The Anatomy Of Breakups
Get ready to look at breaking up from all angles. There is no deciding how, why, or where to initiate your own split without recognizing the complexities of a breakup.
Men and women do it differently. That’s why it is so hard to see it coming sometimes. It is advisable, therefore, to recognize his or her maneuvers, understand each other’s mindset, re-evaluate your own actions, and learn to proceed in a manner that is empowering.
Being defeated by love’s game leaves lasting affects. Ward them off at the breakup.
Dissecting the Beast
We are going to put the pieces of breaking up under the microscope. Understanding the nature of the beast will enhance the effectiveness and ease the pain of your breakup. It helps to know what issues will trip you up, the feelings you cannot avoid, and the choices you must make. Knowing the steps each breakup takes makes the climb less cumbersome for everybody.
True, each breakup is unique. Personality, intensity of the relationship, length of togetherness, and sexual involvement put their own marks on the event and complicate the process. However, the thorough preparation in previous articles, Contemplating a Breakup, has equipped you to objectively sort out these issues.
A Set of Absolutes
Breaking up has its own set of natural properties. They are part and parcel of the beast. It is worthwhile to keep them in mind.
Breaking up is no one’s fault. It is a natural course of the dating process and a hazard to be anticipated.
Breaking up is never easy. To break up is to admit that you’ve made a mistake. Changing romantic courses is bound to be uncomfortable.
Someone is going to feel bad when it’s all over. If you’ve been fair, you needn’t blame yourself.
The duration of attraction and infatuation is not always equal among two parties. If it doesn’t turn into true love, it eventually fizzles. When this happens is out of your control.
Someone will feel or look like the bad guy. Whoever takes responsibility for the breakup assumes the guilt and posture of the outlaw even if it is not warranted.
Breaking up is a no-win situation. No matter how carefully you try to sever ties, someone is going to feel hurt, rejected, and unhappy.
Rarely is severing romantic ties accomplished with complete honesty. Instead, individuals skirt the truth, tell large and small lies, and make up stories to avoid saying I just don’t care enough for you to continue our relationship as companions or lovers.
Nearly everyone prefers to avoid conflicts in calling it quits. It only increases the discomfort.
Feelings of ambivalence haunt at least one of the romantic partners. No matter how right it feels to sever ties, someone worries they are taking the wrong course of action if only for a moment.
You can recover from even the most painful parting of the ways. Breaking up is not a fatal condition. Surviving the breakup and rising above it will be covered in full in next articles, Surviving the Breakup.
As if breaking up wasn’t hard enough with this list of absolutes! But add in the element of sex, and things get really complicated.
Sex: A Complicating Factor
From the initial eye-catching attraction to the last shred of romantic involvement, sex complicates a relationship. Fear of contracting fatal diseases may have put the brakes on purely recreational sex, but it hasn’t done anything to stall the libido over time. Normally, some degree of sexual intimacy has been established before the stage of romantic atrophy sets in. Supposedly, there are 2,800 ways to satisfy a lover without having intercourse.
It shouldn’t take adherents of the National Chastity Organization to convince you that sex confuses love and lust, may interfere with developing the strong fundamentals in a relationship, opens the door for recrimination, or makes breaking up a whole lot harder. By now that should be obvious.
Casual sex is short-term, based primarily on lust, founded on need, and gratified by a physical release. Sex in romantic relationships is generally long-term and performed with affection, trust, and desire specifically for one another.
The woman who engages in intercourse under the latter circumstances views it as the ultimate act of sexual intimacy (giving part of herself away) and interprets it as a meaningful sign of commitment. She expects this guy to stick around for a while and he knows it.
In short, she is more emotional about sex than a man. Twenty seven-year-old Cynthia made the point when she said, If you ask a man what he is thinking after sex and he says nothing, he means it. He has nothing going on in his head. The woman is lying there thinking, This is wonderful. We are so close. All of the problems we were having in our relationship must be resolved now. And she’s thinking that he is thinking the same thing.
There is no getting away from the fact that both parties enjoy sex. Equally true is that women love the affection. Few men or women are eager to give up sex with a partner that is pleasing and with whom they feel secure and free of health risks. Nonetheless, these encounters border on unwise clinches.
