I confess what I do for a living is not what one might refer to as “average.” I don’t think any of those guidance counselor tests that offer clarification about what you should do for your career offer my enterprise as an option. Nor should it. It is certainly not for everyone.
I don’t even know if I enjoy it all that much. I’m fairly certain I don’t, in fact. But I believe it is important. It has value. And, for me, that’s what is important in doing something. How fun it is for me finishes far, far behind that.
Take the woman across from me right now, angrily denouncing me, my family, and my, well, listen to her.
“…and your ugly face. You think you have any right to do this. To tell me this? I mean how the fuck do you ever know what you’re talking about? You don’t. You’re just a miserable jerk who gets off on making others miserable, right? This is all for your jollies, huh? Well guess what you piece of sh…”
You get the idea. She’s pissed. And who can blame her? I just told her the man she’s been sleeping with for 2 months is a.) not interested in seeing her and b.) married and about to be a dad. So, she’s entitled.
To be clear, this is my career. I’m like Hitch in the movie Hitch starring Will Smith. Except I’m not a matchmaker who conceals his identity from the press for no Earthy reason. I mean, honestly, a handsome, well dressed matchmaker who changes men into a better version of themselves? Who would have a bone to pick with this guy. It’s not like he’s the idiot with the hat or anything. No, I’m that guy. I’m his mirror; a relationship ender who stays off the radar because it isn’t the sort of job that makes people admire and look up to you now is it?
Excuse me for a moment, won’t you? I have to defuse this.
“Francine. Francine. I know what I’m talking about because Aaron hired me. He told me this. I’m not telling stories and I take no delight in your pain.”
I can already tell she knows I’m not lying. Her eyes are going glassy and her lip is shaking just a touch. She suspected something. Maybe even from the start. This isn’t a shock to her, this is a confirmation of the thing she wouldn’t let herself acknowledge. That’s the way it is most of the time.
People hire me to handle their breakups. Which sounds cowardly on their part and, often, is. But it also makes a certain amount of sense. With Francine and Aaron for instance? Met at some insurance company soiree. She’s a broker, he’s a customer. Both have too much to drink, make some bad, but fun moan-worthy choices. Looks like it is a classic one night stand.
Except he accidentally snagged her phone along with his at the decoupling. He finds her office, brings her the phone, they flirt over lunch, have sober sex in the stairwell and, boom, off to the races. He’s married, she doesn’t know. He’s being the bad guy, he knows it, but the moment he gets near her, he’s the worst guy and can’t stop himself. Or so he says, anyway. I don’t think we’re nearly as animalistic as we sometimes pretend when we want to excuse our impulsive behaviors, but I tend to let the clients keep their delusions intact.
Anyway, he needs to end things, he knows it, but he’s too governed by his libidinal urges to pull it off. So he calls me. I take care of it. I break her heart. I put her back together enough that there’s no late night calls or drive by attempts at reconciliations or, worst of all, attempts to reveal their adulterous carrying on to the world but not so much that she doesn’t properly mourn the relationship and learn from it.
Today it is this. Yesterday it was letting down a guy with a bad temper and making it clear, in no uncertain terms, that things were very over and that threats or other intimidating behavior would certainly not be a route he should consider. Tomorrow is a guy who’s been trying to convince his girlfriend to leave her husband for a year. She claims she dumps him once a week but he keeps coming back and he, apparently, is something else entirely with his tongue. So…yeah. Men and women are dogs, in case you were wondering.
I have some rules, standards for myself, so the whole thing doesn’t get too grim and soul deadening. They probably are random and arbitrary from the outside looking in, but I think they keep my head above water so I keep doing them.
First, I don’t do marriages. Get attorneys, do the whole thing legal. If you’re married, you’ve life positioned yourself right out of my service area.
Second, I don’t do long-term monogamous (at least it is expected are monogamous) relationships. You’re together two years or more? You owe it to yourself and your partner to do it right.
Third, if you are a victim of physical, psychological, or sexual abuse, I’m going to get you the help you need to get out, to file charges, and to protect yourself going forward. I don’t do the dumping for you, the law does. The guy from yesterday was a jerk and a blowhard but had no abuse history or evidence to suggest he would start. If I found otherwise, I would’ve gone the more serious legal route.
Fourth, I don’t humiliate, abuse, or otherwise harm the dumped, beyond the distress a relationship end tends to create.
Fifth, if my breakup doesn’t take, if the ex shows up at the PTA at outs your interest in BDSM, if he or she sends you nude photos to try to entice you back, if he or she tries to contact your friends, family, or significant other, you don’t pay and I work until the dumped stays dumped.
Sixth, I find out I did all the work for you and you reached out to the dumped, for any reason, even if it is just to be friends or whatever, I’m done with you. Never come to me again.
Seventh, I reserve the right to find exceptions to all these rules.
I handle a lot of cases like the one today. Relationships that aren’t good, for any number of reasons—often adultery but not always—but the physical connection is so intense that being in the same room tends to lead to old habits and suppress the desire to change.
Lots of one night stands too. People who don’t quit, who get a little creepy or sad, who convince themselves that, if they could just do this one thing, the other person would get it and wish to go for more than one night.
Once I broke up with someone because he was a dog person and she was so allergic she was worried if she spent any time with him again she might lose consciousness. In retrospect they could’ve just met outdoors somewhere, but I was younger then. I was new to it and a lot less selective back then.
These days, I have down as close to a science as you can get with human interaction. I know how to eliminate the hope of reconciliation, how to let the person keep their dignity, and how to ensure they don’t do anything impulsive or cruel to their newly ex’d. I’m protecting all parties and those connected to all parties. It is not the kind of job one feels wildly proud of, I admit, but it serves a purpose. It helps people.
So I can endure the insults, the crying, and the cowards who don’t handle their own business because, sadly, people get dumped, very badly, every day. Breakups are never fun, but what I do ensures they are not needlessly harsh, they are crystal clear, and that both parties are put in the best possible position to move on.
If I don’t do it, who the hell will?