Monday, April 16, 2012

I Can't Hear You...We're Breaking Up (Part One)

As someone who’s survived a breakup at least a dozen times (split about 50/50 in terms of dumper/dumpee role, so I’d say I’m a minor expert on both), I can say that most of the time, it sucks no matter which side of the break you’re on.

I could talk all day about how much it sucks to get dumped, and I don’t think there’s a soul out there who would disagree with me.  Sometimes it hurts so very much that it can be hard to acknowledge that the process is hard for person initiating the breakup, too.

Especially if it happens like this…

(the famous Sex and the City post-it breakup)

It absolutely SUCKS to break up with someone (unless it’s because you find him pinching his mother’s nipples in the kitchen, and then he justifies it by saying “Mama likes to have fun,too”…but I digress). I learned that in the not too distant past, and it was a tough, tough lesson. I finally had the courage to end a relationship with a great guy who “wasn’t the one,” and it was brutal – for both of us. I think I cried for 24 hours straight, before and after. I didn’t think I could do it in person, but I felt like I owed him at least that much. My therapist, however, said one of the best things anyone has said to me in my life.

“It is going to suck no matter how you do it,
and no matter when you do it.”

And she was right.

Breakups are shitty no matter how you go about it (well, maybe you don’t need to do it on a post-it note, or at a party in front of your closest friends in a crowded room while screaming and stroking another girl’s hair…but I digress). The important part is that you do it and are clear about meaning it.

I learned, the hard way, that staying with someone you don’t really love is selfish – NOT selfless. I was staying with him because I didn’t want to hurt him. Meanwhile, he was being lied to every time I smiled, held his hand, slept with him, or told him I loved him. I was also taking up his valuable time – time he could’ve been spending finding someone who actually appreciated what he had to offer. That someone just wasn’t me (no matter how much I tried or wished it were).

So, I did it over the phone. And it was every bit as rough as you imagine it might be. He didn’t see it coming, and didn’t believe me at first, but I had to be persistent. Repeating yourself over and over again, knowing that each time you do, you’re leaving a scar (that will, by the way, heal one day) on someone you care about is a form of torture that I suppose governments haven’t yet explored, but I assure you, it is almost unbearable.

Did he deserve a face-to-face break up at the end of what was a serious relationship? I think a lot of people would say so, and I don’t know that I even disagree with them. But I know that, for better or worse, I just couldn’t make it happen in person. Maybe I’m a coward sometimes, and I’m kind of okay with that, too, because in the end, he was free to go find happiness, and so was I.

Is it shitty to break up with someone over the phone or email instead of in person? Maybe. Probably. Is it shittier to stay in a relationship in which you are unhappy and the other person is being denied the opportunity to find love? Absolutely.

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