Save It, Sweetheart
Updated: Jun 7
The most inaccurate term of our times is “a mutual breakup”.There is nothing mutual about a break-up. Never in the history of relationships have two people spontaneously realised that they want out and expressed it at the exact same moment. No, it’s always one person who suggests it and then, the other one, sometimes with a simple shrug, at other times with a lot of waterworks, accepts the suggestion. Sometimes, of course, one person suggests breaking up, the other person suggests sticking on and the process goes on for a few years till it ends in divorce or murder.
But that’s the exception.
Invariably though, one of the two gets more hurt in the process. They may not acknowledge it, may not express it at all and everybody involved can happily carry on pretending that the break-up’s been all peaceful. But it never is. The person who’s more hurt is also usually (not always) the person who takes longer to get over their partner and the relationship.
Which is all fair and unavoidable and a fact of life et cetera.
What pisses me off are the sanctimonious sympathy coupons the dumper feels obliged to hand out to the dumpee.
Say a guy and a girl break-up. The guy is trying to be all manly and not cry while at the same time conveying in a million ways that he’s one big hurt puppy. The girl’s feeling awkward and ashamed. So far so good. A few days, weeks, months down the line, the girl has found someone else. The guy, not so much. He’s not about to slit his wrists or anything, he’s just taking his time. News and views of his former girlfriend and her current boyfriend are something that he can do without, but if forced at gunpoint to endure it, it’s only slightly painful. In other words, he’s doing okay. The girl is still feeling a little guilty perhaps. So she makes it a point to call him. To check on him, see if he’s okay. Because, you know, she still cares about him, about how he’s doing.
I have a question for guys and girls who do this: what THE FUCK is wrong with you?
Just let the poor schmuck get on with his life, would you? Your concern only messes up his mind. Oh crap, he thinks, she still loves me. Then why won’t she be with me? Yes, why won’t you, love? Oh, that’s right – you just care about him, not so much love him or anything, right? Yes, well, he doesn’t know that and you calling him and expressing your concern about his life, his career, the women he meets isn’t helping him at all.
And you know that, dontcha? Because you’re not doing this for him. You’re doing this to a) relieve a little bit of the guilt you’re carrying around and b) get an ego boost by talking to someone who’s still hung up over you.
Which makes you an emotional parasite, by the way, not the goody two-shoes you imagine you are.
So boys and girls, who’ve walked out of a relationship for one reason or the other: save your fucking sympathy for beggars, stray dogs and people who’ve never read Terry Pratchett. Delete your ex’s number from your phone, their emails from your inbox and their faces from your social circle. And if running into them on a daily basis is absolutely unavoidable, say nothing more personal than “Hi, what’s up?”
No “I worry about you”. No “I just hope you’re okay.” No “I’m only asking because I care”. And definitely not “Please take care of yourself.”
He’s not three. He’ll do that anyway. And with no more mixed signals from you, he’ll probably speed up the process of evolving from a messy splash of roadkill to the regular, gloriously dysfunctional human being he was before.
Or so we hope.
PS: The opposite holds true too, of course – guys dumping women and so on. But I thought that’d be too much of a cliche, no?