November 23, 2008

The Dumper vs The Dumped

Today's blog is written by a quasi-secret guest poster (eck-chay the omments-kay, is all i'm sayin') so please read up and let her know your thoughts...

Oh, man, break ups, hey?

I'm going to make a stand here and say I'd rather be the dumped than the dumper. When somebody breaks up with you, you're allowed to be angry at them. When you are dumped, the world gives you permission to eat cookies by the pound while watching Amelie three times in a row. Your friends don't ask you why you haven't showered (at least for a few days), but instead they help you make a list of why you were way too good for him anyway. And it makes pretty great blog fodder- everyone will leave either a sympathetic comment complimenting you or a empathetic compliment sharing their even worse break up story. Girl talk! Friendship! Optimism!

Breaking up with somebody is much worse. It is very difficult. I recently broke up with somebody, and I found a bunch of big milestones where I really had to rely on friends to help me sort myself out. Alice was of course terrifically supportive. I'm keeping this post as respectful as possible, but I thought it would be better not to post it on my own blog in case he still reads it. It was a challenge, really. These were the hardest steps:

1. Being sure. It's sort of an awkward conversation to "take back" a break up, so you better be sure first. The inclination towards breaking up starts with small irksome things he does, then the discovery of a few major differences of opinion, or maybe during some time apart (like in my case, he went away for a long weekend) you realize you love time to yourself more than time with him. And then you get all "do I even like him?" and this is approximately the time that you (or at least, I) start making pros and cons charts. During this step, you can act like everything is cool (but then later that makes you look hot/cold), or try to talk it out ("uh, I think I MIGHT want to break up with you" is kind of mean and way too wishy washy), or, my preferred route, the suggested increase in space ("scale back," if you will).

2. Finding a place. Once you're sure, think about a good place for the talk to happen. This step can be easy if your selected break up setting is "over the phone," but then you're also a ruthless muffin head. I personally think any place where he can leave whenever he wants is most thoughtful. I think it's only fair to let him decide when the conversation is over... so his apartment, for example, is a bad idea because it's hard to gauge when he wants you to leave.

3. Finding a time. ROUGH. Because you know what? There is never a good time. I kept finding excuses (like he just gave me an expensive present, or he is really stressed out and overwhelmed with work and school) and my BFF had to point out to me that there really is always something: Valentine's day, sick grandfathers, you have plans to meet his friends this weekend, birthdays, etc. I had to set myself a deadline.

4. Initiating. If you're lucky, you can swing it into some regularly planned hang out time (like if he always comes over to watch 30 Rock together. Except maybe don't do that, because it's a great show and you don't want to soil it for anybody.) But otherwise you have to suggest meeting up either under a pretence ("come by my house to pick me up for dinner") or with heavy laden foreshadowing ("I think, um, probably do you want to come over, just, to, talk about something that I need to talk about?")

5. Saying it. Once everything is in position, cut the small talk. You're stalling. Do it. Say the words: I think we should break up. Those are very hard words to say it. But remember when you were learning to swim and you had to kind of bob and count to 3 before you could put your head under? I sat in way too much awkward silence, while both of us waiting for what I was obviously about to say. Like five minutes of absolute silence. Next time I'm going to give myself a count to three and then just say it.

6. Standing by it. So many people have told me they've got talked out of breaking up. That's silly. Stick to your guns.

7. Being so so nice. If you're breaking up with somebody, you're the bad guy. After "let's break up," every word that comes out of your mouth should be kindly intentioned. It is totally fair for them to be angry at you, or defensive, or upset and you have to let them. Well, I mean, you don't have to. You don't have to do anything nicely. But being considerate can be hard when you want to defend your decision. (My personal inclination is to not go into the nitty gritty details of all the reasons you want to break up. Keep a few good overhead points ready, in case he presses for details, but now is not the time to say things like, "plus, I hate how you dress" even if you feel that way. Keeping in it and being a nice as possible is a challenge sometimes, at least for me)

