Breaking Up is Hard To Do

Webster’s Dictionary defines a “break up” as “to cease to exist as a unified whole” or “to end a romance.” (By the way, I haven’t started a composition with “Webster’s Dictionary defines…” since the eighth grade, so I thought I was overdue.)

Since breaking up is the end result of most dating relationships, I decided it was important to write an article about the subject. For me, the most relevant question is “when does a dating relationship require an ‘in person’ break up?”

When I was single, my rule of thumb was that if I went out with a woman at least there to four times, and if we had a standing Saturday night date, we were in an official dating relationship. Therefore, if I wanted to end it, I had to do it in person. I could not just stop calling her or leave a voice mail, or send a text, because, well, that would be rude.

Since, like most men, I hated the actual act of breaking up, I often merely stopped going out with a woman after a couple of dates, to avoid having to live through the face-to-face break up confrontation.

Why do we men dread the in-person break up? I think it is simply because we are afraid that the woman will start crying. After all, the specter of watching a woman whom we have some feelings for break into tears absolutely terrifies us.

Of course women have no problem initiating a mature break-up conversation. At home or in a restaurant, they simply start a conversation with “We have to talk…,” and then they rationally explain why they are breaking up with us. (Sort of like a mother explaining to a five year old why he shouldn’t draw with crayons on his bedroom wall.)

On the other hand, guys who are afraid of hurting a woman’s feelings instead tend to act out negative behavior, thereby forcing the woman to break up with them.

Now ladies, you should know that we don’t actually perform this immature behavior intentionally. Rather, on some subconscious level, we usually opt to do one of the following:

• We shut down and stop communicating about anything other than the most basic of small talk or perhaps Red Sox or Patriots chatter.

• We let the woman believe that we aren’t ready for a long-term, serious commitment, but that we want to continue dating, i.e. having sex.

• We increase anti-social behavior such as alcohol, drug, or gambling abuse.

• We have an affair with a younger woman.

• We become emotionally and psychologically abusive.

So this way you will break up with us. After all, we don’t want to have to confront you and see you cry, do we? And we certainly don’t want to be rude.

I know this sounds a bit exaggerated. But I ask you to think back to your last few failed relationships and how they ended. Am I right or am I right?

In the 23 years I ran LunchDates, I can assert that literally thousands of women who contacted us began their initial conversation with “I just broke up with a guy, and…” Moreover, I would speculate that the number of guys who would call and say “I just broke up with a woman, and…” can probably be counted on two hands, and maybe a few toes.

Of course breaking up is a necessity for our economy. After all, what would the music industry do without break ups? Many if not most of the best popular songs in history evolved out of the emotional angst of someone trying to cope with “the end of a romantic relationship.”

To name just a few, how about “I Will Survive,” “Tears on My Pillow,” “End of the World,” “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” Love on The Rocks,” “Blue Moon,” “How am I Supposed to Live Without You,” ” Don’t Speak,” “Singing the Blues,” and of course the classic “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover?”

Hey, even check out the lyrics to “Margaritaville.” Poor Jimmy Buffett is “Wasting away in Margaritaville…;..Yes, some people claim there’s a woman to blame, and I know it’s my own damn fault.”

The list could go on and on. I know very little about opera, but don’t most of them end with someone committing suicide because of a relationship that “cease(d) to exist as a unified whole?”

In the course of a lifetime, all of us will probably go through at least a dozen or so break ups, beginning in our teenage years. You would think that eventually we would get the hang of it, at least by the time we hit middle age. But few of us do.

So the next time you find yourself checking into “Heartbreak Hotel” or “Lonesome Town,” remember that instead of just wallowing in your misery and “searching for (your) last shaker of salt,” get out your guitar and write a song.

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