Tag Archives: breakups

A Year of Hope

My last boyfriend and I split up during the holidays of 2010. This past holiday season – and I’m not the only one who felt this – didn’t feel like the holidays at all. I bought 3 gifts for my 3 best girlfriends. No boyfriend, no gifts for family, not even for my dog.

I rode my bicycle after a party in the freezing air on Christmas early morning across the Brooklyn Bridge. There were a handful of pedestrians on the bridge at 3 a.m. and no other bicycles. No tourists! I stopped and took pictures of I-don’t-even-remember, but I do remember feeling happy. I’m single, 40, and happy.

A week later, similar circumstance. New Year’s early morning, just before 3. Several more walkers – or should I say, stumblers – and no other bicycles. One thing was different. I had met someone.

Actually, we met the Friday before Christmas at a party in the home of a warmly hospitable host. Only two degrees of separation. He and I talked about exploring areas of the city, namely Brooklyn, my home. I wasn’t even interested in him during that conversation. But he wanted me to show him Brooklyn, so I decided I would introduce him to my friends’ restaurant. How could I not bring them new business?

I forgot about him by the next day, Christmas Eve.

A few days later, he texted. Darn it, what was his name? Mike? He lol’ed and corrected me in jest. All I could remember was his perfectly formed hair, flawless skin, and clean manicure. Totally not my type. Not for a girl with grease under her fingernails, a six-month old haircut, and unkempt cuticles, not to mention skin blemishes. Still, business for my friends.

When our “date” was about to begin, I hadn’t changed my clothes from work. In fact, I got off my bicycle after a 5-mile commute, and greeted him with a “Hey”. My makeup had not been touched up. My hair was windblown. My clothes were damp with sweat. He looked like he just stepped out of a limo at a Newport, RI mansion. What did he see in me?

First, a drink at a local hangout. Superfine is run by the coolest women who keep the 20th century alive with weekend DJs, bluegrass bands, and occasional burlesque extravaganzas. The food is locally-sourced, except for the California citrus and Hatch, New Mexico green chilies. I ordered a margarita. Better to bear with this man wearing cashmere and an oxford shirt. Certainly is not the guitar slinger nor the geek I usually date.

The drink was followed by dinner at my friends’ place, AlMar, at the bar. Surprisingly, he was okay with sitting at the bar. Personally, it’s a preference when the only seating options are across from each other. Why, when the food is to be savored and enjoyed, should one be distracted by a dining partner’s presence when familiarity and comfort is at a minimum? How self-conscious can a person get with a new date at dinner? No wonder so many people prefer just drinks for a first date. But this wasn’t a date with a prospect in my eyes. Dinner was devoured.

The third place we went to, Jack the Horse Tavern, in my opinion has the best traditionally-mixed cocktails in Brooklyn. By this point, after he disdainfully refused my inquisitive financial contribution, it was with pleasure to bring him here. Not because he was paying, but because showing him great places was the least I could do to as a courtesy.

Fortunately, on this last Thursday of 2011, he surprised me once again.

Granted, by this time we each had had a cocktail and a half bottle of wine. In spite of the reduced judgment ability, his conversation locked my attention to the point where words flowed from my mouth without the need to edit. I can’t remember the last time I sat with someone with this conversation ease. We talked about our post-9-11 experiences, our families’ highlights (or dysfunctions), travel destinations, and things our fanciful drinks reminded us of. The more we talked, the easier it became to see our similarities and reconcile our differences.

He walked me home. I didn’t need to be drunk to kiss him.

The next day he sent a text. “Last night exceeded my expectations.” Expectations? What are those? I tried not to think about a possible future with this atypical date. It’s pretty easy to do that when you can think of all the reasons why it would not work out.

Early New Year’s morning I rode my bike with hope. The memory of this man would not go away. If anything, he gave me a glimpse into a different life. Fifteen hours later, I answered the phone to, “When should I pick you up?”

To Be Continued.

