Horrible Ways I Have Broken Up With Innocent People
In honor of Valentine's Day, we broke this baby—originally published in Feb 2016—outta the SparkLife vault!
In my whole life, I have been broken up with only once. (Ryan from fifth grade. Cried for a week.) The rest of the time, in relationships long or short, it has been I who bowed out, with varying degrees of grace. (Lest you think I am a heartless monster with commitment issues, I have also been romantically rejected more times than a mold-covered Valentine.)
So if you have the unfortunate task of breaking off a relationship, take courage and comfort from my story, and know that at the very least, you can't do much worse.
Chapter 1: Attack of The Giggles
I had my first semi-serious boyfriend for about four months my freshman year of high school. He was a very nice boy, but we had nothing in common other than one shared hobby: making out. Boy, did we ever love the territory around first base. (I'd like to retroactively apologize to anyone who was ever in a movie theater at the same time as us.) But as Valentines' Day approached, I realized that out of the remarkable goodness of his heart, he was probably going to buy me a present he couldn't afford and it would be wrong of me to take it, since I had run out of conversation fillers for those awkward moments when we weren't sucking face.
So one morning before school, I sat him down in a stairway, looked deep into his sweet, trusting eyes, and began laughing uncontrollably. It was like "Hey (snort), I'm really (guffaw) sorry, but (chortle) I think we should (wheeze) break up." I only laughed out of combination of nerves and guilt, but I still haven't forgiven myself, and frankly I doubt that he has either.
Moral: Just don't laugh. Practice in front of a mirror or whatever, but don't laugh.
Chapter 2: The Best Defense
My next high school boyfriend was everything the first one wasn't: erudite, witty, and weirdly reluctant to make out at the movies. He was also a giant flake who put everything (the cross country team, homework, his dumb family) before me. I actually cared about him a great deal, and saw dumping him as a strategic move to startle him into caring more about me.
As you can imagine, that did not work at all. He failed to see my disposal as an opportunity to show up at my window with roses and a boombox, and instead saw it as an opportunity to start dating one of my best friends.
Moral: Remember that after you break up with someone, your relationship is actually over.
Chapter 3: Scorched Earth
My first girlfriend (yeah, that happened between chapters two and three) was everything to me. She was so much, in fact, that I realized I wasn't providing some very necessary things for myself, like a sense of direction or self-worth.
We were already muddling through long distance when I decided to call it quits for good, and I took the very bad advice of a friend, who told me I needed to tell my girlfriend that I didn't love her in order to give her the solace of a clean break. So one night, over a shaky Skype connection, that is exactly what I did. Alone amongst my exes, this one and I are still good friends, and she has taken more than one opportunity to inform me of how badly I messed this up, and how needlessly I made a painful situation even more painful.
Moral: Be firm, but for god's sake, be gentle.
Chapter 4: Free-Falling
Strangely enough, the hardest and most painful of my breakups is also the one I feel best about, if only because at that point I had had a lot of practice. I was with my last girlfriend for four years. We had a house and a dog and a Netflix account, but we were about as miserable as two people who really love each other can be.
I had to go all the way across the country to the get distance I needed to realize how out of balance my life was, so I ended up telling my ex over the phone that we had to part ways. Ordinarily, that would be an unforgivable sin, but really, the only rule for getting out of a bad relationship is GET OUT.
So I recruited my mom (god bless support networks) and together we gathered what we could of my possessions (minus my dog and my Xbox, both of which I miss every day), cut my losses, and started over.
The older you get, and the more your life becomes intertwined with someone else's, the harder it becomes to leave. But you also learn a lot about empathy and kindness from the painful necessity of untethering your heart. I've gotten better at relationships with every breakup. (And I finally have a girlfriend who makes me feel ready to get out of the practice of breaking up for a good long while.)
Okay, please tell me I'm not the only one who has ever laughed uncontrollably during a breakup?