How to Lose Someone Important to You

Shut them out

Communication is key, and non-communication is an even better key! If you do find yourself in a situation where you are opening up and communicating, be sure to have a supply of things that come up that you can use to avoid any further communication. Emotional neglect and giving the bare minimum is also a good way of letting them know how clingy they’ve been.

Ignore apologies. What matters more is how much they hurt you, instead of a willingness to overcome that hurt. After all, apologies admit weakness, and you need someone stronger than that in your life.

Tell them you need to Process. And by Process, it means distract yourself with all sorts of other bullshit, hanging out with friends, closing down the bar, or doing literally anything else besides Processing. Your toxic friends will provide the right throwaway piece of advice your way because their lives are so stellar. Prefereably in meme or motivational quote form. Or wine.

Don’t box me in! Accuse them of lumping you in with their past while following textbook behaviors demonstrated by people in their past. Because all of us are a completely blank page who shouldn’t rely on past experience to inform us that things are about to implode. Especially if your own self-destructive patterns are right on schedule and obvious to anyone who knows you. There’s nothing worse than being lumped in with your own past behavior!

Remind them they hurt your trust: Tell them in very long text messages that there is nothing they can do to regain that trust. Make sure to repeat this process every week so they know you can never regain your trust. Repeat as often as it takes to explain in excruciating detail how they will never regain your trust. And how there is nothing they can do to fix it. Ever.

When you hurt yourself, make sure they see it. Even the closest people to us in our lives can’t withstand watching us dismantle all the progress we’ve made in our lives. Even the ones who love us will show their true colors when they watch you go off the rails and have to Step Away. Sad choices are the comfort food of emotional healing.

Push away the people who love you most. These people won’t always say what you want to hear. They see good in you, potential, and they will call you out when they are watching you hurt yourself. Being called out hurts, so why let other people hurt you when you are already an expert? If they decide to step back and let you do this, that’s on them.

Orbits are better than emotional investment. Why have one sure thing (that is sure to fail) when you can have four or five people in orbit around you that combine to make at least 1&3/4 of a sure thing! Like old scraps of cloth for quilters, or keeping a jar of bolts and screws, at some point they will serve some kind of purpose. Look at how much emotional support you get too! And if you want, you can always get laid.

ABA: Always be assuming! Actually talking to the other person rarely accomplished anything. You know they are talking shit about you with their friends! What about that song they put on their Facebook! It was a dig! Fuck them! Why aren’t they texting back? Why did they text back?! What are they saying about me??!!

Change the nature of your relationship. Always roll back the nature of your relationship. After all, don’t all people who are “just friends” do these kinds of things with each other? You’ve probably got half a dozen “friends” who stuck around for the breadcrumbs you’ve been throwing them. Hell, they probably told you how much of an asshole this person was too (they are totally objective, btw). If they read too much into things, that’s on them!

Here are some examples of rolling back:

  • Parent = Sperm/Egg donor
  • Valuable employee = Former person in that position
  • My dream job = What I wanted to do when I grew up
  • Lover = Friend with benefits
  • Fuckbuddy = Somebody who keeps bugging me
  • Boy/Girlfriend = An old friend
  • The One = Someone I used to hang out with
  • The One who got away = That motherfucker

Commiserate with enablers

  • People who still want to bang you: You’d be surprised to know how supportive someone you used to sleep with will be when you are in a crisis. You’ll soon see that you were right! It was the other person’s fault entirely! What a good listener.
  • Just any random person: They will see things only through their lens and if you curate the information you give them, it’s pretty certain they will see things your way. If they don’t, then there are other random people to commiserate with.
  • Have a heart to heart with the most toxic person in your life: You’ll see how honest, supportive, and hopeful for your well-being someone is who has completely fucked up the lives of others for their own amusement. This person might have also come pretty close to endangering your safety, your job, and never showed any remorse for dragging you into their drama. Your pain couldn’t possibly just be entertainment for them.

The Process of Healing

Take the high road. Don’t unfriend them. Don’t get angry. Don’t express your frustration. Tell them they are important to you without actually trying to fix anything. You’ll be the good guy. And if there is a good guy, then somebody is the bad guy. Especially when they unfriend and block you, because that’s what bad guys do.

Self-medicate. Spend more time at the bar, or drinking at home. You know, rather than spending an evening hashing things out with someone who you considered important in your life. Alcohol and drugs are great ways to numb any real feeling you might have.

