This is a piece the wonderful Zoe Foster Blake wrote for Mamamia way back in 2011. Now that The Bachelorette’s Matty J has had his heart stomped on (on national telly, no less) we thought it was time to bring it back. Enjoy.
Along with Paddle Pops, Frisbee playing and Aeroguard, summer brings with her the deafening roar of relationships collapsing and the quiet, sad whisper of hearts breaking. For some reason when the temperature nudges 27 degrees, a lot of people (the majority of them men) issue a kind of emotional stock take, and make a Big Brutal Decision about where their relationship is. This can lead to proposals, (there are probably just as many proposals as there are breakups) but a lot of the time it ends in, uh, an end.
The exact reason, despite several extensive studies by make believe scientists, remains unknown. Perhaps it’s because humans naturally reflect at the end of the year, and finally take time to really examine things, as opposed to just cruising along on autopilot. Maybe it’s because we like starting a new year feeling like we are On The Right Track, and if a relationship is no longer serving us, we have a firm template (the end of the calendar year) in place that makes us feel we have permission to instigate change. Maybe it’s because people wear less clothes in summer and we realise that if we’re being brutally honest, there is a part of us we can no longer ignore that would like to fool around with those people wearing less clothes. Of course, as with anything pertaining to the heart, the reasons are as unique as the people experiencing them.
But I’m less concerned with the instigators and their motivations, and more with those who have been at the receiving end of this… end, and who are currently nursing wounded hearts and punctured egos. You have my sympathy because break ups suck, flat out suck, but you do not have my pity.
There is a risk I am hurling this advice at you prematurely (and entirely unsolicited), because you’re still dealing with the enormity of your boyfriend choosing to be not with you instead of with you, but ultimately, I wish for you to understand you have been given a gift. Because no matter what happens right in this moment, no matter how spectacularly low you’re feeling as you read this, fighting fears and fighting tears, sometime in the future you will have a better man, or a better version of the man you had before.
I call it the Better Man, Better Dan theory.
While there is a terrific chance your ex-boyfriend’s name is not Dan, it rhymes and we all know things stick better in your head when they rhyme, and trust me, this is definitely something you want to stick in your head.
The Better Man, Better Dan theory takes into consideration the Big Picture, which is the picture we often forget when we’re drowning in upset and rage and devastation post break up, but one which I strongly urge you to keep in mind. Top of mind, even. The crux of the philosophy is that one day you will be with either a better man than the one who just ended things with you, or a better version of the man who ended things with you.
The Better Man part is simple: there are many exceptional men out there and eventually, when you’re willing to let one of them in, one of these men will fall so in love with you that your head will rotate in a delirious, dizzying fashion.
The Better Dan part is less simple. When your ex-boyfriend chose to break up with you, there was a part of him that needed to be free for whatever reason. You must grant him this freedom. It must be unfettered and it must be pure: do not intrude on it. No good comes from trying to lure a person who has made a conscious decision to live their life without you in it back into your life. It’s soul destroying and it’s absolutely futile. Instead, focus on yourself – for while it may very much feel like it, a breakup is not about the person who broke up with you, it’s about you, and how effectively you turn a nasty emotional knock into something powerful and positive.
LISTEN: Zoe sat down with us earlier in the year to discuss how she 'does it all'. (Post continues...)
But back to Better Dan. Better Dan is the guy who has had time to grow and get clarity as a single man, and who then realises he wants to share that new man with you. As Richard Bach so wisely said, “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.” Better Dan is the man who you loved enough to set free, and he came back.
That said, I must point out it’s not helpful to wander through the murky swamp of a breakup hoping your ex will be knocking on your door in his Better Dan get-up in a few months time. He might be gone for good. Be at peace with this; it simply means you’re in store for a Better Man instead.
The exquisiteness of the Better Man, Better Dan theory is that it is a genuinely win-win situation: either way you get a great guy. Keep this knowledge in your metaphysical back pocket like a magical little talisman, and enjoy singledom with your head held high. There is tremendous peace and emotional power living wholly in the present knowing the future will take care of itself.
There is also tremendous peace in choosing the right flavour Paddle Pop for a friend who says ‘surprise me’ when you set off to the corner store to buy ice creams, but that’s probably less relevant.