1. First, be young.
    Be young enough that you have not read many of the books or heard much of the music that people like you invariably like. Be young enough that you might show the number of people you have slept with on one hand.
  2. Be precocious. Be often told how old you seem for your age and also how young you look.
  3. Be almost pretty, like you might grow into some greater beauty any moment, even if you won't.
  4. Be sad enough that someone looking at you might confuse that darkness for depth.
  5. Choose a man sufficiently older than you that when you say the year you were born, he sighs like he can't believe it.
  6. It also helps if that man is well-read in a certain type of book, Nabokov or Salinger, so that he has ideas about girls like you.
    You can confirm and subvert these ideas in equal measure simply by being human.
  7. It also helps if the man is by nature romantic, or at the very least nostalgic.
  8. Let him teach you about your body. Let him teach you about the kinds of books and music a person like you might appreciate. Let him teach you how to light an oven and de-ice a windshield. Let him drive.
  9. When you tell him your secrets, make him cover his face with a pillow, so he can imagine but not see you cry.
  10. Write him poetry. Wear pretty things. Put your feet on him when you're cold. Be the first to say I love you. Hold his hand even when you're having sex. Make him feel safe.
  11. One day, in a moment of pure happiness, pull away from his embrace.
    It can be almost like a joke this first time. Feel free to laugh.
  12. Hold your breath when he asks you a simple question. Avert your gaze. Turn the television on.
  13. When you have sex, make your mind as blank as possible. Get very quiet afterwards. Insist that it was fine.
  14. Tell him nothing's wrong when you're crying.
    It helps if the tears come out of nowhere. It helps if he thought you were both having a good time.
  15. Come alive in social situations, kiss him in public, sit on his lap. Turn it off like a faucet as soon as you're alone.
  16. Stop laughing at his jokes. Let the sex dry up. Draw meaningless boundaries and make him stand on the other side. Insist on spending a few nights apart.
  17. Explain nothing. This is crucial. Give no reason for these changes, not to him and not to yourself.
  18. At the precise moment when your mutual unhappiness has reached the brim but before you stop loving each other, leave him. Leave him without tears or explanation.
    Leave lotion in his bathroom and tea in his kitchen and stray hairs under the bed and couch. Leave a sock. Leave the shirts you slept in that used to belong to him, that he will never wear again. Leave love letters. Leave the most of yourself that you can without leaving him anything to hold onto.
  19. After ten weeks of silence, or as long as it takes for him to start dating again, return to him. Cry. Repeat steps 9-19 until you both hate you.
  20. Never speak again.
    Eating a heart has cost. You will grow old. The girl you were will disappear like an expert diver, leaving no splash.