The most unfair part of a break-up is the timing. Here’s what I mean:
At some point in the relationship (hereafter referred to as The Relationship), the Party of the First Part (hereafter referred to The Breaker) decides they want out of the arrangement. Now the end usually doesn’t come suddenly—unless alcohol is involved—so The Breaker begins to work their way through all the emotional and intellectual baggage that surrounds the Big Event (hereafter referred to as The Break Up). However, the Breaker will do this while still being in The Relationship. The Breaker gets all the benefits of being with someone while slowly, secretly extracting themselves from said someone. Meanwhile, the Party of the Second Part (hereafter referred to as The Break-ee) goes along with a slaphappy grin on their face, clueless that the Doomsday Clock is getting closer and closer to midnight.
Finally, at some point, The Break Up occurs. And it takes a great amount of sensitivity on the part of the Breaker to realize that while The Break Up is weeks—or perhaps months—old to them, to the Break-ee it just happened. Failure to recognize this disparity can lead to recriminations and bitterness. And in some cases—usually involving alcohol—it can lead to restraining orders.
Once the Break Up has occurred, we move on to the next phase: the Rest of Our Lives (hereafter referred to as The Rest.) This, as we’ve made clear, begins with the two parties in wildly different states. This is where the Break-ee begins making the journey the Breaker has largely completed. Early in this stage, the Break-ee will be looking for straws to grasp. They will hope that they can remain friends with the Breaker (who has probably paid lip service to the idea) and hold on to this as a quasi-relationship. “Who knows?” The Break-ee may think, “Maybe we can have one of those Friends With Benefits kind of things.” The Breaker, of course, has not only vowed never to have sex with the Break-ee again, but would, if given the option, remove the Break-ee’s ability to summon up a naked mental image of the Breaker. A few failed attempts at getting together with the Breaker will allow the Break-ee to speed through the denial, depression and bargaining stages of the Break-Up and reach the anger stage. They’ll remain there only several years before reaching acceptance, at which point, if the Break-ee’s a guy, he can safely masturbate to a mental image of the Breaker without feeling like a complete loser. And then the healing can truly begin.
So if you’re a Breaker, please remember sensitivity and look for funding for mind-altering substances to remove certain mental images. And if you’re a Break-ee, maintain your dignity all the way to masturbation.
(Okay, who’s ready to notarize this for me?)