Exit Strategy

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I've been thinking a lot about breaking up lately. Not that I really want to, I don't think. But Frank and I have been bickering a lot the last couple weeks--we've both been kind of grumpy and stressed for a variety of non-relationship reasons, and it hasn't helped that the cat has taken to yowling constantly, all day and all night long. We both just keep saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, setting off cycles of being mad, stomping off, coming back, apologizing, then getting mad again.

I think--I hope--that we'll be fine, once some of the external stuff settles down. Or maybe this is some kind of awkwardness as we enter a new phase or something. I don't know. But I do think it's important for people in long-ass relationships, particularly non-goal-oriented ones like mine, to think about breaking up every now and again. If the idea of splitting up is completely taboo, too scary to even think about, then I think you can get stuck under the weight of your own inertia and not even realize it.
Or growing dissatisfaction can finally pile up high enough to be a breaking point that surprises everyone involved. This has happened to me before, and it gets really messy. It's hard to tell someone nicely that you want to break up because you hate every little thing about them, and if you have to spend one more night with them it will probably end up a murder/suicide type of situation. Ugh.

So to prevent that kind of scenario, and to kind of test my own mettle--to make sure I'm with Frank because I like him a lot, not because I'm scared to be alone or too lazy end something this far along--I do a little pretend break up in my head. I look at studios on craigslist, I go to the movies by myself, or to dinner. I imagine what I would do with all my free time. I picture all the food I could make for myself that Frank hates (baked eggs, cauliflower, beets, kale,) how often I'd go to the gym, how I could just up and join the Peace Corps. Not that I couldn't do that with Frank, I guess. But still. Then I think about all the TV shows I'd have no one to discuss with, all the friends that would end up his friends, all the places I'd have to stop going. How weird it would be to not have a pal around to talk to all the time, who knows me well and has my best interests at heart and gives good advice and makes me laugh.

The conclusion that I came to is that I could do it if I had to. It would suck, but if Frank dumped me I'd be ok. That sounds stupid and obvious, I mean, whatever, it's not like he own my dialysis machine or anything, but the reassurance that I'd be fine kind of certifies whatever other conclusions I come to as feminist-approved, made in my right mind. If I knew that I couldn’t make it alone financially then choosing to stay together doesn’t really mean as much, emotionally.

The other conclusion that I came to is that no matter what he's doing to piss me off, or vice versa, I would be so much less happy without Frank around. Even to my generally un-sappy ears, that sounds pretty heartless and calculating, but honestly, that's how it is sometimes, at least it is for me. If you can't strip away the unquantifiable gooshyness and think about whether you are happier with or without someone, you might be kind of fooling yourself. Or maybe I'm a hardhearted Vulcan. Either way, it's good to know that I want to make this work. Scary, but good.

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