You can rip off a Band-Aid two ways.
The first way is slowly, methodically and painfully. If you’re semi-masochistic, you can tilt your head sideways and watch your skin make pointed tents as its follicles are pulled upward by hair stuck to the tacky plastic. This way always leaves a bit of black residue behind in the outline of its original plot, eerily similar to the white chalk drawings left over after a crime scene.
The second way is obviously better but not easier — you rip that shit off like you’re a Clint Eastwood cowboy.
When talking about “ending things” in regards to the non-relationship relationship, I like to keep those words between quotation marks for a reason: in this day and age, where most people are “just hanging out” as opposed to dating, a full on Break Up (phone call or in person) seems pretty dramatic for someone you’re not even calling your boyfriend or girlfriend. But the elusiveness of our hook up culture — no titles allowed, ambiguous exclusivity rules — lends itself to extremely vague guidelines when it comes to putting the kibosh on whatever the situation was with that other person. So how are we supposed to do it?
It seems like we’ve got two options, and they feel a lot like removing those Band-Aids.
The first scenario is slow and dirty, I like to call it: The Phase Out. Other, more sensitive folk, or, you know, those with manners, tend to refer to the technique as ignoring someone. I prefer to think of it as a steady progression of missing one’s texts. You’ve got to do it slowly here — methodically. The responses become delayed, then fewer and far between, until the next thing you both know, you’re no longer “in a weird thing with that maple-syrup-conglomerate-guy from Vermont.”
The Phase Out hurts. It’s agonizing for both the recipient who doesn’t know what’s going on and for the Phaser who wants the relationship to end already. It’s awkward and messy, so what’s the point of doing it this way?
Well, aside from immaturity and an aversion toward confronting things head on, I’d say it’s because we live in a time where any act that’s decidedly not casual can freak out the desired sex — even when said act is one that was intended to end things.
I have a friend who has mastered the art of ripping off Band-Aids. Usually she’ll give the guy a fighting chance to prove her initial impression wrong, but when she’s made up her mind her phone comes out quicker than a broke-neck beer bottle at a high-noon duel. Her texts are well crafted, thoughtful and brief. They often look like this: “I had such a fantastic time getting to know you these past few weeks, but I’ve decided I’d rather do my own thing. Wish you all the best, see you around!”
And if she’s really feeling punchy then she’ll add in a joke like, “Hope the cake got home safely!”
From what I understand, she’s never received a troubling response. Her honesty is appreciated, they tell her, and yes, the cake made it to the fridge.
I know this is the right way to do it; we’re adults, we should be mature. So why is it that I still prefer to scrape around the bandage’s edges like an archeologist chipping away at a camp site, wincing every time I pluck a hair in the process, where the dull pain becomes so aggravating that I must leave the Band-Aid half on, its fabric curled back in horror at the unfinished business. I’d never advise anyone else to do this, and I don’t think I’m a masochist, so what gives?
I’m not sure.
But inevitably and predictably, the receiving end of my juvenile bad habit almost always spots my weak attempt. Before I even have the chance to finish the job myself, he’ll take his own two fingers and rip the rest of that Band-Aid right off for me.