You are in a relationship.
Step 3: You
don't like it. It hurts, you get angry, your feelings are hurt,
your expectations are not met, your trust is violated, your beliefs
are challenged, your nerves are irritated, your pets are unfed, your
money is spent, your practical needs are ignored, your hopes are dashed,
your buttons are pushed, your fears are unleashed, you are bewildered,
bothered, confused, upset, disturbed, impatient, uncomprehending,
resigned, unhappy, vengeful, threatened, spiteful, unnerved, or you
even come up with some feeling not listed above, just because you
feel like it and it seems to fit.
Irritatingly and surprisingly, reacting does not make the pain go
Therefore you process it. You brood, you analyze, you argue, you obsess,
you mutter, you moan, you reason, you complain, you rationalize, you
justify, you attempt to understand, you vent, you explain, you complain,
you cajole, apologize, you wheedle and you twist and turn, processing
until the initial pain is ground up into tiny little meaningless bits
of absolutely no use to you or anyone else and therefore seems completely
irrelevant as far as taking further action.
You are still in a relationship.
That something happens again.
To your horror and surprise, you discover it is painful once again!
This is shocking! So you repeat steps 4 through 9 for the rest of
your fucking life. You start to wonder if you should leave. But you
don't. You're screwed.
This is an
incredibly logical and rational process on your part. It may seem
a little stupid that if you didn't like something the first time,
that you would be dope enough to proceed as if it wasn't going to
bother you the second time, but that is exactly what you will do.
And it is isn't stupid. It has to do with how pain is processed.
It will take a
while, maybe quite a while before you get wind of the idea that this
fucking shit (whatever it is) happens all the fucking time!
And even once you realize this, you will still not know what to do.
You will have identified something as problem (one minute she is sweet,
the next minute she lashes out), but you will be stumped as to do
what to do about it. Soon enough, you will be asking yourself the
Should I Get the Fuck Out question, but you will not come up with
Here's why. The
problem starts with Step 5. Normally, if something is not going to
be a problem, reacting will make it go away. For example, if
a bee lands on your nose, jumping up in alarm and saying 'fuck, there's
a bee on my nose!' will startle the bee and it will fly away in a
huff thinking that you're not much of an attractive flower to sit
on. Or else it will sting you and you will do something about that.
Pretty simple. That's why you reacted in the first place. Because
reacting is usually helpful.
In a relationship
if something happens and reacting works - you don't go through the
rest of the cycle. Let's take a happy example. You want to have sex
- your wife's not in the mood. You react - you say - 'how can
I get you in the mood?' She says - Well, take a shower for one thing.
You always want to do it when you're hot and sweaty. You say - well,
hot and sweaty is best. I love it when you're all natural and sweaty.
She says - yuck! don't say that. I wish you'd get dressed up for once,
take me some place romantic, wear that cologne I got you. And shave!
You never shave! You say - neither do you! She hits you. You
sigh and say - really? would it really make a difference if I shaved
and showered? She says - yes, really. it really would. You say - look!
I'm jumping in the shower right now! From the shower you yell - Listen!
I'm showering! She gets exasperated but she laughs. From the bathroom
you yell - shaving! Can you hear me shaving! She gives up. She puts
on something sexier. You come out of the bathroom. It's not like she's
a supermodel or anything but you go - oooh hoo, nice! You jump on
the bed. She says - don't! She laughs - you start making out. sex
ensues. everybody's happy.
was - reacting worked. You reacted, she reacted. You didn't have to
dress up and go to dinner and she didn't have to have sex with a sweaty
pig. Your willingness to do something helped and her willingness to
compromise helped. This is what you wish always happened. It
doesn't. That's why you are wondering if you should dump someone.
Instead, you find
out that your girlfriend cheated on you by kissing your best friend.
(Twice! She liked it the first time.) You react. Wildly. You get all
hurt. She feels all guilty. A harrowing argument ensues. To cover
her guilt, she screams - well what have you done for me lately?! You
never tell me that you love me or anything! You scream - you
kissed my best friend!!! She says - well I'm sorry!!!
