Monday, January 12, 2009

The Breakup Cycle

Lately it has seemed that many of my loved ones' relationships have fallen to pieces. In Chinese numerology, eight is an indicator of change, so maybe the preceding year had something to do with it. From my experience and observation of others, something like the Kübler-Ross grief cycle comes into play. As a public service to those of you out there struggling with the death of a love affair, marriage, or anything in between, here is what to expect:

  • Denial that the end has taken place, perhaps with some hope that things will mend (although this doesn't always surface). It is tempting to try to hang on for dear life, but chances are you are merely grasping for the accoutrements that come with being partnered - triple dates, regular phone calls and emails, mutual friendships. Just let it go. Those people you met who are genuine will stay friends with you, and you can always establish these patterns with new people. In other words, good icing is not worth spreading over bad cake.
  • Depression over the loss of "the good times" and rehashing what could and couldn't have been done better on your part to make the relationship work. This is inevitable yet unrealistic, as relationships either work or they don't. Granted everything worth anything in life requires effort and care to maintain, it is unfair to place the burden of a relationship's resuscitation solely on yourself. A steady diet of Haagen Dazs, booze, and a playlist with Cher, Gloria Gaynor, Alanis Morrissette, and Kelly Clarkson on repeat will help alleviate this affliction, with possible side effects of bitterness and tighter jeans.
  • Bargaining with friends and family who, as it turned out, tolerated the significant other's presence while secretly deeming them a cheapskate/cold fish/douchebag/albatross/louse/worm/annoyance/wet blanket, you get the picture...As much as we want the truth, in the words of Jack Nicholson, when we are in the thick of it we generally can't handle it.
  • Anger when it finally hits you that he/she was cheating/lying/neglectful/hypercritical/hypocritical/boring/backstabbing/impotent/lazy/parasitic/abusive/[another unfavorable adjective] and that time was wasted ignoring these characteristics. This is amplified if the bastard left you for a banshee or skank resembling a d-list reality has-been. Channel this negative emotion into hitting the gym hard, volunteering for a good cause, even cleaning out your living quarters. Never ever ever contact them. The best revenge is a lack of concern for their existence, tied for first with looking effing smashing.
  • Acceptance that you are better off without and that it is time yet again to plunge into the dating pool, even though the though may evoke the Polar Bear Club dashing into the frigid Atlantic waters on New Years Day. This is absolutely necessary to be able to move on sans major baggage, even if you start by dipping your toes in, then wade around for a little while and acclimate. It is more fun just to cannonball in. However, DO NOT expect a lack of spark to "grow on you". If there's nothing there within two to three dates, go with your gut (a la Malcolm Gladwell) and avoid overanalysis, cut your losses and move on. A roll in the hay or two for its own sake is healthy, but don't forget the latex and visual inspection!

    To this, I will add one more:
  • Partial or complete amnesia that said assignation or partnership ever occurred. This is expected after meeting someone new who completely and utterly knocks your socks off and whose abundance of redeeming qualities makes you forget the past hurt and pain.

Happy coupling! ;)