For the best advice on sex, love, dating and relationships we ask two experts with personal experience. Cathi Hanauer is the author, most recently, of Sweet Ruin, a novel about love, marriage, and adultery. Daniel Jones is the editor of both the "Modern Love" column for The New York Times, and Modern Love, an anthology derived from the column. They have been married for 15 years. Together they provide a his and hers take on relationship questions. This round: when's the best time to break up?
Question: My girlfriend of two years and I are traveling to South America this fall to attend her best childhood friend's wedding. We've been planning this trip for almost a year, including two extra weeks of trekking in the Andes with some friends afterwards. Here's the problem: Without going looking for anything, I met someone else, and I want (and need) to end my current relationship, even though it kills me to think of hurting my girlfriend. If it weren't for this upcoming trip, I would have already done it. Should I tell her what's going on before we go or after we get back? —R.S., Boston, Mass.
Dan: Tell her your feelings now—the sooner the better. If you've already sunk a lot of money into the trip and still hope to go trekking with her after the wedding "as friends" (yeah, right), you'll need some time to start pleading your case. If you're able to get her on board for the notion that it might be nice to have this trip together as a grand fade-out for your relationship, then you lucked out. (But be warned: It easily could turn into an awkward, conflict-ridden bitchfest.)
Why not postpone telling her until after the trip? What harm is a little extended ignorance? Simply put, any enjoyment she has on the trip will be undone once she realizes it was all a fraud. The gift of ignorance you gave her will be a hollow one, because she'll realize, after the fact, that every kindness you offered to her, every kiss, every hand held, every conversation, was a patronizing lie.