Sara and I got the last outside table at the cafe, and — as so many places tend to do nowadays — we were packed in like sardines.
So it was hard not to hear what the couples around us were saying, especially since a few were saying more interesting things than we were, like the table to our left. It was a Post-breakup Girlfriend Recap, and by the sounds of it — and the fact that there were no tears or even a crumpled tissue in sight — at least a few weeks past the actual breakup.
“His ex was such a bitch, anyway,” the 40-something redhead said.
“She made my life hell,” her 40-something blonde companion answered.
“Right. So, just imagine if you guys actually did get married. She’d be in your life forever!”
“But he should have stood up to her more.”
“Yeah, but he didn’t have it in him. He was spineless. At least you learned something.”
“I guess so. Jerk!”
“Is that true?” Sara whispered to me.
“Is what true?”
“That after a breakup, you learn something.”
“Well, in a perfect world, I think you should. Don’t you?”
“Maybe, although with the amount of breakups I’ve had over the years, I should be a freaking relationship genius by now!”
Sara had a point. All of us have had enough heartbreak to be our own Evan Marc Katz. Know how when we’re falling in love we’re always talking about how he/she makes us feel? It’s like we’ve never been more — insert your own word here — authentic, honest, open, giving …
Then you get dumped. Now how do you feel?
But breakups are just as revealing as the romances. They’re what moms call a teaching moment.
Regardless of how he “made” you feel, it takes two to make a good relationship, and two to make a bad one; our job in the aftermath is to figure out our role in that (and not focus on just how much he’s going to regret dumping us; unless he’s John Mayer, he probably won’t).
And learn from it.
Not just no-brainers like “Dating a stripper is a recipe for perspective,” one of the nuggets from the anthology “Things I’ve Learned from Women Who’ve Dumped Me” published a few years ago, but wisdom about ourselves. Because others hold up the mirror for us, and, honestly, it isn’t always going to proclaim us the fairest of them all.
I’ve learned a lot about myself and relationships from my marriage and all the dating I’ve done since, and I’ve learned just as much from being dumped; My biggest lesson is that there is a very, very clear line between being nice and a doormat. I will never be a doormat again (especially one that always beckons, “Welcome”— you can buy them cheap enough at Bed, Bath and Beyond with that 20 percent off coupon).
What have you learned from being dumped?