I received this anonymous post which reflected a question I’ve actually been thinking about: who ‘owns’ a space after a breakup? The Muslim community is so small that if both parties are active in the community, it can be almost impossible to avoid each other. I’ve seen couples negotiate this in a very professional and dignified manner, but I wonder if they’re secretly dying inside every time they see the person at some community event. If the split was particularly messy, it may be easier just to avoid places you know they might be. But unfortunately, there’s no place you can retreat to where the Muslim grapevine doesn’t extend to, as the author of this piece found out the hard way!
*Disclaimer: author’s identity has been concealed.
If any of you are avid Gossip Girl fans (guilty as charged), then you no doubt recall the numerous break ups of Blair Waldrorf and Chuck Bass.
Now, life might not be as dramatic as the fictional take on the Upper East Side of Manhattan but one particular scene did stick out to me as one way too familiar; the Waldorf Bass Peace Treaty.
Play from 0:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiiC5hkHFPU
Break ups are a messy affair – even for Muslims. You can label it an amicable parting all you like, but whether your relationship ended in tears and heartbreak or a rueful smile accompanying slumped shoulders there is one thing to which every break up has common claim.
“Let’s stay friends!” some parting couples say, in an attempt to diminish hard feelings.
But what happens when you see your “friend” with a new partner? Even if you’d truly moved on, it’s not the greatest situation to find yourself in.
And so we draw lines. Boundaries, if you like. We mark our territories. The suburb he was from? Never step foot in it again without a burqa. Her favourite café? You suddenly develop an allergy to their coffee that you swear will make your beard hairs fall on entry.
But what happens when people start to prod those boundaries? In a tight knit community, it can be hard to avoid an ex who moved in the same circles. Inevitably, you will find each other coming out of exile to coincidentally attend the same event… and there are only so many corners you can hide in for an entire evening.
Especially if you accidentally both choose the same corner to lurk in. Ensue awkwardness.
Or perhaps some well meaning old friends who haven’t heard of your break up will ask you loudly at a social gathering for mutual friends, “So… When’s the wedding?!”
Hello beetroot face, it’s been a while.
But the very worst encroachment that I’ve not witnessed – or rather, experienced – to date was this:
Too soon after a messy break up of my own, my close friends ran into my former in-laws. Being familiar with each other, they said their hellos and had a quick catch-up chat.
And then the mother of all shattering statements was dropped.
“My new sister-in-law is the sweetest! We HAVE to introduce you to her soon – you will love her… Let’s set up a date!”
Now hold on just one second there, please! Pick up the red paint and splash a boundary line RIGHT. THERE.
Friends are the ultimate no-go-zone. Suburbian exile is tolerable. Café zoning is bearable. But the tug-of-war on friends just makes you radiate the kind of desperate dislike that has you screaming inside, “Take anything, take it ALL! Just don’t take my friends…”
Okay maybe that was a tad too melodramatic. But what’s a heartbreak without the drama?
So tell us, friends. What’s your take on territory lines? Are they worth the pain, or would you rather risk the run-in with the ex over putting yourself into exile?