Sidenote: The Stages of Moving On

Sure, this is going to sound very immature of me but getting over Peter was really hard to do. I knew the right thing was to cut the cord, but I found letting go of all hope to be so depressing and damn-near impossible.

Looking back on it and all of my past breakups, I realized that there are very distinct stages of moving on. Sometimes we pass through one quicker than another, but  we almost always stumble upon these steps:

The Ignorant Stage

Ugh, this one sucks. Because this is the stage you look back on and you’re like, “Why didn’t I see it? Why was I skipping in a daisy field thinking life was all dandy while he was sleeping with my sister behind my back?!” (No, no, this didn’t happen to me. Thank goodness.)

In this stage, you really don’t know anything is wrong. Or, you are so good at fooling  yourself that even though you kind of think something might maybe possibly sort of be wrong, you just decide to think about something else. You tell yourself to “stop complaining and think about the positive” or you replay only the good parts of your dates in your mind. Of course you leave out the times when he grabbed your boob in the bar (Peter) or was nearly mad at you for being so stubborn and not giving into sex (Ben).

This is a tricky stage, because you can’t help but be in it. At the beginning of anything, you don’t want to rule a guy out immediately at the first sign of a flaw. You can’t just never talk to him again just because of one or two rude comments. Or he keeps staring at the waitress. Or he has this weird bull nose ring thing. Or he hates his mother. Whatever, you are an easygoing woman. You aren’t hard to please. It’s all good, baby.

Sure. It’s all good for a little bit. But we all have our gut instincts. I have learned to trust and then distrust mine over the years, but I’m working on trusting it again.

Being in The Ignorant Stage for too long may mean you are just too easy to please. You have got to figure out what you want from a man, make him stop wasting your time (notice it’s not about wasting his time) and end the relationship if he isn’t giving you what you want. Usually, being in The Ignorant Stage means you don’t value yourself enough to say “this isn’t cool with me”. Baby, you got to put yourself first!

Movies, books, television, society — every where we turn there’s another cliche about how women are so demanding of men, so overbearing, so high maintenance. So I, for one, am always trying to be less demanding. I am trying to be that “cool chick” who just rolls with the punches.

That’s fine to some extent. Definitely cool to let a couple things slide. But if you’re dating a loser and completely oblivious to it, you gotta start analyzing your priorities and making sure that you are at the top of the list.

The Million Excuses Stage

“He’s moving, so you know, he’s tied up with that.”

“Oh he’s just got a lot going on right now. I’m sure he will call me soon.”

“He’s super busy at work. That’s why he’s putting in late hours.”

“I think his mom is sick. So he hasn’t had any time to see me.”

“There was a lot of wind today. Blew his penis RIGHT into her vagina. Crazy!”

So many excuses! While you were busy daydreaming about your kids’ names and where they’ll go to private school and how big your yacht will be, your jerk date/boyfriend/fiancee/husband is off thinking of great excuses to lay on you. And your friends are taking notice.

There’s a thin line between The Ignorant Stage and The Million Excuses Stage and the difference is that either you are asking more questions (“How come you didn’t call the other night?”) or he’s starting to feel guilty. Either way, there comes a time in every a-hole’s life where he needs to conjure up some garbage to tell you so he can at least keep you strung along. It sucks.

Hey, guys. I’m not saying that women don’t do it too. We do all the shitty things that men do. We aren’t completely innocent. But, I hate to say it, men do it more often. So this is focused on the majority.

Your friends care about you. They ask how your date went or how your current beau is doing not so they can burst your bubble. Happy people infect other happy people. Your friends don’t want you to be a Debbie Downer or else they won’t want to hang out with you. Also, if they are with someone, they will be excited for you to have a new boyfriend they can double-date with. If they are single, they may be living vicariously through you. Either way, if you have good friends (which I hope you do), they only want to see you happy.

So when  your friend (or, often in my case, sister) says, “that sounds like a load of crap” maybe you should listen. I know, I know, it’s so hard to listen. Because, really, what do they know? They don’t know Ben/Peter/fill-in-name-here. How dare they tell me that he’s not right for me? Surely if Aline met Peter she would love him!

No, that’s just another coping mechanism I used on myself.

Sometimes excuses are real. Sometimes I don’t answer a text from a guy I really like because I really do have a busy day. Sometimes I get a flat tire — okay, that happens all the time because I am the world’s worst driver — and can’t make it to a date. Sometimes I’m sick and don’t feel like calling someone. Sometimes I fall asleep and miss his call. But you know what? I always apologize for it, and do my best to not let it happen again. And it’s not the end of the world if someone doesn’t text you back right away. But if you ask a guy a question and he doesn’t respond to you in a day or two (or EVER), then you know he really doesn’t have a good excuse. Same thing if a guy blows you off, leaves town, sleeps with someone else (!), or just generally crushes your heart with no warning.

When a guy likes a girl, he will find time for her. This is a very important point that the wonderful He’s Just Not that Into You makes very clear. Pick this book up when you’re living in the Million Excuses Stage.

In my case, Peter never texted me. I always texted him first. In my Ignorant Stage, I thought it didn’t matter because he always responded and always wanted to go out again. So we did. But when I decided to invite him to a baseball and he couldn’t make it, I knew something was off because he didn’t counter my invitation with another date invite.

My friends and I talked about it and they could see the light while I was blinded.

“Maybe he’s just busy at work,” I would say.

Hold on. Red light here. Peter hadn’t even given me an excuse. Instead, in all my brilliance, I came up with one for him. Wow, that is another level of low.

I got the same response from Lauren as from Morgan as from Sandra as from Aline: Let it go. He’s not interested.

But I didn’t let it go. I kept on thinking of excuse after excuse for him. Man, he didn’t even need to lift a finger to text me one.

The OMG-Maybe-Everyone’s-Right Stage

Okay…put down the pint of ice cream and nobody gets hurt.

You’re starting to really question yourself when you make the shift from The Million Excuses Stage into this one. And your fingernails and/or sexy body are probably taking a beating from it because you are super anxious. I am a nail-biter and a comfort-eater so both of mine take a beating. (Note: This is not going to help you land the next guy.)

How many times can you relay the same story and ask the same questions to your friends and family about one guy until you feel like you’ve gotten enough opinions?

As many times as it takes to hear what you want to hear, most likely.

For me, I told the story of Ben and then the story of Peter to a trillion people. My therapist, my poor sister, Morgan, Lauren, Sandra, three or four other girlfriends I keep tucked in my arsenal, the cashier at the grocery store, the cab driver who took me home after a few too many, my pedicurist, that random lady knitting next to me on the subway…etc. You get the picture. People who are shifting from the Million Excuses stage to this one cannot stop asking for different opinions.

But once you’ve heard “he doesn’t like you” or “he sounds like a dick” enough times, you start to think that there’s a chance all your friends are right.

There will always be those really sweet, kind, naive friends of your’s that hear your story and hear you relay his excuses and they actually make more excuses for him. Such as this conversation:


Read the full page under “52 First Dates” in the headings above.

About factorymaid

I am a 20-something living in Rural, USA. As an engineer for a worldwide famous consumer products company, I manage million-dollar projects in a manufacturing environment. I like to write about what it's like to be a woman in a factory of men. But there's a lot more to me than my career. I have a very storied past. Check out my "About Me" section and my blog posts to find out more! Enjoy! :)

Posted on August 26, 2013, in 52 First Dates, Family, fear, Love, memories, Relationships, Sex, Therapy, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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