The kinds of relationships that last the longest are usually those that are not romantic in nature. Throughout a lifetime, an individual can form a number of special bonds that are both human and mechanically meaningful. Whether it's that awesome attachment to your favourite electronic device or a 30-year affair with the Mother of all Cities, ya'll know that shit is deep. So when it comes to terminating a relationship that is no longer beneficial and when the burden of being the bearer of bad news happens to fall on you, one has to ask the inevitable question...when is the best time to tell your significant other that you've been considering a trade in?
My relationship with Tata the Carrie-mobile had just reached its seven-year milestone and like most relationships, we had gotten off to a bumpy start. I had bought her after crashing Britney, my coral blue first love into the cliffs of Camps Bay Drive after a night of pure and stupid debauchery. I was devastated, traumatized even, and compared my new-found purchase with the same scorn that one adopts towards an arranged marriage. For months I hated her, but after a series of scenic road trips and four car pile ups, idling hands and dents of passion framed into the panel work of both roof and bonnet, I had somehow grown to love her.
Her latest timing issue got me thinking about relationships and their own untimely breakdowns. No matter how many diagnostics and services a relationship goes through, there are many instances where certain sparks no longer seem to fire and the effort of maintaining that vehicle of love is way more admin than you care to take on. As if destroying one's perception of a relationship wasn't heavy enough, along comes timing which is almost always less than perfect. With life and daily work stresses consuming every minute of our lives, tragic events and our own demons to battle, when is the best time to schedule a break up? Is it a Monday morning? Sunday brunch? A month before Christmas? Twenty working days before his birthday? Is there some kind of formula we should adhere to or is there ever really a "good time" to crush someone's heart?
Jody and Michael had been together for just over two years when Jody decided that it was time to call it quits. Jody was a junior PR exec at the time and although Michael had blamed her career objectives for the demise of their relationship, Jody had actually been unhappy for quite some time. Sexually, emotionally. The boy was just not doing it for her anymore. Although she should have told him earlier, she never quite had the heart to hurt someone as wonderful as Michael. Once she had run out of excuses and delays to relay her uncomfortable decision, she eventually mustered up the courage to invite him over and have one of those awkward, adult, serious talks.
"I decided that the best place to shatter one's world is somewhere familiar and comfortable for them. Unless you're looking for some kind of dramatic effect, it's probably best to avoid public venues. Rejection is hard enough without having to humiliate them publicly. Do you really want to be remembered as the chick who broke his heart over a McFlurry? Location, location, location." Just two weeks after their anniversary and about a month before Jody's birthday, she decided to rip the band aid off with a "get-it-over-and-done-with" kind of attitude.
She avoided the statistically popular Monday morning and opted for a Wednesday evening to commit the heinous love crime. She sat Michael down over a cup of tea and began to firmly yet sensitively explain the reasons why she could no longer see a future together. "Things change. People change and not everyone gets that. No matter how amicable or good your intentions are, there's no easy way to soften the blow especially when they don't see it coming. If you are not happy, you have to make a hard decision, commit to it and go with the consequences." Was breaking up with somebody really as pragmatic as Jody had made it out to be or was timing a break up sort of like Nike? You just got to do it.
"The longer you wait, the more painful the break up. What good does avoiding the inevitable do? It's never an easy discussion especially with so many sensitivities, doubts and emotions running high. Things are bound to get ugly no matter how kind or thoughtful your delivery may be. You can use every cliche in the book and I promise you it won't help. It's not you it's me. We've simply grown apart. I'm sure you are going to find someone that can give you what you deserve. At the end of the day, you're going to be the asshole that hurt somebody else. You hope that in time they'll see that your decision was for the best but until they reach that maturity point, prepare yourself for some seriously negative PR."
Timing. It's a tricky bitch to figure out especially when someone you still care for is getting steamrollered in the process. Whether you're a desperate soul trying to make an exit out of a floundering relationship or just an electrician trying to figure out some dodgy wiring, you'll soon notice that some things are simply not worth salvaging. When the circuits of a relationship start coming loose and the check engine light keeps flashing right in front of you, perhaps its time to move the hell on. Consult as many "How to" and "When to" advice columns as possible, but please bare in mind that not everybody reacts the same. Feelings are bound to get hurt in the thick of it but remember that knowing what you want is just as important as knowing what you don't want.
When it comes to the mechanics of any relationship, when is the best time to break apart?