Illustration by Genevieve Humphreys
On paper, breakups should be a basic process: end the relationship, go your separate ways and never see each other again.
Of course, it’s never actually that simple. If you’ve ever dated another student on a small campus like ours, odds are that you regularly run into your ex, whether it’s in class, at parties or even in your extracurriculars.
I think (and hope) I’m not the only one who fell victim to the alluring adventure of jumping into a relationship during your first year at Trinity. Sure, it’s easy to think back on it and reflect on how stupid the whole thing was. You might dismiss that short chapter in your life as pointless, foolish or a waste of time.
Maybe you’re filled with regret for subjecting yourself to three more years of hiding behind the Magic Stones and desperately wanting to blend in with the red brick walls every time you see your ex. But I, optimistic to a fault as ever, also like to think of how the experience has helped me.
Anyone who’s been through a tough breakup can tell you that the relationship ended because the other person was irrational, crazy, overbearing or whatever other deadly adjective.
But, while one person may have been clearly in the wrong, I’ve come to find out that the reasons for breaking up are not often that cut-and-dry.
All people involved usually played a part in the demise of the relationship, and that’s okay. People are messy and emotional, and sometimes they say what they don’t mean or do something unintentionally hurtful.
When the relationship ends right there, does that mean both of those people are psychopaths? The thing about dating on such a small campus is that it often prevents you from throwing a relationship to oblivion at the end. You have to interact with your ex, whether you like it or not, because that’s how interconnected we are in this little bubble.
You and your ex most likely have some mutual friends, and it might be hard for you to imagine how that friend could possibly stand hanging out with an emotionally unstable freak like your ex.
But it forces you to realize that it’s because there are SOME redeeming qualities in that oh-so-easy-to-demonize ex. There must have been a reason you started dating them, so there must be qualities worth staying for, from the perspective of that mutual friend.
Dating another student here prevents you from being able to entirely dismiss them as evil or crazy, because our interconnected social circlews require us to acknowledge the other side to the story.
The messy, complicated details of why we broke up with our exes that make us seem a little less than an innocent victim of false love.
We have to empathize with our exes because doing otherwise is to claim that they and everyone they know are irredeemable. None of this is to excuse abusive or manipulative behavior.
But before we go out into the real, non-Trinity dating world, where we can easily dismiss and forget an ex right away, it’s important to have some experience acknowledging our own faults in relationships and realizing that we’ve all been that crazy, irrational ex to someone else.
| Class of 2020 | Major: Anthropology