I'm sorry I kissed your goddamn best friend. Maybe if we had
sex more often, I wouldn't have!!! You scream - you're the one that
never wants to!!!! More screaming ensues. But strangely, the screaming
does not soothe your feelings.
Somehow it turns
out that a screaming argument like this is not actually the best remedy
for finding out that your girlfriend is kissing other people. You
were actually expecting that it would be. You were actually expecting
that somehow the screaming would lead to something like this: Her:
'I'll never ever ever do anything like that again! Because
I love you more than life itself, more than breathing, more than the
beating of my own heart! I am so incredibly devastastingly sorry.
I realize now, I only committed this atrocious act because my own
incredible insecurities mixed with my overwhelming passion for you
led me to believe that a forbidden kiss could ease my heartache at
not possessing you totally as I so deeply desire. I was so wrong,
so misguided. I now see that not only do I never want to cheat on
you, my true calling in life is to dedicate myself totally to your
constant happiness.' And so on. That's what you thought would happen.
You didn't realize that when you started screaming, you just naturally
and sensibly thought screaming would probably make the pain go away.
But your girlfriend didn't give that penitent speech and screaming
didn't work as well as you'd initially hoped.
So you move on
to Step 6. Processing. This is inevitable. Pain wants to go
away. Processing makes it do just that. So you obsess, justify, brood,
analyze, sulk, figure out, fume, rage, pout, rationalize, justify,
plot, discuss, attempt to work out, try to understand, and on and
on and on until you have taken that big lump of surprised pain and
analyzed into smaller more manageable portions. You tell yourself
things like 'it's not that she kissed him - it's that he's my best
friend! And then - it's not that she's attracted to my best friend
- it's that she actually kissed him. And so on. You do this to divide
and conquer. You do this - because as harrowing as the obsessing
process is - it works. By the time you have finished obsessing
- it's pretty clear that there's nothing you can actually do at this
point anyway. It already fucking happened. You have - unbeknownst
to yourself - accepted the situation.
7 kicks into gear. Nothing changes. You didn't dump her right at the
moment because you were caught off guard and weren't ready to. You'd
been together 18 fucking months for chrissake and you didn't see it
coming. So your natural instinct was to try to make it not true. Erase
it out of existence through confrontation. In the meantime, she doesn't
leave you. She doesn't want to. If she'd actually wanted to
fucking leave you, she'd have done it, but she didn't. So she doesn't.
As part of your processing, you have begun to suspect that she's not
sure she really loves you. But you can't tell. Because she doesn't
leave. And she acts like nothing happened. In fact, she acts very
sweet. And she's cute. She has not gotten any less cute. So hmmm....
What can you do but assume it won't happen again. After all, you did
react the first time. You did indicate that you didn't like it. So
surely she won't do it again. That would make sense, wouldn't it?
And so Step 8 has taken over. You are still in the relationship.
If something had
changed - you wouldn't be in this cycle. If she had said later - 'you
know what - it's not fair. I'm really not sure I want to be in this
relationship. And that's why I....you know....with your best friend
that night. But I've realized it's not fair. To you or me. If I'm
not committed...what I'm trying to say is maybe we should start seeing
other people...' If that had happened, you'd be very busy dealing
with the reality of rejection and you would not be asking yourself
if you should be dumping this person. Because they'd have dumped you.
It's precisely when the other person does something that seems
so terrible it's almost as if they are saying they want to dump you
- but then they don't! - that you start asking yourself these terrible
indecisive questions. This is partly why you are so confused in
these situations. It's as if you are carrying the burden of dumping
You're not the
one who wants them to not love you. You want them to change and be
nice. And since that's what you want (nobody really likes to be rejected
to or treated badly) - what can you do but hang around and hope they
do just that. So you won't have to say to yourself 'this person treats
me like shit because that's what they think I am!' So you wait
and pretend things are going to change. You may even say to them
while you are waiting - you treat me like shit! You think that if
you say this, they will say - oh holy fuck, wait a minute, you're
right. And I'm just wrong. You know - I'll just quit treating you
like shit, how about that? And sometimes they even do say things like
this - I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Etc. But then they do it again.
