On Alternative Break-Up Hypotheses, and the Perils of Sanity

When someone breaks up with you, usually, you more or less know why.

And, usually, it has something to do with that person not caring about you quite enough–a knowledge that can be difficult to bear while maintaining some shred of confidence.

Which leads one to formulate alternative explanations: explanations that don’t have quite the same potential to so formidably undermine one’s self-worth.

And so it is that, at this particular moment, I (a little bit arbitrarily) am choosing to believe that D broke up with me not because I am deficient in appearance, intelligence or charm (you know, general lovability), but because of this: because I am not crazy.

So, not exactly an original concept: women go for the ass holes, men go for the crazy.

But I thought we were getting past that. Perhaps, I just thought I was getting past it. And perhaps I thought that if I could get past it–I who have been drawn to not-nice, very bad, usually dysfunctional and self-destructive men since about the sixth grade, and then managed to date not one but two genuinely nice guys in the past few years (one being D, the other being a pre-blog labor lawyer from Michigan whom I met on the New York City subway)–if I could get past that cliched, immature hump, than surely anyone could.

But, in my entirely objective, one hundred percent clear-eyed opinion (it’s been over a week now!) I’m not sure that D has.

“Do you think it’s strange that we don’t fight?” he asked, during our first “relationship talk” about three months in.

“No,” I said, because I didn’t.

“Did you have fights in previous relationships?”

“Eventually,” I replied. I told him how, when I was with my ex, J, we hardly fought at all the first year–after which we fought a lot, because there were problems, and then we were unhappy, and kept fighting, and eventually–due to said fights and problems–we broke up.

“So, not really,” I said. (Now that I think about it that narrative is kind of untrue. The problems/fights started in the first year. Still, not a good model.)

D said it was unusual for him to have so little conflict in a relationship–a fact that came as quite a surprise to me, considering D’s personality: very easygoing, accommodating, not confrontational but not passive-agressive either.

In that conversation, and in others when it came up again, D said he liked the fact that he and I didn’t argue. But I didn’t totally believe him. If it didn’t kinda bother him, why would he keep bringing it up?

I could see how the extreme ease of the relationship diminished a certain x factor, a certain intensity. I wondered about that, and whether it would fulfill me in the long run. But so long as we maintained physical chemistry and enjoyed spending time together, I felt fine.

I will say, though, that when a certain ex met D and commented that he “thought I’d go for more of a challenge,” it struck a nerve.

“Relationships are always a challenge,” I told him. “Just because he actually likes me doesn’t mean it’ll always be easy: we have totally different backgrounds, totally different ways of thinking!”

Those differences are real–and had D and I stayed together I’m sure they would have presented real issues, real challenges.

But in our short time together, they didn’t. And I treated him the way I treat most people I care about who are not my mother: well. I tried to please him. I tried not to make things difficult.

And for this, I may have been punished.

Or so, at least, my friend A would say: “I feel like I’ve gotten shafted for not being crazy,” she told me over dinner the other night. “Men need the crazy girls to take care of, so they can, like, prove their manhood.”

I’m not sure if it’s the manhood factor of the excitement factor–the same desire for “a challenge” that drives us when we’re looking for lust more than long-term love.

And I don’t know if my relative sanity was really a factor in my breakup with D, or any of the other guys who’ve somehow decided they’re lives would be better off without me in them.

But I do know it’s not something I’m about to change.

I know a guy who used to say he’s “just enough of an ass hole to keep the ladies interested.” I can attest, firsthand, that this strategy is effective.

But I don’t think I could pull off the “just enough crazy” equivalent, even if I wanted to. They way I interact with people, in my non-pschotic, non-difficult, people-pleasing way, is pretty integral to who I am. And I want to be with someone who doesn’t just get that, but who chooses to love it.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “On Alternative Break-Up Hypotheses, and the Perils of Sanity

  1. Dan

    I agree with your final conclusion. Even if you were going for the just-crazy-enough approach, wouldn’t that just be an extreme and kind of perverse type of people pleasing? Like, “even though you can’t articulate that you want this, I know you want this, so here you go.”

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