Well, my fellow bitches, I'm about to depart. Today is the end of my gig at Bitch. So, in the spirit of farewells and last words, the topic of this post is break-ups. (Not that we're breaking up. But more on that later.)
I've always been of the opinion that unless a relationship has taken an unusually ugly turn, or you feel unsafe in some way, breakups should be done face-to-face, or at least by phone, where both sides can express their feellings. That's how most of my relationships have ended, and when I've stayed friends with my exes, it was usually because the breakup itself was amicable and we handled things sensitively enough that there were no hard feelings.
A lot of people, though, are a lot less comfortable with that. Breakups are undeniably unpleasant, and lots of us would rather find a way to get it over with without having to actually look someone in the eye or hear the sound of their voice.
Many years ago, a handsome pediatrician I'd been dating left a "I don't think we should see each other anymore" message on my home answering machine. Of course, he called my home at 3 PM in the full knowledge that the answering machine would pick up, so he could dump me without ever having to talk to me. Unfortunately for him, I had no idea that I'd been dumped when I called from my office that evening to say "Hey, what time are you coming over tonight?" Needless to say, an awkward conversation ensued--"Are you at home?" "Not yet, why?"--and despite his best efforts, the breakup ultimately happened in real time instead of the quick electronic blow-off he wanted.
As for electronic blow-offs, the most egregious happened this past year, when I got dumped by text message. After I wrote about it on Harpyness, a couple people chimed in with similar stories. Lest we think electronic dumping is solely the work of dudes, one of the commenters said that she'd been dumped by a girlfriend in the same way, and one woman confessed she'd considered sending a "Ur dumped" text herself until she'd read my post. And one of the commenters related this story:
I have a friend who broke up with a girl over AIM once when he was in high school. The next day, *everyone*, including one teacher, yelled at him about it. He's never sent any crap IMs since.
AIM? Sheesh. But he was a kid, and he Got Told, thus hopefully teaching him some breakup etiquette and saving women from future IM fuckitude on his part.
It seems to me that information superhighway has become the preferred quick, bloodless way to end relationships. In cyberspace, no one can hear you scream, or rant, or see you cry. This might be a good thing if it helps the dumped person preserve his/her dignity, but I think it also encourages insensitive, cowardly behavior on the part of the dump-er. That can sting a lot more than the actual end of dating.
And let's not forget that once all the texting, messaging and shouting is over, breaking up can screw with the practical side of life as well as your head. Even if you're not married and dividing property, you can wind up with major headaches or lost money, as with a friend who lived on my sofa for a time after his boyfriend kicked him out--it took weeks to get back his security deposit, find a new apartment and arrange to pick up his stuff. He had initiated the split, and didn't regret it, but he paid a high price all the same.
Another good example of this from my own escapades: I had been doing the long-distance thing for nearly a year with an American writer who lived in Israel, and was all set to fly over and spend New Year's with him. Last minute plane ticket: $1,400. Chance to be somewhere warm--well, warmer than New York--celebrating with my beloved: priceless.
At least, that's what I thought, until the fatal phone call about a week before my flight. Reader, we broke up. And the ticket was non-refundable. After we both finished crying and emoting, I bitched: "And what about the $1,400 I just spent?" He made some half-hearted noises: "Well, I can help pay some of that," but he had way less money than I did, so we both knew that would never happen. My next call was to Continental Airlines to plead my case. The very nice customer service operator reminded me that the ticket was non-refundable, and I blurted out, "Well, my boyfriend and I just broke up and I'm not using the ticket to visit him." She was immediately sympathetic, bless her, and after some negotiating, agreed to credit me the $1,400 if I used it within a year. Except I'd have to pay a change fee of $300. My financial loss was somewhat less painful than it might have been, but still...that's $300 I'll never see again. I wrote it off as the "breakup tax" and used the credits to fly to San Francisco to have a post-breakup fling (or two) with an old friend.
Anyway, ladies, I'm not breaking up with y'all. I've promised the lovely editors that be willing to do some guest spots in the future. In the meantime, please drop in and visit me at The Pursuit of Harpyness, where I frequently write about sex and relationships, as well as women's issues, current events, pop culture and lots of other stuff.
Hugs and kisses,