IT’S CALLED A BREAKUP BECAUSE IT’S BROKEN
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAHHHHHHH! F*#k, it hurts. It’s rocking the very core of your being. You never saw it coming. You knew this was going to happen. You were going to do it ﬁrst. You only broke it off with him before he broke it off with you. You guys were supposed to be together forever. You never liked him that much anyway. He was such a great kisser. The sex wasn’t that great. You really liked his family. He hated your friends. You hated his shoes. You miss him soooooo much. There’s no doubt about it–breakups suck. And now here you are holding this stupid “Breakup Book” because, quite honestly, you’d do anything not to feel like this and maybe this book will shed some light on what you’re going through. Maybe you’ll get some sleep tonight. Or stop sleeping all the time.
In these ﬁrst few hours or days or weeks of your breakup, there’s one all-important truth that you need to recognize: Some things can’t and shouldn’t be ﬁxed, especially that loser who dumped you or forced you to dump him. It’s over for a reason, and even if you’re in denial about it, deep down inside you probably know what that reason is. Even if you feel bafﬂed by his decision to end it, it boils down to the same thing every time: Your relationship, despite its promise, has ceased to be right for one or both of you. It is, in effect, broken. That doesn’t make the breakup any easier to handle or change the overwhelming nature of the sadness that you feel. But that sadness, in turn, doesn’t make it less broken. If you’ve reached this point, where one or both of you feel that walking away is the best course of action, the cracks are there. And starting today, you’re not the kind of woman who settles for broken or hangs on to damaged goods, be it a radio, a pair of shoes, or a relationship. Your life is not a yard sale. It’s time to get rid of all the broken stuff that you’ve been lugging around for days, months, and maybe even years, and make the bold decision to start looking for stuff that works. The bright, clean, simple, easy, runs-so-smoothly-I-don’t-even-have-to-think-about-it kind of works. Being the ﬁrst one to recognize that a relationship isn’t a match doesn’t win you any great prize–just the guilt of having to hurt someone’s feelings. So even though you are clearly wounded, getting out of this broken relationship is the best thing possible, even if you didn’t know it was broken until now.
“But some things can
be ﬁxed,”you say. True, but can your relationship be ﬁxed? Anything is possible, but we’d say probably not. Generally, if one person thinks that the breakup is the right move, they’re probably right even if it feels so wrong. Because unless there are two people putting on the coveralls and getting down in the trenches with some duct tape and superglue and a ﬁerce determination, it isn’t going to happen. Need more convincing? How about this: The person you loved took a good long look at the awesomeness that is you, evaluated your relationship together, and said, “No, thanks. I’ll try my luck elsewhere.” Or you said it to him. Either way, that alone should make you realize that it wasn’t a match made in heaven and they’re not worth donning coveralls for. Anyone who assesses you or your relationship as disposable is not worthy of your time or tears.
Right now, your mind is probably working overtime to come up with all the reasons that you should still be together. Your heart is hurting and your mind wants to ﬁnd a way to undo the pain. Just remember, though, that any reasons you come up with are ultimately irrelevant. The harsh reality is that even if you have everything else in common, the one thing you don’t have in common is the belief that this relationship can work. That, my friend, trumps your shared love of puppies, The Dave Matthews Band, and Mexican food.
It’s hard not to rack your brain, searching for reasons why the two of you couldn’t make it work, but sometimes the only real answer is the simplest one: People come together and move apart. It’s the age-old ebb and ﬂow of relationships. Some are shorter journeys, and others were meant for a lifetime. That goes for friendships as well. We become attached to what’s familiar and sometimes we hold on to things that are safe and predictable even if they’re bad for us. A lot of the pain you are experiencing right now is actually fear. Fear of things being different than how you liked them, fear of never ﬁnding another love, fear of being alone, fear of having to ﬁll your time differently. We’re afraid of the unknown. The answer to all the questions swirling in your head– What will I do on weekends? Will I meet someone else?–is “You won’t know until you get there.” That’s hard, and it’s scary. But for the moment, you need to concentrate on what you do know–that you and he no longer share the belief that your relationship has a future. It’s broken, and the longer you stay stuck in a dead-end relationship or spend your days mourning one, the less time you get on this planet to experience a great one.
So take a deep breath, steel yourself, and realize that this is going to hurt for a while. There is no quick remedy for the powerful sting of heartbreak, though we’re going to try to make it easier for you throughout the book. You’re going to feel like crap head to toe and run the gamut of emotions. Edgy, moody, angry, depressed, nauseated–you name it. In fact, the amount of time it takes for you to start feeling great about yourself again is directly proportional to how much it sucks right now–especially if you weren’t the one who broke it off. Because at the end of the day, someone you loved, trusted, and valued has rejected you, and that really smarts. It’s hard to not take it personally. But– and here’s the important part–the fact of the matter is, they’re wrong about you. Just because your relationship is broken doesn’t mean you are! No matter what happened between you, no matter what you may or may not have done wrong, you are still a kick-ass person. And even though you might not believe it right now, this breakup is the ﬁrst step toward ﬁnding someone truly worthy of your greatness. But Greg, I’ve Got Questions
But how can a relationship just break with no warning?
