THIS WEEKEND MARKS six months single, which I’m celebrating by going to the Folsom Street Fair, playing records, and writing this blog post. I’m doing fine now, thanks for asking. After a brief detour that my doctor wryly compared to “dragging my heart across a saw blade,” I take solace in knowing I did all I could to try and work things out. And, having made that detour, it’s nice — albeit disappointing — to confirm that I’d made the right decision in the first place.
As luck would have it, “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell (1981) came up today as part of my obsessive project to play my entire record collection in reverse chronological order. Hard to believe a mere 30 years on, I can say I’ve lived every line in the song. But then, who hasn’t? (Initially, I thought “I’m gonna pack my things and go” was the single exception, but then I remembered I did pack up and move to San Francisco not long after a breakup, so there you go.)
Paul Simon wrote a fun little song, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” while going through a divorce back in the mid-70s when everyone was going through a divorce. It went to #1 in the beginning of 1976, becoming his biggest solo hit. I always wished he had listed all 50 ways, but it’s telling that every way he does list boils down to one: wriggling out of it — escape, either literal or not.
There are lots of ways to leave your lover, some of them more cruel than others. One of the worst is letting the relationship wither and die by neglect (for the lazy), sabotage (for the go-getter), or a combination of the two — to stop trying, withdraw emotionally, check out, or even actively do things you know will hurt the other person — making the relationship so bad and hopeless that the other person ends it…or so the passive-aggressive partner hopes. As an added bonus, they then get to play the victim. That’s probably one of the 50 ways Paul had in mind but just couldn’t find a man’s name to rhyme with. What a way to treat someone you love, or loved, or thought you loved!
Here’s another way: You look at what’s not working, have a loving, adult conversation about it, and decide to split up if there’s no hope of working things out (“There’s some you can’t save, Dave”). Imagine that!