Everyone knows that you should break up with a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend in person, but what about ending something with someone you only see casually? After only a few dates (or a few weeks), do you still owe a person a face-to-face explanation? Do you tell them by phone or text? Or do you just sort of stop calling?

In a perfect world, where hurt feelings didn’t exist, it would be wonderful to be able to turn to someone you’re casually dating and evenly say: “Hey, I don’t think I want to do this anymore. Sorry!” with no consequences.

Unfortunately, people do get upset when someone breaks things off with them, which is why a brief text or a fade out is so appealing…we don’t have to see or deal with their hurt reaction. But sometimes a fade out just prolongs the agony for both you and the other person. After all, when a break-up comes suddenly, it’s easy for the injured party to convince themselves that you actually are “just really busy at work right now.”

So what’s the best way to cut things off?