repeat that for the cheap seats: Lack of self awareness. Have trouble picking up on social cues? Don’t realize when a woman’s not into you? Generally have zero concept of how people view you, or the image you put forth? This spells disaster, guys.

Why? Because it makes us view you as less than manly, even bordering on pathetic in some extreme cases. Self awareness is to a woman’s dating radar like a hot body is to a man’s. Even a woman with an underwhelming face can be viewed as highly dateable if she has an exceptional figure. And even a guy who looks more like Zach Galifianakis than Zac Efron can have his pick of women if he’s really self aware, I’ve seen it happen. (Because we’re better people than you shallow men are, obviously. Kidding). But the reverse is also true, so beware.

There are also a bevy of other reasons why women would pull the plug on a casual dating relationship, like if we think that you’re the wandering eye type (or if we suspect that you’re sleeping with other females). Or maybe if religion is an inflexible issue, or if people in our inner circle feel that you don’t bring out the best in us. Hell, even geography can be a sticking point. Not for us New Yorkers, but apparently you LA folks aren’t willing to brave gridlock for love (and understandably so).

So it’s a mixed bag, but one that we most likely won’t open up and let you peer into completely. Unless you send us a survey, of course. No matter what ultimately causes us to call Time of Death on our budding romance, once the headstone is in place, make sure you take that as your cue and walk away. That way you leave with your dignity – and your dating cred – intact.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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I think the Nazareth song said it best, “Love Hurts.” (Actually, the Everly Brothers said it better first, whatever). But the question remains, in the aftermath of a breakup, what is it that really hurts most – the rejection or not knowing why we were rejected?

I theorize that the only thing that sucks more than adjusting to someone leaving your life is wondering if something you did will prevent others from making a similar departure down the line. How are we supposed to learn from our mistakes if no one tells us what we’re doing wrong? Especially if people never tell you the real reason that they bailed.

Not to your face, at least.

But why, because it’s too awkward and mean? Because we’d rather do the phase out than turn it into a (cringe-worthy and awkward) teachable opportunity? We’re not doing ourselves any favors by skirting the full explanation, we’re just punting the problem to the next person we date.

Life would be a lot easier if we could, upon leaving a relationship, give the other person constructive criticism about what they did that may or may not have horribly repelled us. It’s not that far-fetched if you think about it. We publicly review everything from physicians to restaurants for the benefit of others. Hell, we even give our teachers evaluations and let our employers dissect us on the job. It’s all in the name of improvement, and it’s a damn good practice.

So if the person who cleans your teeth is subject to open review, why not the person who will (hopefully) go on to become someone else’s partner in life? If what we want are answers, then the stakes are never higher than in matters of the heart.

Granted, it would have to take place after some time has lapsed, so as to allow the post – relationship dust to settle properly. Also, it should be accompanied by savage amounts of alcohol to soften the blow. No one wants to hear that their performance in bed or penchant for country music was the catalyst for failure, after all.

But even though we all have different things that qualify as deal breakers, some issues are universal. It’s these sticking points that would be best to troubleshoot before they keep you from a lifetime of playing Solitaire and eating TV dinners all alone.

Ideally, what would be best is if we could do it in some anonymous mailbox, like how people delivered us Valentine’s Day cards in elementary school. Or even how we conduct professor evaluations in college: gather a room full of your exes, fill out the form without signing your name, and have a volunteer slide the envelope under your door when it’s done. Quick, efficient and to the point.

It could even be as clear-cut and simple as a Scantron form, I suppose. Although you can’t exactly have a “Fill in the bubble of the correct answer” multiple-choice section unless the choices were something like this: “Why did this relationship end?” (A) Because your jealousy was suffocating me (B) Because your mother is insufferable and I couldn’t marry into that for life (C) Because you were emotionally immature or (D) Because you never wanted to do what I wanted to do and sucked at compromising.

Actually, that could work, especially if the choices were more superficial, therefore easier to fix. What if it said, “What bugged you most about me? Circle all that apply: (A) You chewed your food so loudly it nauseated me (B) Your text messages looked like they were written by an illiterate 4th grader (C) Cheap isn’t hot, your frugality was a problem (D) Women like climaxing, probably work on that (E) I couldn’t spend another weekend with your awful friends or (F) All of the above.

Kidding. Having an “All of the above” would be cruel, obviously.

There would have to be some sort of essay section though, much like the SAT. It isn’t always cut and dry, sometimes we evolve into people who just don’t fit anymore. That requires some long-form thought, or at least an honest conversation.

The benefit of ever having this hypothetical knowledge would also help clear up any misconceptions about why you’re suddenly flying solo. For instance, if you thought she was bothered by your receding hairline (remember, just Bic it boys) but it was really that you were a bad kisser (tsk tsk, we’ve been over this) or had no ambition, this would be the type of intel that’s valuable to pass along.

Or it could just help you sort out the type of person you’re ultimately more compatible with in the long run. If you’re not glass half full, and your ex was practically Funshine Care Bear, the difference in outlook could’ve been grating over time. Better to find someone with an equally cynical sense of humor for your encore.

