Excerpt from ‘So Where’s My Girlfriend?’ by Mark
Guys and girls break up in very different manners and for very different intentions. Girls my age (around 30) start to play for keeps and usually break up with their boyfriends when they don’t see a long-term future with them. In other words, the guy is not marriage material. This is the main rationale for a girl to break up: short-term pain in order to avoid long-term pain. Usually, the girl breaks up with the guy thinking she’s also doing the guy a favor and as a result, she’s willing to play the bad guy and initiate the break up.
To recap: a girl’s break up style is simple and linear: She sees a good reason to break up -> Initiates break up -> Starts fresh
Guys on the other hand do things very differently. To recall Chris Rock’s observation: a guy is only as faithful as his options. So, we’ll assume that a guy sees a better girl than his current girlfriend and therefore wants to break up. Sure, he can be a man and tell his current girlfriend why he’s breaking up with her (“Honey, I found someone who actually likes reverse cowgirl.”) but that’s not the way guys operate. Remember earlier that guys are cold, callous and calculating? This is the calculating part – even before he even begins to hint at a breakup, the guy has already worked out the entire scenario in his head. More importantly, he’s also worked out the implications and the aftermath of his break up in his head. The guy needs to make sure that he doesn’t look like the bad guy in the breakup because that will turn off future girls he meets. Guys know that girls talk. If he’s a total asshole in a break up, this will severely turn other girls off from him as girls are united in one thing: the feeling of shit in a breakup. As a result, if a guy’s ugly breakup reputation precedes him, girls will not hesitate to send out warning signals to other girls about what happened with this guy before. As a result, the objective of a guy during a break up is to not look like the bad guy. How does he do this? Simple: provoke the girl. Wait for a fight and use that reason to breakup.
How to Provoke a Girl to Break up with you
A good way to illustrate this point is to think of Franz Ferdinand, the assassinated archduke that started the First World War. The archduke’s murder wasn’t the main reason why the First World War started, rather a series of world events were already under way which readied the world for total war. His death simply got things in motion.
In the context of a break up – that stupid argument you just had about not tipping the waitress enough is the same as assassinating the archduke. Guess what: war was inevitable, the argument just set it off.
So the guy’s been thinking break up for a while now and all he needs is a stupid argument to come his way. He finally gets it from you and when he does, he snowballs the argument from one isolated incidence to a general trait of your character. Here’s a very simple example:
Him: I still think that you tipped the waitress too little (isolated incident). I mean, don’t you care that these people are busting their ass to serve you? Are you that insensitive? (suggesting that she possesses a negative character trait: being insensitive)
Her: I admit that the tip was a bit small. I miscalculated, (deflecting his suggested character flaw as situation specific thereby not reflective of her personality)
This is the critical juncture of the relationship – if he wants to continue dating her, he can agree with her and move past the topic. If he’s committed to breaking up with her however he’s not going to let go of the issue:
Him: I don’t know, this isn ‘t the first time when you’ve been cheap. I don’t know if I can see myself with someone who’s so cheap…
“Her: What are you saying? Are you saying that you don’t see yourself with me? If you don’t want to be with me, then what’s the point of us going out? Maybe we shouldn ‘t see each other anymore (look! She just initiated the break up!)
After this crucial juncture, the rest is pretty much autopilot: argument leads to tears and tears lead to break up. The archduke is dead and the rest is history.
The Worst Part
We can see many obvious reasons as to why this approach to breaking up with a girl is such an asshole maneuver. The obvious reason is the dishonesty behind the break up: the guy doesn’t want to pick a fight so he lets the girl do the dirty work. How this affects the girl is ten times worse – as she unknowingly falls into this trap, she will now always hold a sense of regret in her mind about the whole thing:
“If I didn’t pick a fight with him about the tipping, maybe I would still be with him today. If only I tipped a bit more…if only… ” If only she knew that she never had a chance in the beginning.
After the couple breaks up, friends will start wanting to know the details. More importantly, everyone wants to know: who broke up with whom?
The general rule is that the initiator is the villain of the break up because in North American society, nobody likes a quitter. The initiator of the break up is the one that pushed out women and children in order to get on the last life raft leaving the Titanic. Given the way the guy set up the break up, he made sure that it was a win/win situation for him. If someone asks “Who broke up with whom?” there are only two possible answers: either she broke up with me or we decided to call it quits.
The answer will never be: I broke up with her. Therefore he will never look like the bad guy. From what I recall from comic books, the best bad guys are usually the ones that don’t look like bad guys. Yeah, guys are assholes.
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Iona is a Wellness Coach specialising in relationships and dating. She works with single women to write their own love stories.