Monday, February 13, 2012

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Last week we attended a birthday dinner for the adorable husband of one of my sassy gal pals. As we were getting settled in our seats, the hostess caught up with one of the guests, a friendly Canadian chap, seated next to me. 
" So how's work going? How's your love life?"
"Well..." he began with sigh, "I called my ex today."
I had a mouthful of fondue and could only shake my head vehemently in protest. He looked surprised at my interest. Mind you, we had only been introduced five minutes prior.
Once I could speak clearly without a mouthful of cheese, I said, "Don't do that. You're not being helpful to either of you."
He was slightly taken aback, but something flickered in the back of his brain," F*ck, I think she's right."
The hostess interjected,"She's going to be a lot tougher on you than I will be, but I'd listen."
"When did you break up?" I asked.
"Ten days ago."
"Are you in love with her? Do you want to get back together?"
"That's a no. So why are you calling?"
He shook his head.
"Give me your cell phone and I will delete the number for you. You can end this right now."

Occasionally readers have the nerve/balls to ask: What makes you such an authority, Miss O? I tell them the same thing I tell girlfriends who say: You're so lucky, you found a nice Honey. Your life must be swell.

I put in the time, People. I have gone on dates with a dazzling array of jokers. I have heard every shitty, cowardly line that the male mind can invent. I have witnessed shocking, egregious behavior in the dating arena toward myself and my friends, male and female. Also, plain-old, crappy, disrespectful, douchey behavior. I have comforted girlfriends who suspected that their boyfriend was g-a-y.  I have a buddy who has been fending off a stalker for almost two years. I have listened to pals who were betrayed and went back in for more abuse because they were "in love" or didn't think they could do any better. I know about disappointment and heartbreak and loneliness.
I have been stood up, dumped on my ass, lied to, cheated on. I have been hit on by my friends' husbands. I have had my hottest male friends confess that their wives are not attracted to them.  I have had wives tell me that they haven't been intimate with their husbands in months. I have been propositioned by couples to join them in a threesome to renew the spark in their sex lives. I have seen marriages that I thought were perfect dissolve into sadness and divorce.
I know a woman whose new husband was sexting someone else during their honeymoon. I have a friend who was walking down the aisle, faking a smile, all the while thinking "No, no, no, I don't want to go through with this!" They divorced six months later. I know a woman whose husband cheated on her, and ultimately left her, while she was eight-months pregnant. I have a pal whose girlfriend lied about taking the Pill so she could get pregnant and force his hand at marriage. They, too, are divorced.
I have also met great guys who weren't a match for me, and we were able to transform the story into real friendships. I have introduced friends who fell in love and got married. I have seen couples that seemed improbable on paper blossom into wonderful relationships and marriages. I have been a first-hand witness to love at first sight and marriages of 15-plus years that are going strong. I have seen amicable separations and divorces. I have seen friends survive crushing heartbreak and move on to find real love. Despite all the ways that people can hurt each other, Miss O remains an optimist when it comes to love.
I would never call myself a dating expert, nor do I aspire to that dubious title, but I have been around for several lifetimes, Darlings, and I've been taking notes.
My friends know that I am a good listener, sympathetic, that I will comfort a sad soul at any hour, but that I am also obligated to tell it like I see it. Darlings, this is not because I have all the answers, but because I am a good mirror, albeit one that shows you the uncomfortable things you might rather avoid acknowledging.
Lately I have been making women cry. Three young women in particular. They each chose to confide in me, and after listening, taking notes, and asking pertinent questions, I had to give them the bad news: that their relationships did not have a future.
One of them has been in limbo for months, her mate has been less and less available (but not clear about the status of their relationship) and doubt has become her constant companion. I simply told her: this is not your guy. But he loves me, she protested. Come to find out that her guy already has a new girlfriend and is moving on without a backwards glance. She is, naturally, devastated, and can't believe that she will ever find love again.
The second has been in a long-term relationship of 2+years. She and her boyfriend fight all the time, they have no intimate life, and her family is concerned for her safety. When I asked her if she was happy, in love, she said no. When I asked her why she was staying with him, she said she was afraid of finding herself alone.
The third has been with her boyfriend for 4 years. She is a beautiful, vibrant young woman and her partner is twice her age. She has been troubled lately and when I inquired if everything was alright, she shared that her boyfriend won't touch her. I asked if this was a new development, a phase, something they could talk through. It's been the status quo for three years. Do you feel like something is missing in your relationship? I asked. Yes, of course, but I don't know how to get out of it.
And this, Darlings, is where I am asking you to find strength and courage to take charge of your lives. It's not easy to end a relationship but staying in a toxic situation because you don't want to be alone is not a solution. It is a recipe for disaster and depression. Refusing to see the truth about someone will only bring you heartbreak in the long run. Settling for less than you deserve, less than you need, because you don't know how to extract yourself will only bring resentment and hostility. 
It's ok to be alone, Darlings. It's ok to be single. In fact, it can be very good for you. It can make you stronger.
Being on the receiving end of a break-up is not easy. Who likes to feel rejected? With time and experience, I have come to realize that the guys who broke up with me did me a huge favor, and in some cases helped me dodge a bullet. I was involved with a decent guy who on our second date asked: what are you doing with me? I thought he was being cute, self-deprecating. I should have listened. As the weeks progressed, I heard a little voice asking me: why are you dumbing it down when you're with your boyfriend? I ignored it. When he finally broke up with me, I tried to talk him into staying together, I tried to persuade him how terrific I was. Luckily he had the balls to stay his course. A few months later, it suddenly dawned on me that we were not a match, never had been, and he simply realized it before I did.
Sometimes it is easier to move on, to recover if your mate is a total douchebag. I had an ex explain to me in graphic terms what his sexual needs and preferences were (fear not, there will be a whole post dedicated to this episode) and I was easily able to conclude that we were not compatible, and I breezed the f*ck out of that sh*tshow. 
We have already discussed that men seldom want to be the bad guy and therefore can keep you in limbo, or rather purgatory, for a story that has no future. You must be courageous. You must not settle.  You can and will survive a break-up
Darlings, I beg of you, do not stay in a relationship for the wrong reasons or because of fear. It is always better to be alone than in bad company.
As we count down the Season of the Douche, I leave you with a quote brought to me by my dear friend, SW.
“... while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.”
- Nikki Giovanni

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you! I think you need to be a realist AND an optimist. Be realistic about the relationship you're in and don't be afraid to ditch it if it's crap, but be optimistic that one day you really will find what you're looking for. In fact, the two are very related - it's hard to break up with someone if you're not optimistic that you'll find someone else, but you won't find the "right one" if you're sticking around in a crap relationship!

    (I know I already posted this on FB but wanted to test your blog commenting as requested :) )