1. Pretending to be someone you are absolutely not.
Everything is fresh, a clean slate, and you’re two brand-new people who are embarking on mutual discovery: time to totally lie to them. For now, you’re the kind of reserved girl who nibbles her food, crosses her legs at the ankle (crossing at the knee is for trollops), and laughs at all of his dumb jokes. You have refined interests, and a book club on Tuesdays, and many important thoughts about things that you learned at college, where you definitely didn’t spend most of your time doing body shots.
You have your whole relationship to let the inner hot mess seep out of your pores like a fine oil, this part is for the beautiful lie.
2. Studying the ex to at once distance and familiarize yourself.
Once you become aware of the ex, and have enough proximity to study her — a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, a defunct Twitter from 2011 where she wrote two tweets about her upcoming tough mudder and hashtagged them #beastmode — it’s time to take the lowest road possible. She becomes at once your sworn enemy and your most revered idol, the person you will lowkey try to imitate while complaining to your friends about how much of a bitch she was. There is no piece of information about her that you don’t want to consume like a starved shark with a bucket of chum, and all of this will happen in the delusion that it will make you more appealing in the relationship today. You’ll dedicate a solid month and a half to hating her, and it will become your new favorite leisure activity.
3. Finally getting comfortable.
Any bad relationship has those two or three months of comfort, where you both kind of settle into things and loosen your grip on the mutual lies you’ve been living about how cool and impressive you both are. You wear sweatpants, and watch movies, and fight over the last slice of pizza (coyly letting them have it is for the first two months of the relationship, after that, it’s every man for himself). You have #PleasantSex, where nothing is wrong but nothing is overly right, and you can both still get to sleep by a reasonable 10:30. These months are the Ikea sectional couch of relationships — non-threatening, familiar, useful — and you are happy to settle into it.
4. Getting too comfortable.
At a certain point, the two of you cross the distinct border from Comfort Country to the Republic of Repulsive, and every action you take becomes some slightly varied note on “fuck it.” You harass them with phone calls, you forget to make good on promises, you say “I’m tired, get off me” five nights in a row. You don’t even share the pizza with them, you just put it on your tummy and eat it on the couch while watching Kardashians by yourself. More than anything, they become a nuisance in your life, and you’re both just taking increasingly passive-aggressive digs at each other until one of you breaks down and accuses the other of being bad in bed.
5. The long-overdue breakup.
Then the breakup comes, but it will feel less like a breakup and more like the mercy bullet that you put in a severely injured deer’s head on the side of the road. You both knew this was coming, and the only real sentiment you can muster is “relief.” You’re glad it’s over.
6. Seeing them with someone else and getting jealous, therefore temporarily renewing your interest.
And then you see someone, probably a few months later, at a party or a bar. They’re looking good, they’ve lost a few pounds and changed their hair, and — worst of all — someone else is paying attention to them. All of a sudden, they’ve gone from the irritating zit in the middle of your forehead to the manageable zit just to the upper right of your lip that you can eyeliner into looking like a beauty mark. And you want them. So you flirt, and temporarily “get back together” which mostly just means having sex three times and then getting right back into a routine of yelling and not shaving.
7. Actually breaking it off, once and for all.
The real breakup in any bad relationship, of course, only comes after you’ve already reunited one misguided time. It’s only in knowing that there is nothing good waiting for you when you get back with them that you can finally let go of them, and realize that you are way better off single than slogging it out with someone like that.
(Also, it’s around this time that you realize the ex is just a normal human being and you had no reason to dislike her in the first place. Though #beastmode is still a basic hashtag.)