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Jan 29, 2012

The Breaker

Over here, I posted my recent dating record, and one thing that stands out to me is that I haven't yet rejected an option for another date. Part of that is my belief that you don't really know a person after spending just a few hours with them and refusal to make the blind assumption I do (if I've got an issue, I'd rather confront them about it and see if we can understand one another and work through it; that's kind of an important skill in life and relationships). I'll note that I have broken off relationships in the past, and I have been dumped; it is painful and tough to deal with.

But to that point, Tania posted here that when a guy breaks up with a woman, she has the right to consider him a jerk for it (and vice versa, since she notes at the end she's willing to "pay the price.")

I think that is ridiculous.

If you have to berate someone (even just in your own mind) in order to get over them, that's a difficulty you have with how you are feeling. Yes, it's (very) painful. But tearing him (or her) down for your own gratification or justification is immature and just awful. Own up to the reasons, if there are any. Listen and internalize any feedback, if you can learn and gain something from the experience.

It comes from the assumption and position that if/when a guy hurts a woman's feelings he's a jerk. That's the kind of thinking that leads to generalizations and beliefs that all men are jerks, and a deep-seeded fear in men to do or say anything that would be emotionally painful or hurtful to a woman (i.e. the prototypical pushover nice-guy who keeps apologizing for everything). While I believe being empathetic and sensitive are positive character traits that should be encouraged and cultivated, pushing fear on a man (or men, or women for that matter) is nothing short of abuse, especially within a relationship.

You want to double-bind a man to either (a) stay in the relationship when he's unsatisfied/unhappy and be a jerk for leading her on (out of fear for hurting her) or otherwise (b) be forever considered a jerk for dumping her?!

On a different track, what if -heaven forbid! -in a relationship the man does something that is hurtful; not that he intends to hurt (and how many of us do?), but when his actions or words have consequences he did not expect or consider? He's a jerk for it? Undeserving of the relationship? Undeserving of love? For making a mistake?

Utter ridiculousness.

Some people even berate the guy to their other friends (or their friends will berate him to her) to help her feel better; spreading that kind of venom can really hurt a man's reputation and reduce his Shidduch opportunity. Which is a whole other issue that infuriates me. Even when I talk to people about my dating experiences I am always extremely careful about names and identifying information; I take care in how I speak about others, especially those I date and I often spend more time talking about the positive than my own frustrations or concerns.

People can be wonderful and not for each other. They can date and break up and that can be painful and tough to deal with. And people can learn to deal with the pain (without having to blame or tear at each others' character). I hope we are not so weak or immature that we must tear another person down rather than face our own pain. I shudder to think what that means for a relationship if they can't handle the pain and feel the need to rip at each other to avoid their own feelings.


  1. Just like the guy who broke up with the girl is not a jerk and is human and is allowed to follow his own heart, the girl is also human.

    Someone recently dumped me and even though I liked him because he is an awesome guy and specifically NOT a jerk, if I saw him again I would want to punch him in the gut so he knows the pain I have been walking around with. I am more over it now, but is he still a jerk for dumping me? I think so. And I probably will think so until I meet my husband and he will just be a distant memory.

    Because I took the risk and made myself vulnerable, I gave myself the opportunity to set high hopes and open myself up to someone. Because he rejected that, I ultimately feel like that part of me that I shared has been rejected. So I think that probably when I say "he is a jerk for breaking up with me" my subconscious probably is translating that to "I tried to give of myself and it wasn't good enough" and that is what hurts - that I was not worthy, because I finally found someone that I was willing to to take that risk for and it failed.

    So yea, I am most likely defending myself by laying so much blame on the dumper, instead of just backing off and moving on. But let me tell you, it helps me carry the pain, as I walk away from that relationship limping. Just try to remember that you may have no other choice then to dump someone, but that it will still hurt them, no matter who it is. I find it fascinating that you seem so stoic when you talk about how wrong it is to judge dumpers/heartbreakers so harshly. But come on. No one ever broke your heart?

  2. I've been on both sides; it's in the first paragraph of the OP. More to the point, I have had my heart crushed. More than once.

    I've also learned to handle pain through my life experience. When I open up, allow myself to be vulnerable and then get dumped, it's very painful. It's a part of the dating process I'm struggling with, because my impulse is to close up and hold back, but I'm determined to keep an open heart.

    I don't direct the pain of rejection outwards. I talk to my friends and family, I remind myself that a person who can't appreciate the depths and heights of me simply isn't for me by virtue of their inability (or choice not) to accept, appreciate and love it. It just never struck me that they were a jerk, even though that thought saddens -and at times frustrates -me.

    I just don't get it. And I believe in learning to bear our burdens/pain rather than shoving them on the other person.

    If I heard this sentiment within a relationship -that when I do something that leads to the other person feeling hurt they call me a jerk and/or lash out at me (and/or say that to other people) -I would be very turned off. It's not a good way to cope, and I'm not interested at being berated or put down every time the other person is in pain.