If This is March, I Must Be Falling Out of Love

Posted on March 11, 2015

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Those of you who believed that March is most known for being Frozen Food Month, take note: It is also Breakup Month. Thanks to Refinery 29, the disseminator of all things worthy of being disseminated in our culture, A study conducted between 2008 and 2011 found that divorce filings peak this month, while an analysis of Facebook status updates pinpointed March (along with December) as prime breaking-up time. This news bombshell is interesting in that it reveals that, while the rest of the world is catapulting toward complete mayhem, there are people are sitting around in front of their laptops, staring at ever-changing status updates on Facebook, and trying to ignore all the photos of babies, small children and puppies. Presumably, these people are getting paid to do what they do, and have the benefit of wearing their pajamas while they do it.

Why, you may be asking yourself, do people break up during these two months? December is easy and might involve the emotional trauma of Christmas music and sugar overload, as well as a reminder that one gave away all of one’s old ugly Christmas sweaters, before they became lucrative items to sell on eBay.  March is a bit more complicated, since most people just spend March waiting for the weather to get better. According to Refinery 29, “one possible explanation is that many couples are unwilling to face the holidays (including Valentine’s Day) solo, and so if they are headed for a split, they may postpone it until after the themed chocolate is cleared from the drugstore shelves and the mass-market-romance media messages die down.”

LBL finds this almost as pitiful as people spending their lives tallying status updates on Facebook. What kind of Valentine’s Day would one have if one’s relationship didn’t even outlast the roses one received? And what kind of money would one be willing to spend for a relationship that was on its way out?  Would one stoop to buying those nasty chocolate-covered jelly things that no one likes? Or would one buy a card that says “Happy Valentine’s Day to Someone?”

Perhaps the desire to dump one’s partner is hard-wired, and has little to do with compatibility, integrity or sexual satisfaction. Psychology Today notes that hunter-gather societies seem particularly prone to divorce.  For example, members of the Ache society of Paraguay can report as many as eleven marriages by the time they reach adulthood.   Life in the Boomer Lane had to read this sentence many times.  This is either a major typo, or the Aches are conducting a lot of marriages between really small people.

A new article published in Review of General Psychology suggests that humans may actually have a mental mechanism in place for severing the emotional bond between romantic partners.  The article’s authors suggest that there is something they call a  “primary mate ejection or the active decision to reject a mate while “secondary mate ejection involves coming to terms with being rejected and reaching the point where a new romantic pairing becomes possible.”  LBL imagines rejected (and subsequently, ejected) mates flying through the air at an alarming rate, some being given the opportunity to grab cash settlements that are being released from planes overhead.

There appear to be significant differences between males and females in terms of where and when their mate ejection modules are activated.  While men are less able to forgive sexual infidelity, women are less able to forgive emotional infidelity. Resources are critical to women. If a woman is employed or otherwise able to support herself, the decision to leave is often easier than for women who might be afraid of being left destitute following a divorce. Men don’t respond this way, because they can always go home to Mom.

The study also revealed that the neural pathways of love are the same as the neural pathways of addiction. Breaking up can be a form of withdrawal, as many of you have, no doubt, experienced.  Psychology Today notes that ending a love affair is a lot like overcoming a serious drug addiction, with fewer rehab facilities at one’s disposal.

What can be done to prevent a break up of your relationship? Aside from spending all Decembers and Marches apart from one’s partner, nothing. But it will comfort you to know that, according to Refinery 29,  75% of all people polled would prefer to break up face to face. A majority of the rest would prefer a phone call. Several said the easiest way was to simply post the following public question to one’s Facebook Friends: “Struggling with how to break up with someone”  and wait for the comment “Asshole” or “Bitch” to verify that one’s dumpee has seen it.

In an interesting, and completely unhelpful, sideline, Refinery 20 also notes that “The top people who are called after a breakup are a female friend (27%), Mom (17%), a sibling (10%), a male friend (10%), another family member (4%), Dad (2%), the person we just broke up with (2%), and an ex (1%).”  One assumes that the reason dads only get 2% is because their response to hearing of their offspring breaking up would be “Remind me who that person was, again?”

In sum, sit tight. The weather will get warmer, and March will end. You then have eight months of bliss until December rolls around. Make the most of it.

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