No wonder sex is commonly the last thing to go in a relationship. It sometimes becomes a tool used by women to try and hold onto the relationship. The ridiculous thing is, as Chegal admits, Every woman has the same parts. So what the hell is the point? If the man really loves her, the sexual thing isn’t going to sway him.
Nonetheless, even when love starts spinning backward, sometimes sex keeps moving forward. Some guys say it’s no great shakes to keep having sex with one woman while looking for another. I have liked her and cared about her, so what’s the difference? It’s not like I don’t care about her.
But sex is the big fooler, and we know what she’s thinking!
More precarious yet is when old lovers get together for sex because they haven’t found other suitable partners. Although they enter into the romp fully cognizant of their intentions, it isn’t difficult to stir old emotions, forget why they broke up in the first place, begin a second round of the relationship founded on sex, and go through the entire breaking up process again.
Stages of Breaking Up
From start to finish, breakups are comprised of at least five stages unless the romance ends in an unexpected explosion of emotion.
1. The Awakening. The period of awakening is characterized by the end of the infatuation, a drop in attraction, a loss of excitement being together, and the onset of reality. The problems, deficiencies, or differences that did not seem to matter in the beginning take on greater importance. With a change of heart, a love interest is seen more clearly, understood better, and carefully scrutinized.
2. Lingering Doubt. In this stage, men and women aren’t sure exactly what they are feeling. They question whether their disinterest is momentary or permanent.
3. The Lull of Inaction. At this point it seems more comfortable to coast. It takes time to get used to the idea that you are no longer attracted to your previous love interest, that you are ready to move on, and that your future is uncertain. Doing nothing is safe and only mildly uncomfortable.
4. Making Clumsy, Half-Hearted Attempts. One day you refuse to see him or her, make up an excuse to break a date, and in a round about way that no one could possibly decipher say that you want out. Then two days later you want a playmate to go to the movies with and call your nearly ex love interest. You put off your plan of breaking up for the present.
5. Responding to the Final Straw. You just can’t play the charade any longer. You’ve had it. You want to move on. You experience panic at the thought of not breaking the ties and determination to set yourself free. Now and then, urgency is based on someone else who looks too attractive to pass up. You do it! How you do it and whether or not your breakup is damage controlled depends on the amount of forethought.
A Tale of the Five-Stage Breakup
John and Janet had grown up together and became romantically involved for a few years in their mid-20s. John’s awakening occurred after he moved to a new city away from Janet. He was surprised at how little he missed her and how his passion had cooled. He doubted, though, that what he was feeling was a good thing. It seemed so right to love Janet, to marry Janet.
For months John did nothing. He ignored all the signs. Taking no action was the safest thing to do. He was having great difficulty imagining the turmoil his breakup would cause everyone. The lull of inaction wasn’t hurting anyone, he thought.
Eventually he made a half-hearted attempt and broke it off. But because his determination was limp and his courage faulty, he found himself back in Janet’s arms. The prospect of her coming to join him and moving in loomed large. One can only wonder how much longer the limbo would have gone on if Janet had not posed her ultimatum.
Put up or shut up. I want a ring before I pack my bags, was Janet’s message. John took it as the final straw.
Sizes and Shapes of Breakup Styles
What style did John use to break it off? Select your answer from among the most common examples.
The Classic Breakup. It sounds like this: I care about you, but let’s be friends. I think you are wonderful. We haven’t had a bad relationship, but something major is missing. It is as plain and forthright as some Susies and Sams can get. Normally women get huffy over this size and shape breakup. Men take it better.
The Cowardly Cop-Out. Philip did not want to get talked into marriage. If he went away with Paula for the weekend, he was afraid he might come back engaged. It really spooked me, he said. You never break up with anyone in bed. Sex is the perfect way to get talked into something. Philip took the coward’s way out. He simply did not show up for the trip at the appointed day and time. I felt badly dumping her that way. I just hoped I would never see her again.
The Night-Crawler Maneuver. He or she slowly wiggles their way out of a relationship. They disguise their primary concern for themselves by voicing concern over the other person. I don’t want to hurt them. I don’t want to upset anybody. I don’t want anyone to cry. Conflict is the worst.
