A few of my friends are in the midst of breakups right now. And not regular, casual, mutual breakups, either, not like the ones we had when we were younger and drunker and were confident that not only were there other people to fuck, but that we would meet one of those people that very night. Which was fine, because that was when fucking was pretty much all that mattered, because when you’re in your mid-20s and have all the time in the world, it’s funny that you don’t have time to develop actual relationships with human beings. Fucking was better. Just fucking.
The breakups my friends are going through aren’t about Just Fucking. If they were, all of this would be so much easier, or, if not easier, at least less ugly. These breakups are about real relationships that people put time and effort into, not to mention (in some cases) money and property rights. And no matter wise and mature and well-meaning as any person can be, these types of relationships do not ever end well. They are brutal. They’re sad, of course, but also tense and full of the kinds of decisions that nobody ever thinks about when they’re getting into relationships, not because they never occur to them, but because when they do, people barely even acknowledge them as anything other than uncomfortable and push them as far out of their brains as fast as they can because it’s just better to believe that it’ll never happen to them. It’s this kind of insane optimism that makes people get married (or have kids, or combine checking accounts) in the first place, and while choosing not to participate may make me a cynical bastard, at least I can say that I’ve learned my lesson.
When people heard that I was getting divorced, they winced and said “Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” I said. “I’m not!”
And I wasn’t. For the most part, I still consider myself to be a master at keeping my shit together after a breakup. With the exception of just one breakup (Graham and I broke up after being together for less than a year; it was sudden and he wouldn’t tell me why, and this was the first – only, so far – time I have ever had my heart broken. As a result, I sometimes sobbed uncontrollably in public, looked like I was going to vomit most of the time, and lost my taste for food and alcohol, which made me kind of skinny but overall I was like fuckthisshit because how does anyone enjoy that?), I have understood for a long time that pretty much anyone who breaks up with you is trying to put you into a box. Whether or not you allow them to do this is up to you.
Box #1 – The Crazy Box
You know how when someone breaks up with you and your first three reactions are sending them a 30-page e-mail, driving past their house with your headlights off, and posting dozens of passive-aggressive (and then really fucking aggressive) Facebook statuses about it? Yeah, don’t do that. That kind of behavior gets you dumped in the Crazy Box, where you’re easy to forget about/ignore like the plague because you’re a fucking loon who shouldn’t be allowed in society, let alone in a relationship.
Box #2 – The Booty Call Box
This is a box employed mostly by dudes, but occasionally by very vain women, as well. The Booty Call Box is where you end up if someone breaks up with you and you continue having sex with them without any real indication that the relationship – that is, a relationship in addition to the sex – will rekindle itself. Dudes put you in the Booty Call Box because they imagine you to need their dick like you need oxygen. Women put you in the Booty Call Box because they imagine the same thing but with a vagina instead of a dick, and would also call your new love interest fat. In either case, being in The Booty Call Box means that you’re being undervalued as a person but haven’t yet learned to make your own goddamn plans so that you’re not always available for 4am sexening by someone who refuses to treat you any better.
Box #3 – The Cheater Box
Box #4 – The Bitch Box
Or the Asshole Box, but considering that I am actually a female, I am more likely to be thrown into the Bitch Box (which is not to say that no one’s called me an asshole, I’m just speaking in gender-based generalizations). You can get placed in the Bitch Box for actually being a bitch, or because the person who broke up with you is a fucking pussy who can’t handle being stood up to in a fair fight. So whatever on this one.
Box #5 – The Lovesick Box
If you get put into the Lovesick Box, it’s because you’ve indicated that you are a pathetic wraith of a creature who is incapable of living unless it is with the constant and unchanging object of your affection. No one you date in the future will ever compare to your former lover and you will continue to pine for them until you die, sad and loser-y and alone.
Box #6 – The Doormat Box
Uh, so, I know we’re broken up and all, but could you, like, keep my stuff at your place while I go traveling for awhile? I’d get a storage unit, but I’m cheap and lazy and this way you can still smell my old shirts when you’re by yourself.
Box #7 – The Power Trip Box
The Power Trip Box is where you’ll be if you are unfailingly affected by the fact that this person broke up with you. If you make it your mission to prove to someone that you were right and they were wrong and you are worthwhile and amazing to be with, goddammit, then a) you’re being really obvious, b) that’s kind of desperate because you really should be living your own life, and c) you are the victim of an incredible kind of power trip, because there’s no power better than the kind you exert over someone or something without even trying.
Box #8 – The Friend Box
The Friend Box is bullshit because it’s almost always a precursor to or combination of the above boxes. In the rare case that the Friend Box is just the Friend Box (meaning that you haven’t been in any of the other boxes at any point whatsoever), you’re probably both decent people who just didn’t work in a relationship sense, and you should try your very best not to make any future significant others jealous, which obviously means destroying all your old sex pictures.
Box #9 – The Love of Their Life Box
Ha, yeah right. That never happens.