What we were we discussing again?
Oh yes, ending relationships and guilt.
Of course every situation is unique.
If you believe the above, go directly to your nearest newsstand and pick up the latest copy of O magazine.
Now given my wealth of experience and insight into the human condition there are a number of answers here.
Let's start with the ideal.
"All things find their end in their beginning."
The best way to end a relationship and mitigate the guilt starts with its beginning.
All endings are painful. They just are. But the pain of guilt has a particular quality and can stem from many missteps taken, but essentially, guilt is the pain of feeling improperly indebted to someone.
We are always in the other's debt. From them we find our very selves. In light of the other, we are. This debt, this gift can never be repaid. Thank God. For no gift should be repaid. It is pride that drives us to not want to be forever indebted to the other.
Someone once said of true gifts: they are what we can never offer ourselves, didn't want, and can never return.
So it is in our relationships with others. Relationships obviously cannot be had alone. We are not individuals. Rarely do relationships give us what we wanted for better and worse. They break our own feeble attempts to project our fantasy onto reality. They show us for who we are in all our grace and falleness. And we can never return them. For all the infantile, ritualistic attempts to cut off the other, the relationship, forever that person will have changed us forever.
This is structure of all relationships.
Sometimes out of nowhere, where we least expected it a person enters our lives and changes us immediately. No matter how much we were not looking for anything or even wanted it, we suddenly are caught up with another. Understanding the structure of the gift of a relationship that radical debt we will always carry will help to understand how to begin, and in beginning, how end the relationship without twisting that wonderful debt into the pain of guilt and free us to feel the pain love and grief.
In short we must accept: we will always owe the other something we cannot repay.
How to avoid have that feeling of indebtedness turn into guilt?