You know, that phrase applies to friendships too. Not just bitter lovers.
We all have had falling outs with friends. And sometimes those fights are serious enough to make you realise that this person is a venomous pain in the arse that needs to be removed for your own wellbeing. So you both don't kiss and make up, but go along your separate paths.
What usually happens is, somewhere down the line, you will hear something about that person through the grapevine. And if your instincts were spot on, that person would usually have fallen to alcohol, drugs, been in a gang fight, failed their final paper, or just gotten really, really fat.
And you wonder if had you still stayed where you were, would you have ended up like them. Or if you could have helped them before they wound up in a downward spiral.
You pity them, of course you do. But whats the point of pity if it doesn't come with anything but a hollow expression of emotion? You don't extend a helping hand beyond saying "things will get better", that annoying sentence that has been uttered in response to any source of grief. That sentence alone would make anyone's anger flare up and tell you to GET LOST, YOU PATRONISING BASTARD.
Chances you'd have found them having changed for the better are slim to none. After all, you did end contact with that person for being an a-hole.
But chances you'll be friends with them again after this?
'People change so fast', Rhiannon thought as she watched him walk away from her.
Rhiannon had never been the master of keeping in touch. She'd always earnestly promise to call or text, but would then get so caught up with other things that she'd forget all about it. By the time she thought of it, she was usually too shy and embarrassed to initiate any form of conversation after so long.
So she let such friendships die, convinced that it was for the best. 'I mean, if they missed me so much, wouldn't they have tried to contact me too?'
And then there were people who walked back in to her life. These were the rare people she liked enough to have a cup of coffee with to catch up and reminisce.
They'd talk and laugh for a few hours, and would say they missed old times, and they would genuinely mean it. But it doesn't (usually) translate to a renewed friendship where you both become best friends again. More often than not, you'll part with yet another promise to keep in touch, and thus the cycle continues.
Rhiannon wondered about the person he would be now if she hadn't neglected to keep in touch with him. He used to rely on her for everything; she was his sounding device, his therapist, his constant pillar of support.
Until she grew weary of his neverending grouses, and began to pull away from him. Rhiannon felt that every bright spark in her was being snuffed out by his dark, suffocating aura of misery. She wanted not to be dragged down into his pits of misery anymore, and promptly made herself unavailable to him and all his damn issues.
It probably wasn't the kindest thing Rhiannon had ever done, but it'd been months since she felt in control over her own self. She wanted her life and her happiness not to be dictated by his unpredictable mood swings. And selfishly, she thought it would do him good to try to learn to handle things alone for a change.
Oh, but he had.
He turned into an insensitive, unbearable, miserable excuse for a friend. He was so pissed off with her, he refused to act civil the next time they ran into each other.
But who could blame him? She knew she'd hurt him more than she should have, when she'd cut ties with him in that heated argument. She knew he wouldn't be greeting her with screaming bear hugs and exclamations of "HOW ARE YOU I'VE MISSED YOU SO MUCH!" She'd doubted that he'd even smile at her.
She wasn't prepared for the amount of anger and resentment he still had towards her. It was like he was stuck in a quicksand pit of his own negative emotions, and she wasn't sure if she wanted to reach in and help him or just walk away.
After all, she was only being polite when asking after how he had been, family-wise and school-wise and the like. She was completely caught off guard when he departed on an angry tangent by accusing her of being a patronising git. He claimed she had no real interest in anything his answers at all, and wasn't worth being friends with anymore.
Rhiannon silently wondered if he had came a little late to the "end of friendship" party. Clearly, she no longer had any idea of how to talk to this person after their huge separation, and she was threading on eggshells with all her standard questions and answers you would expect with any other distant friend. If she had sounded patronising, she certainly hasn't meant it.
But Rhiannon was enraged by his sudden accusations. After all, she had went way out of her comfort zone by reaching out to him after all this time, and while had not expected him to extend arms of friendship, she hadn't signed up for being called names either.
She decided to bitch about it online or all the world to see, not bothering to censor his name or what he had said. It was probably one of the things she most regretted doing in her life. Rhiannon was an extremely private person and had never before aired her dirty laundry so openly in public.
Needless to say, the fight got worse and worse. Hurtful words were said, tears were shed, and things were horrible all around. A ceasefire was finally called for, and this time, the parting in friendship was a mutual decision.
Rhiannon never admitted it, but she was secretly pleased that she had made the right conclusion about him earlier, before the second big fight. Clearly, they had both moved on with their lives, and no longer needed each other. And Rhiannon wasn't about to start hanging around with people that would bring out the worst in her either.
Very recently, she saw him from a distance, and he passed by without even noticing her. And Rhiannon could not help but feel evilly gleeful at his much apparent weight gain, while she was healthier and happier with life as ever. Though it held no bearing whatsoever on the kind of person he was now, she couldn't help but think that karma had come back to bite him in the ass.
Rhiannon felt she had won the break up.
Because that's what happens when you can look back on all the time that has elapsed since cutting that friend out of your life, and announce with confidence, that "I'm better off without you". No malice is involved, but just a realisation of how that person had been such a negative presence, with a conscious resolution to never be dragged down by him again. Ever.
I'm better off without you.