Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Be The Bastard: Zen & The Art of Breaking Up

I’m going to write a book with that title. You know how in sports they coach kids with that Zen-inspired saying “be the ball.” In other words, don’t think too much just be one with the game. I think when men and women are ready to go their separate ways they should be willing to be the bastard.

I reflect now upon my distant dating history. How many times did guys perform the “fade-away breakup maneuver.” You know the move when he starts canceling dates. Stops returning calls. And starts acting like you holding his hand in public or sending a thank you note to his mom for the birthday gift she sent you is a thinly veiled shot gun in his back to get him down the aisle. The next thing you know you haven’t been on a date in 2 weeks and he acts like you’re a telemarketer when you call him. It gradually dawns on you that you are single. You spend the next 6 weeks trying to figure out what you did to drive him away. You question your self worth, your identity, your femininity. Your rebound relationship dies out of the gate because you still haven’t found your balance. Eventually time heals you by fading your memory and getting you lonely enough (or maybe horny enough) that you just say “screw it” and move on.

Women do it too. Only the move is more psychological and it’s called the “are-you-breaking-up-with-me? breakup maneuver.” Remember this one fellas… You buy her flowers and she reminds you she has allergies (since when?), you take her out to dinner and ask the waitress for a clean fork because yours is dirty and your woman grills you “you think she’s pretty don’t you? Prettier than me?” You pour the wine for her and she makes a remark that implies that you think she’s weak. Later at her place you forget to use a coaster under your glass and she bursts into tears and whimpers “you’re breaking up with me aren’t you?” You deny it but she’s ready with a whole log book of “signals” you’ve been giving off. You deny everything, but that just pisses her off because you must think she’s stupid or something. Finally she kicks you out. You’re standing outside her door wondering what happened. You know you’re single but you’re just not sure who dumped who.

This is stupid, wasteful behavior people. The only reason we do this is so we don’t have to do the asshole thing and initiate the break up. We don’t want to hear the words, “you’re such a bastard!” Because we’d have to defend our egos by using the old “it’s not you it’s me,” line. And we all know how worn out that is. Just tell the truth. Don't think about it, just be one with the breakup...BE THE BASTARD.

“It not ME, it’s YOU. YOU are not the one for ME. End of story. I didn’t know that at the start of the relationship. But I know that now. I figured it out last week in fact but I hung in there for a few days just to be sure. I really don’t see this as long term relationship; so I’m cutting you loose. Sayonara, sister!”

Try to avoid giving an explanation if possible. Do NOT say it’s because you’re just not ready (even if that’s the truth) because that’s just saying “if you hang in there I may be ready someday.” Which isn’t really true. The truth is you will not be ready for her or him ever in this lifetime. You might be ready for the next cutie that comes along though.

If the reason is shallow and superficial don’t give any explanation. Don’t say it’s because he has a receding hairline or because he drives a crappy car. Don’t tell her it’s because she has voice like Fran Drescher or she can’t cook to save her life. No matter how much they beg for an explanation if it’s something personal that they can’t change don’t give it. You could do irreparable damage. Being the bastard doesn't mean you have be a sadistic prick.

If the reason is personal, like your career, or your religion, or the fact that you don’t think marriage is the natural state of the human animal, then by all means share. But don’t be lured into a philosophical debate on it.

If you’ve been in the relationship longer than six months you’re gonna have to come up with something good. If you’ve been going out longer than 2 years, have the paramedics on speed dial, just in case.

The object here is to give your ex something to focus their hate on without turning it into a self-destructive or stalker-retribution rage. Just enough spite to let her tell her friends what a bastard you are. Just enough disgust to let him gripe to his buddies what freakin’ shrew you were. Just enough to release those broken-heart-tears while keeping the rivers of regret that can drown a person dammed up. In other words, just be the bastard!

About ten years ago I dated this one guy for two months. He was all gung ho on the relationship. We had fun together. He was cool. It was moving fast but I knew he had issues with his career (he talked about it in his sleep) and he still wasn’t over his ex (he talked about her when he was awake). I liked him but I had to point these things out to him. He didn’t think it was problem so I said okay and we continued on. Three days later he broke up with me. He’d reflected on what I said and he realized he had a whole lot of issues to deal with. He was honest straight forward and actually a little humble about it. It still hurt me.

I went to lunch with a friend of mine and bitched and cried about it. My buddy made jokes and helped me laugh. It dawned on me that he was the first guy to really break up with me. No fade away. No picking fights. Just a straight breakup. I realized how cool it was that this guy respected me enough to be straight with me. I actually sent him a letter thanking him for the nicest break-up I ever had.

Now in all fairness it would have been harder if we’d been dating longer but the idea still stands. Just man-up and be the bastard. You’ll help her get over you that much faster. It might seem unkind and you’ll feel like a dirt bag, but it’s a kind of tough love. Women too. Just take the responsibility for it and cut him loose. Don’t try the “let’s just be friends” thing. That’s the female version of the “fade-away breakup maneuver.” Just be the bastard, ladies.

I really could write a book on this. When my kids start dating the first lesson I’m going to teach them is how to break up with someone. “Just be the bastard, honey," I'll tell 'em, "be the bastard.”


Dex2177 said...

You make a good point, and respectably balanced.

Now, as an aside, I guarauntee you that nearly any guy is going to get that wide-eyed wary but distant look in his eye like a spooked cat the first time he hears that you have been independantly corresponding with his mother, lol. When he says "Oh, so you've been talking to mother." in a slightly high off-tone with that look on his face like he just found out what he ate at the Vietnamese restaurant, you'll know why, lol. Every sane man fears the impications of the female conspiracy, especially when it is with his own mother, lol.

Girl With An Alibi said...

Yes, yes... I am VERY familiar with that look. You describe it perfectly!!! LOL. I get it everytime I say something like, "honey, you know your Mom had the same flu last month that you have. She had to go on antibotics for a week." It's like "I didn't even know she was sick, when did you talk to HER?"

Sara said...

men fear confrontation (namely with women) more than women do. that's why they fade away. but they also don't like losing or being rejected and their fragile male ego is afraid that you will agree and then it will almost be like they were being dumped.