This week, Rachel on The Bachelorette will essentially have rejected all but one “last man standing”. In preparation for this week’s episode, I’ve been contemplating: how much explanation DOES one owe when instigating a break up?
Let’s back track a few years ago. I once had this boyfriend who called me one day on the phone and stated, “It’s time we start seeing other people” (you all know this story so well by now). I responded and said, “Um, you need to come do this in person”, so he drove over and we spent the next hour or so in the car, hashing out the conditions of our break up. In my mind, because I spent so much time on him (approximately six years), he owed me as much of an explanation as possible. I think, in my immature girl brain, the longer the explanation, the longer he had to linger around, the longer I could put off the pain that would be to come.
So then what did I do? Being a girl, I went back to my house, shared the news with my room mates, and then spent the next basically month over analyzing that conversation: “What did he mean when he said, ‘you are a great girl and all’?”, “When his voice got elevated, does that mean he didn’t really want to break up with me? Were there actually a few tears forming in his eyes?”, “Did he wear that white shirt with the ketchup stain on purpose as a symbol of surrendering?” etc., etc.
While some of this over analyzing was absolutely necessary and the conversation helped me to answer some questions that later came to fruition, after some maturing and aging, I’m now wondering if, actually, the best way to break up with someone is in the most direct way, with the least amount of words as possible. Because, inevitably, as a girl, the more material you give me, the more material I have to over analyze, to pick out the details, to run over with my friends, to think of all the potential scenarios of “what did he mean when he said…”, “he raised his arm when…, that must mean…”, “well, his tone of voice did inflect, so that definitely means…” …, and I’m not exactly sure this allows me to ‘heal’ and ‘move on’ quickly because there is just so much to over analyze, and as a girl, I have to over analyze everything and determine the meaning of every word, every gesture, every movement before I can allow myself to move on. For us girls, the more stuff we are offered, the more ammunition we have to think about, the more time we spend on it.
For example, let’s take Rachel’s situation, and pretend all the guys think like girls. Inevitably, because it is T.V, ABC will show a long, painful, and drawn out rejection for one of the guys tomorrow. We will hear Rachel say what a great guy he is, how fortunate she was to spend time with him, how she wishes things could have ended differently. Then, we will see the disappointment wash over his face, maybe some more tears will sprout, she will walk him to the limo, give him a loving embrace, and we will see a few minutes of footage of him riding back to the airport, over analyzing his conversation with her, trying to understand how “he could be such a great guy”, and she still didn’t pick him, over analyzing “what their future might have looked like together”, and then having to re-evaluate his future for himself, discussing “what went wrong” and “why he didn’t see it coming” (I mean, maybe this didn’t happen for Eric/Bryan/Peter, because guys seem to think differently, but for a girl, this is how our brains work). Inevitably, because ABC allows for this long, drawn out conversation, it promotes and generates more ideas for the dumpee to consider and waste time on; rather, if the dumper just left it at, “I don’t see myself with you because your family is weird” (Dean), or, “We can’t be together because you are weird” (WaBoom), or “I won’t be able to get over how poofy your hair is” (Lee), and then leaving it at that, the dumpee may be able to move on faster. It’s honest, it’s direct, and it’s quick. Our time on earth is too short and there are too many things to do and to learn than to spend time, overanalyzing something that isn’t going to ever be again. Like Old Dominion says, “Just rip it off like a Band-Aid”.
(However, I’m still of the opinion that no person should ever be dumped over text message or phone call, unless you are dealing with a stalker or someone who could be dangerous–then the least amount of interaction is the best).