Once a relationship is dead, it can never be revived. You can reanimate a dead relationship, but it’ll be some twisted version of the thing you once loved, think Pet Sematary – relationship relapses are the zombie cats of the dating world. Take my friend, we’ll call her Girl. Girl had a boyfriend; we’ll call him Boy. Girl and Boy had a relatively decent relationship for about a year. Actually, that’s not true. The first couple of months were full of new love bliss, but then Boy had to move out of state for three months for a work assignment. The two barely saw each other and had the type of awkward phone conversations that you’d expect of two people who have absolutely no idea about what’s going on in the other’s daily life. That said, Boy returned home and after a brief period of adjustment (namely, an unhealthy dose of suspicion from each party about what the other had been doing during the long distance period), the two fell into a pleasant rhythm, and several successful months followed. Until “¦
[Cue creepy theremin soundtrack]
One night, Boy wasn’t where he was supposed to be. Girl ran around frantically trying to track him down. She called his mother, his friends, even his boss (wince). Finally, at about way-too-late o’clock, Boy appeared at the steps of his place, where Girl had been sitting for hours (cringe).
Raw, ugly, and filled with the kind of things you can’t take back. True things. The two parted, and for good reason. Boy had been out to dinner with someone else. Someone who didn’t fall into any of the following categories: family, friend, colleague, mutual acquaintance, kindly old violin playing man from the bus stop. The dinner companion did, however, fall into this category: college girl Boy met at a bar while watching [insert sports game/match/fight “¦ these are the sort of details I can’t force myself to care about].
And so, the story ends with that fight. The couple parted, grieved, and moved on from one another. Right? Riiiiight “¦?
No. Not right.
The next fudging YEAR of their lives involved drunk dialing, showing up at each others’ homes unannounced, phone calls of the “my rollerblades are at your apartment and I need to come get them” variety (as if anybody has ever needed or will ever need rollerblades), extensive Facebook/FriendFace/SpaceFace/Twitbag/Tumblcorn stalking, and of course, relapsing.
No one could tell whether Girl and Boy had split, including Girl and Boy. They just couldn’t let the thing die. And it became a version of their previous relationship that included all of the shitty stuff the original relationship had included (mistrust, incompatibility, fatigue), and none of the good stuff (shared experience, companionship, fun). During the first relapse, Girl and Boy tried to be together officially. But Girl found, unsurprisingly, that she couldn’t trust Boy. That in the moments where she felt like she trusted him, she was really just monitoring him. She felt comfortable only because she knew where he was; the minute he was out of her sight, in crept crippling anxiety. That was no way to live, so they split again. Except they didn’t.
They just kept kicking around each other’s lives. Girl would give Boy a ride to the airport for no reason (“he has other people who can drive him to the airport, you know” became a familiar phrase), Boy would feed Girl’s freaky Baskimo (Basset Hound/American Eskimo mix ““ ugly, as well as loud) when she was out of town. And each gratuitous interaction led to a gratuitous hookup. Which just made it harder for them to cut ties or foresee futures with other, more appropriate partners. Like the zombie cat in Pet Sematary, their relationship started to look and smell a little dead.
The saddest part of this undead relationship was, of course, that it was already over, which even Girl and Boy knew. Neither one of them planned to be together long term. Girl said several times, “I don’t even think I like him anymore, I just don’t want to deal with getting over him.” Which is ridonkeykongulous when you consider that whether they chose to get over it sooner, or later, they were still going to have to get over it. And having opted for getting over it later just meant a YEAR of unhealthy, miserable, shambling, undead zombie cat corpse un-dating-dating first. At the end of which exists only one ending, a bad one. Because by the end of a zombie relationship, the couple has already put up with so much shit from each other, that behavior that to most would be considered unacceptable becomes acceptable, meaning behavior has to be escalated to grossly unacceptable to even get the couple’s notice.
Which is where Girl and Boy ended up, at grossly unacceptable behavior followed by a very bad ending. Boy attended a party at Girl’s place where he picked up one of Girl’s co-workers. Girl let herself (broke) into Boy’s apartment and cut a hole in the crotch of most of his pants. Boy returned all of Girl’s books to her with the last pages of each ripped out. Girl attended Boy’s sister’s wedding with one of Boy’s friends as her date. By the time Girl and Boy stopped seeing each other for good, they had been so mean that there was no chance for friendship and no room for warm memories. They had to beat the thing beyond all recognition, and looking back, both would probably tell you it would have hurt a lot less to just leave each other and not look back, preserving some good feelings for the relationship they’d once shared.
This is a sad tale (sadder than Pet Sematary, and that was awfully sad). And it’s also one that’s probably pretty familiar to most of us. I’d like to think that making obviously right choices is easy, but for some reason, it’s not. And at the risk of oversimplifying what is, or at least feels like, a complicated problem ““ there’s a simple antidote. Look a monstrous relationship in the face and kill it. Don’t try to suture it; you’ve seen the movies, you know that won’t work, kill it dead.
When you find yourself at the precipice of a horror love and hate story like the one Girl and Boy found themselves in – for the love, put a bullet in it. End the relationship quickly. Grieve it. And move on. Because once that relationship goes zombie, you’ll have to bludgeon it to death.
Image source: Lerms on DeviantArt