When I first started to watch the movie “The Breakup”, I was actually expecting the formulaic Romantic Comedy but it was actually a realistic movie about the demise of a relationship. I found myself relating to Brooke, one of the main characters in the movie more than I would have liked. At the beginning of the movie, we are shown this montage of how the relationship between Gary and Brooke starts and then develops so they are at a point where they move in together when they buy a luxurious condo. Within the first 10 minutes of the movie, we are shown what conflict goes on in their relationship. As Brooke is preparing for a dinner party for both their families, she asks Gary to do things to help her prepare for the guests, Gary is full of excuses and essentially treats her like a nag. Maybe this is my biased perspective coming from a place where I’ve been treated as such.
What is first seen here is a breakup in communication where Gary is dismissive of Brooke’s needs at that moment. I think that a lot of women I know can testify what that feels like but most of us have been conditioned to excuse that kind of behavior. Anyways, at the dinner party, Brooke and Gary act like a normal couple. Also, what can be observed from Brooke and Gary’s families is that they both come from different social classes. We can speculate that this is maybe why their relationship didn’t work but I think it is just one factor. After their families leave, a fight ensues between Brooke and Gary over a simple domestic task, washing the dishes. Brooke wants Gary to help with this task and Gary grumbles about it and when he finally says he’ll do, he has a bad attitude about it. Brooke doesn’t want his help and this resonates with me and I’m sure it does with other women ,she tells Gary, “I want you to want to do the dishes.” That line implicates both control and hopeful expectations for her partner.
A lot of women I know (myself included) wants a partner that takes initiative in helping us and showing their appreciation for us. We feel like we shouldn’t have to remind them, they should just want to do it. If they claim to care about us and love us, why is it so damn hard for them to show it? I think the issue could lie in the cliche that we as women tend to expect “us” and how we would act from our partners. In society, women are conditioned and taught to be nurturers and to show our love and appreciation for our partners. We are also taught to believe that we have to fit into certain categories of societal expectations in order to feel like we are enough and worthy to feel loved. Men, on the other hand, well, they are just taught that they are good enough as they are for their potential partners. Also, society has conditioned men that in order for them to be “real men”, they shouldn’t show their emotions.
Gary and Brooke
As women, we are conditioned to believe that we will thrive and be a whole person in society if we become wives and mothers. This belief makes a lot of women settle for less than they deserve and tolerate way more than they should in a relationship. As humans we are conditioned that life is incomplete without a partner and the worst thing that can happen to us is a life of solitude.
Even though Brooke breaks up with Gary, she later reveals that she does this in hopes that he will learn his lesson and change to become a better partner. She doesn’t actually want to break up with him. She goes so far as to bring the guys she dates to the condo they’re currently sharing so he’ll get jealous. This follows the belief of why many women stay in a relationship; because if they stick around long enough and do the hard work, their partner will change to become the partner they want them to be. It follows the belief that we as women can mold men with enough time and patience to become that partner. This infantilizes men in a way. It’s a belief in which we are treating men like another one of our children that needs to be molded. Brooke “punishes” Gary like a child by breaking up with him in hopes he’ll change into the partner she wants him to be.
Gary finally starts to take Brooke seriously towards the end of the movie. By that time, it is too late and she’s already emotionally detached from him. There is a cliche saying “by the time the guy starts to care, it’s too late and the girl no longer cares . I’ve seen this happen many times in real life. In my own perspective, I tried everything to save my marriage with my husband and even though he tried, it was never enough in my eyes. His dismal effort kept making me feel less than, worthless even. By the time he finally saw that he was going to lose me; it was too late and I had emotionally detached myself from the relationship. Just like Brooke, I had time and time again invested so much of myself, changed so much of myself to try to salvage our relationship while he put in the most minimal effort. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I knew that no matter how hard he or I tried, our marriage couldn’t be saved.
At the end of the movie after Brooke leaves the apartment, she runs into Gary a few months later and they catch up in a cordial manner and glance back smiling at each other and one could say perhaps both of them got the closure they needed. Of course, in real life, me and my husband can’t afford to separate and divorced and have to continue to live together but through a mutual understanding we live together as roommates and co-parents. We actually do this successfully and almost painlessly. He’ll even give me life advice from time to time if I’m going through something rough. I think that once we both accepted that we were no longer compatible as romantic partners, our relationship as friends got stronger since we felt free to really be our authentic selves with each other.
Most awkward family pic after we decided to become room mates and co-parents.