In today's NY Observer, Doree Shafrir identifies the "Butterfly Effect," in which a guy's life improves dramatically - right after you break up with him.

Says Shafrir:

It's the Butterfly Effect: one day he's a pot-addled caterpillar barely hanging on to his barista job, begging off brunch because he's only got $37 in his checking account, spending his nights "playing music" (his band is going to start playing shows again really soon) and eating cheese fries, and then, six months after the breakup, he's turned into a Monarch: lost 20 pounds, has a job as a graphic designer, his band is playing the Bowery Ballroom and he has a new girlfriend (tall, blond, wearing what appears to be the $282 Vanessa Bruno sweater you eyed longingly at Stuart & Wright) who, he casually mentions when you run into him at brunch, is the heiress to a paper clip fortune.

The story goes on to detail a number of chilling real-life tales of post-breakup redemption, many building on a girlfriend's laborious groundwork, leaving the women feeling frustrated, resentful, uncharitable and, unavoidably, wondering if they were the problem. Sometimes they feel used. Other times, they can just blame bad timing and growing up. Despite your best instincts, it inevitably leaves one, as Shafrir puts it, feeling "whatever the opposite of schadenfreude is-instead of feeling happy at someone's misfortune, I felt resentful at someone's good fortune." You can't help but take it personally: why couldn't he change for you?


Of course, there are two sides to any situation - or maybe even three. Interestingly, my current boyfriend pulled this somewhat with his ex. They broke up after several years together because he wasn't doing anything with his life. Two weeks later, he called her from his new investment banking offices. "It was part showing her, for sure," he remembers, "but also, the break-up was a wake-up call." Sort of: by our second date, he'd resigned from his finance job and since has pursued a, ahem, career path his long-suffering ex would surely recognize. So, anyone feeling Butterfly backlash can keep that one in mind. At the end of the day, how much does anyone really change?

Want To Improve Your Boyfriend? Break Up with Him [New York Observer]