My boyfriend and I have been together for three years and have always had the perfect relationship. We moved in together last year and he started talking about getting married, having kids, the whole deal. He even took me to look at engagement rings a few weeks before Christmas, so naturally I assumed what would be under the Christmas tree for me. Since I thought I was getting an engagement ring, I maxed out my credit card to buy him a plasma TV for Christmas. Well, Christmas morning comes and he was shocked when he opened the plasma TV. But that was nothing compared to the shock when I opened his gift–a cashmere sweater and a necklace! What? Then, the next day, he tells me he’s not sure “I’m the one” and he thinks I should move out and we should take a break so he can figure some things out!! Now he’s got the apartment and the plasma TV that I’ll be paying off for the rest of my life. I’ve tried to remind him of how good we were together and that getting married was his idea, but he just keeps apologizing and telling me he needs time apart. How can somebody go from wanting to marry you to not even wanting to talk to you for no reason? What can I do to make him realize that we should be together?
Please write back.
Dear Plasma Giver,
First of all, never buy a man a plasma TV until you’re married. (My grandmother used to say that.) A lot of men think once they have a plasma TV they don’t need a girlfriend. Sounds like your boy-friend’s one of them. The truth is that if he’s going to come to the conclusion that you guys should be together, he’s going do it on his own. There’s nothing you can do to make him want to be with you, and more important, want to marry you. One of the suckiest and most frustrating facts of life is that sometimes relationships just end, often without reason. I truly believe that sometimes both men and women simply run out of love, even when there was a lot of it in the beginning. What blows even more is that you were completely blindsided–even though the relationship was broken on his end, he had clearly led you to believe you were in the same place emotionally. What a shitty new reality for you to get your head around now. But the sooner you do, the sooner you can get your head around this great new thought: HEY, SUPERFOX, YOU ARE HEADED SOMEWHERE FABULOUS AND THERE ARE GREAT POSSIBILITIES AHEAD. You should also let him know that the proper etiquette is that if a girl breaks off an engagement she should give back the ring. If a man breaks up with you, he should give back the TV.
But why didn’t he just break up with me instead of making me do it?
I’ve been seeing this guy for about eight months. At first we were just hooking up, but then we started really dating, exclusively. We were practically living at each other’s houses, rarely spending even one night apart. He even gave me a drawer at his place and a toothbrush! So a few weeks ago he started acting weird, and I asked if something was wrong. He said that things had moved along faster than he’d anticipated, and that even though it freaked him out, he was really happy with the way things were going and cared about me more than he’d expected to. I thought, Great! Then he’s suddenly too tired to come over or has to get up early the next day so he doesn’t think I should spend the night. So we went back to only seeing each other a few nights a week. Not great. When he got really distant, I knew something was up, so I checked his e-mails on his Sidekick when he was in the bathroom. It was clear from all the e-mails between him and TamiLynn78 that he’d been seeing someone else. So I confronted him about it and he didn’t deny it, so I told him we were O.V.E.R. and stormed out of his apartment. Now, this is the part where he was supposed to come running after me–but he didn’t! He just let me go, and I haven’t heard from him since. What’s up with that? I really want him to want me back and feel remorse for hurting me. Is that too much to ask?
Dear Yes It Is Too Much to Ask,
First of all, I think it’s great you checked his e-mails instead of talking to him. Sounds like you had a great, open, trusting relationship in which you dug around in his personal business while he cheated on you. Why did it have to end? I’m going to say this and it’s going to suck (but understand where I’m coming from). He broke up with you months ago and let you do the dirty work. It’s a weird, passive-aggressive trick that men have perfected for centuries. Chances are he didn’t want to hurt your feelings, so he behaved in a way that would make you break up with him. I call this the “Backhanded Breakup.” Men (and women) have done it for years. Not only that, but he had an escape plan involving another bed to crash on. What a scumbag! I’m sure he’s getting right on that remorse you were hoping for. The only thing he has done right is not contact you. You should gladly accept this radio silence because your relationship has been broken for a while, and get on with your grieving because you are moving on to something better.
But how do you know we’re not going to get back together?
My boyfriend of three years and I decided to move in together about a month ago. In fact, it was his idea. Since he had the bigger place, we agreed that I’d let go of my apartment and move in with him. Everything was perfect– we repainted in colors that we both liked and started figuring out what pieces of furniture we’d keep when we merged our stuff. Then, the day before I’m supposed to move, after I’ve already given notice at my apartment and it’s been rented, he tells me that he’s done some thinking and that I’m not “the one.” He thinks that living together is a mistake and a waste of time for the both of us because it only delays us “finding our destinies.” He’s an amazing person that I can’t imagine living without, and I know that if he’s given a little more time he’ll realize that we are each other’s destiny. Great guys aren’t a dime a dozen. And he obviously has really strong feelings for me if he wanted us to live together a few weeks ago! Don’t you think I should be patient with him if I really believe that we’re meant to be together?
Dear Destiny’s Child,
Maybe you huffed too many paint fumes, but he said the words you are “not the one.” That’s pretty conclusive as far as these things go, and despite the really awful timing, you’ve got to admire the guy’s honesty. He did it to save you both more time and pain down the line. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to enjoy it, but you do need to hear it. I know this hurts like a motherf*#ker, but it’s going to keep hurting if you don’t accept that it’s over. Plus he used the word “destiny.” What kind of New Age bullshit is that? People like to think they can control their destiny, but I think destiny is listening and seeing what’s really happening and then making the smart, albeit sometimes painful, decision to move forward without another person. If you guys are meant to be together, I’m sure his third eye will let him know and then he’ll surely move mountains to win you back. But I know for a fact that waiting for someone who may not be coming and being in pain are not your destiny. So realize that it’s called a breakup because it’s broken– and move on.
From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt. Copyright © 2005 by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt. Excerpted by permission of Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.