End of Days: Girl-Girl Break Ups
Originally published 10-28-05
For two years my ex Michelle lived with her ex Karen before moving on. They dated other women, but each night they went home to each other where they made house, grocery shopped, did yard work and even hosted parties together. To outsiders they were a couple. A couple of what you ask? A couple of typical lesbians who wallow in an agonizing slow burn of a breakup instead of ending it quickly like straight folk.
Many of us are guilty of it. We fan that dying ember of a relationship because it gives us just a little warmth and comfort, usually until one of us finds a new flame. In an interview after her separation from her former partner Julie Cypher, Melissa Etheridge revealed that her love affairs always overlapped so she never had to fully deal with heartache. That’s always nice, for one side.
The emotional dynamics between women lovers are different than between hetero partners, and we don’t have a Lesbians are from Jupiter manual to help us understand our mates. Our relationships begin quickly and intensely. We meld emotionally and nest together immediately. Often our body cycles even get in synch. So when things go south, it’s hard to pull apart.
My last relationship was so comfortable that we talked about splitting up for a year and half. We’d talk about it over dinner, and then in bed. The romance was gone, but neither of us wanted to leave. We didn’t want to lose our best friend.
Perhaps one of the best things that gays would gain by winning the right to marry – besides equal rights under the law – would be the imposition of a proper divorce. No more dragging on dead-end relationships for months and even years. Sign some papers, divide the stuff, stay away from each other for a prescribed period of time, and it’s done.
But I wonder if we would miss the dyke drama that has become of rite of passage for lesbians. Often we have to have that last knock-down-drag-out screaming match, throwing things and slamming doors, to signal that it’s finally over.
At least we do it with flare. What could be worse, and more boring, than a straight friend’s recent breakup with her boyfriend in which he simply quit calling. Of course lesbians don’t have the corner on dramatic endings. Think Jean Harris and Herman Tarnower, Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuco, David Gest and Liza Minnelli, Brad and Jennifer. And certainly the boys aren’t exempt to those excruciating off-and-on again liaisons. Who doesn’t feel a twinge in the heart when Jake Gyllenhaal says to Heath Leger in the trailer to Brokeback Mountain, “I wish I knew how to quit you.”
When you think about the devastation of ending a relationship, it’s a wonder we ever regain the courage to love again. But even after a Titanic breakup, the heart does do on, as Celine Dion promises. Poor Kate Winslet. Come here, I’ll make you feel better.
A therapist once told me it takes three months for every year you were with a lover to get over the relationship. For the average two-and-a-half-year lesbian relationship, that means seven and a half months of recovery. The same therapist also told me that a good indicator of a person’s ability to have a healthy relationship is how that person ended past relationships and how friendly that person is with exes.
So, now that I have nearly two years behind me since my last romantic relationship, and my ex and I continue to be best of friends, it stands to reason that I am excellent dating material. But I have one question: Does this mean my ex has to move out?