Some thoughts on breakups, relationships, and why so many couples you know suck

Dea Mandija
5 min readJul 11, 2022

In August of 2016, a stand-up comedian named Daniel Sloss did a world tour with a comedy special titled “Jigsaw”. The show became available on Netflix two years later with a much wider audience reach. Since then, 200,000 couples and +400 marriages have broken up because of it (yes the numbers are accurate, Daniel keeps a tally). He routinely autographs divorce papers of people who have left their partners because of Jigsaw. What a power move.

But what is it about the weight of his words and the fragility of those relationships that resulted in this phenomenon?

People are more in love with the idea of love than the person they are with

Controversial, yet not uncommon in our romance-obsessed society. When you think about the prime messages that are being shoved down our throats via the media and cultural pressures, it’s no wonder we’re obsessed with the idea of love.

Every Disney princess has a prince, every prince has a princess. Every television show or movie always has a character in it that doesn’t want to be in a relationship. They’re happy with who they are. But then by the end of the series, guess what. THEY WERE WRONG! …When you raise children in a world where everything is pointed towards love and is perfect on the outside, when we become adults for the first time in our late teens and early 20s, we’re terrified. We’re still trying to be an adult and some of us will take the wrong person, the wrong jigsaw piece and just jam them into our life anyways, denying that they clearly don’t fit. We force them into our life because we’d much rather have something than nothing.

Being in a relationship because you’re bad at being alone is the weakest reason for being in a relationship.

As Daniel mentions multiple times throughout the show, there’s nothing wrong with taking time for yourself to work out who you are before you go out in the dating world. There’s nothing wrong with being selfish for a bit, you’ve got the rest of your life to be selfless.

There’s an ongoing joke that if couples survive this stand-up show, they’re most probably going to last. As a test drive, search up “Jigsaw” on Netflix and see for yourself. Warning, your decision may happen much (muuuuuuuuuuuuch) later, but the weed of doubt will be planted nonetheless.

Daniel has said multiple times that his stand-up isn’t against relationships, especially healthy and happy ones. Even if he wanted to, unfortunately, he wouldn’t be able to break those up.

This show is just a love letter to single people and an eye-opener for the ones in relationships they don’t want to be in. Or settled because they’re too afraid to be on their own.

What’s sunk cost fallacy got to do with it?

As Delfina explains in her wonderful article, Break up With Your Boyfriend (Because of Sunk Cost Fallacy), more often than not, we stay in long-term, unhappy relationships because we’ve already invested a lot in them. But should we settle for mediocrity and comfort just because we’ve been with someone for a long time?

Two people on a boat. They’re saying: If we don’t get rid of the anchor, the ship will sink. No! This anchor was very expensive.
Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sunk-cost-fallacy-lets-keep-digging-deeper-hole-pei-ying-chua/

Time doesn’t necessarily equal success. Yet, we tend to resist change and anything that can alter our perception that “someone out there loves us”. We’re good, we won’t die alone. There’s a very important question Daniel asks for people contemplating breaking up with their long-term partner:

Are you willing to admit that the last X years of your life have been a waste in this relationship or do you waste the rest of your life?

Can we predict how likely a couple is to “make it”?

John Gottman certainly can. He’s a well-known psychologist and researcher on the topic of relationships, famous for predicting based on a 15 minutes conversation, with 94% accuracy, if a couple is going to divorce.

How does he do it?

Besides the fact that divorce rates are booming, Gottman explains that the best relationships have something called Positive Sentiment Override.

Positive thoughts about each other in the marriage are so pervasive that they tend to supersede the negative feelings.

Simply put, you’re very biased towards the positive when it comes to your partner.

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to abusive relationships. You may also have constant rapture and repair with your partner. It’s not like you want to avoid conflict, but you still give them the benefit of the doubt and de-escalate it with love and patience.

Gottman also mentions that 69% (hehe) of a couple’s ongoing problems never get resolved. What a horrifying statistic. However, the most important thing is how you approach not solving the problem. Do you bring up a talk or issue with criticism or patience? Are you receptive toward your partner's feelings or do you approach everything with resentment?

That can say a lot about your success rate.

Is there even any conclusion? Are we doomed?

I truly believe that the concept of “The One” is utter bullshit. There can’t be just one person in this floating rock within an infinite universe that fits your idiocracies perfectly, because you’re not just one person yourself. You’re a constantly evolving and changing specimen. The version of you that dated someone three years ago may not even exist anymore.

Even if you’re compatible with a person, there’s a lot that goes into actually maintaining a healthy relationship. The main ones are timing, effort and choice. I don’t think you can just stumble upon this perfect-fitting person. You choose to show up every day and build the “perfect” relationship with someone (ew), whatever that looks like to you.

Remember, the worst thing you can do with your life is to spend it with the wrong human being.

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