The Goodbye Girl or Boy is someone you’ve probably met at some point in your dating or romance experience. You know the type I’m talking about here−the Goodbye Boy or Girl will fall in love easily but will always be the first one out the door, no matter how great the potential is for the connection to be a meaningful one. At the first sign of conflict, or the moment the blissful excitement begins to dim–let’s call him or her the Goodbye Lover–the moment there are waves of any kind to rock the boat, the Goodbye Lover perceives it as the beginning of the end. To this relationship type, it is vital that he or she be the first to say goodbye.
In fact, the Goodbye Lover is so quick to snap to it, the other person is often left baffled and confused about what just happened to the good times the two were just having. Another telling characteristic of the Goodbye Girl or Goodbye Boy is that they absolutely refuse to discuss the sudden departure in any meaningful way. The Goodbye Lover will supply something trite, such as “it’s not you, I swear, it’s me.”
How correct s/he is! If you were able to scratch beneath the shiny surface of these very charming people, you would most likely find a traumatic event. Some sort of deep betrayal in the person’s past that would allow you to say…”well, of course.” The thing is, a lot of people have had past betrayals, painful breakups, even broken hearts. But these life experiences did not cause them to put up an invisible wall that prevented all future potential mates from ever truly connecting.
For the Goodbye Lover, though, whatever past hurt it was, it was enough to make him or her believe s/he will not survive rejection. To the Goodbye Lover, it feels like a life or death issue. To defend and protect that fragile core, the part of him or her that truly believes it is a matter of survival, the Goodbye Lover has constructed a fortress wall. This wall is invisible, so other people often enter into the initial stages of a relationship with the Goodbye Boy or Girl without knowing that it will be a futile effort. They don’t realize that this lovely, charming person who appears to share the attraction, will leave them in the dust at the first sign of a deepening relationship. Some Goodbye Lovers allow it to go so far as to engage in sexual relations with the unsuspecting partner. This will have the effect of making it even more imperative for the Goodbye Lover to be the one who dumps the other rather than risk being the dumpee. Sadly, the Goodbye Girl or Boy has come to believe these short interludes, these pseudo-relationships, are the real thing. They convince themselves that it was good while it lasted, but it just didn’t work out. They tell themselves it was simply a matter of the other person not being “right” for them.
The Goodbye Lover is actually pretty lonely much of the time, but s/he doesn’t permit that knowledge to reach consciousness very often. Like the fear of rejection, the possibility of being alone and thus unloved, is too painful for many Goodbye Lovers. So such feelings are not permitted much traction. Rather a new interest is sought, a new partner is found, one who will do until the dangerous feelings begin to grow again. Then the cycle repeats. Another characteristic of the Goodbye Lover is the lack of insight into this pattern. People who are Goodbye Lovers don’t know it. They think of themselves as basically normal, if perhaps a bit unlucky in finding a long-term partner. Sadly, until some insight is gained, this “unluckiness” won’t change.
A Goodbye Girl or a Goodbye Boy always has one foot out the door in any relationship, even one that is going well. Successful relationships are those in which both partners are willing to jump in with both feet–all the way in. There is no reward without risk, and the greater the risk, the greater the reward. A Goodbye Lover, or anyone with one foot out the door, simply cannot form a successful relationship. The idea of taking a “wait and see” approach before pulling both feet into the relationship is doomed to fail. A prospective lover who is willing to put everything into a relationship to make it succeed will not be attracted to someone who is only halfway there.
Are you the Goodbye Girl or the Goodbye Boy?
What about you and your pattern in relationships? Are you a Goodbye Girl or Boy? Maybe you’ve never looked at the question before. If you can, ask yourself this: Am I always the one to breakup with the other person, or have I had some in which others have broken up with me, too? Have my relationships been of relatively short duration, or have they been of varying lengths? What are the reasons I’ve broken up with others–can I name the reasons or do I tell myself it was just that it “didn’t feel right”? Am I the kind of person who tends to get bored once the newness and early excitement wears off? How much time do I spend alone, in between relationships, even if they are just dating relationships? Do I ever take a break from dating in order to be alone, to take care of myself emotionally?
Take a good, close, honest look at your pattern. If you are the one who always breaks up first, if you get rid of people before they can get too serious, if you don’t care to spend much time alone before initiating something with a new person, you might have some of the Goodbye Lover in you. Why is it important to know whether this is true for you? Because you cannot change what you don’t acknowledge. And why would a Goodbye Lover want to change this pattern? For a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that this pattern exists as a learned response to a painful experience and holding onto it will prevent you from having a truly satisfying relationship. If you go through each new relationship opportunity with one foot always out the door, you will miss the real opportunities for a deep and satisfying love. If you go through each new relationship believing that if you let yourself love and trust someone they will hurt you, then you will miss the opportunity to be loved and trusted in return. And if you believe that there is no real love for you in this life and so why risk trusting your heart to someone, you will spend the remainder of your life grieving the loss of something you never got to have while guarding the wound from something that happened long ago. The good news is you do have a choice. Being a Goodbye Lover is a learned behavior, and like all learned behaviors, it can be unlearned. You have a choice. I encourage you to exercise that choice.
*The Goodbye Girl, Goodbye Boy, Goodbye Lover, and other “relationship personality types” are presented to entertain, inform and educate, not to diagnose. They are Auntie Veranda’s way of describing sets of behaviors she has observed in others. The list is not definitive; she hasn’t had time to share all her observations of other humans, but she’ll keep working on it.