Ryan Chartrand

Last week we talked about a phenomenon called “turkey droppings”: the unfortunate Thanksgiving-season demise of many long-distance relationships (LDRs).

As steadfastly optimistic as I am that relationships can work, as a surveyor of relationships, one must remove the rose-colored glasses every so often. One must remain realistic about these sorts of things.

So, in keeping with last week’s theme, let’s address that unfortunate demise: the break-up.

Turn on the radio to any station at any given time – I’m willing to bet that the love song playing is a break-up song, or some other rendition of heartstring-pulling. The break-up is a painful reality in the world of relationships, and no matter what your musical palate, one song puts it simply, and best: “Breaking up is hard to do.”

In some rare, lucky instances, a break-up is mutual, and the relationship ends on good terms. Both parties maturely agree that things just aren’t reading like a fairy tale, and that everyone’s emotional health would be better off if the relationship terminated -euthanasia for relationships.

I realize there are quite a number of readers rolling their eyes at the last paragraph; that’s a best-case scenario, an ideal that we strive for but don’t often see.

The reason we don’t see it is because no one wants to admit that the connection in which they’ve invested so much emotional energy can no longer survive. The emotions in a break-up are a combination of disappointment, anger, betrayal, sorrow and humiliation. These are from the perception that the relationship is a failure – a failure on the parts of the parties in question.

But a break-up is not necessarily a failure of two individuals to make a relationship work. If you want to look at it from a less emotion-laden, more practical standpoint, a break-up is merely the end result of a connection between two individuals who just do not fit together.

Really – it’s OK. Of course, whether we’re in a relationship or not, we’re socialized to hold onto the impression that the fairy-tale ending is attainable. But time teaches that not all relationships work, and not all of them even have the potential to work, even if you both say you’ll work on it. Some people just don’t go together.

Some will argue that there’s no good way to end a relationship; that there’s always going to be some pain involved, so you shouldn’t even attempt to go about avoiding it.

Well – here’s a newsflash for you (and FYI, I’ll make my disclaimer now: there was an entire “Sex and the City” episode on this contention) – there IS a better way to end a relationship. Yes, there will be pain, and no, it cannot be entirely avoided (unless the reason you’re ending the relationship in the first place is because one of you lacks emotional capability altogether).

However, the last image of yourself in your soon-to-be-ex’s mind doesn’t have to be your face contorted with the above-mentioned emotions. Relationships do end, and they can end peacefully, respectfully and meaningfully.

First of all – medium is important. Let’s establish right off the bat that any electronic method of informing your significant other that the relationship is a no-go is unacceptable. It’s impersonal and a spineless way of going about it. This rules out e-mails, instant-messaging conversations and text messages. Sorry – I know cell phones are capable of doing all sorts of newfangled things nowadays, but when it comes to break-ups, your cell phone isn’t going to do your dirty work for you.

Phone calls are slightly more tolerable – it’s closer to person-to-person contact than the Internet allows for, and at least one can interpret vocal inflection through the phone receiver – but there’s always an escape route; you can always hang up. Hence, it’s still not quite as right as a face-to-face conversation.

A one-on-one, mano a mano break-up rendezvous says three things: 1) you have the courage to look your partner in the eye and confront the history you’ve created together; 2) you respect your partner’s feelings enough to communicate your feelings forthright (even though perhaps neither of you ever did so in the relationship); and 3) you have some sense of value for what used to be, and that you cherished it while it lasted.

There’s no question that the actual break-up conversation is going to be awkward. I’m simply arguing that it can be a civil awkwardness, instead of an exchange of expletives, a feud of faults, or a duel of disappointments. Here’s where that “do unto others” business we were taught as zygotes comes into play.

It may take all the restraint humanly possible to keep oneself from blaming, convicting, or just plain verbally annihilating your partner. But it’s safe to say that blowing up at your partner or sending them on a guilt trip will not feel a micron as cathartic as will the complete release from an unhealthy relationship.

I could write an entire column just on dealing with the pain of a break-up. Coping in itself is another matter entirely. I can say, however, that coping can be made significantly easier if the break-up takes place on respectable terms, and there’s a better chance for any residual ire to dissipate more quickly.

Breaking up may be hard to do, and “un-breaking” your heart may be even harder. But take heart; don’t let it dampen your faith; and remember, there can be life (and love) after love.

Sarah Carbonel is an English and psychology junior and Mustang Daily dating columnist.

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