Breakups are tough. Whether you’re the breaker or the breakee, each comes with its own different set of hurdles to jump, and none of them are easy. But often they are necessary. To quote the glimmering Nordic poet-goddesses of ABBA, “Breaking up is never easy, I know, but I have to go.” The Swedes have always been years ahead of us on the subject of love.
Even the most powerful and all-conquering love eventually meets its Waterloo, and it’s the tact or crassness of this parting of ways that can set us apart from the animals. Except the North African Divorcing Bird, which has evolved the process of separation into its natural behaviour so seamlessly, the male and females of the species have totally disparate migratory patterns and alternate caring for their young.
Our conduct during these emotionally charged times, when we are essentially at our worst, defines who we are and can bring out the true character in someone we thought we knew everything about. Civility is what’s called for, but acrimony is the name of the game.
Processes which should be practical and simple, such as the division of shared possessions, become minefields of repressed feelings. Questions about who gets to keep the computer and who the sex hammock, which should be easily answered with a blacklight and a quick appraisal of whose fluids cover more surface area, become protracted arguments about entitlement and guilt, and end up having little or nothing to do with bodily fluids at all.
It’s not impossible to remain classy in the face of this devastation, though. In fact, it can be fairly easy to come out of the whole experience looking diplomatic and sympathetic just by handling a few key issues with aplomb.
The actual moment of breakup, for example. It can be messy and explosive, so it’s ideal to have it take place in a public setting. This may temper the reaction of your partner. But, more importantly, relationships are a constant struggle for superiority, a winner takes it all campaign, and this is the end game. A public meltdown from your partner could be just what you need to seal the coup. A scalding cup of coffee to the face or a fork to your neck can turn you into a relationship martyr, allowing you to rise up again more powerful than ever before, like Gandalf did in the Bible.
Late night, drunken texts and Facebook messages must be operatic, both in tone and breadth. Create a sense of dramatic urgency by quickly and without consistency alternating between anguish, haughtiness, anger, and pleas for forgiveness. You’re only going to get one or two chances before accounts get blocked and numbers get changed, so make this your Carmen. Remember, though, it’s the words on the screen that count, not the context in which they were written, so no one needs to know that you composed them while prostrate in the empty bathtub sobbing into a pot of cold Hamburger Helper.
When you inevitably run into your ex here and there after the split, there is no need to puff yourself up and brag about how much better your life is without them and how many times you’ve banged the manager at your new job at Burger King. Your contentedness will project outward and there will be no mistaking it. Then quickly run outside the supermarket before they hit the checkout and take a dump on the hood of their car.
The most important thing of all is that you truly move on. That you realize this is the natural course of things, and there is nothing to be gained from fighting it. A relationship is a lot like one of those South American caterpillars: it’s fuzzy and adorable in the beginning, then morphs into a beautiful and majestic butterfly that’s dazzling to behold, and then burrows into someone’s brain through their ear while they sleep and causes massive, fatal hemorrhaging. You will never be happy again if you dwell on it. You will only be able to love again when you can finally let go.
Oh, and fuck you, Shelly, that cat is as much mine as yours. I saw through Terry’s Facebook those pictures you posted with him and some dude?? I’m getting him back if I have to break into your apartment and take him. I know where you moved to.
Photo by bored-now via Flickr