Whatever the reason, it speaks to our fear of confrontation that this type of exit interview would never actually take place in the real world. We’d much rather avoid telling someone the honest reason we fled than risk hurting their feelings. Ironic, since we’d readily offer the explanation to our friends if they asked. Funny how forthcoming we can be to others without feeling badly, but when it comes to the intended recipient we turn the lights off and pretend we’re not home…

In a perfect world, we’d all be self-aware enough to suss this out on our own. But that’s not where we live. Whether it was for the other person’s benefit or for our own learning curve, an exit interview should be mandatory – but I won’t hold my breath. It may be a mythical thing, but it would keep us from years of wondering what happened and afford us all a little more closure.

It’s too bad no sane person would ever actually implement such an experiment (not even me, and I have no filter). In the meantime, all we can hope for is that we learn from each relationship, apply the lessons for the future and be as honest as we possibly can about our reasons. And also, remember to bring a no. 2 pencil. You never know when you’re going to need it.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID


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They say the love between a mother and her child is like no other relationship on earth. Mothers love their children unconditionally (at least they’re supposed to, unless they’re the Jerry Springer kind), are invested in their success and in their eyes they can do no wrong. But what happens if that child is a grown-ass man? And what if that grown man is someone we may potentially end up dating? Well then, we weigh certain things in our decision.

What things, you ask? There are a variety of factors that would make mommy dearest be a point of contention in any hypothetical relationship, and they are the following:

If You Can Do No Wrong In Her Eyes - This one’s a pretty common one, and I dare say it’s the easiest one to deal with from the female perspective. If you were raised with your parents thinking that the sun literally rises and sets in your orbit (think Prince Akeem in “Coming To America”), then it would be no surprise if your mother thought that you were infallible. And, by extension, that we were always wrong.

We can accept the fact that we’ll never change her perspective, so long as you seem like the type of guy who will go to bat for us when and if need be. We aren’t looking to upset the familial apple cart, but playing the villain can and does get old. So long as we feel like you’re in our corner, we’ll be able to ride it out.

If No Woman Will Ever Be Good Enough For Her Son – I hate and I love this one at the same time, but it doesn’t make it any less of a sticking point. On the one hand, I think that if you’ve raised a quality man, then you should absolutely, 100% demand that he surround himself with a woman of equal caliber (I only have nephews, but I still fear for the women who one day try to date them). But, on the flip side, moms should also trust in the judgment they’ve instilled in their baby boys that the woman they choose is up to par.

Oh who am I kidding? You guys will date a sincerely awful woman if she’s hot enough, so perhaps your judgment – and it’s ability to be clouded – isn’t the best barometer. Either way, if we find a man who we think is a keeper, only to find out that his mother is going to nit pick and make our lives a living hell, this can be a huge deterrent.

But, it can also work in your favor when weeding out the bad eggs, because any woman that’s willing to go bat defending her feelings toward you knowing that she’s at a disadvantage with your mother is most likely of pure intentions. Either that or she has a death wish. Just make sure that the way she conducts herself with Ma Dukes is respectful, even if it’s not always reciprocated.

If Three’s a Crowd – No woman wants to spend her Friday nights on the couch with her Mother-in-law sitting between her and her husband. If she lives close enough to drop in on you unannounced, if she expects to spend an unnatural amount of time with you, or if she just plain doesn’t understand the concepts of privacy or personal space, this could spell disaster. It’s understandable that your mother might feel jilted if one day she’s no longer the main female in your life, but no guy wants to be C-blocked by his mom. If you feel like you’re nearing that territory, you might want to speak up.

If She’s Waited On You Hand and Foot Since Birth - OK, so I miiiiiight be talking to all the Italian moms out there with this one (but I say it with love, because my own little I-tal mom was full-service, too). But basically, if you’ve been raised with a woman making your bed, preparing you lavish feasts every night and cleaning up after you, there’s a good chance that you’re going to expect the same from any female in your life. This is just fine…if you marry a woman with a similar mentality (good luck with that).

In all honesty, I fit the bill on this one, I’ll admit it and take the anti-feminism flack. I would love to one day cook for my family every night and be the kind of domestic badass that my own mother was, because that’s how I was raised. And it would be for people that I love. I like the idea of taking care of a husband and family, but by choice – not because they’re physically incapable of doing their own laundry or boiling water. But I don’t expect the same commitment from 99% of other women out there, and you shouldn’t, either.

If She Knows No Boundaries - There are some moms who, no matter if their sons are 3 or 30, still feel like it’s completely acceptable to discuss wildly inappropriate topics with people other than blood relatives. Like, for instance, your digestive habits, how often you cried at Little League games, or how relieved she is that you finally have real women around, as opposed to the ones in the magazines once stuffed under your bed (“We were a little worried about him for a while there…”). Yeah, two words, guys: game killer. Discussing your junk in a public forum is only OK if your son is still in diapers, anything beyond that gets dicey for us.

In all honesty, I pay close attention to how a man treats his mother. It’s a huge indicator of his character. Women want you to be close with your mom, just not too close. (What’s too close? THIS. I am still shuddering). Also, I’ve had occasion to date outstanding guys with equally outstanding, lovely moms (lucky, I know), so perhaps my view is optimistic. I believe that I won the parental lottery, so if I meet a man who thinks otherwise, the buck will stop there. But I’m just as excited to meet someone else’s amazing family, too.

Women should look upon finding a guy that they want to get serious with as an opportunity to embrace and be embraced by another family, not as having to sacrifice time with their own. I know it’s idealistic, but it’s also what you make of it. Communication and respect are key. So long as both exist in abundance, we can look past each others’ shortcomings and work out anything. Well, almost anything. And if you still don’t believe me, go cry to mommy about it.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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