Breakups are hard.
Dissolution of intimate relationships are exquisitely painful because they are complex and onerous to navigate. Mourning the death of a relationship is hard enough. But then, the pain of the loss descends further deep within. It exposes our deep-seated fears, insecurities and attachments that commonly find refuge within relationships; the camouflage that relationships provide no longer conceals or serves to disguise. They have no place to run or hide.
Still, that does not stop us from trying to find cover. Instinctively, and to our own detriment, we claw our way back to seek pleasure and avoid pain as if our life depends on it. We attempt reconciliation with ingenuity and desperation - bargain, delay and avoid; persuade, reason, deflect, distract, coerce and manipulate. We act out of primal jealousy, anger and revenge to win, hurt, punish or “show" them. We hurry to land on familiar “stable” grounds.
Conversations that ensue during breakups unravel us like a spool of thread from grandma’s hand-knitted sweater. We become undone. Both partners effortlessly slide into a vortex of unhealthy banter. It only exacerbates the hurt and pain.
We can keep repeating such patterns and commiserate endlessly over love. Or, we can be bold and break out of these vicious cycles. To do the latter, we must fight our primal instincts. Instead of running away, we have to summon the courage to face our fears, insecurities and attachments head on, while simultaneously question and challenge our indoctrinated notions on love and romance.
Our preconceived notions, thoughts, values and beliefs on how things ought to be, coupled with our fears, insecurities and attachments are the source of self-inflicted pain that we falsely and routinely pin on others.
In this article, we shed light on the source and face uncomfortable truths in a hard-hitting and yet, compassionate manner. To do so, we approach the subject matter from the breakup initiator’s vantage point, who in this case, understands his or her own doubts, fears, insecurities and attachments intimately. As a result, a different and telling dialogue unfolds between the recipient and initiator.
The recipient struggles with the news and claws for reconciliation to land on familiar grounds. His or her attempts to goad, provoke, sting, incite, pressure, urge, plead or convince the initiator fails. With deeper understanding and greater awareness, the initiator sees through the cloud of smoke. Instead of taking the bait with knee-jerk, angry or mean-spirited responses, the initiator responds with clarity and brutal honesty. Thus, circumvents sliding into the vortex with the recipient.
This sets the stage for us to navigate a collection of breakup comeback lines as well as responses by the initiator that are laden with poignant humor. While illuminating, it should be self-evident that not all responses are appropriate to be vocalized out loud. In matters of the heart, communicating with compassion, tact and honesty are a more mature approach and typically serve both parties well.
Top most common breakup comebacks and breaking the breakup comebacks apart –
DON’T DO THIS
All jokes aside, the underlying premise of these breakup comebacks is that you, the initiator, are the lucky one to have the recipient in your life. Clearly you have forgotten that. But that’s okay. Shit happens. So they are going to remind you by running a highlight reel of the good times, and enlighten you about the sacrifices they have made for you. Once they put your faculties back in order, instead of getting upset with you, they will still “take you back.” How lucky are you?
If that strategy fails, you are warned not to do something foolish that you will regret for the rest of your life. This will be your big loss. They are looking out for you and trying to help you not make bad decisions. As part of that, they also try to convince you of how you ought to feel towards them because that is how they feel towards you.
And if that too fails, then anger and disbelief set in. How dare anyone breakup with them? They are a catch! Anyone would be lucky to be with them. And that honor has been bestowed upon you. You need a smack down. How can you fail to recognize and appreciate the enormous God’s gift they are to you? Frankly, it’s an outrage.
Contrary to the self-confidence projected by their words, in reality, these comebacks showcase the recipient’s insecurities. To compensate for their lack of confidence in themselves and who they are, they talk themselves up and project an intentionally designed façade. If the initiator has any semblance of doubt about their decision, have their own insecurities and/or share similar thoughts of scarcity, those would lend themselves towards the dance of reconciliation.
TELL ME AND LET ME TELL YOU
The best salesperson is one that takes the time to listen and understand what their clients need and want. Most clients are happy to divulge. The rest is easy. This is the classic “Tell me what you want. And let me tell you what I have” strategy. The salesperson essentially regurgitates and offers everything you shared you want, and more. You just helped them make the sale!
So it would follow that during breakups, the first reflex question is why. While it is a well-needed and important conversation to engage in, the why of the why makes all the difference. Are they asking why so they can prepare a rebuttal? Are they arming themselves to negate, invalidate or alleviate “seeming” issues to convince you to get back together? Is their intention to prove you wrong and win you back?
