Friday Faves: What Not To Do When You’re Breaking Up

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This is a sad story. It begins, as most of my stories do, with me spilling coffee all over myself. I ducked into the nearest clothing store to pick up a cheap new shirt, and found myself staring at a lime-green, rhinestone-encrusted t-shirt reading “My Boyfriend Is Cuter Than Yours.” Next to it, a similar horror, this one reading “I May Be A Flirt, But My Boyfriend Likes It.” Above it, “I’m A Diva! Just Ask My Boyfriend!” Literally every single shirt on that wall featured the word “Boyfriend.” It was a perfect storm of condescending t-shirt copy. But it opened my eyes a bit.

For girls, having a relationship is not just a fun bonus – it’s practically a requirement. We’re told from birth that it is our job to make people desire us. Being single, in this light, is a violation of the Lord’s almighty commandment to girls: Thou Shalt Committedly Bone. When you break up, there are precious few resources to support your decision.

The fact is, you don’t have to be in a relationship just to be there. And, when a relationship passes, you don’t have to stop having fun. It’s just that being miserable is really easy. I have been guilty, many a time, of taking this stuff too seriously. Having salvaged just enough from these wrecks to learn something, I hereby pass down to you the cardinal sins of the heartbroken. It may not be much – but avoiding these things will, at least, allow you to emerge into your fun new single life without sacrificing your dignity.

1. SEEING HIS/HER FRIENDS

Note the word choice. HIS friends. HER friends. YOUR friends, on the other hand, are perfectly safe. They love you, they want you to be happy, and they will take your secrets to the grave – and that “secrets to the grave” part is going to really come in handy now, because for the next few days you are going to be an embarrassment. Things are going to go down that your ex should never, ever hear about, and mutual friends must be excluded from the proceedings.

Take note: you are perfectly entitled to be ridiculous for at least one week. Personally, whenever I break up with someone, I like to invite a few of my closest friends to a drinking establishment to view a little performance art piece entitled I May Never Have Sex Again / Wow, This Bar Has Hard Floors. This piece has evolved over the years, from its early, minimal stagings (in which I huddled up on my dorm bed, whimpering “but whyyyyyy doesn’t he like meeeeeee?”), to a fuller and more complex work.

To be sure, it still centers around him not liking me (which, by the way: whyyyyyyyyyyy?), but also includes a meditation on the importance of Pat Benatar, a brief rendition of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” a question-and-answer period focusing on the topic of whether that guy over there is hot, and, if so, whether he would do me, and a discourse on why Manhattans are TOTALLY the BEST DRINK EVER, DUDE, culminating with the inevitable realization that, yes, this bar does have hard floors, and the bar stools are surprisingly unsteady.

This is not appropriate behavior. Sobbing, chain-smoking, refusing to sleep, going without food: these are not appropriate behaviors. These are awful, disgraceful, unseemly behaviors, which also happen to be perfectly natural. Your friends will have your back here, on the condition that you get your act together eventually. Which leads us to…

2. DRINKING

You know what fixes all your feelings? Drinking! Yes, that’s right – you don’t have to be sad a minute longer, because excessive alcohol consumption will solve all your problems!

NO. NO IT WILL NOT. I just lied to you.

All right: this is the part of the article where I talk about Feeling Your Feelings. You’re going to be sad, because your circumstances are sad, and you are a human who experiences sadness. But during the whole “sad” thing, you are supposed to focus on things like healing and self-awareness and learning what you need to be happy. (No, not your ex. Your ex is a douche. I know this stuff. I have fact-checkers.) You are not supposed to be focusing on exciting new hangover-creating technology. Nor should you focus on providing free entertainment for the community via displays of drunken incompetence.

Speaking of which: incompetence. Drunk people make bad decisions. Remember your ex? The douche? Your ex was a bad decision. You really don’t need to make any more of those.

3. MAKING OUT WITH RANDOM PEOPLE

Yeah. See? A bad decision. Caused, in many cases, by drinking. Sadly, some people don’t even have that excuse. To be honest, the idea of rebound hook-ups is seductive – sex can remind you that you’re attractive, available, alive, etcetera.

Also, it fixes nothing.

When you’re over something, you know it. And you don’t do silly things like sticking your tongue into somebody else’s mouth to forget about a person if you’re over them. If your ex (douche!) is still on your mind when you are moving in for the kiss, you must stop immediately. You’re either scanning the field for a replacement, in which case you’re needy, or you’re looking for a distraction, in which case you’re emotionally unavailable.

In either case, you are no fun. No fun for the person you’re with, who will not be entertained by your amazing technicolor bullshit, and no fun for yourself – the idiot who’s being haunted by the Ghost of Douchemas Past when she should be focusing on the human being in front of her.

That said, if you meet someone cute, and you honestly find yourself responding to that person’s cuteness, rather than the fact that he or she has a pulse and a nearby apartment, then go for it. But before you do anything tragic, try to ascertain whether he or she has a) a girlfriend, b) a criminal record, or c) syphilis. If your intended answers yes to any of these questions, it’s time to call it a night.

THE STIRRING CONCLUSION

As I look back over this article, I notice that it is long, complicated, and full of pain – so, basically, it’s just like a relationship. Here’s the good news: now that it’s over, you can go on to other, better articles. Or you can go outside for a walk. Or hang out with your roommate. Or learn the mandolin. Really, there’s no limit to what you can do when this article ends. It’s a chance to start over. Just remember: I’ll always be grateful for the good times we had.

Also, I want my CDs back.

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