Breaking up, the right way

So you’ve reached that point in your relationship where you realize it’s just not working out. For one reason or another, it’s time to move on. Sometimes it’s easy to move on because the other person has proven, without a doubt, that they are not the one for you. Sometimes it’s not so easy because, “there’s nothing really wrong.” You don’t fight and you get along, but the spark is gone. Either way, you’ve made the decision to break things off and the time is now.

You should first congratulate yourself for making this decision. There are a lot of people who stay in unfulfilling relationships because they fear change, or don’t want to be alone, or don’t want to hurt the other person. You don’t owe it to anyone to stay in a relationship that isn’t working for you, and taking this step is scary. Take a deep breath and you’ll get through it.

Before talking to your partner, you need to ask yourself a very important question: is this really it? You should never break up with someone as a ploy to test their affections. People are emotionally weak, so toying with someone’s emotions like that is just cruel. If you want to break up, then know that this is a forever decision…you don’t get to change your mind next week. It’s not fair to the other person and it’s not good for you. So decide, right now, if you are happy saying goodbye forever. If the answer is no, then you’re not ready to break up. If there’s something in your relationship that you want to change, then communicate about changing it. Breakups are not a tool for fixing your relationship.

Once you’re certain that you want to break up, you need to have a reason ready to tell the other person. Most people need a solid reason why a relationship is ending for closure. We, as humans, tend to question every move we made when things go wrong. Maybe if I brought her flowers more often things would have been different. Maybe if I was more affectionate. If you are breaking up with someone, eliminate this misery: tell him or her exactly why you’re leaving. The reason should be something concrete and you should stress that there’s nothing that could change how you feel. For example, “I met someone else,” is a tangible reason, as is “I don’t like the way you treat me.” A crappy reasons is something like, “I just can’t be in a relationship right now.” There’s a reason you can’t be in a relationship right now, explain what it is! “I can’t be in a relationship right now because I’m too stressed about life and can’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated.” That’s a real reason.

After you’ve told them your reason and stressed that there’s nothing they could have done differently, don’t patronize them. Don’t tell them how wonderful they are or how you wish you would’ve met them later in life; such things are just cruel. Say you’re sorry for hurting them but don’t apologize for your decision. And whatever you do, do not ask if you can still be friends. There’s two reasons to avoid this common pitfall: 1) it’s not a clean break, you can’t go from lovers to friends over night and 2) it’s selfish.

Exes can be friends, but only after time. You both need the time to reset how you think about each other, how your lives are without each other. Trying to “hang out” the next weekend typically means you’ll end up sleeping with each other and you’ll need to break up all over again. A clean breaks means you stop seeing each other. Period. Allow time for your emotional health to be restored. Sometime down the road, you may be able to be friends, but not right away.

And here’s the thing, it’s the person who gets dumped that gets to decide if they want to be friends later on. As the dumper, you give up that right on account of your ripping out another person’s heart and dancing on it. The person who was dumped already feels powerless, this is the one thing that you owe him or her at this point. Let your ex have this decision.
Another thing you, as the dumper, cannot do is to act like you got dumped. Symptoms include wanting to continue talking multiple times during the following week, being “hurt” by the way your ex is acting now, and sending emails/text message/phone calls just to “say hi” or to “see how you’re doing”. If the person you dumps wants to talk to you (and he or she may if no sense of closure was reached), the call will come on its own. It’s not your responsibility to check up on your ex to make sure everything’s okay. News flash: it’s not okay. There is hurt and there is upset. There will probably be anger soon, and you don’t want to be caught up in that. Let well enough alone.

Breaking up with someone is difficult. In some ways, it may be more difficult than being dumped. If the guidelines in this post seem too harsh or strict, consider how unbalanced the relationship has become at that point. As the dumper, you’ve had time to think about your decision. You’ve pondered your life without your significant other and decided that it’s a good option. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about it for days or weeks, but you’ve come to your decision. Your boyfriend or girlfriend has no idea that this is coming, they will have no emotional or psychological preparation for life without you. One moment you’re a couple, the next you’re not. As the dumper, you owe them some dignity and caring in your final moments together. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.