And though I had slain a thousand foes less one,
The thousandth knife found my liver;
The thousandth enemy said to me,
'Now you shall die,
Now none shall know.'
And the fool, looking down, believed this,
Not seeing, above his shoulders, the naked stars,
Each one remembering.
--John M. Ford, The Final Reflection

The Asylum Director

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"The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn't require any." - Russel Baker

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rules For Breaking-Up

Everyone I know seems to be breaking up lately. Okay, not quite everyone, but a disturbingly large number of the girls I know seem to be ending both short and long-term relationships lately. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem. My long, torturous years in Siena College have made me largely...apathetic to such events unless the girls involved are my friends, or I'm told of these events directly (at which point, I tend to consider it as part of my business to meddle in it). However, this current trend I'm starting to notice is something I'd call "disruptive" because of two reasons.

First, I'm actually being made aware of them happening, rather than hearing about them at a much later date.

Second, they all seem to be initiated by the guy. Rather badly, I might add.

These have led me to realize something. There really ought to be some set, firm ground rules for breaking-up. Even if the guy is the one getting the ball rolling. Especially if the guy is the one getting the ball rolling, being the idiotic, emotionally-inept fools that we are.

At some point, I'm sure I'm going to attract all sorts of criticisms and attacks for what I'm about to do, not to mention a whole lot of statements about how I'm hardly qualified to be talking about this, but I'll do it anyway. I suppose pointing out that this is strictly what I think is appropriate, right, and decent would be useless? Thought so.

So, at risk of being ridiculed and attacked, I present:

Proposed Ground Rules For Breaking-Up

Rule #1:
Do It In Person

The fact is, modern communications technology has made what was once a delicate and unwelcome dance all too easy and all too impersonal. Men, rather than being gentle about things, have become spineless cowards that hide behind the iron curtain of texting and e-mail. This, of course, generally does not bode well for the girl. So do it in person.

Why do it in person? Well, for one thing, it would be the decent thing to do. It also happens to be the proper thing to do. By avoiding being in person when breaking up with someone, that only shows that you don't have the cajones to handle the immediate emotional reaction and backlash that it might cause. If you're going to end something like a relationship, at the very least be there to witness (or be the target of) the reaction. The other party (or parties) deserves at least that much.

There are, of course, a few exceptions. Which leads me to...

Corollary #1:
The Acceptability Scale
In Person - Advised and practically required, as this is the only proper way to go about this business. Reasons have already been explained.
Phone Calls - In the event that something logical and uncontrollable is getting in the way of doing it in person. Barring truly exceptional circumstances, the only reasons for this to be acceptable would be geographical distance or medical reasons.
Hand-Written Letters - This is acceptable only if a face-to-face encounter is going to happen later on, if you can actually write something that's worth more than the paper you're writing on, or if distance is an issue and there's no phone line. While letters written during the relationship can be romantic (depends on the girl, me thinks), using one to break-up is hardly an example of good form.
E-Mail - Bad form. In general, if they have Internet access, they likely have either a mailing address or a phone line. In most cases, they have both. Seeing as how you've got two more acceptable alternatives, why not use them? Besides, not everyone checks their inboxes on a regular basis.
Text Message/Instant Messaging - Utterly inexcusable. If you've got a cellphone, call her instead. I suspect most girls would rather get an e-mail than this. It's rude, it's impersonal, it's callous, and in most cases, it's even insulting. You're already ending a relationship that the other party might have invested quite a bit of emotion in, you don't need to add salt to the wound too.
The Silent Treatment - I'd consider you scum for even thinking about this. I'd consider this acceptable if you're friends but don't get to regularly see or speak to one another (I do it all the time), but in a relationship scenario, this has the potential to be outright cruelty. The potential reactions to this can vary, but in general, this is just a bad, bad idea.

Rule #2:
State Your Reasons Clearly

Don't even get me started on the excuses being used. Or rather, over-used. "It's not you, it's me." "I've fallen out of love with you." "I've found someone else." "I just don't feel it anymore." To paraphrase a friend, girls are suckers for sappy romance stories, but they're not so stupid as to fall for the same lines that are used in them. I doubt that most guys actually believe that it works, but are stupid enough to try them anyway.

When you break up with someone, at least have the decency to be specific about your reasons. Tell them exactly what made them come to the decision to end it, rather than attempt to resolve things. Don't expect them to buy something stupid, inane, puerile, or cliche. Damn it, at least have the spine to tell them what you think is wrong with them or the relationship. You may think you're doing them a favor by telling them you're the problem, but more often than not, such statements tend to have an effect similar to reverse psychology.

Rule #3:
Be Gentle

Just because you're ending the relationship doesn't mean you have to be a jerk about it. Just because chivalry is in a coma doesn't mean you have to treat her like dirt when you break up with her. Just because women (theoretically) have equal rights now doesn't mean you get to treat him like a little puppy dog you can kick around.

The fact is, there are emotions in play in these things. In fact, these events tend to be emotional minefields. As such, these should be navigated carefully, and with a lot of tact. Unless the decision was mutual, there's bound to be quite a bit of emotional backlash with this sort of thing. If you're any sort of decent human being, you're going to be there in person, so being gentle in doing this helps reduce the venom and bile being thrown at you as well as the unsettling feelings that the other half of the equation is going to feel.

Besides, being gentle might (key word: MIGHT) help you avoid the problem of having a psychotic ex. (Note to self: write a guide about surviving psychotic ex-girlfriends/ex-boyfriends in the future.)

I can't believe I forgot about this one.

Rule #4:
Be Honest

Sparing her/his feelings is all well and good, but if you lie to her at a time and moment like this, you're just awful. You're already breaking up, so there's no reason to sugarcoat anything or outright lie to them if you have not done anything. If you have, then at least have the basic human decency to come clean about it. You wouldn't want them to find out about your inexcusable behavior behind their back at a later date, do you? Sure, being honest about something sensitive (such as this girl I was together with once, until she realized she and I were interested in the same thing: girls; she went on to hook up with my other ex-girlfriend) might cause a lot more emotional backlash, but at least you're sparing yourself the trouble of having to worry about dealing with it at a later date.


Damn. I'm bound to get into all sorts of trouble for this.

Eh, nothing I haven't done before.


atong said...

haha! as for me harvs, winner tong entry na to! matamaan lahat ng mga kupal na kalalakihan! nyahahaha!

shucks, panget ng linggwahe ko! hehe

Ja said...

amen to that, harvey.

Ja said...

amen to that, harvey.

spongebabe said...

harvey, you should be a love-advice columnist. hehe.

VIIIofSwords said...

Hahaha. Me? Love-Advice columnist? Nah, bad idea. The last time I tried that, the two broke up. Granted, she seems happier now, but you never know.

Cough Syrup Junkie said...

ex-boyfriends should read this.

Maggie said...

I noticed that too. Dami nagbre-break recently. I almost did din! What a coincidence.

Anyway, asteeeg rules mo.