• Relationships

Girl Talk: The Quickie Breakup Vs. The Slow Band-Aid Peel Off

In the few months following my breakup from Mr. Ex-Jessica, if and how to couple up again has hovered in the periphery of my mind. It’s clear to me that I’m still very sore about the breakup and earning my trust will be a slow, perhaps even Sisyphysian Sisyphean, task for a man. But still I want occasional companionship: although there’s plenty of things to enjoy about being newly single, like lots of time to read books and hang out with my girl friends, it’s also nice to have drinks and flirt with a dude sometimes. I am OK at this point with that companionship being totally casual. In fact, I think it has to be casual. I’m not ready to be in a committed relationship or to be anyone’s girlfriend so soon.

I thought I’d found someone online to casually date: he’s smart, he’s funny, he took care of me, and he understood how sore I still am from the breakup. He’s an all-around wonderful guy who would make a great boyfriend to someone. It warmed the cockles of my black, bitter heart to know that there are good single men out there. But after about six weeks or so of going on dates once or twice a week, it became clear to me that our personalities are just too different. We clashed so many times that the romantic butterflies flew away, so to speak. I wrestled with the idea of continuing to date him because, after all, it was just casual. But putting myself in his shoes, I asked if I’d want someone to keep going on dates with me even if they weren’t feeling anything anymore. I decided “no” and that I would end things with him.

But the way I finally broke up with him was just … not … good.

Maybe if we saw each other less, talked on the phone less, and emailed and texted less, then his personality and behavior wouldn’t annoy me so much.

There’s a lot of things to be said about the unkind and insensitive way that Ex-Mr. Jessica broke up with me. (And believe me, I have said all of it.) But if there’s one positive thing that I can say about our breakup was that it was a clean break. Of course, as the one getting dumped, I intially thought that quickie breakup was kind of cruel. And there are various complicated and nuanced reasons for why aspects of Ex-Mr. Jessica’s quickie breakup was kind of cruel, which I’ve explained at length in other posts. When the s**t hit the fan and our relationship was in jeopardy, I’d wanted to go “on a break” instead of breaking up because it seemed obvious to me that he was fretful and panicky had things that he needed to think through. Yet while I wish we had gone on a break and he had thought things through instead of us just tossing the relationship to the curb, I can see now how the definitive breakup made the whole thing less ambiguous. I didn’t waste too much time wailing on the phone to my friends, “What is he going to dooooo?” (as I imagine I would have done had we gone “on a break”) because it was right there in front of me. He had broken up with me. End of story.

When I realized after about a month that I should stop dating this new guy, I was at a loss for how to end it. Breaking up with people is not something I’ve done very often in life. So when our personalities would clash and he’d really annoy me, I would try to initiate a conversation about how maaaaaybe we weren’t suited for each other. But each and every time, he talked me out of it. He could be very romantic and persuasive, I am kind of a pushover, and I always gave up and decided to give him another shot. This went on for weeks.

I finally got the ovaries to break up with him over Easter weekend. My mom ended up in the emergency room, which was scary, and as a result I had gotten zero sleep; when this guy was giving me a hard time on the phone about something unrelated, I completely broke down from all the stress and started sobbing. Instead of comforting me, though, he kept egging me on — winding me up more instead of calming me down. That’s when I realized, “I have to end this with him because this is not a healthy dynamic.” The next day I wrote him an email and told him we were through. I figured that if he always persuaded me on the phone to give him another shot, an email would be more final.

But it wasn’t final. Days later we were back on the phone again, talking and texting about missing each other. And I did miss him. I tried to figure out a way to enjoy the good, sweet, uplifting, romantic parts of him without the crappy parts. I think I convinced myself that I could stomach him if maybe we were even more casual. Maybe if we saw each other less, talked on the phone less, and emailed and texted less, then his personality and behavior wouldn’t annoy me so much, right?

I came to my senses about how utterly crappy and unromantic this plan was — if you could even call it that — at the very last minute. Readers, I made plans with him on Friday night. It seemed like a good idea on Thursday night: yay, he gets his 26th chance! But all Friday morning, all I could think about was how there weren’t any butterflies. I might see the good in him as a person and want companionship with that, but the fact of the matter was that I didn’t feel butterflies anymore. And with someone you’ve only been dating for six weeks? You just have to have the butterflies. It wasn’t fair to him to lead him on like that, nor was it enjoyable for me.

I cancelled our date on Friday night and finally cut if off with him once and for all. It was ugly, a lot uglier than it needed to be. Obviously he alone is responsible for the nasty things that he said, but I feel responsible for the fact that the whole conversation even had to happen because I should have nipped it in the bud ages ago. Why didn’t I have the ovaries a few weeks ago to just end it? Why did I keep letting him talk himself back into my good graces? What did I really think could be gained from dragging this “relationship,” if you could call it that, out even longer, when I knew ultimately we would never be a couple?

The “slow Band-Aid peel off” style of breakup should be avoided at all costs, I can conclusively tell you. I’m pissed at all the time and sanity that I wasted these past few weeks; a quickie breakup, I hope, would have been a lot less messy. Because I know what I wanted to do, but I just couldn’t get the ovaries to do it, I don’t feel like I did right by him (although clearly he was fighting pretty hard for us to keep seeing each other). As if multiple seasons of Sammi and Ronnie on “Jersey Shore” didn’t teach me the lesson that a clean break is a good breakup, I now have learned for myself that sometimes, you’ve just gotta rip that Band-Aid off.

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