A number of years ago my friend met a great guy. He did all the right things to secure her affection and plan their future together. They’d met while she was out of town and began a long distance relationship in earnest. He was talking about relocating to be with her. Everything seemed to be going well. Then, it happened.

Unexpectedly and without warning, he blew it. On one particular visit he insisted on a “special dinner.” She figured this might be a significant event as he’d been speaking of marriage.The restaurant was elegant and upscale. To top off their romantic meal he ordered a fancy desert for the two of them. “Here it comes,” she thought, “a ring and the proposal.” Her mind raced with excitement. Upon finishing the last morsel of his desert, he busted his move. He raised the plate to his face and languidly licked the last of its remains.

My friend’s ardor for this man morphed to shock and disgust. In that singular moment every fiber of attraction was ripped from her body. Though the minutes continued forward, her mind was frozen on the visual image that’d caused her dreams to shatter and extinguish her passion. Fortunately, there was no proposal that night. She found herself making work related excuses that necessitated him having to leave town earlier than planned. She said goodbye at the airport and wondered what she’d ever seen in him.

Social etiquette has relaxed greatly over the years. Most of us know the rules of comportment but prefer to soften the edges a bit in preference of “being ourselves.” Still, there’s merit in keeping some semblance of correct behavior in public as well as in private. In the grand scope of relationship deal-breakers a dining ‘faux pas’ may seem slight. Yet, this small error can greatly affect a woman’s image of a man’s worth. I know. I recently experienced this, myself.

I received a phone call from a business associate I’d met several years earlier. My remembrance of him was that of a kind, polite and respectful gentleman. I doubt I’d said more than 50 words to him in my entire life, which for a woman is less that one breath. He asked me if my work ever brought me to the West coast. Oddly, I was scheduled to be in his city the following week. He suggested we meet up for dinner and “talk shop.” Why not? It’s just one meal, right?

The night of our dinner meeting revealed the true weight of this fragmented alliance. There was no connection to be found, even from a business standpoint. I struggled desperately to find the other 50 words I needed to urge the time forward as I shifted from topic to topic. Finally, I came to a hard-earned pause born of utter exhaustion.That was the moment he shoveled pasta onto his fork with his hands. Not once, but several times he repeated this behavior. Sucking the juices from each finger with delight, my repulsion grew in the realization we’d just begun the appetizers.

Like my friend, I felt a jolt of disgust. The petty crimes of ill breeding speak volumes about a person. The off-duty slob who’d hijacked my colleague’s body killed any respect I’d had for this businessman. But was that the case? Perhaps what I saw that night was the real guy who only wore the costume of a “polite professional man.”

For those of us who don’t subscribe to pretense, there’s line we draw between being too rigid and too relaxed. The goal of being ourselves isn’t found designing a false front contrived for social acceptance. It’s found in the relaxed manner of knowing how and when to step away from the “formula of presentation” in the desire to express that, which is real and true about us. To do so with a sense of style is to be grounded in the knowledge that we can play with life and play with its rules. The only time to alter a known and workable formula is when we have a better version to present.

Looking for the perfect way to end a relationship? Here’s a formula guaranteed to allow for a quick exit without bitter commentary. You don’t need to go through the torment of “talking about it.” You don’t have to resort to a messy affair. Just use these two tricks to effectively kill-off your partner’s love: lick your plate and shovel food with your hands. For added effect, you may also lick your fingers for bonus points.

I urge you to use these tricks with caution. Once you’ve licked your plate and shoveled food with your fingers, there’s no turning back. The effect is final and full proof. You’ll be “officially single” in a matter of minutes. You needn’t worry about your ex being a crazy stalker. They’ll do everything in their power to never be on the same continent as you.

Knowing you’re free of your burdensome partner, enjoy your meal! Lick your plate with bravado. Shovel food with your hands and lick your fingers with enthusiasm. You’ve just learned the secret to eliminating an unwanted affair and have effortlessly conquered what few are able to accomplish, with ease.