I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
She was blocking the door with her body. It wasn’t even crying anymore, it was more of a hyperventilating heaving. She was having a panic attack but was doing her best to power through it because she was a woman bent on making it work. It was ugly and messy. The kinds of breakups you go out of your way to avoid but here I was, trapped in her apartment. After three hours I didn’t know what else to say but I knew her tactics. She was good with her words and her perseverance. She knew that if she could keep fighting me, if she could keep fighting for me, she could wear me down. She reached deep into her arsenal. She insulted me, she used my words against me, and she played on my insecurities. She had been reduced to fighting dirty which was indicative of how desperate she had become which was the opposite of her normally empathetic personality. I stood and took it. All the venom. I told myself it comes with the territory of breaking someone’s heart. You stand in front of someone and crush their plans of a future, you take away their hope, and you make them feel like all of years of effort were in vain – well, sometimes you have to stand and take it.
She kept saying, “Let’s just take a break.”
And I would respond with, “I’m sorry, I just don’t think this is going to work anymore.”
“No, it’s a break.” She said in a rushed and desperate whisper, “It’s a break. It’s a break. Just until you figure things out. Take all the time you want.”
No matter what I said, she was completely unreasonable. You have to admire that kind of unwavering conviction. She was literally throwing herself in front of me to prevent this from ending. So much that I told her I would think about it. And that was where I went wrong. She took this to mean that we were simply on a break. One of those ambiguous phrases people like to use in relationships that never means the same thing to either person.
“We’re on a break.”
To the person who still has faith in it working out, it means, you take your time to figure out exactly what it is that you need from this relationship and if it has a future. And as you make progress please check back in as soon as you make any and all realizations.
But to the person who is checked out, it means, this is what I have to agree to in order to get you to stop making me feel guilty because I hate seeing you in pain so I’m going to throw you some insincere promises to make this all stop, just make it stop. I am also taking this to mean it is over and I am going to go out and entertain my other options and probably start dating other people.
It really is a shame that people don’t understand how this dynamic tends to play out every time. It’s not just as simple as being a coward and refusing to communicate – it’s far more devious than that. It is a person actively taking advantage of the other person’s faith and trust and intentionally giving them false hope. Which is not just cowardly, selfish, and deceitful – it is evil.
The problem comes down to so many of us doing our best to not only avoid confrontation, but also being terrified to cut off a potential future. Because behind our well-intentioned word is a scared little kid who believes that there’s a 10% chance that we’re making a mistake. And instead of doing the right thing and letting them go in order to heal, our selfishness wants to keep them around on the off-chance things don’t go right with our gamble to find something more appealing.
I understand that you believe you’re doing your best to hurt their hearts the least by letting them down softly but in all reality, all we do is prolong the pain and give them hope where we know there is none. And that is simply unfair. I have always said that the worst thing you can do to a person is waste their time. Time to heal. Time to find someone who could appreciate them better, more, deeper. To find a more fulfilling future. And we rob days, months, and sometimes years of that from good people and that’s more than cowardly, that’s evil.
While it might not feel like the best thing to do at the best time, the most humane course of action is to never leave someone with false hope. If you truly love and respect that person, you should never mislead them to believe in a hollow future.
And how you handle yourself and the feelings of others is a direct reflection of your character.