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Mommy Knows Worst: A Guide To Breaking Up

by Tiffany Greysen

I still think that if Annie Wilkes would have played her cards right, she could have at least been able to remain Facebook friends with Paul Sheldon (may her mistakes send a message to all of us, on how not to behave during a break-up). Break-ups happen to everyone—at some point in their life—and keeping your dignity during a time of such duress is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to all.

One day, everything is great. Then, the next day, you come home to find out that your penguin just isn’t facing due south anymore—you will feel it and you will know that your partner is wanting out. It can happen quickly; everything will feel right with the world and then, all of a sudden, you’re faced with the realization that your partner isn’t happy and they want to bail.

It is going to sting and it will hurt your ego, because you know you’ve done pretty much all that you can, to make them happy. Maybe you pay the bills, maybe you act as their nurse-maid or maybe even you feed their Mr. Man ego by buying them the expensive typing paper. But, they will give you the signs that they are ready to go, even when it doesn’t make sense. When they want out, they are done.

Do you want someone who doesn’t want you? It’s normal to have hurt feelings and it’s natural to want to lash out, but don’t. Even if your now-ex partner realizes they’ve made a terrible mistake, they certainly won’t think this way, if you behave like a fucking asshole and hobble them. If you act like an asshole, it’s hard to un-dig yourself from the asshole hole—just don’t do it. If they want to go, don’t try to convince them. Look them in the eye and wish them well.

Avoid lashing out physically (like breaking into an ex’s house and peeing on their floors, which is a true, disturbing story for another time). While I hope that no one reading this would lash out physically against an ex, it’s not to downplay the times when someone lashes out emotionally by bullying or holding another emotionally hostage, with threats of ending their life, crying, begging, exploiting dependence to guilt the other, etc. All these acts are a form of bullying and will only confirm that the partner who is leaving made the right decision. None of these behaviors are acceptable.

Don’t drag the break-up out by making it longer than necessary—both of you deserve space to peacefully grieve and to adjust to your new beginning at being single.

Only consider a friendship if you think you can be friends without issues. Maybe ask, "Do we have a mutual friend?" or "Would we be friends, if you had not been sleeping with them?"

Give them back their things. You’re a goddamn grown up, you know what things are theirs. Don’t keep stuff so you have to make multiple trips. Know that this will be a two-part process—the things you know you have and the things you find. You will have your exchange, then you’ll both find things, then there will be another exchange. Done.

Don’t try to seduce them that one last time. I know this might feel like a good idea at the time, because you are both grieving and it’s a way to connect without a lot of words, but it’s a hack way to feel close to another and it’s only prolonging you from moving on.

Moving on doesn’t mean hooking up with someone new right away. I mean, do what feels good, but maybe take a break from romantic encounters.

Don’t ask for more information about "why." Most likely, you got a recycled speech about what a lovely person you are, but they no longer want to be with you because of some reason or another. It doesn’t matter. If they thought they could fix whatever reason they gave you, they would have talked to you about it and tried to fix it. They don’t want to fix it. They want out. Let them go. You will never know the truth (and it doesn’t matter).

Don’t communicate for ridiculous reasons. Do you really need to ask them what that one movie was, that you watched together on Labor Day—the one with that actor you know they like? No, and just don’t.

Do consider a no-contact phase.

Don’t maintain or reach out to their friends for information. This will only hurt your feelings because, eventually, they probably will meet another.

Put away your sledgehammer and go for a walk.