If they didn't do it again - it wouldn't be a problem. But they do.
And it is. Things are not changing and you want them to. So you hang
around trying to control the situation by sending a thousand and one
subliminal and overt 'change you fuckhead, change!' signals.
they don't. She kisses someone else. And there you fucking are - caught
off guard again. This is excruciating. But you don't even immediately
storm out and say 'that's it! I'm outta here. I can't take this shit!'
Or even if you do - you come right back. Why? Because you didn't
prepare yourself to leave. If you'd prepared yourself to do that -
if you'd said - okay that's it, if this ever happens again, I'm fucking
history - you'd have done that and you wouldn't be asking the Should
I Stay or Should I Go question. You didn't keep with the pain that
would have allowed you to make this important decision. You processed
it away. You didn't already face the pain of the breakup process by
dealing with the fact that the person might totally reject you and
you might have to ditch them. Instead you pretended it was never going
to happen again even though you knew it could. And you did that because
the other person, in your mind, has the upper hand with the It's
Entirely Possible I Don't Love You and Am Not Going to Treat You Very
Well Card. As long as they are holding that card, you are subliminally
motivated to prove them wrong. You just don't fucking want to hear
that, to face that. No one ever does. You are not unique. You are
just like everyone. No one ever likes to face the fact that someone
else could be totally uncaring of their feelings.
What people much
prefer to do is ask themselves - is there some way I could look at
it that will make it seem like I'm not really in an Uncaring Of My
Feelings situation? Is there some way to protect myself from this
incredibly unpleasant sensation of helplessness and maltreatment?
I'll bet if I think really hard there is! And so you think
really hard and you are protected. And what makes it all more confusing
- what makes it incredibly difficult - is that it is entirely possible
the other person is not uncaring of your feelings and you
won't have to face that feeling at all! Because this happens all the
time. People do hurtful things and they didn't mean it and they try
to figure out how to stop. Relationships go through this shit wherein
people learn how to treat the other person all the time. It's an integral
part of many relationships. Figuring out that she actually likes romantic
things - she's not just saying that to be really weird. And then doing
them. Figuring out that it really boosts his ego when you laugh at
his jokes - which is strange because they are not funny. And then
learning to laugh - or at least not make him quit telling them. So
you place a bet on hope - hope that there's good faith and the other
person does care about your feelings and it'll all work out.
What you really
meant to ask me when you were asking me to place judgment on the Terrible
Thing that has you contemplating a breakup - is 'does this person
have good faith and care about my feelings or don't they?' Which
is why these things are questions only you can answer - because how
the hell would I know? I've never even met this other person. And
you know that - which is why you wouldn't trust my answer on the Terrible
Thing if I gave you one.
So there you are
- going through the Terrible Thing over and over again, unable to
determine what it means. Do they fucking care or don't they???
Well....do they or don't they? Should you leave or should you stay?
God, it's such a fucking hard question. It seems like if they are
always kissing other people...but then other times they are so wonderful
and things are so good....Damn! It's a question that could give you
a headache. It's such a fucking irritating question that everybody
is now rooting for you - just dump her! Just dump her for chrissakes!
Just fucking get it over with! You're a fool! Your friends will
almost always tell you to ditch the other person - because they
don't want to live through your fucking processing and your indecision.
You could be married to the goddamn best person on the planet who
is just going through some incredibly rough times and at least
half your friends will urge you to toss Best Person On the Planet
out the window. Don't listen to your friends!! Very important.
Particularly not if they seem to be on your side. If they don't seem
to be on your side, give their words some serious consideration, but
otherwise remember - if they weren't stupid people they wouldn't be
your friends! Don't listen to them.
Okay, now that
we have gotten that very important warning out of the way - we'll
move on to how you get yourself out of the Pain Cycle. To do this
we will have to question the very nature of reality - something
you are not in the habit of doing. However, your alternative to questioning
the very nature of reality is go break up with someone when you really
don't want to right now because that'll be a drag and everything.
