No Relationship, No Breakup: The Millennial Art Of Letting It 'Fizzle'
If letting it fizzle is an art, call me Picasso. If it is a science, call me Einstein. If it is a fashion, call me Coco Chanel. You get the picture. (Speaking of pictures: If letting it fizzle is photography, call me Ansel Adams).
A common misconception about fizzling is that it means a mutual end to a relationship. This misconception is twofold.
First and foremost: Real, bonafide relationships do not fizzle. They end. One person makes it verbally clear he or she is no longer satisfied and would like to take a different path. This is commonly referred to as "a breakup.”
Fizzling does not take place between two people in a committed, loving relationship. It takes place between two people who are together under unclear terms.
They can't properly break up, because they don't have anything to break. Instead, one person in the fling begins to fade out of the relationship as casually as he or she stumbled into it.
Which leads me to the second misconception. As with breakups, fizzling is never mutual. It is never a two-way street. As someone who has been on both ends of fizzling, let me tell you.
There is always somebody who is doing the fizzling and another person who is being fizzled. Being fizzled is a unique and distinct pain. Why? Because you have no choice but to suck it up as someone else tanks your ego.
Here’s how it goes. What could have been love was lust, and what could have been real heartbreak was a piercing sting. It's the Millennial “love” story. From start to finish.
It starts with a feeling.
You meet at a party, and there's no doubt in your mind: This will be different. He will be different. He gets your jokes, and you get his.
He sort of reminds you of your ex, because this guy is also your type. But he's different, too -- in the best way possible.
You know deep-down that this isn't a casual encounter. This guy’s going to be a chapter in your book.
You fall deep.
You get his text the next morning, and the overwhelming urge to do victory cartwheels across your living room says it all. You had a good feeling, and your instincts were right.
What began as instantaneous attraction and excitement turns into something more as soon as you get that first text.
It sparks days and days of conversation that make you creepily smile down at your phone like a certified lunatic.
You watch your life turn into the video montage at the peak of every rom-com.
Flash-forward to mental video clips of him drunkenly twirling you on the dance floor late at night and the two of you laughing over bagels the next morning. You two are adorable.
No, you are not technically "in a relationship.” But it feels almost better. Fewer strings, more excitement.
Nights revolve around meeting up with him, and days are spent snuggling on his bed making fart jokes and deep conversation about your hopes and dreams.
It’s so small that you almost feel crazy for noticing it. Maybe you had to initiate the text conversation for the first time since you met. Or maybe you dropped a level in his "Best Friends" list on Snapchat.
Or maybe things just seem "off" from the last time you hung out. Your reasons are so seemingly minuscule that you have a hard time explaining them to your friends. So you ignore them.
Silence becomes painful.
You ignore it. But eventually you're the only one who's texting first. So you take a hint and stop trying.
You stop trying, but what hurts the most is that he doesn’t seem to care.
Butterflies turn into anxiety.
That excitement you used to feel every time his name popped up on your phone turns into an anxious pit in your stomach. The pit swells for every passing moment that his name doesn’t pop up on your phone.
A no-strings, high-excitement fling was fun when your life was a rom-com. But how about now?
What happens when you’re mad and confused and wish you could call him out? You know you can't do this, because you have no power over him. You were never really together.
Compassion turns into forced cordiality.
The excitement and warmth you felt when you used to see him becomes something else. You run into him by chance and have to squelch every feeling of sadness, confusion and rage to act “normal.”
You want to scream at him. Instead, you kindly say “hi” and spend the rest of the night both avoiding him like the bubonic plague and watching him like a hawk.
You have a hard time identifying how you feel.
Even if you did have the chance to scream at him like you wanted, what would you have said? What did he even do to you?
He was perfectly nice the whole time you were together, and now he’s over it, so he's stopped putting in any effort. Can you even get mad at someone for that?
For not formally dumping you? Besides, did you seriously see yourself in a relationship with him? Wouldn’t you have been the one to do the same exact thing to him if time wore on?
He was just a chapter in your book, he was never the happy ending. You know that. Logically, you know that. But then why does it still sting so badly?
It ends with a feeling.
A fling never truly ends. It can fizzle completely and spring to life again three months down the line, when you receive an unexpected text ("hey was just thinking about you -- hope you're doing well"). But what will be different will be how you feel about it.
That text won’t jolt you into doing cartwheels across the living room. You won't have a certifiably crazy smile on your face. It will be just like any other text from any other person you haven’t heard from in a while.
You’ll think about the time you had together, and you'll feel slightly sick when you remember how it awkwardly ended. But that won't faze you.
You’ll respond with something quick and casual and move on with your day. Maybe you'll even forget to respond. What was once excitement and intense lust has turned into indifference -- the true opposite of love.