Lets Break Up

Lets Break Up

The intensity and suffering exacted by a heartbreak depends not only on the core fact that we’ve been left; it also decisively depends on how we’ve been left. Our hurt can be hugely intensified when we’ve been left badly — just as it may be rendered a great deal more bearable when we are fortunate enough to have landed on a lover who has learnt the psychologically-rich art of mature break-ups.

There are certain things guaranteed to make a break up worse than it ever needs to be:

(i) Lingering:

All decisions around relationships should be taken with the awareness that life is desperately short for both parties. It therefore really shouldn’t matter if the holiday has already been booked or if preparations for our birthday are — awkwardly — well under way. As soon as the decision is taken, a courageous lover will not dither out of a misplaced desire not to upset pre-existing plans. They know they must leave. They are ruining things, of course, but they can see that the holiday or restaurant meal would in any case be doomed — and they are kind enough to know not to waste any more of our precious time.

(ii) Collateral Accusations

A wise departing lover knows not to accuse the other of more sins than they are guilty of. It is not, they know, our fault that their career is going wrong and we truly aren’t responsible for their insomnia or the conflicts with their brother. The wise lover keeps the list of accusations down to the specific problems that necessitated a break-up; they don’t use the parting as an occasion to rehearse all that happens to be a bit wrong with us — an inevitably far longer but irrelevant charge sheet

(iii) Deceptive Niceness

The most harmful lovers are those who labour under a misplaced impression that they need to be nice — even when they are firing us. But there is, in fact, no need for honeyed words, we simply require the basic information and then some privacy to put ourselves back together again. Indeed, ongoing niceness simply confuses us all the more. The tenderness makes us ache to restart the relationship, for there seems no reason why not, given how they are behaving.

(iv) Evasiveness

Clumsy lovers are so scared of the news they have to share with us, they cannot bear to come out with — and let it seep out in odd symptomatic ways. They start drinking too much, or come home very late, or advance odd-sounding theories about relationships. They hope — through their strange and harmful behaviour — to be fired rather than have to resign. In sly and unfair ways, they seek to push us to take the agonising next step.

On the other hand, there is so much that can spare us excessive pain at the end:

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