Sex and Relationships

The Single Girl: The six kinds of break-up

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Dear reader, I’m going to begin with a confession this week, and I hope it’s one that brings us closer together: Writing a column as personal as this one is a fairly strange experience. There are lots of weird things about it, but the strangeness I’m referring to in this instance, and I think it’s the key one, is that for six days and 22 hours a week, I try to forget that I write this column.

Let me explain: During the initial weeks of my beginning this column, I found myself inadvertently doing things I wouldn’t normally, just so that come Sunday evening, I was sure to have something to write about. As soon as I noticed myself doing this, I stopped, because all that instinct did was skew reality, and I think the only valuable thing I’m able to add to the broader dating conversation, is my own truth — ooh didn’t that sound like a line from an Elizabeth Gilbert book.

Why do I bring this up? Well, Stephen and I still haven’t spoke. And whilst, the me of those first few columns would’ve approached this last week differently from the real me, she would, more than likely, have some concrete results — conversations to relay, moments to recount, perhaps, even “closure” on the relationship — to report back to you, here.

I don’t. The real me sure as shit isn’t about to go round to Stephen’s house and ring his doorbell. The real me sent three texts, rang twice and sent a DM on Facebook. And when I started, irrationally I know, to worry for his safety, I text Gerard to ask if he was okay.

He is, FYI. He’s ‘holding up’ according to Gerard — which phrasing I found a bit fucking rich given I only dated the clown for three weeks. I mean pls.

And on the off chance that you’re reading this Stephen, know this: What you’re doing is the cowards way of breaking up with someone. Cowards go AWOL. COWARDS!

My apologies for shouting gentle reader, but it is. Everyone knows there are six basic types of break-up:


Currently Stephen is carrying out a textbook AWOL breakup: After an argument one party becomes 100% incommunicado… And that’s how it stays. I mean seriously, what the fuck is that? You know who did that once? North Korea. It’s not working out so well for them.

The AWOL is never acceptable, but it is perhaps understandable for teenagers and people in their early twenties, for whom the emotional maturity for a real break up is still a work in progress. But for anyone in their 30s to execute this particularly heinous type of break-up is unforgivable. The majority of time though, it’s cruel, cowardly, and unnecessary.

There is of course one rare instance in which an AWOL is like break-up nirvana: It’s only happened to me once, Richard Godwin — my boyfriend from basketball camp in the summer of ’99 – I was preparing to write the Dear John/Rich, and then, as if he knew it was coming, he went AWOL. Mutual AWOL.

The Friendly Break-Up

This is the most common of all the break-up types and it is for relationships that aren’t really relationships. It’s not even really a break-up.

When you’ve been dating a person for a while, and it’s just not really working out, and you basically agree to be friends instead. It’s not really a break-up, it’s a recatagorisation, from couple to mates.

It can be done in-person, on the phone, in certain circumstances via text or DM even.

The Drives You Away

Now the AWOL is shitty, but this one might be shittier. From my limited experience it seems that this is the go-to break-up for blokes in their early to mid twenties.

They basically behave so obnoxiously and erratically that they leave you with no other option than to break-up with them.

Paul Weatherill, my high school sweetheart, star centre-half forward, he of the Deb-night premature ejaculation, is the only man who has ever tried to execute this tactic with me personally. Paul’s was too nice though, he couldn’t really do it. He’d do the obnoxious bit: saying he’d come to a party, turning up late, drunk, not replying to basic texts, mocking my friends. But he could never do the next bit, the, that’s-just-me babe, like-it-or-lump-it bit. More often than not he’d handwrite an apology and weepingly hand it over in his car, before telling me I was his soulmate.

It was his friend Joe who told me what he was trying to do; so I did it for him. And being a morally responsible person I did it the proper way: The Awful Break Up.

The Awful Break-Up

The only proper kind of break-up. The awful one is also the simplest. You realise it’s over, you go quiet for a week, you wait for them to say, “You’ve been really weird recently,” and then you do it.

You sit on a bed together and you both talk and you both cry, and it’s horrible and sad. And that’s what a break-up is.

The Awful Break-Up hurts the most because it’s the bravest and most honest. And because of that it’s the hardest to do but the easiest to move on from.

Those are the top four — though there are two more.

The Inappropriately Dramatic

The Awful Break-up can sometimes be confused with The Inappropriately Dramatic Break-up. There is only one kind of break-up necessary if you’re not actually going out with a person: The Friendly Break-Up.

Hear that Darren Hughes? You really didn’t need to come round to my parents’ house, sit on my bed and weep for three flippin’ hours on a Wednesday night, on your way to telling me you ‘Couldn’t see me any more’.

Dude, we’d gone to see Mean Girls together and then pashed at a house party: We. Were. Not. Going. Out.

The Inappropriately Casual

“I think maybe we should see other people,” he said.

See other people? We’ve been going out for four years!

This break-up is rare, it’s never actually happened to me personally. But it’s happened to Clem. It’s happened to Davo too.

Clem’s Big Ex, Tyler, an elaborate dickhead— someone who liked to pretend to be a cashed-up bogan, but was in fact neither a bogan nor cashed up — tried to drop the “see other people” line with her, in the Burvale no less, after foour years. She, as you might imagine, threw things, many things. She is still banned from the Burv.

Anyway, those are the break-ups. And the one you’re looking for Stephen is number 2. Just do it and we can both carry on. I’m free any time this week. Just text. Just message. Anything. Just let me go.


Previous post: Time for a break, time for a break up

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TMGR's girl on the front lines of love. The Single Girl is an indie-obsessed, wine aficionado buff drinker, with a penchant for vinyl and French novels. She finds her goldfish Evelyn's indifference upsetting so she's sharing her dating stories here instead.