Tag Archives: breakup fail

how not to be a coward

I mentioned about a week ago that I was hurt deeply by an inconsiderate and cowardly act of rejection via Facebook chat. The fact that I see this interaction as a gift, for it has brought me great clarity, does little to alleviate the very real grief I’m feeling.

So I’ve been thinking about how I would have preferred all this go down, and I have a few specific thoughts for anyone wishing to change or renegotiate the terms of an arrangement or relationship:

  • Practice radical honesty. It’s far more compassionate and respectful than dishonesty and avoidance. What might this mean? If a man doesn’t want to spend time with me, I’d rather hear, “I’m really busy for a couple of weeks. How about we cool it and regroup at the end of the month?” Or “My wants and needs are changing. Can we find a time to talk about what that might mean in person?” Stop the excuses; nobody’s really going to believe that you’re sick for three weeks straight.
  • Align words and deeds. Communicating that you care about me, respect me and value my friendship — via electronic media — while ending any physical or potential romantic interaction feels incredibly hypocritical. I wouldn’t have what I consider an important relationship discussion digitally, unless I genuinely didn’t care whether I heard from that person again. Caring, respect, value, friendship — any of these would recommend a more humane approach.
  • Stick to what’s relevant. There is no good reason why any man, in the course of a break-up (or its equivalent), should feel the need to share anything about another woman with whom he spent as much time as humanly possible over a two-week period, drove hours across state lines to see and spent time with her extended family. Given his disinclination to see me, this information merely added salt to an open wound. And I didn’t need a visual.
  • Master the art of apology. In my experience, folks (particularly men) would rather indignantly deny that they’ve done anything wrong than apologize. Guess what? It’s not about whether you’ve done something wrong. If someone else feels hurt by something you did, chances are there’s a part of that you can own up to and acknowledge, then genuinely apologize for. It goes something like this, “I’m really sorry; I failed to consider how important this was to you, and I will know in the future to behave differently. I really don’t want my foolishness to get in the way of our friendship.” Practice it. Use it more often than you think you should. Trust me, it won’t kill you. It won’t even hurt…unless you’re a narcissist and value your ego above all.

And, perhaps most importantly:

  • Communicate in person. Everyone deserves the simple common courtesy and respect of hearing what might be difficult or painful news face to face. Anything less is cowardly.

The sum of our choices equals our character. I’m chalking this experience up to a valuable life lesson. I hereby re-commit myself to acting with love and compassion toward others, being my best self and drawing clear and healthy boundaries.

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wanna break my heart? make an appointment

Yesterday my daughter came home and announced, “My friend just got broken up with in the worst way…by text.”

Not to be outdone, I replied, “Aww, that’s awful. I just got dumped via Facebook chat.”

“Wow! That’s even worse!,” she remarked.

And then, my eleven- and nine-year-old children had a conversation about the right way to break up with someone:  face to face. Or, if there are geographic differences, Skype or a phone call are appropriate, as it turns out, according to these youngsters.

So…since around the first of the year and, if I’m honest about it, before the holidays, it’s been pretty clear that this casual lover thing wasn’t working out. As sometimes happens (who am I kidding? I really have no experience with this stuff and wouldn’t begin to know!), the more my feelings evolved, the more distant lover boy became.

And that’s okay, for all the reasons I’ve talked about in my past couple of posts. I really felt a strong new energy in 2013 and was prepared, once again, to consider welcoming a real relationship into my life. I made no assumptions that my infrequent lover was interested, regardless of how good it felt — I think for both of us — to spend time together.

We hadn’t communicated much over the holidays or New Year, what with both of us traveling and all… So, I waited it out. Finally, about a week ago, he texted and started trying to tell me a story. I immediately sensed where this text exchange was going to go and shut him down, proposing he tell me all about it the next time we got together…oh, and, by the way, Saturday would work.

No word. All week.

Sunday morning I noticed he was on Facebook chat and said hey. And he began again with the story, which was obviously important and relevant (to him). I played along, and pretty soon he was telling me about this woman he’d been hanging out with for a couple of weekends and I was like, “Seriously, we’re having this discussion via Facebook chat? Not cool.” He brushed off my comments with something about “digital age” and really needing to share, and since we hadn’t had a chance to see each other…which, you’ll recall, I’d given him the opportunity to do the very day before.

So I started to get just a little belligerent, with “so you’re embarking on a relationship with a woman going through a divorce who lives in another city?” which was really my way of saying, “get to the point, please, because I’m already pissed off by this whole situation!”

So even if we weren’t really dating, regardless how casual our relationship, I got dumped via Facebook chat…with the usual “let’s still be friends.” And I said I had to go.

As all this crap soaked in, I began to get really hurt. By the time I went to bed, I swear there was steam coming out of my ears. I was angry at him for treating me so disrespectfully and I was mad at myself for trusting him to be a steward of my feelings.

Of course I couldn’t sleep. So, finally, at 3:30am, I sent a message telling him how I was feeling — disrespected, undervalued, angry — and that, given all we’ve shared, I (we) deserved better; namely, an in-person conversation. To my surprise, by 4:15am, he had agreed that we should meet. Not sure how the part about meeting in person beforefor the “I’m out” conversation got missed in his mind… I told him I needed space. p.s. Nowhere in any of this exchange was a genuine apology.

Bottom line on this breakup fail? Don’t do it using digital media. Ever. It’s cowardly, disrespectful and completely devalues another human being. (Sadly, it wasn’t the first time I’d witnessed cowardly behavior on his part.)

In other words:  If you want to break my heart, make an effing appointment!

It’s been a long time since I felt so incredibly angry. I can’t remember the last time…really. So it was kind of cathartic. And empowering. And clarifying. And I’ve learned I can be pretty fierce!