1. You feel like crying when the other person is nice to you.
2. The sound of him eating fills you with a homicidal rage.
3. You don’t feel like yourself anymore, when he’s around: your personality feels phony or distorted.
4. You find yourself being bluntly honest, objecting to his quirks that you used to put up with. (Could it be you have nothing left to lose?)
5. You have trouble planning anything for next year (or next month).
6. Your partner thinks he has told you things when he hasn’t.
(You’re getting ready for dinner and he says, “That bonus check should be here by Thursday,” and you say “What bonus check?” and he says, “I thought I told you about that . . .” This could mean you are no longer his primary ear.)
7. Your social lives become completely separate.
8. You fight a lot more than usual; or worse than that, you stop fighting completely. (It’s an ominous silence when one person just lets thing slide, no longer wanting to engage with the other about the juicy issues that come up in your life together.)
9. To get away from your partner, you go to a favorite café. As you’re settling down with your latte, you spot him in the corner, cradling his.
10. You are laughing with a good friend one day and you realize you haven’t laughed like that for months or years.
11. It becomes painful for you and your partner to spend time with happy couples (or watch them on the screen).
12. You lie in bed at night inventorying which household possessions are yours. (The food processor? Definitely.)
13. You stop using your partner as a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on, because you assume he won’t understand.
So many signs, signals, clues. Makes one wonder how anyone could ever be surprised by a breakup.
Interestingly, these warning signs don’t necessarily indicate who is going to break off with whom. Signs 1 and 6 suggest that the “you” will be left by the other person. Signs 2, 4 and 10 suggest that “you” will do the leaving. Even with these cases, the more you think about them, the more uncertain they become. And with most of the others, you simply can’t tell who is going to do the nasty deed.
So what determines who does pull the trigger? What provides the impetus to action? This question isn’t as easy as it seems. Every answer just seems to spark a counter example:
• The one who is suffering the most in the relationship breaks it off. Response: but sometimes the other person feels so guilty that they call it quits. Or the reason one person is suffering is that the other person is getting ready to pull away.
• The one who has grown tired of the other, or has fallen out of love, breaks it off. Response: that isn’t always true. The “unrequited” person, who is sick of loving and not being loved back, sick of under-appreciation, may very well have the strength to walk away.
• The one who glimpses a better world, breaks it off to go there.
Now we’re getting somewhere. You are not likely to end a relationship unless you have a vision of the world you’ll be in after the breakup, and you believe that the new world will be better than the one you’re in.
But what if both people feel that way? Then who pulls the trigger?
That’s easy. The one who is having a bad day.
This is our first glimpse of a fact I’ll revisit later—one that carries many lessons and no small comfort.
Things are not as different between the (eventual) dumper and dumpee as one might expect.
It isn’t that easy to tell them apart.
When a relationship is sick or dying, both people often know it, unconsciously or very consciously. So either one could decide to break it off; could declare that they’ve had enough.
Suppose it’s you. For whatever reason, you find yourself ready to end it. That, unfortunately, does not mean the end of your problems.
Labels: Breakup Diaries