A breakup is popularly defined as an end to a relationship. Seems pretty black and white, right?
It is a common thought that at the end of a relationship, keys are returned, belongings are exchanged and both people go on peacefully to live separate lives.
But, what happens when this clean-cut split doesn't go as planned?
What about the stories of former couples ditching this idea of a simple black-and-white ending, and instead, choosing to segue into a grey area?
More often than not, victims of failed relationships fall into this grey area and forget the simple definition of what a breakup should be. (It's called a breakup because it's broken, after all.)
The grey area means both parties engage in lingering texts, meet to further discuss the breakup, continue hooking up, creep on social media... the fade-out could go on forever.
In a nutshell, the grey area means both people are holding on to the relationship without the title and, most importantly, since the relationship is "finished," the rules and boundaries that applied while in the relationship no longer apply.
The grey area is a complicated little bitch, and it sucks for both parties. Being in this not-dating-but-basically-still-dating situation carries with it huge potential of making both people hate each other.
Here are four big reasons why:
1. You feel entitled to fidelity.
Sure, you broke up, but since you are still talking (and probably hooking up) on a regular basis, your feelings are still very strong.
Technically, you’re both allowed to go out and get numbers, go on dates and even hook up with other people. But, when you see, hear or think about this, you feel like you’re being cheated on, even though you aren’t.
You’re used to exclusivity, and since you’re still involved with each other, it's hard to differentiate the new "rules" from the old.
It's nearly impossible to accept the change from what was once a monogamous relationship to one where you share your partner.
The small technicality of you not actually dating bites you in the ass on this one.
2. You don’t want to move on.
Since your ex is still very much in the picture, you don’t want to officially add someone else to your roster.
The grey area gives you hope things could get better between you two.
You have a desire to see things through with your ex, and since history is in his or her favor, it's hard for a new person to come in and sweep you off your feet.
So, when the hottie at the gym asks you out, you say yes, and hell, you might even go, but as soon as the words, “Sure, what night?” leave your mouth, you immediately feel conflicted.
You probably will do one of two things: You won't end up going on the date, or you'll tell your ex about it in an immature attempt to get him or her jealous, or have him or her make some sort of gesture to get back with you in a real way.
3. Your friends are about to kill you.
Everyone goes through breakups, and we all lean on our friends through the whole, miserable process.
Your friends already heard an ear full about your ex during the actual breakup, and they were probably hoping this talk would stop once you officially became single.
But, guess what? When you enter grey territory, the ex-talk continues. Your friends don't know how to help you because they are likely more confused than you are about how to navigate your situation.
Additionally, any advice they give you probably falls on deaf ears — and has for a while — so at some point, they give up trying to help.
4. You’ve complicated your relationship to the point of no return.
The grey area muddies the water to the point of both parties feeling confused, hurt and angry.
There are no clear expectations and rules, which is a perfect setup for disappointment.
You start to play games and manipulate the situation to see how much the other party cares, which is damaging to both of you.
Your initial breakup was bad enough, but now you both have driven what's left of the relationship to a complicated wreck that neither of you know how to fix.
Breakups seem so final and terrifying, which is why so many of us stay in this grey area for as long as possible so as to ease our pain.
While in the grey area, we don't realize we are beating a dead horse.
Only with time, space and clear heads can we begin to unbiasedly examine our relationships with our exes and figure out what went wrong and what can be fixed.
So, don't fall victim to the grey area and its misery. Read and reread the four reasons above if you need any more validation that staying away from this is the smartest and healthiest thing for both you and your ex.