Use your words. Or rather use someone else’s words, and motivational pictures, and TikTok videos, because there is no better way of expressing how you feel than sending someone what somebody else has said about what they feel.

Build walls, not boundaries. Boundaries keep the toxic people out. But walls keep everyone out! At some point everyone will betray you, so build those walls thick and high.

Second chances. The second chances already got used up by everyone else who came before. Their first chance was already their second chance. Or third. Or fourth.

Write your feelings down

Write passive agressive shit about them on the internet. Get angry with them. Write where you know they will see it. Make it bitter. Put it down in words that can’t be unsaid, that will damage the trust between you that was already broken because why the hell not? You didn’t know the secret combination to their heart–Right 26, Left 17, Right 4–to open it. Or was that the combination? Did they even know what it was? How were you supposed to?

What have you got to lose? They walked out of your life. Say the thing. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to be mean. It won’t win them back. You lost them a long time ago.

Even though you still love them, even though you want someone who comes home instead of just comes over, even though you know that things can’t go back to how they were, but you can’t help but wonder how things ever were anymore, not now, you don’t trust that anything was real anymore and what was just playing out a fantasy that you wanted and thought they did too. Maybe your finger still itches from where you used to wear their ring. Maybe you still haven’t taken it off. Maybe you see pieces of them in someone else’s smile or laugh. Or when you are scrolling through your phone and you see a picture of them staring right back at you and have to look away because it fucking hurts. Maybe you hear their Name and think about how that special word used to play on your tongue, how you would sometimes say it, just to feel how it felt in your mouth. This is what you get for making plans or daring to daydream. For going past the routine and comfort zones and experiencing actual growth instead of replaying old reruns.

Was it all just a waste of time? Why let anyone get close, ever? Is this why we can’t have nice things?

Sitting there second-guessing your gut. Second-guessing the second-guessing. Keeping your mouth shut even when they were screaming all the warnings at you and waving the red flags and you just watched them drift away. Even when they told you you were overthinking. When they said to stop fishing for assurances. When something was off, but fit perfectly with their old patterns which you had watched before. And yet you had to be right instead of being happy, didn’t you? When you mistook that moment they reached out as wanting you again instead of just…

Stop. Breathe.

Take time to sit in this mess and acknowledge that sometimes things aren’t healthy and that you did enough. You were enough. You were courageous. The only shame you really felt was not feeling worthy of connection with someone who disconnected. Paranoia never brought you happiness. Overthinking is self-harm, just as much as cutting, drinking too much, suicidal thoughts, or alienating yourself from those who truly love you and care about you.

Vulnerability made you beautiful. In spite of your trauma you decided to trust. And you’ll do it again. And again. But each time that weight will be heavier and there are fewer years ahead of you now and we aren’t promised tomorrow. And we are all a little beat up at this age. It doesn’t get any easier.

Strange feeling

Maybe this should be my Tinder profile. If I was on it…which, yuck.

I’ve said it in the past, but this recent breakup has only affirmed my inclinations. I enjoy companionship and being in a committed relationship, but I abhor dating. But unfortunately it is a necessary evil to navigate the hearts and minds of two different people to understand compatibility. Those early moments are nice when you have an attraction, that spark that makes you giddy with excitement over the next time you’ll get to see them, the next clever thing you’ll say in a text message, or even the grand gesture you have in store to sweep them off their feet.

But as time passes, you begin to discover differences as well. Like how one of you likes 70s and 80s Progressive rock and the other would rather listen to 90s R&B. Those are little things and pretty trivial, but sometimes they pile up. At my age, each passing year or decade means that you have built another layer onto that wall between yourself and someone else.

I know at my age, I face a few limitations. For one, I’m nearly 45. My birthday is in September. I like whiskey, Diesel brand cigars, and cool hats if you want to send me anything (size 7 3/8). One of the limitations I have is that dating someone close to my age usually means someone who might not be able to keep up with me physically. This is an observation of how most adults my age are either crazy active physically, or have let themselves go to the point were walking from the car to the bar is the most activity they do. I’m not really into Yoga and crossfit and the physical abuse those who are truly obsessed with keeping the hands of Father Time at bay either. There has to be a middle ground.