8. Dealing with the aftermath. Well, I can't offer too much advice since I'm still kind of in this stage. If you're still going to try to be friends, how long do you go without speaking? Who calls who? I think I call him, but what do I say? How about if you have mutual friends who don't know that you've broken up... who tells them? Also, hyyyyypoethically, what if you work together and you're bound to run into each other in the office? You should talk outside of work before that happens, right? How? When? Where? Also, what's the protocol for if one of you is moving to a different country in less than a month anyway, and so why can't he see that breaking up is really a decision of a rational mind, but also then when you move do you still keep in touch and if so, what's the point? What's the point in anything, really? I think I'm going to ask my parents to arrange me a marriage. Or maybe I'll just AI myself some kids and hire help. Dating is the worst.

No, you know what's the worst? Not being able to post this on my own blog. So thanks, Alice!


  1. Hi hi, this is me. I just didn't want to be traced down, you know? Anyway, feedback appreciated!

  2. This was SO fun to read!

  3. I KNEW IT WAS YOU. From the very first line I knew, because that is so YOU, and then when I got to the part about the chart, I was extra double sure. Also, I think you're right. Anyone with a bit of empathy hates being in the position of hurting someone else. It sucks to be hurt, too, but in a different way.

  4. Ugh. I have never actually had to do a REAL break-up talk, as in, from an actual established relationship. But even ending things with someone I've been seeing only a month or two fully sucks and terrifies me, so I totally understand all of this.

    There should be a service to do this for us. Wait. There probably is, right? And it's probably not a good idea, actually.

  5. Whoever wrote this is very insightful.

  6. Oh man. This post is GENIUS.

    I especially like that last one. The tapering off of communication is the WORST. Not that I would know, or anything, but there are entire MESSAGE BOARDS dedicated to the fine art of maintaining "no contact" with a recent ex.

  7. I've dumped a guy over the phone once. But the only reason I did that was because we lived in two different countries and there was no way I was going to see him any time soon. Called him up, and came right out and said it. Ended up doing both of us a huge favor.

    Breaking up is never easy, but sometimes it just has to be done.

  8. Why do you think there are so many stories about bad break-ups. Over the phone. Or by text. Or people being stood up. I don't think anyone likes being the dumper.

  9. This post was very interesting to read. I've always, always been the break-upper and it Sucks!There is nothing you can say to make it go smoothly I guess.

    Anyway, I hope you feel stronger every day, it will get better!

    Sidenote: I don't think one should keep contact immediately with any ex. Regardless of the situation, one should always wait at least six months to regroup. Otherwise it can get confusing and messy. IMHO.

  10. Being the dumper SUCKS. I know getting dumped is not exactly great. When you care about someone and know that you don't feel the same about them that they feel about you, it is just as painful. Nobody wants to get hurt. But I guess that is the risk you take by dating to begin with.

    That being said, I once broke with a girl via email. Is that bad? :)

  11. Ha ha ha. This was friggin brilliant. Coz we have all been here. Also you've given me a great idea for my blog post.

  12. Nice post.

    It also reminded me of something I had to do a few months ago. Not break up with someone, but FIRE someone. God, that's awful.

  13. So...wait. Can we now write quasi-anonymous posts on your blog? Send me the password! know...the password to your email account as well just in case there are things I want to write about in there.

    Great post, though. Very insightful. You don't often hear about the "other side" of breaking up.

  14. Speaking of being the dumper,
    Im having a little bowel movement right now.. plop plop:)

  15. yeah, breaking up with somebody sucks.

  16. I must say that I agree with "guest blogger" - I've always been dumped and while it never seems to make me look very good, it does give me the right to be angry as well for awhile, treat the ex like shit* and never feel guilty about it :)

    *degree of shit is dependent on how bad the break-up was

  17. I am usually the dumper but this time I'm the dumped. Thank you for your post - it helps.