Sunday, August 31, 2014

#385 Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

As Neil Sedaka sang in the 60s, breaking up is hard to do.  (Yes, I know who Neil Sedaka is and I do really like him.)  As I mentioned in my previous post, I have recently gone through this.  Let me give you my thoughts on breaking up in general. 

It’s not an easy thing to go through, whether you are the breaker or the breakee.  Personally, I would rather be the breakee because I don’t like to make anyone upset.  I would rather be upset than cause someone else to be upset.  But it does suck more to be the breakee. 

That being said, I feel that the best way to break up with someone is to talk to them about it.  Actually talk.  Not text.  Not email.  TALK.  Not only is it just more personal, sometimes the intent of what was typed is lost.  People interpret things differently.  There is no chance to stop someone and ask what they mean, to have that back-and-forth conversation. 

Whether you do this in person or over the phone is subject to the situation.  The long-distance relationship is a difficult beast.  If someone is coming to visit, do you want break up with them and then be really uncomfortable the rest of the time?  Do you fake it until the last day and then break up with them?  Yikes.  So depending on how long you’ve been together, I think that talking by phone can be acceptable. 

My one long-distance relationship ended with a phone call at 11:30 p.m.  We had dated around eight months and had known each other since college (we even dated briefly in college – his break-up then went well and we stayed friends).  This person knew I went to bed around 10 p.m.  Strike one:  he woke me up.  Then he told me it wasn’t working out and said, “It’s not you, it’s me.”  Strike two:  really??!!!  Did he just say that?  He ended the call telling me to sleep well.  Strike three:  thanks for that.  I’m out.  I was upset and livid at the same time.  Needless to say, I did not sleep well that night.  And I never spoke to him again. 

Let’s contrast that with another situation in which I had dated someone about six weeks.  He called and asked if he could come over to talk.  I thought something was up, but really didn’t expect to break up since things had been going well.  He talked to me about it and even though I was sad it ended, I wasn’t angry because he was upfront about it.  He then said he was surprised I hadn’t yelled at him, thrown something at him or hit him.  That was what he had been used to when breaking up with women.  This man had the balls to talk to me about it even though he was expecting physical violence.  What a guy!  The weirdest part of the night was that I offered him ice cream.  I’m not sure why, but we ended up sitting on the sofa with bowls of ice cream.  I’m sure he left thinking that was the strangest breakup he’d ever had.  We kept in touch a little and at one point one of us (I really don’t remember) suggested that if neither of us was married in five years, we should get married.  That date came and went almost three years ago.  I still think he’s a great guy with a huge heart.  See, that’s what can happen if you have a civil breakup.  I still smile when I think of him and he probably tells people about the one girl he broke up with who gave him ice cream. 

Now that we know the best way to break up with someone, what do you tell them?  The truth?  A variation of the truth?  Lie through your teeth?  I believe it’s always best to tell as much of the truth as you feel they need to know.  If it’s only been a few dates and they don’t kiss well or they have some weird hygienic habits, tell them you just don’t feel that certain “something” when you are with them.  It’s partly true but you spare their feelings.  If it’s been several weeks or months, and you are more invested in them, there must be something that makes you not be able to move forward with them.  Maybe you’re not on the same page with marriage, kids, sex, religion, etc.  In that case, honesty is the best policy.  Tell them your concerns and that you don’t think it will work in the long run.  Sounds simple, yes.  It’s always hard to put it into practice, but it’s the best way.  Odds are they will appreciate your honesty after some time has passed. 

What is the lesson here? If you break up with someone, they are going to be sad.  If you do it in a classy way, they will be more understanding and (hopefully) not be angry. 

I continue to learn from each of my relationships.  From my long-distance break up I learned to be careful when you tell someone you don’t want to be in touch with them anymore.  Sometimes you get what you ask for and you can’t take it back.  Although at that time I felt it was the best thing for my own self-preservation. 

From my most recent breakup I tried to tread a bit more carefully, but wish I had not fallen into the text/email trap.  As an update, Bachelor No. 1 did text me after reading about himself on my blog.  I should have texted him to call me if he wanted to talk about it, but I sent an email response expressing my disappointment in how he handled things.  His final response was that enough had been said.  Well, I guess that’s it then.  He got what he wanted in not having to actually face me.  As much as I wish things could have ended on better terms, the end result would be the same. 

I will take a moment to say that in the future I will wait at least a month to blog about someone with which I have had a relationship.  One-date-and-done is fair game for an immediate blog.  Knowing someone for several weeks/months warrants letting more time pass to reflect on everything.  I also regret that I called him a name.  That was very childish and I was trying to get back at him, since I figured he would read it.  I will keep my nicknames to myself from now on. 

I would also like to address my last post and the possible perception that I jump from guy to guy with no feelings.  First of all, this is the only time in my life when I have encountered this situation.  Second, just because I may switch gears to focus my attention on another man does not mean that I don’t still have feelings for the prior.  We only dated for two months but I was starting to fall for him and I do care about him as a person.  Even though I don’t agree with how he handled things, he is a good person.  And by no means do I expect perfection of anyone.  I am not perfect myself.  I am capable of forgiveness.  I don’t hold grudges.  Well, rarely.  (Just being honest.)  But I do believe I am capable of having a disagreement and leaving it in the past. 

If you remember anything, remember this:  in any situation (romantic or otherwise) it’s best to treat the other person as you would like to be treated.  The old Golden Rule has been around a long time for a reason.  Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  How would you feel if they did that to you?  Suck it up and treat them with the respect they deserve.  You both will sleep better. 


  1. The Ethan Hawke character nailed breakups in the pinball scene from Before Sunrise...

    "You know what's the worst thing about somebody breaking up with you? It's when you remember how little you thought about the people you broke up with and you realize that is how little they're thinking of you. You know, you'd like to think you're both in all this pain but they're just like "Hey, I'm glad you're gone".

    There is a very deep connection between post breakup reflection and the very human inability to understand what economists refer to as "sunk costs." Obsessing over what happened is mental quicksand.

  2. I totally agree. And very interesting you bring up Before Sunrise, as I just had my Ethan Hawke "marathon" the past few weeks of watching Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight. So good!