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Breakup: Getting Ready for Good-bye (a.k.a. the Relationship)




Excerpted from
It's Not Me, It's You; The Ultimate Breakup Book
By Anna Jane Grossman, Flint Wainess

It's not easy being a single person in a couples' world. You can't buy a single bed, because they're too small, yet a queen-size bed leaves you wondering what to do with that other pillowcase that comes with the set. Your toothbrush holder taunts you with its extra space. Even the car serves as a reminder that your passenger seat, like your life, is empty. Food won't do away with this bereft feeling either; you can't go to your favorite restaurant because there are no tables for one (sushi bars being a generous exception). And, while having sex with yourself is safer than doing it with someone else, it's just not quite as satisfying.

It's enough to make you want to ... be in a relationship.

So, you couple.

And that is where your problems begin, because relationships are hard. Like, Rubik's Cube hard. They require communication and patience and gifts. Worse, they require dinner with your lover's family, or your boyfriend's female "friend" who doesn't talk except to tell you how she graduated from the same college as your lover, with the same degree, and they find the same jokes funny and have the same sign and-are they playing footsie under the table? Yes, relationships are ridiculously hard. In fact, most of the time, they end up being too hard. Yet, some of the time, you're so desperate not to be single again that you find you're clinging to a dead shark.

Eventually, however, you return to the Sisyphean cycle of the breakup.

Indeed, although this is a book about breakups, not relationships, the breakup can't exist without the relationship. We wish it could, but it can't. That's why we've taken a few precious pages to examine the anatomy of a relationship-how you can spot the different types that exist, why they sour, whether you can drink your way through the dog days, and why most of them will fail.

If you're seeing someone (and we'd really advise against it), you might want to start examining your own relationship as soon as possible. We're here to help point out the flaws in this thing you call a love affair.

Are we doing it because we're lonely and bitter? Yes. But we were also pretty lonely and bitter in our relationships, so it's more than that. In order to become an expert breaker-upper, you must first master the thing that you're going to break up with, that is, the relationship.

This is our guide to "getting ready for good-bye," to realizing that it's our happiness that counts. So if someone else is impinging on it, they need to go.

Do You Know This Couple?
Common Types of Relationships
and Why They Won't Last

Like snowflakes or bad dates, no two couples are exactly alike. However, when closely scrutinized at barbecues and brises, patterns arise among them. For those who are post-first date but prebreakup identifying which kind of union you are in can help prepare you for its inevitable termination, or at least help you make fun of your friends. Here are a few of the more common breeds.

The "Mad About Yous"

Early on in their union, Mad About Yous are not shy about publicly displaying their mutual affection, even in places that are kind of gross, like the subway and the supermarket. Usually, MAYs are either very stable, self-realized people who truly believe they've found their ideal mate and are ecstatic about it, or seriously unstable and jump from one emotion-filled union to another, in pursuit of more endorphins, a bigger bathroom, and better air-conditioning. The unstable MAYs, however, believe they fall into the "stable" category.

After raising Bobby, Cindy, Jan, Marcia, Peter, and Greg, the MAYs grow old together. They play a lot of tennis and go on cruises. They have sex, every day. They are generally hated by all of their friends at the club. Eventually, one of the members of this couple might reveal he or she is gay, but homosexuality cannot destroy the loving bonds that have been formed over the years, and the couple will still embrace warmly at televised family reunions.

The passion that launched the relationship cannot be sustained, and a bitter and protracted breakup ensues. Once your idealized love has fallen from its pedestal, there is little hope the same joy will ever be experienced again. Both parties will probably require medication and a Costco-size box of Kleenex.

The "Bio Clockers"

Tick tick, tick tick. Although they may have been more tentative in previous relationships, Bio Clockers use the words my boyfriend or my girlfriend in every conversation once they meet one another, even if they've been dating for, like, a weekend. They might have shirked the idea of true love, but they've accepted that you can't always settle down with the person who makes your heart do the polka. They treat love more like a game of musical chairs. When you hit a certain age, the music stops, and you procreate with whoever is in the closest chair. In other words, they are passionate about . . . buying furniture together. They marry fast, and knock out a couple little ones faster.

It's a relationship built on common values and mutual respect for what the other person brings to the union (for example, sperm or eggs). Values and respect are, in fact, words oft repeated in the household (which will give the relationship an uncanny resemblance to a Mafia movie). They're words that make the children want to gag, but they create a foundation for a happy home. Or, at least, happyish. There isn't a lot of passion or sex, but this makes it less awkward when the kids knock on the door wanting to sleep with mommy and daddy in the middle of the night because of the boogeyman. Toward late middle age, they will find new ways of channeling their passions. He will buy a sports car; she will join a knitting group; the kids will go to therapy. In short, happily ever after will be achieved.

Once Junior can walk and talk, neither bio clocker is sure what's left in the relationship for them. The bio clockers start asking themselves some very serious questions. What was I thinking? Is this really the person with whom it was wisest to share my DNA? When's the last time we've gone to the theater, or the opera, or an underground cockfight? Isn't the kid now old enough to go back and forth between homes every other weekend? Sometimes, like in an arranged marriage, the couples grow to put up with one another . . . kind of like the cowriters of this book. But, just as often, they harbor secret dreams of strangling each other in their sleep (Flint is asthmatic; he'll go quick). But strangling is no solution. Seriously, we can't emphasize this enough: do not strangle.



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