Or are they asking why so both can engage in a compassionate introspective adult conversation to understand and learn from what happened and why; to respectfully share feelings with honesty; to heal and give the gift of mutual closure.
In the absence of that, the underlying premise of the breakup comebacks in this category is that you, the initiator, are the King or Queen. And they will treat you as such. Whatever you want and anything you say. They will say all the right things; they may not always mean them, but they will certainly verbalize them. Everyone wants to be treated like royalty and have their way. No one would pass up on this sweet deal in their right mind. Right?
SERVING THE GUILTY SPECIAL
While the initiator may have called off the relationship, it does not mean that they themselves are not struggling. In fact, the initiator may very much still love or be in love with the recipient. So the initiator may not only be dealing with their own emotional turmoil, but may also be internalizing the pain of the recipient.
These breakup comebacks rely on knowing how much the initiator cares for them. And the recipient uses that to tug at your heartstrings. Your care and love for them makes it easy for them to make you feel sorry for them. They pawn the idea that their happiness and future is at your mercy. They say things that make you feel guilty, even responsible, for the pain you are causing them.
Simultaneously, they flatter and make you feel incredibly special. Who doesn’t like to hear and believe how special they are? It’s easy bait. If you believe in your own grandeur, ego and martyrdom, it becomes easy to get sucked in by these comebacks.
The comebacks in this category are reflective of the recipient’s attitude towards accountability; they want none. They believe they do not have a choice and therefore, rendered helpless. Things just happen to them. They lament how their life is mired by a string of mishaps, hardship and setbacks. They must be cursed. They have a victim mentality, which allows them to pass the buck to you in the form of guilt. They may be lazy, set in their ways, dependent, needy, and operate from a place of scarcity.
THE BETRAYAL HOME RUN
These comebacks are the ultimate knockout punch. Betrayal! They make the case that you are disingenuous, immoral and unethical; perhaps even a sinner. You should be ashamed of yourself. They guilt you into feeling like you stabbed them in the back. You are Judas. They hit you at your core - your values, integrity and character.
But if they truly believe you are Judas, which you may or may not be, then why would they still want to be with you?
Such thoughts highlight an important and destructive indoctrination by society on the concept of love. Collectively, as society, we consider it heroic to sacrifice, settle and stay in unfulfilling relationships out of feeling indebted, guilt, loyalty and commitment. We denounce, castigate and condemn truth and honesty. Instead, we celebrate longevity at the expense of true happiness and fulfillment.
THE FAULT IN YOU
The underpinnings in this category of comebacks are blame. Blaming you, your fictitious lover, your actual lover or the cookie monster. Just find someone or anyone to blame. This allows them to decry victim. Poor me. I was wronged. They receive sympathy from friends and family. Finding someone to blame allows them the ability to relinquish any sense of responsibility and accountability of themselves – their choices and their contributions to the state of the union. They will do anything to avoid looking inward. It’s easier.
Breakups are hard, as perhaps they should be. If the relationship had any substance or meaning, including the garden variety of dysfunctional relationships, then parting ways should be hard. And that is perfectly okay. It takes time to understand, process, grieve, accept and let go. But while breakups are hard, they do not have to be painful. We make them painful.
We make them painful by the thoughts and actions we indulge in. Sadly, there is a collective acceptance in society on how we currently think about love and relationships; and how we deal with breakups. We consider it acceptable, even normal, to feel jealous, hate and resentment. We cast people as heroes or villains, when we are neither. Self-professed heroes then seek revenge to hurt, punish or “show” the villains. Rebounds are perfect illustrations of commonly accepted ways to deal with breakups.
This collective acceptance by society validates our thoughts, feelings and actions, thereby perpetuating petty and uncivilized behavior at best. More disturbingly, it holds us back from progressing and elevating our hearts and minds.
To break out of the cycle of pain, we must move away from our primal instincts and seek the more enlightened path. This path begins with our thoughts. When we change our thoughts, we change our experiences.
Life is forever fertile grounds for learning. Breakups, in their purest forms, are opportunities to question and challenge the source in pursuit of truth and personal growth. Situations that expose our fears, insecurities and attachments are difficult but immeasurably enriching; they are quintessential blessings in disguise. They knock us out of our comfort zones and push us to our edges. While comfort zones are beautiful places, nothing ever grows there.