Steph & Dom solve your sex, love & life troubles: Can I dump my partner this close to Christmas?  

TV’s Steph and Dom Parker, 52 and 54, draw on their 21 years of marriage to solve your relationship problems… 

Q I’m 42 and have been dating my boyfriend for 18 months. It’s got quite serious, and he has asked me to come to his parents’ house for Boxing Day with his whole family. I haven’t met them yet, so it’s a big deal.

But for the past three or four months, I’ve been having doubts about the relationship. He is nice, treats me very well and has a good job. But something just isn’t sitting right with me. 

I keep hoping my feelings will change, and I feel terrible every time he tells me how much he loves me — I say it back, but I don’t really mean it.

So I’ve decided I need to end it. The question is do I do this before or after Christmas?

I don’t want to lead him on by meeting his family and hurt him even more. Is it selfish for me to tell him now and ruin Christmas for him? What if he buys me a big present, or an engagement ring? What should I do?

An anonymous reader asked for advice on dumping her boyfriend before Christmas (stock image)

Steph says: Hmmm. This is a tricky one. I am trying not to scold you, but I do think you’ve been naughty in leaving it so late.

You say you’ve been thinking about this for a while — I do wish you’d acted sooner. It is very close to Christmas now, and that’s why you’re in a panic.

I do understand that it can be incredibly painful to have found a good man who is the nicest guy, but not the guy.

It is soul-destroying to have to make that decision. And, for the record, many people don’t. There are scores of men and women who decide not to walk away from ‘good on paper’ and make a choice of convenience.

And, while there’s no shame in that, there’s no joy, either, so you should be proud of yourself for having the courage to wait it out for Mr Right.

But how to make space for him because, mark my words, he won’t come along if you’re with someone else.

You have three options. The first, you tell your boyfriend the relationship is over. The second, you fake it. And the third? You plant the seed of doubt. I don’t think you should opt for the first option with the dreaded words: ‘We need to talk.’ Everyone knows what that means, and there’s no need to be so melodramatic.

If you call it off out of the blue, it will hurt him deeply and that’s not terribly kind just before Christmas. And I do not think that is who you are.

Neither do I think you should fake it, not least because all that pretending would be exhausting and dreadful for everyone — not just you.

Parents are not stupid, especially when it comes to those who are close to their children. They will smell a rat, no matter how lovely you are to them, and that will make everyone uncomfortable.

Steph (pictured left) told the reader she has three options. The first, tell her boyfriend the relationship is over. The second, fake it. And the third? Plant the seed of doubt

Steph (pictured left) told the reader she has three options. The first, tell her boyfriend the relationship is over. The second, fake it. And the third? Plant the seed of doubt

Far better, I think, to find a third way. Over dinner this week, gently tell him you’re having a mild case of the collywobbles.

Tell him you’re anxious about meeting his parents and suggest you put it off for another time, say, Easter.

Tell him you would rather spend Boxing Day just the two of you. He may take you up on that, he may not, but it’s a way of gently introducing the fact that you’re not as keen as he might have hoped.

It should nip any thoughts of an engagement in the bud and spare him a rejected proposal, if that’s on the cards.

One final thing: please, do not apologise. The classic ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ is frankly an insult to both of you.

You should never apologise for not being in love. It’s not your fault, and I can tell from your letter that you wish you were.

This way will give you the chance to make space for the right person — gracefully, kindly and, above all, honestly.

Dom says: Well, first off, I’m terribly sorry to hear that things haven’t worked out as you both hoped they might. And well done for accepting you need to move on. When it’s time, it’s time, but it takes courage to admit it.

I have to say, I feel for your soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, too. Many years ago, I was invited to spend Christmas with my then-girlfriend. After driving for hours on Christmas Eve, I arrived at her flat, only to be dumped on the spot.

It was a very long and lonely drive back home — and not exactly a great Christmas.

Now, you might think this would mean I’d recommend you stay quiet and plaster a smile on your face until the New Year. But I don’t. Honesty is always, always the best policy. I’m 110 per cent sure of that.

Dom (pictured) urged the reader not to lie to her boyfriend and that honesty is always the best policy

Dom (pictured) urged the reader not to lie to her boyfriend and that honesty is always the best policy 

You don’t want to be a fake. You shouldn’t lie to him, and you shouldn’t do something that’s not working for you. If you went through with the charade, you would simply be making it worse for both of you. And his parents, too!

It’s the 16th today. If you do it now, he’s still got a week and a bit to get himself together — and to make other plans.

I’m sure Boxing Day isn’t the only Christmas date you have. Give him time now at least to arrange to see some friends over the season.

And it will give his parents some notice, too. I’m sure they will be making preparations to host you, and it’s far better they know sooner, rather than later. I’m sure they’ll think far more of you if you bite the bullet and are honest, rather than sitting there simpering, only to dump him on New Year’s Eve. Or, worse, during the festivities.

Let’s face it, at Christmas we often have too much to drink and are tired and fractious — we say things we don’t mean, and things we do.

It would be awful to have a huge row and ditch him on the actual day!

Unless you are an Oscar- winning actress, it’s highly likely it’ll all spill out over the second bottle. And then you’ll have ruined everyone’s Christmas: his, his parents’ and yours, too!

Far better to pull the plaster off and let everyone have a bit of time to regroup before the 25th.

Stop reading. Put the paper down and call him — now!