Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Breaking up is so undignified to do say Tubridy Show guests

(This is the text of my RadioScope column which appeared in The Irish Times on 20th November, 2007):

How to break up and how not to break up

The cover of a magazine at our local newsagent’s proclaims: “Ziggy – why I dumped Chanelle.” The cover of the magazine beside it screams: “Chanelle – why I dumped Ziggy.” (That's Chanelle above right.)

The aftermath of breakups is not always edifying. After model Katy French got dumped by her boyfriend when he walked in on her doing a perfectly legitimate lingerie photoshoot, she allowed his subsequent text messages to her to be published in a newspaper.

She probably shouldn’t have done, it she told the nation on the Tubridy Show, but she felt good about it at the time and, actually, she still feels good about it today.

The programme was exploring the whole business of breaking up and what happens afterwards.

The grieving process

All agreed that a break-up is followed by a grieving process for at least one of the two people involved – but the grieving seems to work differently for men and women. Men think the way to grieve is to follow the principle that “the best way to get over one woman is to get under another,” said John Breen, whose play “Falling out of love” is touring Ireland at the moment.

Women, said counsellor Betty Drury, grieve by networking with other women and talking through their feelings over two-hour lunches.

Starting again
Afterwards, there is the question of meeting someone new. Like many another person whose relationship has broken up, Katy French can’t stand the thought of going through the motions of the dating game again. She has learned through therapy that it’s ok to be with herself, alone, for a while and that she doesn’t have to be in a relationship, or surrounded by people, at all times.

John Breen believes that having your heart broken is not an entirely negative experience: it makes you value true love all the more when you eventually find it.

And breaking up can be liberating for a person who is escaping from attempts by the other person to change them, Betty Drury observed.

The programme did a vox pop in which opinion seemed divided between those who believed breaking up should always be done face to face and those – mostly women – who advocated doing it by text.

Which prompted Katy French to observe that women “don’t give a hoot” about the process of breaking up once they’ve decided to do it. Men are far more likely to be cautious and to mumble and mutter their way through the whole thing.

How and how not to do it
And what’s the best way to break up? Do it honestly and without delay, advised counsellor Betty Drury. Otherwise you steal the other person’s precious time for weeks, months or years as you string them along.

But don’t do it like the guy who rang his soon-to-be-ex girlfriend, said he was out of credit and asked her to ring him back – and then dumped her at her own expense.

You can hear the programme again at http://www.rte.ie/radio1/thetubridyshow/

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