The Circumstantial Breakup

Say wonderful. Means something which inspires delight, pleasure, and admiration. Say wonderful because it fits, like compatible and forever night conversation — every cliché come to life.

Say perfect. Means euphoria can be casual, locked between fingers on errands and commutes, wrapped wide and warm while you slept. Say perfect because every part of you fell so easily into place, as if by design.

Say intimate. Means a language of glances. Codenames and inside jokes. You were a connoisseur of the rougher parts, the acquired tastes, those subtle hints which others failed to appreciate. You drank it up, all of it, and it stained your lips.

Say opportunity. Means the doors finally opened, like you knew they would, like you hoped they would, and you felt a reflexive joy at their success. Smiled with pride. Your own opportunity followed. They smiled with pride. Two goons smiling at each other — sprinting across shared furniture.

A job.

A school.

A relocation.

Say distance. New York and New Mexico. Miami and Minneapolis. Paris. Something far — the distance as manageable as the opportunity was deniable. The first of many long talks. You want the best for them. You want the best. This is best. Mature. Correct. No infidelity. No ill will. No problem but the distance. So an amiable break then. Victims of circumstance. But the better for it. Only the best. A Circumstantial Breakup. And hey, you know, maybe a few years down the road?

Say unlikely. Split items into boxes and move to a room devoid of color. Wonder what you’re doing there. Your decorations cover only half the walls. This is an opportunity. Make spaghetti. Realize they took the colander. Use a fork. Verb alone from now on. No.

Say denial. Call them to talk about your unshared day. Try to remember the names of faces you’ve never seen — the cast of characters in a narrative to which you no longer belong. Smile with your voice; be happy for their success. You don’t need a Word file to keep track of their new friends. You have stories. Today on the train there was this bird and, oh, you say, I guess I didn’t realize how late it was there. Time zones. Skype. Dead air. You don’t say regret. But neither do they.

Say months it’s been now, months you tell your friends, the new friends, the ones with names your Someone has trouble recalling on the every-so-often phone conversations. You flash your friends a picture of a Boston Terrier puppy you saw at the park. That Someone loved Boston Terriers. So you texted them the picture, and they didn’t respond, not until two days later, when they asked if you’d seen the Banksy documentary. Should I resend it? you ask, Cause I think their phone is pretty bad, so sometimes they don’t get my texts.

Say confusion when they stop calling. Send a text asking for their new address, though, and your phone rings almost immediately, the voice on the other end muted but alarmed. They say you’re not coming here are you? and you say I was just gonna mail a birthday present. You feel inexplicably guilty. Overwhelmingly guilty. Sickly. Strange. They say they’ll be out of town for their birthday, visiting the parents of a name you have in a Word file somewhere. Your gut retreats. You smile and hope it carries in your voice. Oh, cool. They acknowledge how great their new lover is, and ask — so casually — if there is anyone special in your life at the moment.

Say yes. They stained your lips.

Say regret and let the color drain. Bind yourself to misery with a string of joyless f-cks. Close your eyes. Pretend. Pantomime what worked before. Feel the weight of your failures — let them anchor you. Sink. Drink. Smoke blow kiss fight die a little over and over until you’ve died a lot. Discover that ‘emotionally vacant’ is a look someone, lower-case, finds attractive. Date them. Say wonderful. Say compatible. Say perfect. Say intimate. Mean it as hard as you can. Fail. Feel the weight. Hate their colander. Hate having to retell your stories, the forever redundant night conversation — every cliché come to life. Suffer through this person who loves you, this kind, giving person, perfect on the page, this beautiful outfit that won’t ever fit. Wonder: how hollow is your commitment when a single call could change everything? Love swings for the fences; it doesn’t wait like a minor league pitcher for a call from the majors.

Say sorry and go it alone. Write words like these only better. Listen to old songs. Wish they would’ve slept with your best friend or, or something, something which allowed you to hate them. They never gave you a reason to hate them. Would that all your future relationships could end in hate. Blinding, final hate — fiery like Cortez and his ships. Permanent. Something so explosive it propels you forward. Means it’s too painful to look back. Means you never relive the first date stop the vacations together come on the way they’d wake up ten minutes before your alarm to kiss you to consciousness just stop.

Say acceptance. This is the prize you earned for your maturity, for letting the logic of opportunity win out over emotion:

A relationship without the protracted descent into resentment. A friend. Sweet memories. Freedom in your twenty-somethings. Self-aggrandizing what-ifs. New lips, with their own stain. Awkward hugs. Facebooks you don’t check. A job. A school. A relocation. All your old tricks made new. Tension again — tension over comfort — you never knew how much you’d been missing it. Forever middle couch cushions. Bridging the distance. Walking the streets. Collapsing in bed. Hoarding the sheets. This was what you chose, remember? This was what you chose.

