In every relationship there is a moment when you must decide whether it’s serious or not. The Egg Lady—the cool, confident woman I’ve been with who told me on our first date about freezing her eggs—and I hit that “Is it serious?” moment about four months in. I’d made plans to go on tour with my band for five weeks without consulting her. Unsurprisingly, when I did let her in on the news, she wondered how I was feeling about “us.” I probably would have evaded the issue for weeks, but she wasn’t going to let me, and I immediately felt like a bit of a heel. The truth was, I wasn’t feeling great about “us.” I was pretty certain we lacked the passion and chemistry for the long haul, but I didn’t have the balls to just come out and tell her.
Men may like to show off their bravery in the face of adversities like a spider in your bathtub, but when it comes to breakups, we’re complete cowards. If a relationship isn’t working, the adult thing would be to sit down and tell the other person. Instead, as you know, we grow distant, make plans without you, hope you pick up on it, and then try to magically fade out of the picture—while leaving the door half open for a possible return. I would like to apologize on behalf of men for doing this, and try to explain our failures. Three facts behind it:
1. I think some men like to be in that not-quite-broken-up space, where we stick around even when things aren’t “going somewhere,” because we like to leave our options open. You know how they say that, when you’re looking for a new job, it’s always better to already have one? Men know that women, like employers, can smell the sad desperation of a lonely man on the hunt. Plus, while we’re looking around, we still have you, checking your phone, wondering where we are. Again, I apologize.
2. I also think many men (and many women) are chronically ambivalent when it comes to relationships. We don’t trust ourselves. Yes, I often hesitate to commit, but I also hesitate to break up. I worry I’m being too critical and expecting too much from a relationship, so I don’t trust my gut when my gut is shouting, “Retreat, retreat!” The result: I end up remaining in nebulous situations longer than I should.
3. Finally, most men (at least, the men I know) hate the thought of hurting women or making them cry. We’d rather prolong a clearly doomed relationship than end it, as long as it means we don’t have to witness you getting all upset.
But the Egg Lady, confident and direct to the end, didn’t let me get away with riding off into the sunset—in my ratty band van—with a big question mark hanging over our relationship’s head. I appreciated her honesty (honestly!) and responded in kind: I told her I wasn’t feeling it. She agreed, and just like that, it was over.
And you know what? It felt good, if a breakup can feel good. I liked that we were up-front and unambiguous about things. While the fadeaway might be appealing, I realized, it actually isn’t the easy way out—it just leads to weeks or months of torture for at least one party, and the inevitable happens at the end anyway. I learned something important from the end of the Egg Lady, and if my next lady doesn’t turn out to be Mrs. Jake, Mother of My Children, I’m going to make a clean break of it sooner rather than later. But hopefully, hopefully, I won’t have to….