So I'm suggesting that a quick tour of the nature of reality might
be well worth your time right now. (Special Bonus Tip!: If you
read the next page very slowly, you can put off actually doing
anything for even longer!).
The very nature of reality....and
why it completely fucking prevents you from being able to tell whether
or not you should get the fuck out of your relationship....
Because now -
suddenly and unexpectedly, the webmistress has decided to take pity
on humanity and answer every single person in the entire world's
Should I Stay Or Should I Go question
an incredibly detailed and insightful analysis of the Should I Get
the Fuck out of This Relationship Dilemma that will personally
apply to you!
This is an incredible
deal and a one-time only offer found only at prettyfedup.com for your
personal benefit. So let's get started.
But first, let's
fill out an incredibly handy and super-fun Interactive Should
I Get the Fuck out of this Relationship? Form! Please take
a moment now to note your answers to the following fill-in-the-blank
(insert category of Other Person here. E.g., boyfriend, girlfriend,
wife, husband, dog, fiancee, best friend, etc.)
(insert Terrible Thing here. Annoying habit, character defect, major
flaw, egregious behavior, sudden change, etc. For example, is an alcoholic,
has found Jesus, wants to spend every weekend with his family, has
gotten fat and ugly, is pathologically jealous, criticizes me in front
of other people, won't quit smoking, never wants to have sex, spends
all her time at work, overdisciplines the kids, doesn't take care
of him/herself, spends all our money, wants me to convert to Judaism,
seems indifferent and uncaring, has a terrible temper, won't listen,
has cheated on me more than once, never puts the toothpaste cap back
on the tube, is into perverted sicko sex practices, etc., etc., etc.,
(circle one) says _______________________________ (insert Other Person's
reason why Terrible Thing above is not so terrible. E.g., it's only
sex with other peope - it doesn't mean anything, it's my problem and
I should lighten up, I don't understand the pressure he is under,
she is just 'having fun', etc., etc., and even more etc.)
pronoun here) _____________________________ (insert reason for staying
here. As in, we have two lovely kids, I really love her, we have really
good times together, he has always been faithful and a good provider,
she is wonderful half the time, we have been together a long time,
we have worked hard to get where we are, I don't believe in divorce,
we used to have a great relationship, the sex is still really good,
etc., etc., etc.)
....but this problem
is really driving me crazy. Should I stay and (try to work things
out/hope things work out for the best - choose one) or should I just
call it quits and get out of the relationship? ____________________
(sign here with your name or a snappy handle such as 'Uncertain in
Northampton' or 'Cheated On and Wondering' and so on.)
You did such a great job filling out the form that you should
really take a moment to congratulate yourself. Your misery fits into
a form and is exactly like everyone else's - and that kind of lack
of personal individuality is always comforting in this complicated
modern world. And look how neatly your entire Complicated Situation
and Detailed Explanation fell into handy paragraphs! You're an analytical
genius to be able to organize your relationshp hell so cleanly and
conveniently. No wonder you are drawn to a superior website like prettyfedup.com
- you're just naturally a superior person!
However, now that
we are done congratulating you, we have to point out that your entire
chain of reasoning in explaining your relationship above is completely
fucking useless. It's of no help whatsoever. It's the format you
all use - and there are excellent excellent reasons why you want to
explain your situation this way - but it does you absolutely no fucking
What you are asking
me to do - what you are always asking me to do - is to pass judgment
on the particular Terrible Thing haunting your relationship and tell
you objectively whether or not it's a worthy justification for ditching
your significant other. Which I would be happy to do - except it
won't make a fucking bit of difference to you. It's natural that
you ask - you really do sincerely want to know if someone else's unwillingness
to brush their teeth constitutes an Objective Justification
for leaving them. But you won't believe me no matter what I tell you.
I could tell you
that cheating is always wrong and you should always get out. I could
tell you that unfaithfulness is not so fucking bad. I could tell you
that your girlfriend has Major Issues and that you should ditch her.
