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September 11, 2009

There’s always a bat mitzvah

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:32 am

Classic wisdom from March 2, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

I have a friend who wants to break up with her boyfriend. Unfortunately, he got laid off the day she wanted to “do the deed.” She (politely) opted not to tell him and has continued to go on with the relationship until she can find a more “suitable” time to let him go. My question is, what’s the holdover time on breaking up after a lay-off?

— Shady

Dear Shady,

When Breakup Girl was 13, Breakup Mom had a routine checkup with a doctor who, it turned out, wasn’t quite convinced that she was getting enough rest or taking kind enough care of Numero Uno. Mom dismissed the concern, saying, “Well, I’m sure it’s just because my daughter’s bat mitzvah is coming up.” The doctor raised an eybrow. “Mrs. Breakup,” he said wisely, “there’s always a bat mitzvah.”

Meaning what? That there’s always some intervening concern, some source of angst that can conveniently explain away why we haven’t quite joined the gym or spent more quality time with our families or … gone through with a breakup. So. Your friend (“friend?”) was right to spare him the brush-off the very day of the lay-off, but really only a few days after that would be sufficient. Don’t let her let the lay-off become an excuse, a stalling chip.

Listen, I have a friend who, all in like one month, got fired, broke off an engagement, and lost all her belongings in a fire. For real. Shortly thereafter, she was positively jaunty, pointing out that the blow of each misery was softened by its company, and reasoning that she’d met her Bad Stuff quotient for a good long while. So tell your friend to go ahead and bring it on. What, she should wait until he’s happy to dump him?

Breakup Girl


  1. I dunno BG, that seems a bit insensitive to me. I had a friend who was dumped just after she threw a big surprise party for her bf’s birthday, one that took weeks to plan. If you know somebody’s going to be arguing in front of the Supreme Court, can’t you wait until after they’ve presented rather than messing with their mind when they need the consideration the most?

    It’s just … tacky.

    Comment by Ennis — September 11, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  2. Looking back — 11 years! — I can definitely see it either way. I hear you. But I do have a friend whose boyfriend broke up with her right after she was laid off (this happened a while after I gave the above advice). Some of us were like, “DUDE!” — fair enough. But I remember her saying that it was just as well. Partly because at that point she was just like, “Okay, world, what else you got? Bring it ON,” and partly because, she says, she sensed that something was yuckily off anyway; she would have felt worse having to weather, or decide whether or not to address, that gross-feeling limbo when her defenses were already down. In that sense — those senses — he actually made things easier for her. JADP!

    Comment by BG — September 11, 2009 @ 10:58 am

  3. I happenned across this webiste two years ago while I was googling to get ideas on how to break up with my (then) boyfriend. I know, classy, right? At least I found this site!

    Anywho… BG has it right – “there’s always a bat mitzvah.” and after putting it off, and putting it off, I hadn’t done either of us any favors staying in the relationship for (gasp) another year after I could already tell the relationship had soured.

    This just made the break-up (and the fallout afterwards) even worse than it could have/should have been.

    Do both of you a favor, and call it.
    If the horse is dead, the horse is dead.

    Comment by stefdawn — September 11, 2009 @ 5:17 pm

  4. I’m sure your friend knows in her heart of hearts that breaking up with her boyfriend under these circumstances would be a callous act. Therefore she has already opted to wait. She just wants to know how long she should wait. That is in fact her question. The answer is three weeks.

    Comment by Acheron — September 12, 2009 @ 11:22 am

  5. Ennis and Acheron,

    Based on my past experience, I’m going to have to side with Breakup Girl on this one.

    In April of 2008 I was assaulted while walking down the street in broad daylight. Four teenagers attacked me without provocation (possibly as part of a gang initiation). I came through the situation in reasonably good condition (only a few bruises), but it was a bad day by any standard.

    In defiance of all probability, my week got worse when my girlfriend broke up with me 3 days later.

    There is no good time for a breakup. If my (now ex-)girlfriend had waited for a different week, I would have had two lousy weeks instead of just one. She decided that she was definitely going to break up with me, then she broke up with me the next time we were together. In my opinion, that was the right time.

    Comment by Karl R — September 15, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

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