“You know how when you break up, it’s not about who’s winning the breakup, but it’s kind of about who’s winning the breakup? And by 'kind of' I mean it is?” my 18-year-old brother asked me the other day. “Yeah, I’m winning.”
What is it about winning breakups that we are all so fixated on? Why is it that we feel the need to feel triumphant and victorious of living a better life than a person we once genuinely liked, possibly loved, and conceivably imagined our future with? Why do so many of our imaginary, triumphant moments revolve around us running into our sad, disheveled exes who are living a pathetic existence alone while we're 10 pounds thinner, look the best we ever have, and have an incredible, gorgeous partner by our side? And it's always a race, isn't it? Who moves on quicker, who dates first, who gets married sooner, who becomes more successful faster.
Perhaps it stems from our desire to show our exes how smashingly successful we are without them while reveling in our joy and their dismay of seeing how miserable their lives ended up without us. A perfect, eat-your-heart-out, movie moment we can gleefully play over and over in our head. After all, if those single word "hey" texts we receive months and years later are so richly satisfying to screenshot and laugh about with our girlfriends, imagine the incredible high we'll derive from a face-to-face encounter. “Have you met my husband? He’s an English prince and was just featured on Forbes’ Top Five Richest And Most Beautiful And Brilliant Men In The World spread and he’s absolutely crazy about me. We first met at the finish line at the Tel Aviv Marathon and then again on Zuckerberg’s yacht on New Years Eve in Dubai. Oh, you saw my picture on the cover of Time from when I won two Nobel Peace Prizes for simultaneously bringing peace to the Middle East while curing cancer? You live here? On the street? In this box?”
Except, trying to win a breakup is pointless. I’m not saying this because I feel that kind of pettiness is beneath me or because I’m some sort of super human who transcends negativity and wishes peace and happiness upon all. I fucking love winning. In fact, if I came across a magic lamp, one of my three wishes would be to always win — at everything. And winning alone is not good enough for me; everyone else needs to fail, miserably. It’s just that the moment I break up with someone, whether it’s of my own volition or theirs, I’ve already immediately won. I don’t need to do anything better or different to prove otherwise because the scores have been tallied, the verdict is in, and the champion has been chosen: me. The fact that each and every one one of these men will continue to live a life that no longer includes me means they have already lost, permanently. They may meet someone better for them but they will never meet anyone better than me. So I could run into them with greasy hair, no make up on, in my rattiest sweats, unemployed without a boyfriend, and they could be married to a supermodel while running their own successful, multibillion-dollar companies, and I will still have won.
You can’t win what you've already won. Don’t focus on chasing empty moments, despite how great they may feel at the time. They're superficial, serve no purpose, and you have a countless number of ways to better live your life than spend your precious time focusing on “showing him.” You already did that while you were together, remember? Believe me, at some point in their lives, whether it’s weeks, years, or decades later — absent you having treated them like shit or having gone Fatal Attraction on them, and assuming you were sincerely honest and unapologetically you — they will undoubtedly, at least once, think about what it would have been like to live a life with someone who cared so deeply, loved so unconditionally, supported them so fiercely, who pushed, challenged, and propelled them towards greatness while being asked for nothing in return. Each and every time they experience betrayal, disloyalty, or disappointment in their lives they will remember that they willingly decided to bet on the possibility of something and someone better, that they readily discarded someone extraordinary and incredible, and in the greatest gamble of their lives, subsequently lost.