On the Sly: Can you really hit it and quit it?
Published: Monday, January 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 12:01
Breakups by nature are hard to go through. Though people may have their reasons for it, no one ever thinks, "Today, I'm going to dissolve my relationship with this person and it will be totally uncomplicated!"
Most of the time, a person doesn't intentionally try to hurt their partner, but it's inevitably going to happen. Some couples sever ties instantly. Others fall into the "we can still be friends" trap.
If you take this route with your ex, commit to it. You're already breaking up with him or her, and it sucks. Don't make the process worse by prolonging the misery. The "we're better off as friends" line is the get-out-of-jail-free card of relationships — it tells your ex you don't want to be with him or her, but you still care enough to keep them in your life.
I don't believe in mutual breakups or closure. I think they're wildly imaginative and fantastical ideas like unicorns, world peace or Casey Anthony winning a "mother of the year" award. There's clearly two roles in a breakup. The person who implemented it has total control of the situation and has more time to adjust to the new social role between themselves and their ex. The other person has to deal with the breakup on top of accepting that they're now "just friends."
By saying you'll stay friends, the person who initiated the breakup will feel less guilty, and they have the consolation of having their ex still around. The person who got dumped gets the constant reminder of pain and heartbreak.
Be honest with yourselves and each other. Don't say you'll try to be friends if one of you clearly still has feelings for the other person. This will only fuel false hopes that you may eventually get back together. You'll play the proverbial "what if" game, and odds are you'll lose.
It's hard to end things on a good note, especially if you get along with each other afterward. You may think, "Why stop hanging out if everything appears to be fine?" But if you're not forthright about the situation, more likely than not, something will eventually detonate.
By staying friends, you're inviting a whole new level of animosity into your life as each of you tries to move on. The healing process becomes a race to see who can get over who the quickest, who can hook up with more people, or who can jump into another relationship first. We're sadistically driven by spite. We need to prove we're better off without the person who put us in second place, and we want them to witness it.
At the same time, we're masochistic. We search for new prospective relationships while simultaneously keeping tabs on our exes, even if it's going to cause us pain and suffering.
It's like trying to keep one foot in place, cemented in the past, while your other foot tries to sprint to the future, to get to the next happy relationship phase in your life. Eventually you're going to end up in a split. Literally, figuratively, physically and mentally you'll be torn between two ideal, but conflicting, worlds.
Even if your feelings have subsided, I don't think it's possible to ever be truly happy for your ex. No one likes feeling replaced or knowing they weren't good enough for someone.
I'm going to humor the possibility that a relationship can end amicably. In this situation, you want to stay friends because you've invested a lot of time, energy and emotion into this person. At one point in time, you were worth the effort to each other.
If you keep them around as a friend, you have to consider whether you're doing this now because they really are worth it or because it's convenient.
This person was your security blanket, they know you better than you know yourself and you're completely comfortable with them. You don't want to lose them, so you have to figure out where they now fit into your life. If they fulfill a similar role to when you were dating, or if you continue to hook up post-breakup, you'll be less inclined to meet new people or pursue other relationship opportunities.
You're accustomed to the comfort zone provided by your ex. Even if you're hurt by the relationship, it's familiar to you. You recognize it's not healthy, but they become like a drug to you. You become bitter and may not want to meet new people because it didn't work out last time.
Feelings are messy and complicated. Sexual chemistry makes everything all the more confusing. Once you've been that intimate and comfortable with a person, it's hard to build the walls back up. It's easier to relapse into habitual relations.
You can consider a relationship platonic, but if you fall into similar patterns of talking every day or hanging out often, it may send mixed signals. Your ex may misinterpret your actions. They may be led to believe you care more about them than you actually do.
If you completely ignore human nature, you may still be able to be friends.
Try to rationalize it all you want, but there are only two real reasons people can stay friends after a break up. The first: they aren't done dating. They'll be together but separate, and will eventually find their way back into a relationship.
The second reason: they aren't done breaking up. The process will be drawn out until they push each other too far and the entire relationship is destroyed and the memories are ruined.
As hard as it is to come to terms with, there's an infinite number of reasons to break up with someone and only one good reason to stay with them.
Would you rather...
1. Have an orgasm every 10 seconds OR once every 10 years?
2. Walk in on your parents having sex OR have your parents walk in on you?
3. Sleep with Tom Brady OR Tim Tebow?