Hey, remember when that 10-year relationship ended, your life and home and future were sent into turmoil and all it took to fix it was some Chunky Monkey, a pair of PJs and a 2-minute sad-montage? No? Oh.
How did the tyranny of the "Heartbreak Myth" start? When and where was it decided that when women experienced this kind of seismic pain we instantly reverted to a cliche with a one-PJ-fits all healing policy? To anyone who's gone through adult (as opposed to, say, junior high) heartbreak, the cliche rings oddly false - and yet has a tenacious foothold on our cultural perception.
When I had my Big Breakup, the last thing I wanted was to look at ice cream. I didn't own the requisite flannel pajamas. And most of all, I resented being reduced to a cliche, in which, from an independent and idiosyncratic person, I had become in the world's eyes a standard-issue creature of pity. (Sure, this was paranoid, but I wasn't exactly rational.) Whereas there seemed to be no concrete expectations for my ex - he would, presumably, moon around for a while and then find someone else - I was aware of the weight of expectation: I was allowed to listen to "breakup songs" and wallow in misery and burn everything belonging to him. After a certain point, I supposed, I'd have to become sassy and go out on the town. I didn't want to do any of these things, and subverting the cliche became an obsession. "I'm fine!" I would say brightly when anyone turned sympathetic eyes on me. I put together jaunty outfits. I went running - and I hate running. In the privacy of my vacant evenings I might have listened to "Walk a Thin Line" on repeat, but no one knew this. The expectation of feminine fragility - perceived or otherwise - became so threatening to me that I went in the other direction. I remember searching the Internet for "heartbreak advice" that didn't involve pink-hued cliches, and finding not enough.
Aimed at women who need to get over bad break-ups, the site offers so-called "get over him" gifts and services, like flowers, chocolates, girly spa days, motivating "pick you up" text messages and one-on-one counseling...One of the most popular services on her site is called "Kiss Him Goodbye," where clients can upload a picture of their ex and watch it burn digitally.
I think this site could have a real market with very young girls, or with those who've ended something superficial. But for real heartbreak, for the real end of a serious adult relationship, could anything be more remote? In real life, we're seldom just catching in bed with his secretary the guy who was obviously a superficial cad - and sweeping him out of the way so the real, quirky hero can sweep in. There's mutual pain, lingering love, confusion, fear, the reality of an abruptly changing narrative whose next "adventure" you've not chosen. Even as breakups become a more quotidian reality of modern adult existence, the template narrows: it's only women who suffer, and we suffer along prescribed and pink-hued lines. There's a universality to suffering, maybe, but to quantify and codify that serves to trivialize the pain. Solidarity is one thing; reduction quite another.
I wish this site well, as I do any small business — and I have no doubt that for some people it may even prove cathartic. But some is the operative word. Pain, like people, is variable - and for some women this is the very time when they most need to be reminded of their uniqueness - not just their single status.
TV Anchor Chuck Scarborough's Daughter Ellie Launches PinkKisses.com For Heartbroken Gals [NY Daily News]