No matter which side of it you’re on they suck. I’m somewhat, and I use this word hesitantly, lucky in that a few of my breakups are really funny. One involves having a Doc Marten chucked at my head which was in the middle of July and not 1997, that’s a story for a different time. The breakup story which I share most often, the one people find the most confusing/funny/weird is the Breakup Wine. I will admit that at the time, I found nothing humorous about the situation. Nothing. It broke me in ways that I didn’t know I could break but now, with time and some effort, it’s a thing we laugh about.
What is breakup wine you ask? I’ll give you my side of the events without trying to assume too much about the other party.
I had been dating a guy for a few months. It was hard to get time together; I was traveling constantly for work, he was in the middle of a project launch. Being the cool girl I am, this was no big deal. He was also going through some personal stuff and needed to take some time which, also, nbd because I’m a cool girl and I was on planes to whatever random city in the Northeast I was supposed to be slinging software in. Cut to Valentine’s Day, I’m in Pittsburgh at a lovely Hyatt Place by the stadiums and I was filled with this overwhelming sense of dread. I felt everything was going wrong, for no reason, with no explanation. I shook it off.
A week later I was packing for a two day trip to Michigan. Boy and I were flirty texting about Top Gun, because I’m a cool girl, and I say we should watch it sometime. He tells me he wants to see me tonight. The feeling kicks back in, a churning pit in my stomach, a little voice whispers, “he’s going to dump you.” I have an early flight the next morning, I don’t really have time or energy for this. So I ask, “is this a ‘we need to talk’ thing?” He assures me it isn’t, I still feel uneasy but let it go because trust is important.
He shows up with wine and flowers, we missed Valentine’s Day and he wanted to do something. It’s sweet, it eases my concerns. We hangout for a bit and then he says it.
“I wish your intuition wasn’t so good.”
And just like that everything gets fuzzy. I’m right when I desperately don’t want to be. I don’t recall a lot of the specifics. I’m know I wasn’t pleasant but tell him to leave, I have an early flight. Inexplicably I keep the flowers and the wine sitting on my table.
The next morning I cry on my way to the airport, I cry on the shuttle, I cry in the airport, I cry on the flight to Detroit, I cry on my layover, I cry to Grand Rapids, I cry on my 40 minute drive to wherever I’m going, I check into my hotel, lay down and sleep until the next morning. I pull myself reasonably together because I have to work. I assume when I get home the flowers will be dead, they aren’t. They’re still perky as can be on my table with the bottle of wine. I threw the flowers away. I kept the wine. I didn’t drink it, I still have it. My Breakup Wine sits on my wine rack, it reminds me to trust my instincts.*
That breakup was hard for a lot of reasons, it was my first real out of college relationship. It was the first time I let myself trust someone as a partner. It was the first time I reasonably saw myself with someone in a longer than a couple of nights out sense.
As I’ve continued dating I’ve had more breakups, some I decided, some were decided for me. The conversation is never pleasant but I always learn from them. I tuck something away for the next time. In the last two years the breakup stories from me and my friends have become less frequent, they’re replaced by something the seems more innocuous, ghosting.
Adult humans just disappear on each other. One day they’re just gone. In the world of dating apps, we’ve taken the personal connection out of relationships. As much as having a conversation about a relationship ending is terrible it shows respect for the other person and the relationship you had together. It creates certainty, closure, a place to start healing.
Six years ago I wrote a very different blog post about this particular breakup, from a place of anger and pain. This one is different, I know I’ll share it with Breakup Wine Guy before I post it. Not just because I share anything I write about a particular person with them before I post it, it’s because we’re friends, because this breakup is a thing we laugh about now.
That didn’t happen overnight. But it was possible because, though at the time it seemed misguided and some of the circumstances around it were difficult, what happened was a gift. Not the flowers, not the wine, the conversation. He showed up for me, he told me why it was happening, and even though I chose not to drink it I had wine for wallowing. As I’ve entered this round of dating I’ve been more honest with the guys I communicate with, I don’t disappear. I respond, I’m responsive. If I’m not feeling the conversation or date, I tell them and I wish them the best in the future. It’s no Breakup Wine but it’s what I can do.
As always, be kind to one another…
*We talk about drinking the Breakup Wine together, but I’m not sure I can do it.