Another celebration on July 20, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I broke up with my girlfriend almost 3 months ago. The breakup had been building, I was tired of trying to fight through all the intimacy issues that she and I both had. I felt I couldn’t go it alone so I suggested counseling for us. That request was met with an emphatic “NO” from her. I felt like there was no other choice but to break up. Unlike other breakups I’ve had, this one was distinctly non-emotional — no tears, no calling back just to “hear your voice”, no heartfelt attempts at reconciliation. Just silence. And it’s been that way for three months. Two weeks ago it was her birthday. I decided to send a card, just to show that I didn’t hate her and that I do have some class. I didn’t get a response. All I wanted was a simple acknowledgement/thank you. So now I’m pissed. I still have some things of hers, and I’m wondering, should I send them? Or keep them and continue the road to recovery? I really want to be civil, but I’m angry, so I thought of including with the package a note letting her know how completely classless I think she is.
Now do you see the point I was making to Wondering (about expecting a particular response, not about Ziggy)?
Yes, it definitely would have been super nice to get a simple response. And yes, in the world of non-breakup etiquette, it is tacky not to acknowledge a well-meaning missive. And yes, even in the world of breakup etiquette, it is tacky — though understandable — not to acknowledge a well-meaning missive. Understandable? Yes. Because — especially since you two haven’t been in touch — you don’t know what her breakup healing m.o. has been. She may still have (need, even) a communication moratorium, for any number of reasons. Maybe she’s too sad to go there? To mad, still, to go there without saying something she’ll regret? She may also be, yes, just plain tacky. Who knows?
But it is your motive, not hers, that is actually at issue here. Your misstep was not sending the card; it was what you slipped into the envelope: that big yellow stickie saying SEE, I AM A BETTER PERSON THAN YOU ARE. That, and not pure good reconciliatory will, was what sent you to the post office. The Classy Avenger would have asked you to check your attitude.
So if you would like to return your ex’s stuff, fine. With a note that says, “Hope you had a great birthday. I’m sending this because it’s just easier for me not to have it around — I’m sure you understand. Would be delighted to hear from you, if /when you feel like it.” That’s the classy thing to do.