my little sister just ended things with her long-term boyfriend. she’s pretty distraught, understandably. she came over last night to let us try to cheer her up. We failed in that endeavor but we gave her lo mein and red wine and Ambien so we felt somewhat encouraged that we’d helped, at least a little.
breakups are hideous. but whats making her feel even worse is the fact that her ex hasn’t tried to get back together. in her assessment, he seems “totally over it.”
(it’s a strange thing: when women get dumped we get angry and we get PROUD – no way would I ever go crawling back to that ASSHOLE! and yet when women do the dumping, as in my sister’s case, it’s expected that the guy will quickly realize that every bad thing that’s ever happened to anyone, anywhere, any time, from the dinosaurs to Hurricane Katrina, was totally his fault, and we expect him to devise some kind of grand gesture that should probably end with him on our doorstep on bended knee, diamond ring in hand.)
the boo tried to convince her that the male grieving process simply operates on a delay, and that her ex will eventually feel pain, if he isn’t already. But in attempting to make this point, he presented her with the worst analogy ever, confirming my long-standing suspicion that sometimes men really do have the emotional intelligence of cardboard.
he told her, “When a guy gets out of a long relationship, he feels like the old man in The Shawshank Redemption. He’s been in jail for SO LONG and he’s SO EXCITED to finally get some FREEDOM and to experience NEW THINGS. But after a little while, the excitement of being free wears off and he realizes that life was much better in prison. And so he kills himself.”
Besides being starkly depressing, his point was totally lost on my sister, who couldn’t get past the fact that she was being compared to a stint in lockdown.
so then I offered up my two cents:
cut off all contact. Get him off your Facebook feed and your gchat contacts list and anywhere else he might be lurking in your social media network.
Delete him from your phone. And no, it’s not enough to simply rename him IDIOT or DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.
you also have to break up with your old lifestyle. goodbye hipster taco truck. goodbye secret gas-station sandwich counter. go to new restaurants. find a new bus route (or a new rich boyfriend who will pay for your broke ass to take a cab instead).
you guys loved the Broncos? Guess that means you’ll be cheering for the Seahawks on Sunday night.
the most annoying thing about breakups – which my sister is quickly realizing – is that the past has a tendency to look much rosier in the rearview mirror. DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE MIRAGE. it’s a a cruel fact of life that even if you’re dumping a deadbeat low-life, you will wake up the next day feeling 100 percent convinced that you just broke up with Brad Pitt. You just have to remind yourself that the relationship problems were real and that you did the right thing, even when your heart is calling you a dumbass and accusing you of making the biggest mistake of your life.
when I broke up with my ex-boyfriend — the one i thought i’d be with forever and ever and ever– i bawled in the shower every morning, not knowing what to do with all that pain and not fully understanding where it was coming from, especially because on a very practical, basic level, I knew it was for the best.
but however you rationalize it to yourself, a breakup is like a death in the family. it’s not just because the dude and his toothbrush and whatever other crumpled, stained shit he left hidden around your apartment suddenly disappear. it’s because a part of you dies, too.
sadly, the only piece of advice I have to make the process easier is to pretend the ex was a really terrible person, even if he was actually an Aidan-meets-Big-meets-Mother Theresa vision of male perfection. whatever the truth, just pretend he was THE WORST. pretend your family and friends hated him. pretend he had scabies. pretend he had a boyfriend hidden in the dominican republic.
And while you’re pretending the ex is an ugly, scummy fucktard, you have to simultaneously pretend that every man you meet going forward is the guy from the Polo ad, even if he actually has Duck Dynasty facial hair and wears Tevas. Pretend, pretend, pretend – just keep on pretending until the “new normal”becomes bearable.
and it will. and then it will become better than bearable. and before you know it, you’ll be flinging yourself gung-ho into the beautiful, exciting, suspenseful, dinner-whoring amazingness that is single life.
(you’ll be real sick of that shit in a few months time, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.)
the point, to make a long story short, is that you will survive this, and you’ll be a better person for it.
and now I’m turning it over to you guys — any advice to share? any wisdom? any stories that might make my sister, and all the other heartbroken gals out there, feel a little better about the state of things?
a very sincere thank you in advance.