Just because you didn't have The Chat, it doesn't mean it wasn't real. Sinead O'Reilly investigates the politics of Fake-Ups.
With your eyes rolled to heaven and a reminiscent smile across your face, you can’t help but laugh. You. Were. Hilarious. Ridiculous. Absolutely ludicrous in your notions. But hey, I guess we all are, at the beginning.
Fondly, you recall just how nervous you were for that first date, and cringe at the hour it took for you to contour your ever-reddening mug, recounting the 8 #OOTN changes you made before leaving the house. You were hopeful. What a total dope, right? But you can’t be too hard on yourself. After all, you had no way of knowing how it was all going to end up.
You couldn’t have known that the third date would be marked with a spontaneous weekend away. Nor that an invitation to meet his sister would follow. And definitely not that getting ready for a date would soon barely involve mascara, because, you know, he thinks you’re beautiful au naturale. You’re no mystic and no weekly horoscope even hinted that this first date could manifest itself into a Mills & Boon bonanza. The same way it definitely didn’t give you any inclination that, after three months of blissful encounters with this dream man, it would all roar to a screeching halt.
You thought you had these three months of bliss and it would lead to more, perhaps he could even be The One, if such a thing exists. But what you didn’t have, was a bona fide, real, honest to God boyfriend, because you never had that awkward talk where such things are negotiated.
That’s not saying that it didn’t look that way. Hands were held, PDA was performed, you even pretended to enjoy his sister’s boyfriend’s jokes, but still, no question was ever asked, no agreement reached. So was it even a break up at all? And if you weren’t official, have you any less right to be devastated, mourning for what could have been?
What you’re feeling now is the fallout from a Fake-Up. Not a term to describe some Hun’s botchy lip-fillers that she’s claiming are real, but rather a way to describe the ending of relationship that was never really a relationship.
“The two are similar”, explains Pat, “feelings can get hurt regardless of the use of official titles.” That may be true, but is it even acceptable to break out the Ben & Jerry’s if it isn’t really a break up? Your friends may have known that you guys were a thing, but because it was early days, you didn’t disclose too much, therefore they have no idea what he meant to you. And now it seems a little late and a little silly to come running to them upset.
What the hell was he at leading you up the garden path, and making boyfriend eyes at you, only to pull the plug as soon as shit got real?
At first, you try to be rational. Shit happens, relationships come to a natural end and maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. But then you get mad. What the hell was he at, leading you up the garden path and making boyfriend eyes at you, only to pull the plug as soon as shit got real? What was it all about? Well, it was just some neat presentation according to Pat Grange of Relationships Ireland. “Some people are just very good at dressing the shopfront,” he explains. “It’s human nature for us to want to believe people, so we often get drawn into unsuitable situations.”
Unsuitable is one way to put it because, aside from your anger over this asshole wasting your time, you are left with a whole load of confusion over how you should to react to the situation at hand. The protocol for a break-up situation has always been to ring up the girls. Together you put the wine to chill, the paleo diet on the backburner and hash the whole thing out with a massive bitching session. The only problem here is, that you don’t actually know how to even describe the dalliance that was. If you were never exclusive, if you were never his girlfriend, you can’t have broken up, right? And by the laws of love, Cupid or whatever social code you abide by, do you have a right to be upset over a Fake-Up?
Enough for a little TLC according to Pat. “Nobody likes to be rejected at any stage of a relationship, it evokes feelings of foolishness and embarrassment and can often stop us from reaching out to friends”. Feelings familiar to us all, Pat goes on to say that we shouldn’t let this stop us from expressing this loss to those around us. “Even if you are feeling awkward about broaching the subject it is important to talk about it. Getting it out now will stop these feelings from snowballing into something bigger in the future.”
Future is a word that we are now weary of, having spent the last 90 days mentally planning one with someone that turned out to be more of a blip than a great love. And yet, after an experience like this, you may feel a little bit more equipped when dipping into the dating world again and should learn from it what you can. “It’s great to be upfront,” says Pat, “Too many relationships suffer from a lack of communication. If you see a future, there is no harm in checking in to see if your partner is on the same page.”
The same page would be nice, but the knowledge that the book won’t be suddenly ended on a total cliff-hanger would be even better. Learn from this incident, and perhaps don’t let too much time pass (or too many feelings deepen) before broaching the subject of exclusivity again. Going with the flow is all well and good, but taking a “see what happens” approach only works until you realise just how much you care. Yes, The Talk is mortifying, and yes, you could end up with egg on your face. But isn’t it best to prepared in such a scenario, like Bear Grylls in the wild? After all, sometimes dating is akin to drinking your own wee…
This article first appeared in STELLAR’s March issue. Our April issue is on shelves now!
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