"I value your friendship too much"
This invokes the paradox of liking someone to such a degree that you're compelled to stop having sex with them, thus preserving your long-term bond.
Pros: Flattery and bamboozlement will get you everywhere when you're chucking someone.
Cons: You will actually have to stay friends with them after breaking up, which is really boring.
"It's me or the X"
This is when you give someone an impossible ultimatum involving you and the thing dearest to them in the world. As in: "It's me or the chinchilla".
Pros: It's dramatic and puts the ball in their court.
Cons: If they really, really like you, a chinchilla may be evicted through no fault of its own.
"We've grown apart"
A polite way of saying that recent successes (e.g. getting a job promotion or gaining a six-pack) mean you can now punch at a higher weight of woman, and don't want to go out with someone who has been cleaning out the bins at Greggs for the past five years.
Pros: Diplomatic - lays culpability with the passage of time, rather than any individual.
Cons: If she really does clean bins at Greggs, she may feel she has nothing left to lose and react violently, such as by shoving a piping hot Steak Bake down your throat.
"If you love someone, set them free"
I've heard this phrase bandied about. I'm not sure exactly what it means but it's worth a try.
Pros: Poetic, noble.
Cons: I think it might be the title of a song by Sting.
"I can't afford you"
Flash dinners, cinema tickets, three compulsory presents a year, regularly overstepping your inclusive minutes… explain that you don't have enough money to continue the relationship because of the credit crunch and stuff.
Pros: If she is really desperate to keep it going, she may give you money.
Cons: You may have to quit your job and go on the dole to make the excuse plausible.
"You have become like a brother/sister/parent"
Stepping it up a notch from the friendship excuse (above), this is where you explain that your relationship has moved into a deeper, more meaningful realm that is not compatible with continued lovemaking.
Pros: It's nice to gain an extra family member.
Cons: Undeniably creepy.
"You don't understand me"
All complex men have idiosyncrasies, such as demanding HP sauce in French restaurants or quoting Jeremy Clarkson car reviews during sex. But some girls will just moan about it.
Pros: A handy way of deflecting your flaws onto your partner.
Cons: If you're not a complex man, this won't work.
"We're too different"
There are countless examples you can use of this, like her politics are too conservative or she doesn't have an iPhone.
Pros: If you come up with enough good examples, she'll probably agree with you by the end.
Cons: She might break into song, specifically 'Opposites Attract' by Paula Abdul. Then you're screwed.
This can refer to someone's personality or integrity but is more likely a reference to their weight or sexual laziness.
Pros: You're entitled to dump someone if they're not the same person you originally agreed to go out with.
Cons: If asked to give examples, you are under no circumstances allowed to mention weight and may have to make something else up.
"I wish I'd met you in five years"
This is a lovely little piece of illogic where everything about the relationship is perfect, except the timing.
Pros: No one is to blame, apart from stupid scientists for not conquering time travel yet.
Cons: She may dedicate the rest of her life to building a time machine so that she can be transported half a decade into the future and marry you. But she will lack the technical knowhow and it will be a massive waste of time. Or worse still, she actually manages it — but you then come up with a different excuse.
Next week: The real reasons guys split up with girls
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