Post-Breakup Dynamics: Person A, Person B, and Person C

I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. So I have taken to watching episodes of Will and Grace in order to tire my eyes out enough to make sleep an inevitability. Last night, I watched one particular episode depicting the aftermath of Grace’s breakup with one particular boyfriend. After a few days spent in bed, she mustered the strength to take a step out of her room, only to learn that her ex-lover had already found another woman, which sent her straight back to the bedroom. My question is this: why does it hurt so much when one’s ex-significant-other finds another lover in a short period of time?

I was distracted for the remainder of the episode, thinking about this question. I mean, once the romantic relationship is over, why should one care about when the other finds another person to snog? To make references easier, let us consider Person A and Person B, who are no longer seeing each other. Person B has found Person C, with whom Person B is now involved romantically. So I thought about these things:

  • Perhaps the fact that it was so easy for Person B to find Person C makes Person A feel… replaceable.
  • So would Person A prefer if Person B were to feel the pain of the recent breakup for a decent amount of time before finding Person C? In which case, doesn’t this imply that Person A is happier if Person B stays miserable for a (relatively) extended period of time? Doesn’t that seem cruel and unfair?
  • In a way, it isn’t completely Person B’s fault that he or she met Person C so soon after the breakup. After all, life keeps going, people meet people, and things happen.
  • Would it be a courtesy to Person A if Person B were to wait before proceeding with romantic developments with Person C? But why would Person B owe this courtesy to Person A if their intimate relationship had already ended? If they remained friends, then perhaps. But if not? What obligates Person B to consider that Person A may be upset by Person B’s intimacy with Person C?
  • How far does this extend? Can Person B date casually without further hurting Person A? Or is it also frowned upon to simply date after a relationship has ended? Why?
  • I suppose one of the dangers is that Person C could be the “rebound” of Person B. Does Person A’s upsetness about Person B’s new relationship involve the consideration of the emotional well-being of Person C?
  • It feels to me like Person A’s pain of seeing Person B in a romantic relationship with Person C is more out of jealousy of Person C rather than concern. Perhaps Person A compares himself or herself to Person C, wondering why a Person B would choose Person C over Person A. What does Person C have that I don’t?, Person A may wonder.
  • But don’t we all know that the spark between two people is not completely dependent on the “goodness” of the two people? And how do we measure this “goodness” anyway? Can we really compare two people and make an objective judgment as to who is the “better” person? If no, then can we say that the average person is not necessarily a better person than a serial murderer?
  • If we know that the “goodness” of Person A vs. Person C is not necessarily indicative of the success of the Person-A-Person-B relationship vs. the Person-C-Person-B relationship, then perhaps what Person A may wonder is not, What does Person C have that I don’t?, but rather, Why would Person B choose Person C over me?, which is essentially the question, What is it that Person C has that I don’t that draws Person B to him or her?, which takes us back to the previous thought process.
  • Is this a pointless discussion?

In the end, maybe it really is that we want our ex-lovers to feel the pain that we feel post-breakup in the same intensity and duration. And because this cannot possibly be measured exactly, perhaps we use the period of time it takes to find someone else as a quantification of how much and how long we hurt. Thus, when Person B finds Person C shortly after the Person-A-Person-B breakup, Person A is hurt because Person A interprets this event as an indication of Person B’s lesser post-breakup pain. But this, again, seems wrong. Doesn’t this still mean that Person A would rather Person B hurt more?

Maybe this isn’t even worth thinking about. At least it helped me go to sleep last night. I probably got so tired of listening to myself that sleeping was a better alternative to continuing my loop-dee-doop-dee thought process. But if anyone has any thoughts on this matter, I’m all ears.


~ by thechanster on 7:19 pm, Wednesday, September 16, 2009.

One Response to “Post-Breakup Dynamics: Person A, Person B, and Person C”

  1. I don’t think this is something not worth thinking about. I’ve had much similar thoughts for about…10 months now…It is very interesting to consider why we feel certain things, especially at first glance they seem irrational. I would add a couple more considerations to the musings: would Person A feel differently depending on if Person B did the breaking up vs Person A? The feelings of replaceability I think would be stronger if Person B broke up with Person A first. But what I find even more interesting, is that it doesn’t seem to matter. Person A would still feel hurt, even if they were the ones to break it off. It’s also interesting to think about the feelings of jealousy. If Person A does not want Person B anymore in a romantic way, then why is it that Person A still feels jealous–and that is the correct word for it–of Person C. Is it perhaps the result of the “wanting what others want and/or wanting what you can’t have” phenomenon? I thought of something else, but now I’ve forgotten it. But I don’t think it’s strange to have these thoughts. I think most people do, actually, post break-up.

    PS I loved how mathematical your analysis was. Tee hee. It was so you. Let us consider a Person A for every Person B who…:P

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