Don't Be A Peanut - A Gentleman's Guide to Ending a Relationship
There is an old saying that you never know a man until you share his bed. But even after that, you can sometimes still never know him.
Two weeks to the day before Christmas of 2012, I came home to find the man I thought I was going to marry gone without a word of explanation. All efforts to reach out to — let’s call him Peanut — were ignored. Even asking if he was breaking up with me went unanswered.
I never saw him again and we have never spoken since.
Weeks went by and I finally posted on my Facebook page that he had left and we were over.
He was always the one who moved our relationship forward. He was the first to say, ‘I love you’ and it was he who suggested the common-law thing. We had talked marriage. We had gone to the bank to see about a mortgage and had casually started house hunting.
He told me I was the one, and was the best thing that ever happened to him since his kids. It was he who had arranged the first meet with the kids and later trips for us all to spend time together.
So now you know why I totally didn’t get why it was over so unexpectedly and in such a way.
Getting dumped always sucks, but you move on. It’s how he did it. To me, it was the most hurtful and cowardly way. He broke my heart. I felt so betrayed.
And because of how he did it, all good memories were tainted. I have nothing to show for a once upon a time loving common-law relationship of nearly two years. We were together about two and a half years.
If I had done something to warrant such treatment, like cheat or steal his money, I could have understood. I had loved him, treated him with respect and always had his back. I supported him in his efforts to gain custody of his children. The day he was awarded custody, I announced to all and sundry I was a mum again; a scary yet exciting challenge. So imagine my surprise when I learned Peanut was telling people I wasn’t interested in helping raise his kids.
Friends were telling me he was saying he didn’t want to see me because he was afraid of what I might do. I’d never even raised my voice to him in anger.
When Peanut was called out on his lies, I received the unceremonious “f--- off” via text.
To add insult to injury, a few weeks after I took the lead and declared us over, he had posted a photo of him and his new girlfriend on his Facebook page with the comment “She’s the one.” It was around that same time I received a one-line “I might as well tell you” email from Peanut that he had a new girlfriend. I’ve always wondered how you can start a relationship with someone new when you haven’t properly ended the old relationship. And given how quickly they moved in together, I’m thinking there was some two-timing going on.
When it came to the division of goods, he received all his possessions and all I asked for was my quad that had been a birthday present from him. When I asked for it via text and email, I found myself on the receiving end of calls from the RCMP informing me a complaint had been made by Peanut that I was placing harassing phone calls and making threats. Talk about surprised. Didn’t think he would go there. All he had to do was the right thing and return the quad. So I have chosen to go off to civil court where I know I will get it back and be fully vindicated.
It was during the first phone call – there were three – the light finally went off: oh my God! This was history repeating as he had done this to the mother of his kids. The woman he had just left after about 15 years when we had started dating. Now he was doing the same thing to me, the calls to police and claims he was afraid of what I would do.
She and I have since connected. The similarities between our histories with Peanut are astounding.
All he had to do was treat me right; just sit me down and talk, and end it like a man. All I ever wanted to know was why he ended it and why in such a cold-hearted cowardly way.
And that closure, according to relationship expert Dr. Susan Boon, is a lot more important than people think.
“Closure gives some sense of why this happened and how it fits into the bigger picture of things, and what we may be able to learn from it is very important. Closure is important to move on,” notes Boon, an associate professor in the psychology department at the University of Calgary.
The lack of closure can also impact future relationships because it can impact how a person makes decisions and approaches future relationships.
“It doesn’t do the recipient of the message any good to lie to them or not say anything at all.”
When it comes to ending relationships, Boon champions the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. While a phone call may be acceptable to end a budding romance after a couple of dates, she maintains that for anything that has been reasonably long or reasonably deep, face-to-face is obviously better.
Leaving without a word or explanation “is a cowardly way to do it,” states Boon. “Who knows what the person’s agenda was there. I totally understand not wanting to hurt someone if you realize this isn’t working for you and you want to let the person down nicely. You think ‘Well maybe if I just don’t call back they’ll figure it out eventually,’ but it interferes with closure. The best thing to do is be as polite as possible and open and honest.”
Be direct; don’t give false hope, she cautioned.
Boon acknowledged it’s often women who put the final nail in the coffin because men usually opt for passive aggressive behaviour forcing the woman to make the breakup decision.
If a guy hooks up with a new girlfriend relatively quickly after, Boon explains some people have a really hard time being single.
“Depending on the nature of the relationship, if the guy is getting a lot out of it, he’s getting his clothes cleaned, his food cooked … then he’d be highly motivated to find someone who will do those things for him.”
Sarah Gooding, resident dating coach for Plenty of Fish, also favours face-to-face breakups.
Pulling a ‘midnight move’ so to speak and leaving a long-term common-law relationship with no explanation is “very cowardly,” echoed Gooding.
“You’re making a bad situation 10 times worse. Be a man and say the words that need to be said. Give the woman closure and that will help her heal faster.
“Men are even more guilty than women, if it’s a shorter term relationship, to do the fade out, or do what happened to you which is horrible or act out so severely that it almost makes the woman have to do the breaking up,” explains Gooding, who also advocates the Golden Rule. “It really taints the relationship when you end it that way. All of those good memories are now gone.”
Posting photos of your happy new life with your new girlfriend relatively quickly after a breakup “is so inconsiderate.”
On the flip side, Gooding acknowledges that no matter how tactful and considerate the guy is during the breakup, he’s still going to be a jerk.
“You’re probably going to run into this person, depending on how big your city is, so you want to make sure that you do it in a tactful and considerate way.”
Over time, hopefully the former couple can be civil if they run into each other and say hello, and she’ll be able to look back on the relationship with more positive thoughts than negative.
If there is a negative pattern of behaviour in breakup etiquette, Gooding points out that people don’t change that much between relationships unless they really have a strong epiphany so if they’re making mistakes, they’re probably going to make the same ones in their next relationship.
So gentlemen - don’t be a Peanut. Remember the Golden Rule and man up and treat your soon-to-be-ex with dignity and respect. You’ll both be better off for it.
And ladies, this goes both ways as there are plenty of men who have been screwed over by the women they love.