Ok, we all know that breaking up with someone sucks. But really..one of the less than stellar aspects of dating and then breaking up with someone long distance, is that your friends/acquaintances/co-workers/that guy who sits ouside of 7-11 shaking a can with coins in it.. yeah they aren’t always super up-to-date with your newly single status. Last they heard, things were going swimmingly..you were glowing with happiness and 7-11 man was super pumped about the extra few dollars that happy glow brought to his can. So when you do break up, and news hasn’t quite traveled around the grapevine yet, it is with a constant jolt of hurt that you have to keep answering the question, “So how are you and Bennett doing?” Bless their hearts, they can’t help it. They don’t know. For the next few weeks, I felt a little twinge each time I had to explain that actually yes, we had an awesome time on our trip; yes, I really liked him and he was a great guy; oh and by the way..we broke up and I couldn’t really understand why.
You see, it was about this point that I stopped thinking about how sad I was and actually began to get confused and even angry. I always do this..take a few hours, days or even weeks to realize that someone has not just hurt me..but royally pissed me off. It’s like my brain gives my heart a shot of novacane so that I will be numb to the pain for a little while. I go all Mother Theresa on these men. All soft and sweet.. “No, I totally understand.” “I just want you to be happy.” “No, of course I don’t hate you.” Blah blah blah.. until the meds wear off and I’m all “Wait…what? Oh HELL no.”
Sure, I got that Bennett needed to devote his time to his girls and his job, but what I didn’t understand was why he all of the sudden decided that there wasn’t enough room in his life for a relationship. He signed up on a dating site for Pete’s sake!..I mean, maybe he was just testing the waters, but he allowed things with us to go along so far and for so long. I couldn’t understand what was the deal-breaker for him. What made him decide that a relationship was more than he was willing to give. When was the moment he realized that I was not what he wanted? Here’s the thing. Us single gals wonder about crap like this all the time. Why didn’t he call me back when we had such a great time together? (*awesome date with the Not So Southern Gentleman) Why did he break up with me and then tell me what a catch I was? (*Jeff, Grant, Chris and Bennett…lord…has it been that many already?) We obsess about these questions, ask our girlfriends what they think the problem was (oh honey, he was just afraid to commit..you were too amazing for him…he was intimidated), ask our guy friends their perspective on things (you should totally just go out..hook up with other people..wait..what was the question? Are you gonna eat the other half of your sandwich?) We think we want to know why these things happen..but here’s the deal. If we ever did find out the real reason why a guy wasn’t interested in us anymore, I doubt we’d like the answer very much. English poet Thomas Gray once said, “Where ignorance is bliss, ‘Tis folly to be wise.” And you know what? By golly Thomas, I think you were on to something old chap! Ignorance..at least in the dating world…is bliss. I don’t really want to know the reason you’ve decided you don’t want anything to do with me anymore. I’d rather you lie and tell me “I’m not really a long-distance relationship kind of guy,” or “I just don’t think I can give you what you deserve.” That fluff is designed to soften the blow and keep us from getting all girly and emotional. FYI..nothing freaks a man out more than girly emotionalness..yeah I know that’s not even a real word, but it’s working for me in this context. So really, while underneath all that bs is the truth, as far as I’m concerned, it can stay buried where it belongs.
Now, after you’ve filled people in on your new status, you will inevitably get some unsolicited advice. Strangely enough, it usually comes from people who don’t really know you that well and don’t have any clue of what you’ve been going through for the last 10 months. They corner you at baby showers near the spinach and artichoke dip and before you can make a quick getaway, they throw out these little pearls of wisdom that are not only vaguely irritating but also slightly insulting.
“Do you know what you’re doing wrong?” One girl asked me with a look of concern on her face. “No, but please,” I responded taking a gulp of wine, “enlighten me.” As my eyes darted around the room, scanning for any possible escape route, she continued.
“You are too closed off. You should smile more. You need to put yourself out there and be approachable. Walk up to guys and make them buy you drinks. Go out to more bars. There are some really great ones in the West End. You know that’s where I snagged my man. I remember when I was single…” At this point her voice started morphing into that teacher from Charlie Brown..you know..the one who sounds like “wahh wah wahhhhh wah wah” when she talks to the class..Honestly it was the most TERRIBLE advice anyone had ever given me. Did she really just use the phrase “snagged my man?” I started imagining her with a pith helmet, a huge butterfly net and entirely too much khaki out in some jungle somewhere trying to catch that elusive beast called MAN. I know for a fact that I look heinous in khaki so that’s clearly not going to work. Do I need to start going out to the bars dressed like this?
I suppose it would get me a little more attention. 😉 But somehow I just couldn’t agree with this girl and all of her well-meaning, but completely off-base remarks. I am open. I happen to think I smile more than the average person. In fact, I smiled at a cute guy at the grocery store tonight when we both reached for the same basket and do you know what he did? Smiled right back! Ha! So there Charlie Brown Teacher Chick. And for the record, this girl was at least four or five years older than myself and only just got married a few months ago after dating the guy for less than six months. I’m pretty sure she didn’t have any kind of qualifications (a PHD in Male Psychology could have definitely come in handy) to back up her theories. The crap part was, that she actually berated me so badly with the whole, “you should keep getting out there and meeting more people” thing, that I started tearing up. I don’t know how many times I kept repeating “I need a break from it. I don’t want to date right now. I just want to take a break.” She just wasn’t getting the picture. I eventually just ended the conversation by telling her I had to pee. What? Ha ha. It was the only thing I could think of at the time. I really need to work on my exit strategies.
This whole advice when you don’t really want/need it thing is not just for us poor deprived single people either. (Psh..please. I love my life. I feel really lucky to have a wonderful family, a job that pushes me constantly to be better and some amazing friends who support me and make me do fun things with them..what’s not to love? Sure, finding the love of my life would be great..spectacular even..but I’m doing just fine without him thank you very much!) From recent conversations with friends, it seems that whatever is going in your life..whether you are a new parent like my sister Joanna and my best friend Rachel who have just had some of the cutest babies you’ve ever seen and are now getting slammed left and right with advice on how to raise said adorable creatures…or just someone trying to live your life and figure it out as you go. It seems that everyone has an opinion on the best way to do this. And you know what I say to that?
(alright Mama, if you are out there and reading..it’s time for you to go check your email or something..come back in a few minutes)
WHO GIVES A SHIT?! Let these people talk and talk as much as they want. Perfect the art of smiling and nodding..and then you go on and do whatever it is you need to do my friends. Figure it out! Mess up! Make mistakes and epic failures..because you know what? That is a part of LIFE..that is a part of being a HUMAN BEING. We fall down, scrape our knees and then realize that it’s NOT a super awesome idea to tie your dog’s leash to your bike handle bars. You have to learn these things for yourself. So let that advice marinate for a second, take what you need from it and then trash the rest. Because really, the only person you need to be listening to..is YOURSELF.