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Bed, Bitch & Beyond: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, Akshully

 

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,

Becky

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Comments

8 comments have been made. Post a comment.

These are my confessions . . .

I totally broke up with someone in college over IM. It was a bad call. Don't do it, everyone!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Resist the temptation!

I still have major guilt over the time I broke up with a guy by not returning his phonecalls. As tough as it is to be a grown-up and say, "I don't want to see you any more," it's easier than having a life-long memory of the time you were such a cowardly weasel.

Disappearing acts! Oh yes,

Disappearing acts! Oh yes, those have happened to me...my girlfriends and I call those dudes "The League of Vanishers."

But...cough cough...I may have...ahem...pulled a vanishing act myself at least once, when I just dreaded having to let the guy down. And yeah, I felt EXACTLY the same way you did.

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

That is so true! I suffer

That is so true! I suffer total guilt everytime I think about my high school experiences because I did that very thing. My cowardliness back then is a source of never ending shame. Even though, via Facebook, I know he is more than fine now, I still wish I could go back in time.

Oh AIM

I was dumped via AIM actually a few years ago. I think he "tried" to dump me in person earlier and most definitely didn't make it clear, after which the AIM break-up ensued. It was painfully honest but respectful and polite on both our parts. We're still friends, but DON'T DUMP SOMEONE OVER AIM. Just don't do it. Woman up and contact them some other way - face to face, phone...do it live. Dignity's a little underrated; keep yours and let them keep theirs, too, if you're nice. =)

Bad Move

Never break up with someone over email, IM, Text, whatever. The person being dumped has the right to be able to say their piece and (you) as the dumper should have the courage to stand there and listen. And, if you do this, you may be able to be friends later down the road. Not immediately, but later. Most of my exes are now friends.

HOWEVER - almost ten years ago, a guy I was serious with (hell, we were looking at houses to buy together and talking marriage) told me that he needed a time out because since it was a long distance relationship and his friends hadn't met me, they were beginning to give him a hard time about being gay. WTF??? To really rub it in, the next day, he sent me an email saying he had joined a dating service and was meeting lots of interesting women to have civilized conversation with over dinner. In one day?!?!?

Of all the break ups I have been through in my life, this is the one that if I ever get a chance to return "the favour" to him, I will. Especially when two months later, he wanted me to have dinner with him and his fiancee. Not cool. Seriously not cool.

Think about this, if you're ever tempted to take the cowards way out, do you really want someone holding a life long grudge against you?

I'm Gonna Miss You!

I feel even more knowledgeable and equipped to navigate the muddy waters of relationships, and I feel even more ownership of my heterosexuality because of the discussions you've started on this website. And my mom and I are gonna be trying the Diva Cup soon! Following you to Harpyness...

Thanks, Alexia! I'm so

Thanks, Alexia! I'm so happy to hear that. The other Harpies and I will welcome you with open wings!

And good luck with the Diva Cup. I'm using mine right now!

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com