Say opportunity. TC mark

image – Shutterstock


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  • kitefeet

    this was really wonderful i think

  • Andrew

    Best piece since ‘time I almost died’. Cazir 4 Prez.

  • Anonymous


  • Britney

    It’s beautifully written, though abstract. Reading it hurt a little. A lot. But in the best way– it just means it carried the message well.

  • kd1034

    Wow. Just wow – so unique and touching.

  • wearedoomed

    my relationship is in the denial paragraph right now and this just knocked the wind out of me.

  • Justine B.

    Heartbreaking! In a beautiful way.


    Say opportunity.

    • how does this work


  • Rachel Butters Scotch

    Goosebumps everywhere. Thanks.

  • Sviall1

    My boyfriend is moving across the country in a few months and this brought me to tears.

    • i feel you gurl

      mine just did. it sucks.

  • Corcordium

    I need to stop reading thought catalog because it always leaves me in tears.

  • guest

    this made me hurt so much. I am in this exact situation i could leave everything i’m familiar with and follow my boyfriend, the first and most important love I’ve ever had, to Canada where he is going to school.  But i just can’t do it. I just can’t.. but the idea of moving on and feeling the same exact feelings I once thought were so special and unique with another person makes me want to vomit everywhere.   

  • Campbell

    Holy balls. Yes.

  • Lu Han

    I get this, I was here. I am here. Right now. Except I do have someone in my life. But yet I still can’t move on. Because when someone like THAT comes into your life, once you let them past the “opportunity” and open your ever so shut doors to them you realize … that when they left you, they took something special from you with them. I didn’t need a super glue because he WAS my super glue. So now that he’s gone, now that he’s moved on. What do I do now? What does all of this mean? … what now. 

  • Sophia

    This is one of the most beautifully written things I’ve ever read here. So heartfelt, so piercingly bitterly beautiful.

    • Alex Bryant

      I can not convey how much I agree with you, this is the most powerful and well written piece I’ve read (in general) in a long time. I am impressed, distraught and overwhelmed.

      • Alrightoutside

        Yes. Beautifully, eloquently raw. 

  • Sahar Soos

    Say acceptance, say opportunity… say wonderful. 

  • Anonymous

    This is pleasing my brain to levels I haven’t experienced yet. Thank you Jack Cazir.

  • Jordana Bevan

    “You” made me forget YOU’re writing about you. Jack, this is so sad. This is so beautiful. This is the writing that works for you: partial sentences, thoughts strung together, the way you really work.

    Life ached as I read this: “Means you never relive the first date -stop- the vacations together -come on- the way they’d wake up ten minutes before your alarm to kiss you to consciousness -just stop-.”

  • Tanya Salyers

    Thank you for leaving it hopeful…opportunity.

  • Genieconcepcion


  • Rachel

    This has got to be one of my favourite thought catalog post ever. The structure was seamless, and the words were enchanting. Thank you. 

  • Maxine

    You’re by far one of my favourite writers; there’s a degree of painful honesty in the way you write that I adore. I wish you posted more!

  • Kate

    I feel like you have taken my exact story and everything I have felt in the past 4 years and put it to paper. Your writing is lovely and this article is so achingly sad and honest. Thank you for this writing this post 

  • t.a.e.

    Longing and loss – you captured it all.

  • kb

    This piece is beautiful, but I could never understand “circumstantial breakups”.  How could you break up with someone you genuinely loved?  What’s more important than love?  And you hinted at this in your article.  I live in New York and my boyfriend lives in New Zealand, and the distance doesn’t change the fact that we have a history together and love for each other.  

    • Anonymous

      Please post some advice for fellow long-distance relationshippers :[ I am in dire need of some nice words.

      • Fenchurch

        All I can say is that the guy I’m dating is also my best friend, which is not something you could simply call off. No matter how hard you try. And I tried to switch to being ‘just friends’ twice, failed miserably. So here I am, in a long distance relationship. It’s not easy, but he’s worth all the trouble in the world to me.

      • Anonymous

        Best of luck to you. Props for staying strong <3 I'm having a terrible time right now :/ boo. It's worth it, but I am soo emotionally drained. 

    • Another NY LD-er

      I was about to post a similar comment.  My boyfriend and I have had the majority of our relationship be long distance, but that doesn’t change the fact that we would rather be in a relationship with each other- enduring the pain of distance, living for Skype calls and weekend visits, trying to pretend we’re part of each others’ nights out- than be with someone else for convenience.

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