Back in the early days of Saturday Night Live John Belushi played “The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave,” a party guest who overstayed his welcome. While his nice, non-confrontational hosts dropped subtle hints that it was time to go, Belushi flopped onto the couch, turned on a movie, and looked for more chips. At least I think that’s what happened. I haven’t seen that sketch since Carter was in office.
I have been that guy many times, but never at parties. No, at get togethers I’m right on top of the social cues, or at least I think I am. I suppose when one is The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave he’s blissfully unaware of his own cluelessness.
Regardless, I’ve been that guy way too many times in the context of relationships. I overstay my welcome, leaving the incredibly sweet woman who once was kind enough to let me see her naked screaming like the heroine in a slasher movie.
And I’m sure I’m not the only one. In a comprehensive study that I just made up, the following four Things That Wouldn’t Leave were identified:
- The Hopeless Romantic: If this person has learned anything from rom-coms it’s that true love always prevails. Just stay after it. Buy a boom box and a Peter Gabriel cassette. Send flowers. Live your own “win her back” montage and everything is going to work out.
- The Separation Anxiety/Fear of Abandonment Guy: There’s no joke to be had here. People who deal with abandonment issues have a hell of a time letting go.
- The Pathologically Responsible: Maybe there are kids involved, or real estate, or debt. Maybe someone is ill or the holidays are coming up or…or…or…. The pathologically responsible guy won’t give up on a relationship because to do so is unreasonable. There’s business to attend to.
- The Denier: It’s just a phase. She doesn’t mean it. She’ll get over it.
Well, here’s the thing: She does mean it, and she won’t get over it. I’m a writer not a doctor, but my experience is that once a partner has checked out everything from that point on is just endgame. Whether you chase the king around the chessboard for six seconds or six years is entirely up to you, but checkmate is checkmate.
Love yourself, love her, honor the good times you had together. When she says it’s over, it’s over. I know it hurts, because I’m all four of the guys listed above. Don’t make it worse by becoming The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave.
Categories: Good Men Project