THE ETIQUETTE OF BREAKING UP

Let’s call her Rose*. Rose is in her 40’s, never married, a career woman who embarks on a relationship with a man of about the same age, divorced, with two grown-up children. Two years into it, when Rose thought things were pretty good, she receives a long text message from her partner, explaining why he felt the relationship couldn’t go on. This was sent just before he boarded a long haul flight, the best excuse to be out of reach. Despite a few phone calls always answered by voice mail, this man disappeared from her life, just like that, with a text and many unanswered questions. Maybe Rose was naive and out of touch and couldn’t spot the signs of trouble but, regardless, doesn’t a two-year relationship merit a face to face conversation?

And then there is Lucy. After a long and bitter divorce and finding herself the sole supporter of her two teen-age children, Lucy has a fling with a long-lost friend who cheers her life up. They both know this is not destined to last, their backgrounds and life expectations polar opposite, but they go along for the ride, because they both need it at this particular juncture. Until one morning, when he rises from her bed at 5 am complaining he can’t sleep, and leaves. Later that day, there comes the text message explaining why he couldn’t do this anymore. To his credit, he suggested they get together for pizza so they can talk but Lucy, who was busy packing for the long week-end they were supposed to spend together, decides to leave anyway. Solo. Again, is it so hard to be honest face to face? How convenient to hide behind technology to convey something difficult, to avoid witnessing the pain on somebody’s face.

Sometimes the truth is hard to hear, sometimes it will indeed hurt but it’s impossible to lose respect for the person who stands behind his or her decision and deals with the consequences. Letting  a mobile device speak on our behalf is not only an act of cowardice but, above all, of disrespect. It makes picking up the phone and actually dialling a number seem the more decent option. What’s next? Changing one’s status on Facebook for your partner to see?

* Names have been changed but the women and their stories are real

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5 Comments

Filed under relationships

5 responses to “THE ETIQUETTE OF BREAKING UP

  1. Agree. Have the balls to deliver the news face to face. Is it a coincidence that your examples of cowards are both male? Fairness would dictate that we assume there are equal bad examples on the female side of things, but…..I am not really waiting to hear. (What is it? Guys like technology better?}

    • I got to the same conclusion but, as I do love men as a general idea, I try not to turn anything I write into proverbial man bashing. But I do think there is an element of childishness to many members of the male population that prevents them from either taking responsibility or dealing with the pain of hurting another. Makes you crave for the plain old bastards of old!

  2. Oh Lucy! The things we do and not see when we think we’re in love. And sadly people do break up on FB by means of changing ones relationship status. Just Google ‘public breakups on facebook”. Oh I weep of my generation.

  3. It’s a thought-provoking situation. Based on my own experience, I don’t fault these men too harshly. They did at least make contact and give their reasons. A real coward wouldn’t have bothered to do even that. The text (especially the long text) shows they put some thought into it. It’s hard to break off a relationship when one partner wants to go on and the other one doesn’t. Who wants to see another cry? Who wants to hurt someone you’ve shared good times with? Let’s hope the ladies in question had their sense of awareness heightened and that they can move on. Now they can keep looking for Mr. Right instead of being with Mr. Wrong.

  4. Point taken. Maybe because I would rather be told to my face, I find it hard to respect those who can’t. There is a follow up to Lucy’s story. A long phone conversation ensued while she was on vacation. Apparently he was brutally honest and very candid in explaining his motives. So he redeemed some points there in my book. He was so brutal that Lucy would have settled for some white lies. I guess we can’t be pleased!

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