Breakups happen every day all over the world, but timing is something that makes them different than others. Break up with your girlfriend on a random crappy April day when it’s raining anyway, and you’re fine. But dump her on her birthday? Things get a little dicey. And call me a dick, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.
In a past relationship, I broke up with a girl on her birthday. As the big day was approaching, and she was making a bigger and bigger deal out of it, I internally thought of ways I could avoid the whole thing — while wearing a smile on the outside. I realized it was time to break up when a soccer game I was scheduled to play in was more compelling than my girlfriend’s birthday.
Part of the reason a soccer game seemed so much more fun was the fact that the birthday consisted of dinner with her whole family. I had nothing against her family, but it all felt so serious. Getting out of going to her birthday not only meant that she’d be pissed off at me, but it also meant that she’d have to explain to her family where I was.
I tried a few immature ways out. For example, during a date at an art museum I took it upon myself to point out the hidden penis in every piece of work. This upset her for a while, and we went a few days without talking. Just as it looked like I was out, she called, apologized for yelling at me, and told me how excited she was for me to celebrate her birthday with her and her family.
I thought hard about my quandary. It was inevitable that I was going to break up with her. So, was it fair to go through with the birthday, faking my excitement and sending mixed signals? If I broke up with her a week after the birthday, she’d probably throw: “you were just with my family at my birthday” in my face. But could I ever be horrible enough to break up with her a few days before or even (shudder) on her birthday?
I decided the fairest solution was breaking up with her sooner than later. By breaking up with her before the celebration, I’d put the relationship out of its misery quickly … versus putting it through a slow, painful death (and making it look like there might be a future). Unfortunately, I came to this realization on her birthday.
I called her and said: “I don’t think I can make it to your birthday tonight.” She asked why, and I told her: “I have a soccer game.”
“You’re so selfish,” she said.
“I am selfish,” I agreed.
“I don’t deserve this,” she replied.
I said: “you’re right. You don’t deserve this.”
Then, she hung up on me.
A few days later I received a long, angry email telling me how awful I was in every facet of life (she even ripped me for holding my fork incorrectly). Also, she told me I had to return every last item of hers that was at my place, or her brother and dad would come by and take it.
OK, so she was pretty mad I broke up with her on her birthday. Other women I shared the story with looked at me like I was the devil for breaking up with her on a special day. Most women agreed, too, that they’d rather have their boyfriend attend their birthday celebration and break up with them afterward.
So, what’s the answer? Are you supposed to ride out a birthday, Valentine’s Day, the holidays, or a difficult patch in someone’s life when you know that you want to break up with them? Is it sending unfair/mixed signals to go through the motions, just to be nice? Or is it better to go through with the special day and break up on a more random day when she isn’t expecting so much?
[photo credit: dantaylor on flickr, CC licensed]