The alternative is dating someone younger than me, which means likely someone who has put off having a kid to pursue their career. They might be looking to start a family. I know that I just don’t have it in me anymore. My son, as awesome as he is, wears me the hell out. For someone who often daydreams of the day when they don’t have to worry about keeping anyone else alive, or paying child support, it would have been much more convenient if he had been born a few years earlier. I’m ready to be done with kids for a while, but I will cherish these next few years when my son is at that age where kids are fun and not yet assholey teenagers.

But there are days, as active as I am, where I don’t want to run and jump and play and I just want to have a mellow day. Which does indeed suck for him. I think my dad hit that point at 32 though.

So, yes, younger women are off the list too. Not to mention the few times I have been out with someone ten years or more younger than me we don’t have a lot in common. When they talk about Arthur the Aardvark, it’s based on their own viewership, unlike mine, which was always under duress because it’s what was on the TV while I was trying to get my kids to school. There’s a good chance that if you were born during the Clinton Administration, we won’t have much to talk about.

My former gf said early on, “I’m done raising children and boyfriends.” I think I might have adopted that philosophy. My son being the exception to the rule of course.

So, dating…

Not since unrestricted submarine warfare has there been a more extensive use of subtrefuge, tactics, and sitting around waiting for the other to make a mistake than dating. I have no desire to interpret red flags or sort through the incoming data of what is bullshit and what is real anymore. I don’t care to get to know what someone’s favorite songs are anymore, learn the names of their childhood pets, or other information that will probably just get shitcanned anyway once everything falls apart. I am also done with trying to coordinate times to see each other, growing intimacy, building on healthy communication skills, and the big one: allowing myself to trust again.

Even if I meet someone who knocks my socks off, odds are that she will have cats, and that’s a deal breaker. Always with the stupid cats.

Dating these days is fucked anyway. Quite a few of my female friends have heard my stories of grand gestures for women I was in relationships and they have been amazed. Their reaction is usually “Nobody has ever done anything like that for me!” The sad truth is at this point, there are only a few of us left who are stupid enough to make grand gestures. In this dating climate, you either get called a Simp or you throw these grand gestures at women who take them for granted, or never experienced them because the women that have come before them burned these poor bastards out on grand gestures.

Right now, if the end result is the same from phoning it in vs. grand gestures, what do you think your man is going to pick? This is why men send dick pics to women rather than having any kind of meaningful conversation. Chances are that women who are on these sites don’t want coffee brought to them at work on a lark. They just want that D. The common ground is people are all on online dating to scratch that itch.

Nobody would even know what to do with a grand gesture at this point anyway.

So, the strange feeling that I have is I’m just done. I anticipate my singleness to last quite a while, without anything romantically fulfilling in the foreseeable future. I have my son to take care of. My book to write. And time to think. Over time, I’m sure I will build up my wall with my own personal opinions, biases, and boundaries that I won’t see how it would ever be practical to let anyone in anyway.

Future deal breakers would probably be “I think people who don’t put ketchup on their hamburgers are awful.” Or “Your car takes Premium gas only? Well, when the Revolution comes, I hope Robespierre cuts your head off in the first round.” Some petty Jerry Seinfeld shit right there.

Believe me, the last go around, I gave and received a good deal of grand gestures. But that doesn’t change anything about how it all ended. It was a nice journey while it lasted, but I’m just tired. The idea of getting to know someone to those depths again…I just can’t. I look at my friends trying to make sense of their relationships, and I think there are better uses for my time. Like watching a new Netflix series.

This is not a world for the Romantic at heart. It’s a world for selfish assholes looking to scratch that itch. People looking for attention, validation, approval. I don’t fit in.

So, the strange feeling that I have is contentment. Companionship is a wonderful, amazing thing (when it works). Believe me, when it doesn’t work and you are stuck with that person, and I speak from experience, there is no worse hell on this world. Yesterday I went on a solo adventure. I didn’t have to coordinate times, I didn’t have to wait for anyone, and no one had to wait on me. It was a full afternoon of new experiences that I had just for myself. I get to enjoy those moments too. I don’t need anyone to bear witness for my life. Well, other than my faithful readers. That much is nice. I don’t need to worry about keeping anyone awake at night because I can’t sleep, and I don’t need to have that pit in my stomach telling me something is wrong or that someone is drifting away based on how they worded a text.

This way is fine. Do I sound bitter? Okay, that’s fair. Maybe I am. But that is just another layer of bricks in my wall which is called a Defense Mechanism. Sometimes it’s lonely, but otherwise, it’s doable. And I don’t need to second guess myself based on the behavior of others. Maybe one of these days I can move somewhere that allows pets. Definitely not a cat.

