Last month I wrote a column for my (mostly) straight lady friends, listing the top-10 steps to getting over your ex.
It was an entirely communal endeavour. I had solicited ideas through an open call on my Facebook page, so much of the advice came from recently single women themselves.
This is a relatively new method of research for me, and a fascinating one, because like many folks who work in the public eye, quite a few of my Facebook friends are people I have never actually met in real life. With some, I have developed online friendships of a sort, others not so much. So a lot of the tips I gathered for last month’s column came from people I don’t really know.
This made me wonder — when it comes to human, heart-related stuff like community, or support, or advice, or friendship — is the quality of the connection forged between people any less real if it happens online? Is the advice given by one stranger to another online any less helpful than that delivered by a neighbour, or an old friend? Is face-to-face consolation somehow more tangible and takeable than that of Facebook, or a phone call?
All this got me to thinking. I haven’t come up with any brilliant insights really, but still, there was a bit of thinking happening.
After the advice to recently single ladies came out, I received quite a few requests for a butch version, so I put out another call on Facebook. I am going to pass on the most-repeated tips, and the steps that general consensus revealed to be helpful. But given the nature of some of the comments I received after last month’s column hit the cyberwaves, I guess I need to include a bit of a disclaimer.
When I say going to the gym and or getting some exercise will make you feel better, both physically and mentally, I am not insisting that everyone conform to mainstream advertising’s ideal body type, nor am I espousing any kind of height/weight-specific standards of what is sexy. I mean that going to the gym or getting some exercise will make you feel better.
And when I say going out for libations with your pals can help you renew old friendships that might have gone to fallow while you were in an unhappy relationship, I am in no way making light of the seriousness of substance abuse, nor am I maligning anyone in recovery. I simply mean that going out for a beverage of your choice with other consenting adults whose company you might enjoy could be a pleasurable alternative to staying home by yourself and staring at the dents in the rug where the furniture used to be.
So, here are some of the tips to getting over a breakup — butch style.
Get a haircut. A fresh three-pack of white T-shirts and new boxers were also popular suggestions. Other butch accoutrements can help, too: vintage cufflinks, a pocketknife or a fountain pen can put a little bounce in your step and a sparkle in your eye.
Road trip. This one is a must. There was some debate over solo versus with the buddies. I think this is a personal choice. Whether it is a train ride through the prairies alone or five fellows piling into the van for a three-day, mostly naked camping trip, everyone agreed that a change of scenery is in order.
Messy food. Barbecue, crab, lobster, corn on the cob, fondue, fried things in general. Food that gets on you while you are getting it in you. Food that involves fingerbowls, rolls of paper towels, bibs or even a hot shower afterward.
Go places with your dog in your truck. The hardware store to buy building supplies is a great idea. This is also the precursor to one of the most important steps of all: build something awesome. Shelves. A woodshed. A loft bed. A combination couch and bench-press station. Doesn’t matter what it is, it just matters that you build it. Nails should be pounded. Things should be sawed. Small amounts of blood need to be shed. This is a rite of passage, a vital ritual.
Building something is also an excuse for another important step, which is: buy something pretty. Such as anything made by Bosch or Snap-on. This is where the discussion got a little heated: Milwaukee and DeWalt fans had to get a word in. Again, I believe decisions like this are a personal choice, and I for one would never get in between a brother and his or her tool preference. Some things are just too sacred.
Music. The stuff you want, and loud. Set up the sub-woofer you found in the alley or at that garage sale and crank it. For me, this step is all about the classic rock, but that is just me. The same guidelines stated above for tool preference also apply here. What is important is that you create a new soundtrack for your life, starring you.
Singing in the truck is also necessary. When the teenagers at the stoplight point and laugh, roll the window down and explain that your stereo is in fact yours, not borrowed from your mother, so you are inherently cooler, even if you are rocking out to Fleetwood Mac.
Manage what you say about your ex. This will affect the way things go for you. Be a gentleman, no matter how hard she makes it for you. This will pay off in the long run.
The most important step, in my opinion, is also the hardest. Build the brotherhood of butches. Reach out to your butch and trans male friends, and consciously seek out new ones.
This is not a tired and sexist bros before hos thing, not at all. I am talking about building a strong, healthy community that can be there for each other. We have been taught to see each other as competition for too long, and we have suffered for it.
We need to learn to stick together better. Because single is not such a bad thing to be, when you are not so alone.