The Peace Accord. When two people come to a simultaneous agreement that their exploration into a more committed relationship doesn’t seem likely to work out, they part peacefully. Evidence of the Peace Accord style of breakup is a show of honesty, forthrightness, and concern for others. Only valiant, honorable warriors are capable of engaging in a peaceful resolution.Not all breakup styles are equally healthy or fair. The Cowardly Cop-Out and the Night-Crawler Maneuver are by far the least commendable of all. The Peace Accord, on the other hand, may be one of the most difficult to carry off, but it is certainly the most admirable. The Classic Breakup is, however, the most popular.
The warranted non-breakup is perhaps the most disturbing situation of all. It is a breakup that should occur but doesn’t. From the hundreds of individuals I have interviewed about their love relationships, I have to conclude that women are most prone to this mishap. There are two reasons women generally fail to act when a breakup is warranted.
The Desperate Woman Syndrome
These women absolutely, positively do not allow themselves to see the truth. They are blind to bright red obvious rebuffs and oblivious to verbal baloney. Instead of breaking up, they keep trying to set things right and become experts at making excuses for their lover’s behavior. Although this is a definite pattern among healthy and unhealthy women, it is pronounced and exaggerated among females who look like, sound like, and smell like desperate women who indiscriminately grab a mate.
Are you a desperate woman? Want to know the answer? Take the following quiz.
1. Will you latch onto anything in pants?
2. Do you have a set agenda when you meet a guy?
3. Are you fearful that you will never meet a decent man?
4. Are you concerned you won’t have the opportunity to marry?
5. Do you fall in love with every guy who demonstrates interest in you?
6. Do you chase after guys?
7. Are you dying to be loved?
8. Do you constantly require the company of a man?
9. Do you feel incomplete without a man in your life?
10. Do you go out searching for guys?
Ten yes answers mean you are desperate and obsessed. Any number greater than three is suspect.
Ten no answers mean you are too laid back. Try being a little more aggressive.
Ten sometimes answers mean you are basically honest. Nonetheless, a little more show of independence would be a step away from becoming a desperate woman.
Yes and no answers mixed equally together means you may be somewhat desperate, but the evidence may be hidden well enough to allude your love interest.
The Pleasure Takeover Syndrome
There are women who know they are involved in a relationship that is headed for disaster. Despite the inevitable unhappiness the relationship will eventually cause them, they refuse to give up the pleasures, love, fun, and good sex the relationship is providing. They pack their common sense in the closet.
Emily failed to see her second warranted non-breakup. She thought she had a clear picture of what was going on. She was having an affair with a married coworker at the same time she was Edward’s betrothed. She was starting to go crazy cheating on her boyfriend. Nonetheless, for several months she was unable to halt the affair because her lover provided her with things her fiancé couldn’t. He shared her intellectual interests and was more supportive and understanding of her hopes and dreams. Eventually, however, Emily managed to summon her common sense and break off all communication with her lover.
She understood that she was adrift in the Pleasure Takeover Syndrome and that a breakup with her married lover was warranted and immediately called for.
A breakup with her fiancé may have been warranted as well, and certainly not on the grounds of her sexual indiscretion only. Due consideration should have been given to splitting based on Emily’s perceptions of what her fiancé was missing. There was evidence he lacked prominent qualities on her love map, could not hold her undivided attention, nor keep her under his sheets. It sounds like there was too much room for dissatisfaction, too little fertilizer for the seeds of happiness to grow, and too little commitment to prevent a dismal marriage forecast.
Unfortunately, Emily failed to recognize that it isn’t always a glaring mistake or the Pleasure Takeover Syndrome that indicates a breakup is advisable.
Unfair Breakup Tactics
Sorry, but all is not fair in love and war. There are some tactics that are way out of bounds when breaking up:
Don’t flaunt a new love interest in front of an old one.
Don’t keep anyone dangling over the cliff.
Don’t lie about loving.
Don’t treat anyone as if they are a throw-away lover.
Don’t break up when someone is boarding an airplane or has no chance for a rebuttal.
Don’t break up by leaving an e-mail or voice mail message.
Breaking up always leaves a tad of a sour taste, but that doesn’t mean you have the right to do it distastefully. In a world of love, what goes around comes around. Forget the unfair breakup tactics. You will be taught enough of the good ones to do just fine.