Start Running

Recent events in my life have definitely thrown me for a loop. I have around a week of the day job left. The final bits of an event in my life that has lasted for nearly 19 years. After that is the uncertainty of freelancing full time. I have a lot of uncertainty about that. Most people have already switched jobs about half a dozen times at the very least in that amount of time, but not me. I’ve stuck it through during recessions, housing bubbles, tech bubbles, and now the Higher Ed bubble. When I was married, it was the only stability I had. The job market where I have lived for the last 19 years hasn’t been all that welcoming to my skill set; not when you are the sole source of income for a family of five. Quitting would have devastated my family as we had no savings and were usually behind on bills. Long story short, kids, marry someone who is on the same page you are when it comes to making a budget.

I’ve lived modestly, biding my time for when I could finally try my hand at writing. That moment arrived this year in a sink or swim kind of decision. The stability of the boring day job is going away next week. I am thrilled and I am terrified. I see my university as being the canary in the coal mine. It won’t be long now before people recognize Higher Ed for the Ponzi Scheme it really is.

Even the place I am leaving had a $10M deficit each year and these cuts were supposed to curtail that. We had around 108 days of funds left barring any natural disasters…then COVID-19 hit. Now the university looks to be sporting a projected $15M deficit and counting. Per year. That’s up around 50%. I’m glad I took the severance and won’t be looking back.

But the idea of filling my days writing articles and copy for companies is a little panic-inducing. I guess I’ll just have to adjust. It could be the best decision I ever made.

The end of a wonderful 10 month relationship has left me teetering on the edge of just move on with my life and being bitter. Today I choose to just get on with my life, rather than dwell on the details. The whys of “Things were going great and then…they are over.” That just plays into my abandonment issues, trying to change myself to suit what I imagine their needs to be, etc. Nobody asked me to do any of these things. This is just life. Sometimes things just don’t work out, even if you thought they had been.

I was watching a Chris Voss video the other day. He’s the FBI negotiator you might see on YouTube ads. He said something particularly interesting about psychological stress and leverage. As someone who was in the equivalent of FBI special forces, he said uncertainty is the biggest obstacle we have to face. On his training, he said they didn’t do things like torture them or haze them for the final test. He said they picked them up in a car and said, “Let’s go for a run.”

They dropped the trainee off and said, “Start running.” We are all built to know how to pace ourselves if we know how long we have to endure something. He said he could do a six minute mile, but that involved knowing that it was only going to be so far and for so long. When someone says, “Start running” you don’t know if it’s going to be ten minutes or six hours. You just start running. You wonder if you are doing it right. You wonder if you are going to last or wash out. What breaks people is the uncertainty of when, or rather IF it will ever end. Hostages and their loved ones wake up every day without knowing if today is the day that they can stop running, for one reason or the other. It is stressful. This is why routine is important. Run until this, you can make it another 100 yards. You can make it to the next 100 yards. Keep going.

Chris Voss said he had to run for about 45 minutes, but it was one of the most challenging moments of his life. If felt like hours and hours to him. Right now, I feel like that is what I’m up against. I don’t know if freelancing is going to be successful. I don’t know if I will ever meet someone again. There is a gap between right now and what is coming up and I don’t know anything about what to expect.

I am being eaten up by this uncertainty. Someone told me to just start running. I saw an inspirational meme that helped out some. It said something about the space between what is happening now and what you expect is filled with uncertainty. Don’t be frightened about the uncertainty, but be curious about the possibilities.

I don’t know what is going to happen.

All I can do is trust that I’ve made it this far and I have plenty of tools in my toolbox to prepare me for about 80% of what happens next. That’s a lot more than a lot of people have going for them right now. I’m looking down that long road ahead, unsure of what will come next other than the distorted lens my experiences have given me on Trust, future plans, or committment. Too many sad choices. I’m in my forties. I don’t have a lot of faith in people left anymore. God knows they all have their baggage too. I can focus on a few things right now. Getting my business going. Raising my son. Being open to whatever good things are just over the horizon. The list is getting shorter though, I must admit.

I hope to show gratitude for the good that has happened in my life and patience for the moments that challenge me. The work keeps me company. My memories help fuel the work. I have the rest of my life to run. Starting…now.