Breakups are tough across the board, but it’s a different beast for the one who gets dumped. While the dumper tiptoed off the rug, methodically rolled it up and placed it in the hall closet, the dumpee simply had it tugged out from underneath them.
They’re hurled into a whirlwind of anger and shame and disbelief. They feel betrayed, yet still in love, which in turn makes them feel crazy. Their self-worth plummets, then rises on a good hair day, then plummets again when they see a sandwich that vaguely resembles the dumper’s face.
It’s very touch and go, and I feel for the dumpee. But I’m not talking to the dumpees; I’m talking to the dumpers. And dumpers, I’m here to tell you this:
They may try to make it your responsibility, or you may take it upon yourself to “fix” how they’re feeling. Either way, it’s not your job to do that emotional handholding. I know, in ending things, you probably feel like you knocked over a tray of dinner plates and the polite thing to do is get on your hands and knees and help clean up the mess, but it’s not. Drop the plate, get up, and walk out the door. It’s honestly the kindest thing you can do.
Now I’m not telling you to fall off the face of the earth. There’s a difference between not inserting yourself in the healing process and denying your ex any semblance of closure. Give them an explanation; say your goodbyes. But then leave it to the professionals. Everyone has their own SEAL Team Six of family and friends and rebounds and Netflix to get them through this.
Chances are, before the definitive breakup, you had time and space to get your thoughts and feelings in order – to see the bigger picture, and assess your life without this person. Now you need to give them the same. Posting cat videos to their Facebook to prove you can still be friends isn’t helpful. Calling or texting to see how they’re doing just reopens the wounds that time and space have begun to heal. It’s taking the sandwich that vaguely resembles your face and hand-delivering it to their door. Again and again and again.
So what do you do? YOU! You do you. While your ex is taking time to work through their own sense of shock and loss and dashed expectations, deal with what’s on your plate. Just because you called the shots, it doesn’t mean you’re free from emotional fallout. Deal with the weight of this big decision. Deal with feeling like the bad guy. Deal with cooking for one, and recalibrating your Tinder-weirdo-radar, and differentiating between nostalgia and regret.
Focus on you, and let your ex focus on them. Because someday that face-sandwich will just become a sandwich again, and that’ll be a beautiful day – for them, and for you, because that’s when you can check back in on your old friend.
Rachel Forman is a writer, improviser, sandwich-enthusiast, and all-around human. Her proudest moment was winning first place in a watermelon eating contest. Her least proud moment was accidentally sitting on a stranger in a dark movie theater. Check her out on her blog and on Twitter or Instagram.
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