There are lessons to be learned in every relationship. The good. The bad. The ugly. However, it is typically not until sometime during the breakup grieving process that we can rationally seek out these lessons.
According to the world-wide web, there are many stages to grieving the breakup and they look something like this:
- Are you f’ing kidding me!
- Wine, vodka and social media stalking.
- Ben & Jerry’s? Cookies? Chocolate? Bring it on!!
- What a d’bag, a’hole, yadda, yadda, yadda, he is. Be creative.
- Stupid sh’t we do to get him back.
- Watching XXX for the 30th
- Girls Night Out!
- Move-on Certificate earned.
Breakup stages can vary and not every girl goes through all the phases. Some can simply go from stage 1 to stage 7 without so much as missing a beat.
In my first three breakups with Mr. Not Ready, I successfully flunked the breakup process. I got to stage five and the vicious dating cycle started again. So, when it came to breakup number four, I was determined to persevere in spite of the lure to get him back and earn that darn certificate of completion. I worked hard for that certificate and I was damned if anything or anyone was going to hold me back from achieving what I deserved.
This is when I began to search for the lesson to be learned so that I could rationally move forward detached from my emotions and hence, lessen the pain.
For me, I am a numbers girl through and through and following the numbers has always been the best coping mechanism for any situation. I was sitting down one morning with my trusty Papermate flair marker and notebook and decided to have a look at the numbers as it pertained to my relationship with Mr. Not Ready. How many actual dates did we have. As it turns out in the eleven months since we had started dating, there was a total of 18 dates. So in essence we saw each slightly more than 1½ times a month or over the course of 334 days less that 5.5% of the time. Yikes! Really! Reality!
I was shocked at that admission. I guess the times we had spent together were fueled by so much fire they somehow managed to gloss over all the times we had not spent together, 316 days to be exact. Now granted in that 316 days of not seeing each other, he had his kids two nights every week and three nights every other weekend. Take that away and it actually translated to 160 days of not seeing one another. We did not see each other 89% of his available time. Anyway, my point being, I saw him less than I say my old, long-distance, boyfriend who lived in Chicago who was a plane ride and a different time zone away. I saw my guy friends more than I saw the man I was supposed to be in a relationship with.
Well, it all makes perfect sense now. I solved the riddle and found the lesson I had obviously missed, there was no relationship. We went out on 18 dates we broke up three times in the middle of those 18 dates and then the finale, where the fire works light up the sky, end-all break up. So what, four dates, break up, five dates, break up, four dates, break up, five dates, break up. We did not spend the important holidays together such as New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day, and nor did we spend the silly holidays together either; Saint Patty’s Day. How can 18 dates in eleven months be anything more than 18 dates? And that my friends, is not the definition of a relationship unless, of course, you want to use a select few adjectives to precede the word relationship: unhealthy, rollercoaster, turbulent, etc..
Suddenly, I exhaled an audible deep breath, smiled ear to ear, laughed a guttural laugh reminiscent of the cackle of the Wicked Witch of the West and all was right in the world and it was time for a movie marathon: John Tucker Must Die (yup asshole), He’s Just Not That Into You (reality check), Bridget Jones’s Diary (watching this makes your breakup seem like a walk in the park), The First Wives Club (because watching revenge just feel good) and The Break-up (much-needed comic relief).
I asked my girlfriends what lessons they learned to lessen the pain in any of their past relationships and while most responses were cliché: being honest makes everything easier, if he doesn’t want you, set him free. There was one lesson that made me laugh so hard I nearly fell out of my seat. If you are dating someone and your best friend repeatedly suggests you should be performing certain sexual favors time and time again, think twice, just maybe that best friend is maneuvering to be in your place.