Monday, January 10, 2011

The Psychology of a Breakup (Part 2)

So things this semester have been moving along.  I actually started a blog post about my semester so far, but then I did other stuff.  Unfortunately, the things I wrote were time sensitive, so now I can't post it without it being kind of strange-sounding.  Basically, I had a bunch of predictions and expectations that have already taken place, so predicting something that has already happened is a little useless (but a self-esteem booster considering I'd be right 100% of the time).  I have dozens of posts like that.

You just read a paragraph about predicting the past.

I've been sick, so I missed classes on Friday (which is ok because it's just syllabus day anyway).  I've been meeting my goal of being in bed by 10:30 and waking up at 6:30.  Things have been going well.  The advantage to this sickness is that my voice is all messed up.  For some reason, I really like that.  People don't expect me to speak, and when I do, they all listen very closely.  Plus I just think it sounds really freaking cool.  I wish my voice sounded like this all the time.  It's all deep and scratchy.  Mmmm...

Enough with the chit chat (or "shit chat" as one of my friends thought it was called until like a week ago).

There's this unspoken competition that couples go through after a breakup.  Whoever gets in another relationship faster wins.  Why is it this way?  I dunno.

The problem is that you want to win gracefully.  It's bad form to openly rub it in the other person's face.  If they're abusive or whatever, then yeah. Have at it.  But most of the time, it's not like that.

 You need to be careful how you go about it, though.  Here are the steps I go through after a breakup (and they seem to be universally followed in one way or another):

Keep in mind that what I'm currently going through is very loosely defined as a breakup because at the end of our brief time "together", there wasn't much of a relationship left to break.

I start first with a question:  Why is it called a breakup?  In divorce law, a breakdown of the relationship must be proven before the legal breakup (divorce) happens.  Wait a minute... if something goes down and then goes back up (in this case, the breaking), shouldn't it be in the position that it was in originally?  I mean... the terms don't specify how much up or down has taken place, but I think it's safe to assume that there is an element of neutrality and cancelation taking place here.  We should call it a breakdownevenmore.  Or maybe breakupalot.  Both would work.  But not at the same time.  One or the other.  You can't have your cake and eat it too.  Unless you have a freaking ton of cake.

"Up" has a positive connotation attached to it.  Breakup, when considering that point, doesn't sound so bad.  If your car broke up, that would be a... um... well... ok.  I guess that would be more scary than a breakdown.  The point I wanted to make is that you would be happy, but I guess pieces of your car coming apart on the freeway until you're left with nothing more than a steering wheel and a seat isn't exactly a good thing.  Darn you, idioms!  I'm gonna have to think of a better example.  Hopefully by the end of this post, I'll be able to come back up and edit one in.


First, I have to accept that I cared about the person and those feelings don't suddenly stop.  That means that the next few weeks are gonna suck.  The last two weeks have been suckage.  That word makes my face all funny.  It sounds gross.  Say it out loud.  What did your face look like?  Suckage.  See?

Directly after a breakup, I have to actively restrain myself from keeping in contact with the other person.  I have a history of returning to a smoldering relationship and setting it ablaze again, only to change my mind a few weeks later and piss on the fire (and I'll often follow this pattern for several months or even years).  It's really not fair to do that to a person, so for their sake, I try to avoid it.  With the advent of Facebook, this makes it difficult.  Especially since I can sit and look at pictures of them.  If they're cute, it's hard to remember that being with them sucked.  I also have to avoid making status updates that are directly about them.  Even something that I think is vague wouldn't fly because they know me well enough to know what I'm really saying.  So I have to stick with simple posts such as "I am sick" or "I am happy" or "A person shouldn't be able to produce this much mucus off of such a small amount of nutrition."  You know.  Neutral things.  Things people can relate to.

