Breaking up is hard to do. It’s hard for both parties, the initiator and the reactor. I have been on both sides of the totem pole more times than I care to admit, and have to say that it’s painful on both sides. But it totally sucks
ass worse if you are the Reactor, because most of the time, you don’t even know that it’s coming.
Terms: Initiator and the Reactor. Two opposite poles in the breaking up process. The Initiator is more commonly known as the Dumper/jerk/asswipe/turd/idiot etc. The Reactor is the Dumpee, more commonly known as the Great Gal that you Let Get Away.The reasons you might be breaking up are varied, but essentially all contain one of the following elements. There might be a few more, but usually the underlying cause is one of these.
The reasons you might be breaking up are varied, but essentially all contain one of the following elements. There might be a few more, but usually the underlying cause is one of these.1. One of you cheated; or
he was dumb enough to get caught cheating
2. Both of you grew apart; didn’t mature at the same rate, had different goals and life expectations.
3. One of you got cold feet; wasn’t ready to take it to the next level, or stay on this one
4. One of you feels pressured; usually other life stressors like work, family, medical issues, add to the stress but the relationship takes the blame/fall for it.
5. One of you realized that the other person is a turd/scumbag/jerk/dick/etc; usually illumination occurs through some action from the turd that avalanches into something else
If you are the Reactor/Dumpee, it’s hard to believe that homeboy is calling it quits. It’s almost surreal, like you are living outside your body, watching his mouth as he enumerates the reasons why you guys can’t be together. Inside you are screaming, crying, railing and wrapping your fingers around his throat, trying to get him to shut up. Outside you are frozen in place, heart beating fast, hoping that in a few minutes he will break into that smile that you love and just say it was all a joke. None of these happen and eventually your mind takes control of your body once again.
This is where your reaction sets in. For me, I’ve always had a delayed response. I want to be dramatic and throw a hissy fit, but I simply can’t. I tend to just smile, succintly state that they are wrong, and I consider them a coward for bailing out and exit the scenario as quickly as possible. Why exit quickly? Because if I stay one minute too late I know that I will be bawling all over his shoulder, begging him to change his mind. And a Bad Girl would not do that. So I exit as gracefully as possible, and take my tears to the safety of my room and after that I speed dial the nearest Circle of Life member I can get to and start ranting.
If you are the Initiator, it’s relatively easier but just a tad. You know that the relationship is about to end, you have probably spent a few days thinking about how you are going to do it and what you are going to say. You’ve already to some extent started the grieving process so you are more emotionally prepared. For starters, here are some things that I would encourage you NOT to say and some sassy remarks that you just might get back.
1. It’s not you it’s me. No dickhead, it’s you and your wandering eye. You just think the grass is greener on the other side don’tcha?
2. You love me more than I love you. And who are you to be the judge of that? You should be grateful that I even condescended to date your triflin’ ass.
3. I don’t know why I’m breaking up with you I just think that it’s what I should do. Yeah, same way like I don’t know why I’m thinking of stabbing you, I just think it’s what I should do. WTF??
4. You are a great person but I just don’t think that you are the One. Newsflash, you obviously aren’t The One either.
5. It’s just not working out. Well, if you put some effort into the relationship instead of bailing when things got rough, then it might have worked out.
And what’s up with guys breaking up with you after they have had one last
great shag? Then as you are on your way home he comes up with the breakup speech. Lowest of the low. Do not do that! It only makes the Reactor feel worse than she already does.
Exhibit some compassion, some finesse, some contrition. After all, you are telling her that this is the end of the road for you guys. A little sorrow on your part wouldn’t kill you. Don’t offer me the ‘let’s be friends’ line. I don’t want to be your friend. If I wanted to be your friend, I wouldn’t have given you my heart in the first place. Being your friend should not be offered as a condolence prize….sorry hun, you lost the relationship jackpot, but let’s be friends. Grrrrr!
And in the same vein of consolation prizes, don’t offer me anything I want because you are breaking up with me. At that particular moment, what I want is your head on a silver platter, so the offer of some concert tickets, ownership of the dog etc, is not going to make me feel better. You have turned my world upside down in a matter of minutes…nothing you say or do right then is going to make me feel better short of you dropping dead.
Don’t try and get an emotional response from me. If I’m not giving you one, chances are I’m holding on to my control with sheer force of will. So you casting blame on me or trying to goad me is only going to make me snap…and you will not like the consequences. My suggestion would be to say what you need to say and leave quickly. That way I don’t have to scrape your remains off my kitchen floor.
Vixen is deputy editor of Baggage Reclaim. Visit her blog.