PQ 22.1 — How do I approach the end of my relationships? What do I want from my former partners?
When Being Dumped, I Like Clear-cut Notification I Can Receive in Private that Doesn’t Require a Response
I’m starting to think I’m unusual in this regard. Since I really want only one thing when someone is breaking up with me: I want to know it’s over. I want the news delivered. Clear-cut notification that the relationship is over. That’s about it. The breakup text that’s so dread by others isn’t actually a bad thing for me. I actually prefer it that way. As with all bad news, the most merciful way for me is to receive the news privately by text. As I wrote in an earlier piece:
It’s a sentiment I’ve heard many times. Bad news is best delivered in person. But I’ve never found that to be the case.
The last few people close to me who passed away (my aunt and before that a friend), I found out via text. One from a Facebook post where someone announced that she’d passed, the other via a text from my sister.
And the medium didn’t change the reality. They were gone.
If anything, finding out the news over text meant that I had more privacy. I didn’t have to worry about falling apart in front of the news giver. Crying. Or worse, not showing enough emotion secondary to shock.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d rather not get bad news at all.
But I’ve found that getting it in person? Is way harder. There’s a lack of privacy. And the pressure to respond.
The difficult part of this is that everyone tends to default to wanting to deliver tough news in person. Whether it’s something large like someone passing away. Or something much smaller. It’s considered best practice to do it in person.
“I don’t know what his problem is. If you’re gonna break news like that, you should do it in person,” I hear a friend remark, after receiving a difficult text.
I sit there, feeling like I’m in the wrong world.
I have been broken up with in person. And it was harder. Especially in one situation where other people were around and it was difficult to leave. That was something fucking else. Ugh.
I Will Work on My Own Feelings, Get My Own Closure. I Just Want Space.
But yes, I think the issue is that I’m a very private person when it comes to dealing with my own hurt feelings. And honestly? The last person in the world I’m looking to for emotional help is the person who just broke up with me. I am very good at working through things alone in my head. Writing in my journal. (And sometimes blogging, once I have emotional closure on something, which can take hours or months depending on the relationship.) And I have a bevy of other social supports (both romantic and non-romantic) that I can turn to for help.
Sorry, new ex. You don’t really make the list on who I would like to process difficult emotions with right now. I need a little space from the sting of rejection to view you in an unbiased way and perhaps build a friendship once I’ve had a bit of time.
And if a new ex seems overeager to hear the details of what my emotional life is like, how I’m doing, or to offer unasked for — and often politely rejected — emotional support , that itself can be difficult for me.
I don’t need you to convince me that this is the right thing. I trust that you’ve thought this through and come to the correct conclusion. And if you haven’t, and you’ve done it hastily and senselessly, then I don’t want to date you anymore, because you could do it again.
I don’t need us to take away the same lessons from the relationship. We’re likely to have different understandings of this. This is fine and expected. It doesn’t preclude a good breakup or an eventual friendship.
I don’t need you to provide closure. I find closure on my own (or more accurately, closure finds me when I’m not looking for it). Nor do I need a shoulder to cry on. I have plenty of those. (My poor soggy cats.)
Mostly what I want from a former partner, especially in the short term, is a little space. Independence.
Unless we have some kind of logistical entanglement that we need to undo, we don’t have a lot reason to talk in the immediate term. Okay, sure, we need to talk if we’re living together. Or our money is combined. Or we need to be legally broken up (in the case of divorce), then yes we’ll have to sort out all those pragmatics civilly, coolly, rationally.
But I can do that. I’ve done it before.
Declaration of Independence
Since it’s Fourth of July, a big holiday in the US, I think I’ll share an old essay I wrote called “Declaration of Independence.” I wrote it at a very difficult time in my life (the most dramatic parts of which are recounted in my memoir Poly Land), but it’s an essay I find occasionally eerily applicable to my life, even now that I’m not in crisis (and haven’t been for quite some time). And yes, in regards to a breakup or two I’ve had in recent years:
I don’t care if I’m right or wrong. Blame is an artificial subjective system and patently unproductive in my opinion, but I’ll take the blame if it’ll spare a few feelings.
The last month or so, I’ve been in the constant position of no matter what I’m doing, I’m making someone unhappy, disappointing someone, depriving someone of something.
Moving out here has been its own mind fuck. I am struggling for my own survival, emotionally, financially, and otherwise. I’ve also discovered that I require a great amount of freedom and privacy, maybe enough so that it makes me incompatible with certain people, even as friends.
Even if I could change this fact about myself, I don’t think I’d want to, and I don’t think I’d be happy if I did.
The great thing (and sometimes scary thing) about life is that no one is beholden to anyone. Life is a series of micro-choices, and I do not require anyone to accept me the way I am, but I will say now that I am not changing for anyone (unless it’s what I truly desire), and I will continue my struggle to survive and treading water here no matter what it takes.
If you want to help me swim, it’s up to you. If not, I’ll endeavor to take it gracefully.
This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions and answers, please see this indexed list.