A new study out of Northwestern University has found that couples tend to overestimate how devastating any potential break-up might be. The researchers have concluded that most of us tend to not realize how well-equipped we are to survive heartbreak.
This is significant news for those of us who have been considering getting our work-life priorities in order. We’ve been coupled with our work for a long time now, and breaking it off just seems like it would be so painful. But if a team of hotshot university types has figured out that both dumper and dumpee are hard-wired to make it through the tough times, then why can’t we contemplate a long-desired end to our dysfunctional relationship with what we do to earn a living?
With that in mind, I have composed a Dear John letter like no other. Feel free to use it as a template if you so desire. (My lawyers will be in touch about usage fees…oh, they will be nominal, really.)
It’s not you, it’s me. I’m just going through some stuff right now, and it feels to me as if we have grown in different directions. When we first met, I treasured our time together. I saw so much of you, from early in the morning until sometimes late at night, and each encounter felt new, charged with possibilities. You were all I needed. I went to sleep thinking about what I could do with you tomorrow, and I awakened looking forward to spending the day with you once again. Our weekends apart became unbearable for me, and it wasn’t long before I started taking you home so that we could do some things together on Saturday and Sunday, too. Not only that, you were directly responsible for my being able to afford the plasma screen TV, and my daughter’s braces. But lately, something has changed. Sometimes I look in the eyes of those I love, and I get rewards that I never got from our relationship. I know that might seem cruel, and I know how you took it so hard when I didn’t bring the laptop to my sister’s wedding so I could prepare that Excel spreadsheet, but you didn’t seem so important compared to her needs that day. Around the same time, my wife and I took that trip to the mountains, and I began to prefer the sound of chirping birds and running water to the sound of fax machines, vibrating cell phones and IM alert bleeps. I’m aware of how these sounds are so much a part of your world, so don’t get me wrong. I still want to spend time with you. I still need you. You provide things that are crucial to my existence, like the satisfaction of a job well done, and the opportunity to interact with peers and yes, you do support me financially. So it’s not over completely. We can still be friends. I just don’t want to be in bed with you anymore. I know you’ll understand. And if you don’t, tough luck.
My lasting affection,