Dump As I Say, Not As I Do

Photo by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

I felt complete awe when one of my best friends in college, who’d had a distant crush on a law student we referred to as Tattoo Boy, actually went home with him one night after a random encounter in a bar. I was less thrilled when she told me how he’d said good-bye the next morning: “Call me. My number is in the phone book.” While my friend puzzled over whether he actually expected her to look up his number and call, I sat fuming in righteous indignation on behalf of women everywhere.

Although I personally never laid eyes on Tattoo Boy, he had a long-lasting impact on my life. My older more mature self would like to say that I learned to have respect for other people’s feelings. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case at the time.

The first time a guy ever spent the night, I kicked him out so fast he barely had time to pull his shirt over his head. In my defense, during our brief few months of “friendship” he spent an equal amount of time flirting with my friend (who had a boyfriend at the time) and spent even more time locking lips with her. How do you tell a guy, “sorry, but I actually think you’re a jerk and not worth my time?” He called repeatedly over the next few days, saying what a good time he’d had, but I was too chicken to pick up and tell him the truth. Plus, he deserved it. Didn’t he? On some level, I felt I was reaping revenge on all the guys who never called some girl. That one was for Tattoo Boy.

I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit some of the ways I’ve broken up or blown off guys in my life.

I thought he was never going to call again

Having been advised by some guys that since I wasn’t a girlfriend, a guy wasn’t actually required to dump me, I was certain I’d gotten the heave-ho when I didn’t hear from the guy I was dating for two weeks. By the time he did call, I was already dating someone else, which was a shame since I’d really liked him.

Wrote a text message

Granted, the guy I broke up with via text message didn’t understand conversational English very well, but I admit it was still a wimpy way to break up with him. Especially since later when I saw his cute puppy dog eyes and mischievous grin in person, I immediately felt horrible and wanted him back again.

Before he’s fully dressed

Before I hooked up with my guy friend of almost a year, I was perfectly honest with him about not wanting a relationship, so when he asked me out to coffee later I refused. Unfortunately, that meant not only having that dejected look imprinted on my brain (right above that very lovely torso) for months to come, but having to see his miserable mug all over my very small town.

Left a message on his voicemail

So I finally got up the courage to tell a guy it was over and had everything I was going to say all planned out… when he didn’t answer his phone. Caught off guard, I recited the break-up speech anyways. Granted, he may have been the one who told me he prefers blondes—even though I’m a brunette. He may even have confided critically how his ex-girlfriend got too much “junk in her trunk” after they started dating, right after I had told him I’ve struggled with weight problems my entire life. Unfortunately, my voice calling it quits was the one captured on tape for him to replay over and over to all his friends. Who was the bitch then?

Got back together again a week, two weeks or a month later

Really, what had changed in two weeks? Did he suddenly turn liberal? Become less of a jerk? Was he more attractive? Did I suddenly expect him to start calling me on a regular basis this time? Did he somehow become more exciting? Did we now have more in common than we did two weeks ago? Seriously, how many times will I do this before I learn?

On the other hand, I secretly believe some of these guys have purposely chickened out and waited until I broke up with them. Honestly, we both knew it was over. He wasn’t calling me, we both would rather hang out with our friends, and we had nothing in common or nothing to say to each other. Yet, since high school I’ve almost always been the one to say we need to move on. (Both times I broke up with a guy.) Why?

It’s difficult to be honest with people, especially to their face or over the phone, but I should have learned years ago from Tattoo Boy that most people really don’t like that person who doesn’t have the courage to tell the truth or the finesse to tell it in a nice way. More importantly, I don’t like myself when I don’t show the respect for the other person by having the courage to break off any type of relationship in a way that preserves both people’s dignity.

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