I once dated a man who was fond of saying:
The teacup is already broken.”
To a woman who cried every time she broke something precious, that wasn’t perhaps the kindest thing to say.
But he’d read a lot of spiritual books. Somewhere, perhaps from Jack Kornfield, he’d come across the idea that it was spiritual to see all things as eventually broken.
If the teacup was going to break anyway, you shouldn’t be sad when someone dropped it or cracked it.
That was the teacup’s fate. Nothing lasts forever.
It shouldn’t have surprised me when I discovered, too late, that he felt the same way about relationships.
All Good Things Come to An End
It is an existential fact that all relationships will someday end.
If not by a breakup, then by death.
So does that mean we should keep the thought in the back of our minds that this love won’t last forever?
When Kornfield told the story of the broken teacup, he meant that we should treasure the present moment. We don’t know how long we’ll have with this teacup or this person. Instead of fretting about the future, we should appreciate today.
I think that’s a cop-out.
Knowing that a teacup is fragile and breakable makes me want to treat it with great care and love.
Because it’s breakable, I take extra steps in looking after it.
I hand wash it with care. I dry it and immediately put it in a safe place. It doesn’t get jumbled in the cupboard with sturdier mugs.
As its caretaker, I feel responsible for ensuring that teacup has a long and happy life.
When someone entrusts something precious to you, that’s what you do.
Relationships Are Breakable
A relationship is like a teacup.
You get great pleasure from it, but you have to take good care of it. You can’t treat it carelessly. Once it’s broken, it might be impossible to repair.
Seeing the teacup as already broken gave my ex permission to treat it carelessly.
He wasn’t responsible for breaking it. Its fate was to break.
And he got angry at me for being sad about something so silly as a broken teacup.
What I came to understand is that he felt it was “spiritual” to not care too much.
If you cared too much, you became too invested in what happened. You poured yourself into something that might not work out. You opened yourself up to getting deeply hurt.
Much better to stay cool with whatever happens.
If a relationship breaks, it wasn’t your fault. It was doomed to break. Shrug off the disappointment and get on with life.
Don’t Give A Teacup to a Man Who Can’t Look After It
Some people don’t want a fragile teacup.
They want a sturdy mug they don’t have to think about.
If it breaks, it breaks. They’ll get another one.
Some men don’t want a tender relationship.
They want a relationship they don’t have to think about.
If it ends, it ends. They’ll find someone else.
My advice to you is this:
Pay attention to how he looks after fragile things.
A teacup isn’t so different from your tender heart.