Category Archives: relationships

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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THE DIRTY BUSINESS OF LOVE

Drawing – aldrinbogi.com

Love is a dirty business. As women, fresh from the indoctrination of fairy tales and happy ever after stories, we embark on finding true love early in life, whatever our idea of it might be. Boys….not sure what boys are after once they figure out the best way to satisfy their hormonal needs but, judging from the brisk business of dating sites the world over, they are also looking for love in all the wrong places.

Love is not for the faint of heart. We post flattering photos, write clever and witty profiles about ourselves, about our likes and dislikes, our material and spiritual goals and, by so doing, we hope to separate the wheat from the chaff, trimming our search down to the truly desirable (or so I am told, as my information in this department is purely second-hand). This process is not so different from inhabiting the facade we all create to interact with the world – be it business, friends or lovers, it’s the best of us we want everyone to see. Therein lies the problem.

First of all, forget giving it a try with someone with whom the proverbial chemistry is not there on the assumption that it might grow on you. No, it won’t . Like animals in all kingdoms, our mating rituals are determined by hormones, pheromones and chemical reactions – whether you belive on the fittest of the species theory (i.e. who can give us the most babies) or not, our first instincts are all based on physiological reactions, so there is no point denying that urge or pretending it will develop. It’s what happens after, once the bouquets of flowers have faded, the romps in all corners of the house decreased, the life stories start repeating themselves and we are simply left with each other.

Love is hard. Walk behind the Hollywood set of our cleverly put together facades and we are confronted with the less desirable facets we hope our partner will take in his/her stride. That moment of reckoning is bound to happen to all of us, over and over again, blissfully married or dating for ten minutes.

Love requires an enormous amount of letting go: of ourselves, of our preconceived notions of what a relationship should be, of our plans and, above all, of our ideals in the love department.  Compromising and acceptance are par for the course but what  I am talking about is the crude and impossibly difficult unveiling of ourselves in front of another human being. This is me, with my very packed Samsonite of fears, shame, rage, meanness, vengeance, criticisms, treachery, humiliations and bad intentions. Behind my brilliance, my accomplishments, my beauty, my riches, even my Zen attitude to life, this is the miserable sod I can sometimes be. Now what?

Love takes courage. Twice. The courage to love not only another human being’s imperfections but also their darkest corners. And the courage to believe that we can be loved for all our appalling shortcomings.

 

It would be tempting to put all that in the next Match.com ad. But, then again, why spoil the surprise?

 

 

 

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