I could counsel understanding and patience. But it will not solve
Because your problem
is not whether the other person's Terrible Thing is really a terrible
thing - your problem is that you can't fucking figure out whether
to stay or go! If I told you to go the part of you that wants
to stay would start whining and moaning and coming up with justifications
for staying and it would express the opinion to you that some idiot
on a website is not sufficiently qualified to understand the beautiful
and intricate complexities of your personal Relationship Hell.
If I told you
to stay, the part of you that wants to go would start howling and
screaming and sobbing 'but I don't want to be in this relationship....'.
No matter what I told you, you would doubt me and you would doubt
yourself. There's a decent chance you have been burdening friends
and family members with this dilemma for quite some time and yet
you are still chewing over it! And if you haven't been burdening
them, you've been burdening yourself to the point of exhaustion with
the same result. Your problem is not Terrible Thingness - it's indecision!
This is just pure
logic. If you weren't suffering from indecision, you'd have made your
goddamn decision and you wouldn't be bothering me, yourself, or anyone
else with it. People leave other people all the time - once they make
up their fucking minds to. People stay with other people all the time
- once they make up their fucking minds to. The truth is you've got
plenty of evidence that the thing you think is a Terrible Thing is
a terrible thing. You've also got plenty of evidence that it isn't.
Thus you are indecisive. You can't make up your goddamn mind.
My opinion isn't going to sway you. Incredibly unfortunately - you
are going to have to convince yourself instead of me. This
is hard fucking work - as you are discovering right now. But convincing
me won't do it - because I'm not going to dump your girlfriend for
you - no matter how much I might enjoy it.
This is incredibly
unfair and I certainly applaud you for your admirable attempt to get
me to do your work for you. And I would be happy to do it if I could.
I love making decisions for other people! Particularly people
I don't know where I won't suffer any consequences if I screw it up!
That's just good entertaining fun! But having watched you over the
years ignore my advice on these matters countless times in person
and over the internet, I have faced reality and realized I can't make
up your mind for you.
All is not lost
however! Because I can tell you how you can make up said
mind of yours. This is so fucking great! This is what you wanted
all along! You just fucking wanted to know how to make up your goddamn
mind whether or not you should dump that goddamn miserable person
you are still somehow goddamn miserably attached to even if you don't
want to be which part of you actually does which is why you can't
fucking make up your mind in the first place!
Okay, now that
we have delineated the problem, I want you to start over and put the
question in its proper format. Like this:
I have a
boyfriend/girlfiend/mistress/lover/whatever and I can't fucking make
up my mind whether or not I should leave them. I keep going back and
forth with myself on this issue. On the one hand I want to and on
the other hand I really don't. Aaaaaarrrggghhhh! Fuck! Shit! I hate
this! I hate this goddamn indecision! This sucks! Everything sucks!
Fuck! Help me! Help me please! Damn it, help me now!!!
Very good. I honestly
think you did better on this part even than filling in the form above.
And I must say you have an incredible way with words. Such verve,
such style. Such raw naked passion. You must be quite a catch. If
you do leave, you are sure to be scooped by a lucky successor in no
time. And if you stay, your significant other is bound to be bowled
over with admiration and appreciation once you get this problem worked
out. This is very encouraging.
All right. So
we're going to help you make up your mind. No matter who you are or
what your circumstances. We are going to do this by delving deeply
into the philosophical territory of mind making upness and relationships.
In the process we will cover the esoteric topics of "The Relationship
Emotional Pain Cycle" so familiar to many of us by experience
and the even more exotic "I'm In A Relationship, Where the
Fuck Did Reality Go?" topic that is currently bedeviling
We will dive deeply
into these topics and swim around in them for hours at the complete
expense of giving you any even vaguely useful advice as to what to
do actually do. We will do this for a Very Important Reason. While
you are swimming around in deep topics, you will be avoiding your
actual serious relationship problems. This is important because dealing
with your actual problems is hard and painful and not fun. Whereas,
avoiding them is lots of fun! Okay, now that we are clear on that,
settle back for a stress- and worry-free description of your current
relationship and how it got all fucked up. This is going to be so