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I was 18 and I was in love. Two months hadn’t passed since she stained my shoulder with dollar store mascara, literally heaving tears out of her body. We promised each other distance was only a concept, and our love was forever. Yet there I was, in the steel-grey emergency stairwell of my freshman dorm, listening to my high school sweetheart talk about the importance of experiences and youth and how I was robbing her of both, and wasn’t she robbing me, as well? And just like that, it was over.
Except it wasn’t. Because instead of one heart-crushing night followed by weeks of personal acceptance, I was dragged through the mire of her indecision and fear. She still called and texted. She wanted to see me over break. She wanted to be friends. She wanted me to know that somewhere down the line there was a chance for us. And so began our multi-year waltz of occasional sex and “maybe” and “this feels right” and “I miss you,” while I lapped it all up because love conquers all, you guys, and this was forever. But it’s not and it wasn’t and we weren’t. In the end, I felt robbed of a normal college life because the girl I put in the driver’s seat wouldn’t ever pull over long enough to let me out. Kara, you fucking bitch.
I’m friends with a girl who just ended a relationship. The guy has been trying to talk things out. She’s been talking to me about it and my advice always ends up sounding pretty brutal. It should all be matter of fact, black and white. “I don’t like you anymore. It’s over. This was great. And now we will both be great with someone else. We should stop talking.” It’s clean and obvious, but to her, that type of directness is absurd. She tells me she can’t do it that way. There’s too much history. It’s too mean. She doesn’t want to be a bitch, which is crazy to me. Who cares what he thinks? The relationship is ending. She is not responsible for his happiness or place in this life. She’s owes him nothing more than his hoodies back.
The actual act of ending a relationship doesn’t make you a bad person. That’s a natural progression of life. But it’s HOW you end it that matters. Are you willing to be a villain? Are you OK with being perceived as a bitch? I get that there is a general societal civility we all want to maintain. We don’t fart on strangers. We don’t go around punching people to feel alive. We adjust our balls with no hands. No one wants enemies. But the moment a penis enters a vagina is the moment we jettison “polite and cordial” in favor of “real and true.” To put it another way, we don’t shake hands with someone we fuck. Therein lies the problem: At the end of any relationship, we are attempting to shoehorn the conventions of polite society onto something so intimate and deeply human. It’s like dressing up a corpse.
Most men seem to inherently understand this. We disappear like cheap magicians, throwing down flash powder and sprinting out the back door. For many guys (cough, cough, me), this may be a way of avoiding confrontation. But the ends justify the means, don’t they? The girl is disgusted, and she moves on quickly with the rest of her beautiful life.
Women seem to have a harder time ripping off the Band-Aid, and that may be due to a misunderstanding of the male mind. Men are animals built on ego and certainty. Our moms tell us that we look handsome in a suit so of course we look handsome in a suit. Aren’t I handsome in this suit? We don’t live in a world of subtext and subtlety. We don’t notice that “Erica was being kind of distant tonight.” We don’t understand the infinite caverns of female interaction. Every time a girl responds to a text or call or anything that comes after a relationship ends is her blowing a little air into the kindling. To a man, she isn’t being “nice,” she’s being “into it.” To a man, those are one in the same.
There’s a classic male-female relationship fight, and it goes like this:
Her: (Cold Silence)
Him: “What’s wrong?”
Her: (Continues complete and overwhelming anger at him for something he did that he’s not even aware of)
So who’s wrong there? The person who is too oblivious to know what they did wrong? Or the person who won’t just state the problem? One is a crime of ignorance, the other a crime of inaction. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but it illustrates an inherent difference in the way men and women view and handle the world. Men need things clearly stated; we crave the literal. So if you’re a woman ending a relationship, maybe it’s time to start thinking like a man by acting like a bitch. We’ll all be better off for it.
Do you hear me, Kara? Godammit, call me back..