Auntie Dote is HBI's answer to the usual, treacly, self-help advice columnists.

Disclaimer: This isn't an advice website. Yet from time to time we receive email asking for the Heartlessly Bitchy point of view. If you need serious medication, therapy or professional help, seek elsewhere. However, if you still insist on soliciting OUR advice, just remember...


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Ask Auntie Dote
The Auntie Dote for what ails you...

Dear Auntie Dote

I'm about to break it off with a narcissistic emotional abuser and I'd like to give him an appropriate what-for. I've got a lot of good run of the mill burn material ('your dick is too small'), but on the more serious side, do I specifically point out the abuse or do I assume he's already well aware? There aren't many resources which discuss etiquette when breaking up with these types, and I am loathe to think he'll do this to another girl.

Thanks, Chelle.

Dear Chelle,

Your letter has been in my "to do" file for quite awhile, so I'm sure you've already broken up with this dude by now. Still, you raise a worthwhile topic that I think merits Bitchwide attention. To wit: Breakup Etiquette.

First: Give up on the notion that you can prevent another woman from meeting your fate. You can no more "fix" a guy by breaking up with him than you could by dating him.

Second: You are breaking up with this particular guy because he's a narcissist and a manipulator. That's how he gets his ego enrichment. The less drama you feed his ego, the hungrier it gets. The smartest thing you can do (and the most painful to him, if that's your goal) is to interrupt the feeding cycle, and just walk away, without offering any explanation whatsoever. He doesn't care about you, anyway, just the ego boost he gets from your attention. It could be rough on you to have that realization brought home one last time when he doesn't chase after you. So be prepared. He's not The One. Go home, have a hot bath or hot toddy or whatever makes you feel better, and move on.

Now to the question of etiquette. Is there a point in telling someone what for? I think the answer is yes, there can be. If it's going to help YOU to have your say, then by all means. It should feel damn good to get that off your chest. But do it for yourself, not for him.

That said, I don't see what good it does *you* to tell him how small his dick is. Surely if he has a small dick, he's aware of it by now. Some guys with small dicks may make fantastic boyfriends (hey, I'm just saying it's possible!). With someone who's truly a manipulative asshole, you can't "burn" him; he's insulated. Remember not to waste your energy on unproductive gestures, a break up is not a tutorial.

If you find yourself tempted to gratuitously point out someone's shortcomings to them, what does this tell YOU about your relationship? Certainly, that YOU don't love HIM (or her) anymore, and it's time to break up. It would be better to be respectful and honest about that with your partner, rather than trying to "burn" them. That is usually the only way people learn anything.

What's the worst thing you've ever said to someone? In my case, I once told a boyfriend on Valentine's Day that he was a terrible dancer. We were trying to dance to Marvin Gaye, and while I was moving to a slow groove, he was trying to lead us in a jaunty two-step. As the battle of the wills wore on, the words just came out: "You're a terrible dancer!" After I said them, it dawned on me: this relationship is over. I don't love him anymore. That is, admittedly, a horrible thing to say to anyone. But something in me (probably my sex drive) viscerally rebelled at the notion that he could interpret a Marvin Gaye tune so differently from the way I did, and that he was so recalcitrant about communicating tempo nonverbally. It seems like an insignificant detail, in itself, but it was diagnostic of what was going on in our relationship. He was out of the sync with the music (to my mind) and out of sync with me.

Do I regret saying those horrible words to him? In a way, I do. They were brutish. But they told the truth about my own feelings. I had to admit them to myself in order to realize that it was time for me to break up with him.

So, Chelle, you are not happy with this guy sexually, I take it? (chuckle) Well I hope you moved on long ago...


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