The general rule of thumb that I live by is this:  The time you wait to date someone else is equal to half of the time that was spent in the previous relationship.  Written formulaically (I'm like 30% percent unsure I used that word correctly):

(.5(relationship time))=grace period

So I dated the girl for 4 months.  I now wait 2 months to start dating another girl.  That's sometimes not the case when I already have a girl waiting on the sidelines (which I currently don't).  So I guess the bare minimum rule is 2 weeks.  Anything shorter than that, and you're accused of leaving one girl for the other (which may be true, but it definitely hurts your reputation).

Now we get to the good part.  There is this unspoken competition that whoever finds another person to date first wins.  I don't know why.  It's a pride thing, I guess.  It's like a game of "I'm so attractive that I don't need your attention."  I've only been dumped once (and technically, I was the one that dumped her, but it was while her tongue was in my roommate's throat), so I don't know what it's really like to be on the other side of a breakup  But from the dumper's side (haha), it sucks when the other person moves on faster because it feels like they weren't devastated enough by my rejection.  It's childish, I know, but that's how it is.  No matter how I try to convince myself that the competition doesn't exist and that as I get older it becomes more and more childish and stupid and that a mature person would just move on, I just can't.

I think it's mainly an addiction to that love feeling.  People literally become addicted to the feeling.  Like they literally show signs of withdrawal similar to those of hard drugs.  That's why you see some people bounce from relationship to relationship so quickly.  It's not because they're more attractive than other people.  It's because they need to fuel their addiction.  Anyone can find a relationship at any time.  It's not difficult to find someone to date, you just have to be willing to compromise some of your standards.  So when the other person in the breakup moves on faster, it's like they're getting their fix and you're not and that sucks.  Imagine you're addicted to heroin, then suddenly you have no heroin and you are going through withdrawal, then some dude walks by with like a kilo of heroin in his hand.  It's like that feeling.

From what I can tell, I'm losing, but only barely.

I'm not desperate to be in another relationship.  I do like that relationshippy feeling, but over the last few years I've done a pretty good job of creating a life for myself that doesn't have much room for another person.  It's probably a direct result of the devastating breakup that I mentioned earlier (catching the girlfriend making out).  Fears from that definitely carry over into my current habits.  Any sign of insecurity or loss of control freaks me out and I bail.  Not just in relationships.  In any social situation.  But this blog post isn't about my inner workings.  It's about post-breakup behavior.

Rebounds are ok with me.  I don't see anything wrong with those.  Great relationships have come from rebounds.  As long as the rebounderee (which sounds Australian) is ok with it.  I've dated girls in the past and after like a month I found out that I'm a rebound and I wasn't ok with it, so I dumped them.  There are other times when I knew right-out and I was fine with it.  Full disclosure, people.  That's all I ask for.

And a pony.  I ask for that, too.

Darn you, Santa!

After a breakup, I inevitably watch High Fidelity.  I highly suggest it to anyone that can tolerate the eff word and a slightly uncomfortable sex scene where no indecent body parts are exposed.  Watching the movie isn't a conscious decision on my part.  I just recently noticed that I even do that (choose to watch it.  not watching it.  two different things).  I don't really have desires to watch that movie unless a breakup has taken place in the last few weeks.  When I was dating like crazy like two years ago, that movie got watched a lot.  During that time, I thought that maybe it was my favorite movie.  Nope.  Just going through a lot of breakups.  There's just something comforting about watching a guy make a list of the top 5 breakups in his life and then rehashing the past with those top 5.

My turn.

5.  Megan McGinty
4.  Anne-Marie Brown
3.  Emily Allan
2.  Michelle Erwin
1.  Sara King

That was anything but therapeutic.

The only one that has yet to be rehashed is Megan.  And I probably never will.  Not for any particular reason.  There's just no reason.  And the closest I came to rehashing anything with Sara was when I told her to go to hell after she cheerfully wished me happy birthday.  What a bitch.

The other 3 have been rehashed plenty of times.  It's never pleasant, but sometimes it results in a good makeout.  Followed by a period of self-loathing and guilt.  Give and take, I suppose.  You give, and I take.

I just realized that every girl on that list is either married or in a serious relationship.  Balls.  I'm losing big time.

Anyway, that pretty much brings us up to speed on my current status in this (loosely defined) breakup.

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