Dry-eyed and bushy tailed

Advice Goddess! Huzzah! This (second letter down) is one of her less snarky, more encouraging columns. I’ve included the punny title, because that’s usually one of the best parts. Also this column receives extra points for the Sound of Music reference.

Asleep On The Sob

I just broke up with my boyfriend. He was self-centered, and we had our share of problems. Still, we dated almost six months, and I feel nothing — no sadness, no anxiety; just a little relief. What’s with me? I’ve always been so depressed when I’ve broken up with somebody (mainly guys I cared for who cheated on me). — Comfortably Numb

No, it never plays out this way in movies and songs. As Elton John put it, “Love lies bleeding,” not “Apathy sits around yawning, then contemplates turning off the lights, crawling under the covers, and hoping the gloom will descend.” It is pretty unglamorous to go through a breakup and be all ho-hum about it. But, it isn’t like you can’t cry; you just don’t feel like it this time, probably because the guy never did anything more egregious than being self-centered and tiresome. While feeling nothing probably makes you worry that the relationship didn’t mean much of anything, it could become very meaningful if you use it as a reminder to choose better and get out of bad relationships faster. And, if you can do that, you shouldn’t be feeling nothing; in fact, it’s cause to do as they did in a famous movie: Make a dress out of the drapes and skip through the Alps singing.

I guess I don’t really understand why this woman is concerned that she’s not torn up about this break up. Shouldn’t she just be relieved? Wait…she is relieved, and she’s concerned that she’s relieved….yikes. It must have taken a lot of messy break ups to put her in the mind set that this new feeling (or non-feeling) is somehow wrong. That, or just a lifetime of magazines on how to recover from the trauma involved in any parting of ways. If none of the multiple choices from the Cosmo break up quiz describe her (because it would be way too boring), is she a freak???

I’m not going to lie, I think if I made a pie chart of emotions after each break up that I’ve had, relief would be the dominant emotion in almost every case. I was more often really torn up in the month or so before it ended, when trying to wrangle with whether to stay or go, work it out or not, address the problems or ignore them. It’s understandable that this woman would have been hurt, angry and betrayed by previous guys who had cheated on her–and presumably if the relationship ended when she found out, she hadn’t had time to process this pain and anger until after the break up–thus a painful recovery period and perhaps much seeking of “closure.” But in this case, it’s just “I’m no longer dating someone I don’t want to be dating.” Yay!

I think sometimes you’ve just put in all the energy and emotion that a relationship is worth to you before it ends, and when it’s done, well it just is. There’s nothing left. And not because you’re so drained and exhausted from the pain of it all, but because you’re simply Over It. And isn’t that the goal, anyway?

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