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Friday, September 17, 2021

Column: Urban relationship myths

As children, we were often told myths such as the Lochness monster and Bigfoot to prevent us from wandering off into the wilderness unsupervised. As adults, we heard urban relationship myths not only for prevention, but also for encouragement.

Myths such as the successful long-distance relationship, the married couple that met at the bar, the on-and-off couple that managed to live happily ever after and most commonly, the acquisition of closure, are all told to encourage us on our search for love despite adversity.

But as we recite these myths to yet another set of young singles beginning their journey for love, we have to ask ourselves — is it hope we’re giving them, or just hopeful delusion?

Ever since man walked the earth, daters across the globe have been on the search for what seems to be the most successful dating fugitive since the ability to orgasm: closure. Defined as the rare ability to get over your ex and move on with your life post-breakup, closure is a feat most search for but only a few find.

While we’ve all been told the tale of the girl who miraculously got over her ex-boyfriend after a night of rest and a gallon of ice cream, how many of us have actually witnessed this remarkable account?

Although there are always a few exceptions, to most people who’ve recently broken up, the idea of getting over an ex within a day, a week, or in some cases, even at all, proves just as difficult as trying to salvage the relationship in the first place.

Which brings up an interesting question: Is closure really out there lurking in the shadows of broken hearts and ruined relationships, waiting to be found, or is it another urban relationship myth told to give us false delusion?

After watching an episode of “MythBusters” on the Discovery Channel, I’ve made the hypothesis that the trick to deciphering these accounts of dating folklore is through the scientific method.

If the definition of closure is just an answer to all lingering questions at the end of a relationship, could the solution be as simple as questions after breakup plus answer about relationship equals closure?

As we try to calculate this solution into our actual lives, we find ourselves at a standstill, as the equation we thought was so simple had an underlying variable we hadn’t accounted for. To find the value of ex or the final answer to a breakup we find ourselves having to do a little more than just some elementary arithmetic.

According to the laws of love and heartbreak, the value of ex is derived directly from the source. This revolutionary discovery concludes that the only way to answer the question of ex is to ask the ex in question. This daunting task proves to be why a relationship is so difficult to get over.

Closure is often sought to obtain a mutual relationship with an ex. Ironically, the only way to acquire closure is by asking for it from that ex. In today’s society, bold gestures when it comes to love are often seen as either pathetic or desperate. This idea consequently negates any sort of potential mutuality following a breakup.

Which leads us back to square one.

Just as we’re about to close the case on another busted myth, could there be a solution we hadn’t even tried yet?

Is it possible that instead of going out of our way to find an answer, we’re able to find it within ourselves?

Maybe closure doesn’t have to be this myth we hopelessly believe in. Maybe we’re supposed to make our own closure and answer our own lingering questions.

Whether these answers are right or wrong, they’ll at least give us an idea of what went missing in the relationship. But most importantly, they’ll give us an incentive to move on.

As we inch our way to closing the door on closure, I can’t help but look back on all the other relationship myths whose doors remain open.

Like closure, we should take fate into our own hands. Maybe these myths set the blueprints for our lives, but it’s up to us how to go about them.

Who knows, in a hundred years maybe we’ll hear our own urban relationship myth told to the next generation of daters.

I can’t speak for all urban relationship myths, but as of now the myth of closure is definitely plausible.

If you would like to hire JASON PHAM for the next season of MythBusters you can contact him at jpham@ucdavis.edu.

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