Five Stages of Lesbian Heartache

Any breakup can be ugly. There are feelings to hash out, possessions to separate, and blame to assign. Breakups are understandably no fun for anyone. But in the world as I’ve experienced it, there ain’t no breakup like a lesbian breakup.

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Perhaps it’s the way two women intermesh their lives, often very (too) quickly, that makes the eventual going-of-separate-ways so much uglier. Maybe two women feel a greater sense of panic than MM or MW couples feel at the thought of facing a future in which you have to get naked in front of an entirely new person. It could be the fact that buying a fresh set of sex toys with each new relationship is cost-prohibitive in this economy, yet it’s tacky and a tad unhygienic to just wash and reuse with each new GF. Or maybe it’s because you can never decide who gets the cat.

In any case, most, if not all, ugly lesbian break-ups go through five distinct, predictable stages of heartache that run the gambit from hysterically funny to insufferably tragic when viewed from the comfort and relative security of a committed LTR or sweet singledom. Please, allow me to illustrate.

Stage 1: The (First) Breakup

There’s a long-standing joke in the LGBT community that you have to break up with a lesbian more than once before it sticks. This is absolutely true. The first breakup is a non-starter. After all, “I hate you, get your shit out of my house/apartment/condo/organic farm co-op before Monday” is par for the course every Saturday night at dyke bars across the country, and it’s hurled about with ease with the understanding that it is basically the (really) serious way of saying “Stop flirting with that bartender because she’s younger/hotter/has nicer tits/more ironic tattoos than me.” No one takes the first breakup seriously.

Stage 2: The Social Media Venting of So Many Feelings/Division of Facebook Friends

One or both of the parties to the breakup will take to social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to air all their grievances, and I do mean ALL, down to the minutia of “She never shaves those hairs that grow on her big toe, and it’s sooooo disgusting!”

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When Tumblr is involved you can expect postings of old pictures taken during happier times featuring captions that read, “That was THEN, b4 my life fell apart!” At this point the former couple’s mutual friends will be forced to choose sides, or engage in careful tweaking of their privacy settings in order to keep one from knowing they’re still talking to/being supportive of the other party. Let’s get real, it’s easier to choose sides and ALL their friends are mutual friends, so this stage effectively slices each person’s “friend” pool in half. Which is probably not a bad thing until you go looking for your next relationship and realize your potential pool of datable lesbians, which was previously the size of a puddle, is now the size of Dixie cup.

Stage 3: Telling Everyone Who Will Listen Your Ex is an Alcoholic

Gay people, lesbians included, drink a lot. This isn’t a good thing but it is a general reality, most likely stemming from social stigma and poor decisions related to coping with the stress of being an ostracized minority. It’s also because gay bars are only tolerable when you’re intoxicated. So in any case, the drinking thing unfortunately comes with the territory. And most likely, both halves of the former couple have their fair share of stories involving 2am projectile vomit sessions, sleeping it off in the backseat of a parked car, and trimming their bangs while under the influence only to wake up looking like Stephanie Tanner from Full House.

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But, during the breakup at least one party will decide their ex was the one (the ONLY one) with a drinking problem and will spread this information to everyone who will listen (and many who won’t) via Facebook posts, text messages, iMessages, and Tweets that read, “Hope that bottle loves you as hard as I did, God knows you love it more than you loved me!”

Stage 4: We Can Work This Out in Couples Counseling and The (Second) Real Breakup

Most WW couples invest a ton of emotional energy in relationships, even those that have only existed for about three months. Thus, when a threat of breakup looms, many go willingly into couples counseling in the hopes of not wasting all that energy, and also in hopes of not having to get naked in front of a new woman ever again.

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This never works out, because if the couple has reached this stage the (second) real breakup is coming. This is when at least one of the two sees the stark reality that this relationship is neither healthy nor strong having been built in less than a week on a foundation of shared love for raw cookie dough and reruns of The X-Files. One woman then conducts the (second) real breakup, arrangements are made for a begrudging division of possessions, cat custody is worked out, and online photo albums are deleted/cropped/edited. It’s really over.

Stage 5: Parting Crazies – Stalking Your New Place/New GF/New Hangouts, and Restraining Orders – “They’re Not Just For White Trash!”

Even after all is (supposedly) said and done and the couple has separated their lives into two distinct spheres of influence including houses/apartments/condos/organic farm co-ops, friends, and bars, one party will definitely not be completely over the relationship and will feel like she has the right (need) to know everything about the other person’s new life. She will send texts that read “If you start dating someone new you’d better tell me about her first.” She’ll take detours to/from work and also at 3am in order to drive by the other’s place just to see if she is home, and to look for any unfamiliar cars with HRC bumper stickers parked in the driveway. In particularly serious cases of the crazies, the ex who has failed to move on with her life will sit parked in her car, chain smoking for over 5 hours, while the other woman and her new lover lay on their stomachs in bed, peeping through a crack in the miniblinds wondering when she’ll run out of cigarettes.

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Eventually, the non-crazy woman will be totally creeped out by this behavior and will call the cops, then have to explain to Homophobic Officer Jones that her “ex-roommate” has been watching her for over 5 hours and she feels threatened. Homophobic Officer Jones will direct her to file a restraining order against the crazy “ex-roommate”, and then he’ll go home to tell his wife about how he had to deal with more of “them damn Godless gays causing trouble” on his shift.

And with that, another relationship bites the dust and one, maybe two, women are freshly single for the next three days, or until Friday night, whichever comes first.