The breakup that wasn’t
Relationships in college often go undefined. It’s surprisingly easy to go on 10 dates with someone without considering yourselves a couple, or you could be dating your significant other for a year without ever having gone on a traditional date.
We tend to avoid labels at all costs—but without labels, how do we know if we are or aren’t together? And without knowing your status as a couple, is it necessary to break up, or can you just stop returning phone calls and move on? Is there a kind of breakup etiquette for label-less couples?
Last week, I received a Facebook invitation to Bauhaus. As I pondered the pros and cons of attending (laughing at bad costumes versus being surrounded by grinding, sweaty underclassmen), I had a flashback to sophomore year and remembered meeting So-and-so, who I may or may not have made out with at my first Bauhaus. Our meeting that night led to a few dates, but nothing beyond that, and I hadn’t seen him around much lately. So naturally, I typed his name into Facebook search, only to find that So-and-so had de-friended me.
The two of us should have called it quits from the start; we literally had nothing in common. But since I was new to campus, I figured why not see what the dating scene had in store and give him a shot. After two intensely painful dates, I thought that simply not returning phone calls would probably get the message across. After two days, I hadn’t heard from him, so I assumed that it was over and I could move on.
So when I got a text saying “Meet me outside your dorm,” I was confused. Out of curiosity, I went downstairs, where I received a 30-second lecture on why we shouldn’t date, was told “It was nice knowing you” and was given a handshake. He promptly sprinted out of the dorm. I barely made it inside the elevator before I burst out laughing.
What confused me (and later my entire suite, as we tried to figure out what exactly had just happened) was that we hadn’t actually been dating—we had just been on dates. I didn’t see why he had to go out of his way to end things that were naturally going to die.
But as my suitemate pointed out, all too often people are upset because they feel that they’ve been led on, and are hurt when they never hear from a prospective partner after a few dates. How do we know when we should actually put a stop to something or just let it die?
While there isn’t any set-in-stone rule, I think that the rule of three is a pretty safe bet. If you’ve been on three or more dates, you’ve spent enough time together to actually have feelings, and if you are at that level, you should try to let someone down easily.
If it’s been less than that (a first date is a trial run, another is a second chance in case you totally screwed up the first), you can probably just let it go; there is no need to cause anyone unnecessary humiliation.
So did So-and-so do the right thing? I was going to give him the benefit of the doubt—that is, until he de-friended me. So the moral of the story? Sometimes it’s best just to not say anything. And do not talk to the vampire at Bauhaus, no matter how much he looks like Edward Cullen.