March 3rd, 2013

Robot Heart

A little sensitivity, please.

(I'm cross posting this to the forum which inspired it.)

A small portion of breakups are amicable. A rare few are even happy for all parties.

This is about the rest of them - about the rest of us. I have a humble request: can we please stop using the word "dumped" in the context of a relationship which ends for reasons other than mutual agreement?

It may seem like a little peeve, and maybe it is, but hear me out. Saying "Bob dumped Mary" is crude, hurtful for everyone, and disrespectful to both the participants and the relationship itself.

dump |dəmp|
verb [ trans. ]
1 deposit or dispose of (garbage, waste, or unwanted material), typically in a careless or hurried way

To say that someone "got dumped" is to, on a certain level, imply that they were deemed to be waste or unwanted. That's nonsense. One dumps garbage. A relationship partner (or former partner) isn't garbage - they're a human being, and deserving of more respect than that. Presumably the relationship isn't what defined them, and isn't the source of their value as a person. That value is retained post-breakup. They were in a relationship for a reason - because someone saw them as having so much value that they wanted to join their life with them, and the feeling was reciprocated. Even under the circumstances of an angry, hurtful breakup, one assumes that they are fundamentally the same person. Whatever the events were that precipitated the breakup - even if they involve a betrayal, malice, or unethical behavior - this grants no one license to pile on to the suffering or to gloat. That's just wrong.

For the person doing the breaking up, this likely isn't a casual or careless decision. Choosing to end a relationship can be one of the most agonizing, gravely serious decisions one makes in their entire life. It's a decision to unilaterally change the course of at least two lives, presumably directly against the wishes of a long-time loved one. Even if it's the right decision in the long run, even if it's in response to something terrible, it's still a conscious decision to do something that is going to cause suffering, destabilization, and ill will in someone they love. It's a decision to accept the burden of being seen (and possibly portrayed to others) as the bad guy in the life story of someone who you love.

To end a relationship is to let go of not just a cherished part of one's life, but of a future that was intended to be spent together. Even for the person making that decision, the deep loss, the scars, and the sadness can be something they'll carry the rest of their lives. At the risk of invoking a flawed metaphor, it no more warrants being referred to with casual terms like "dumping" than the euthanizing of a beloved pet warrants being referred to as "offing an animal." It's callous and hurtful.

The only person who I feel can rightly choose to describe it in those terms is the person who has been broken up with. Not because it's necessarily true, but because they're hurting and it's only natural to lash out.

Nobody comes out of a breakup happy. Under most circumstances, nobody should. Don't revel in others' sorrow - help them to grieve and recover. If you're peripheral to a breakup - if you've considered yourself a friend to one party, the other, or to the relationship dynamic itself - please see the gravity of the situation, and don't diminish its significance. There may be a storm of conflict and hurt, but you don't have to fan the flames. Instead, treat the participants with the respect, compassion, and love that you would've shown before.
  • Current Music
    "Heartbreak Beat" - Psychadelic Furs