Katie Byrne: 'There's no such thing as a clean break in modern relationships'
They say it's best to end a relationship with a clean break - one short, sharp shock that involves no contact, no recriminations and no drunken break-up sex.
The surgical strike approach gives both parties the best possible chance of getting over the relationship. The problem, however, is that it isn't always that easy to walk out the door and never look back.
There are leases to consider, bills to pay, furniture to split, plants to water and - as Christina Hendricks recently discovered - dogs to feed. The actress took to Instagram last week to announce her separation from husband of 10 years, Geoffrey Arend.
"Twelve years ago, we fell in love and became partners," she wrote. "We joined our two amazing families, had countless laughs, made wonderful friends and were blessed with incredible opportunities. Today we take our next step together, but on our separate paths. We will always be grateful for the love we've shared and will always work together to raise our two beautiful dogs."
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Hendricks and her ex-husband don't have children so there will be no hard-fought custody battles or bickering over child maintenance. But it seems they take their pup parenting of cockatoos Zou Zou and Triscuit just as seriously. And there's no such thing as a clean break when a couple have dependents - canine or otherwise.
Actress Sofia Vergara is also in regular contact with her ex-fiancé, Nicholas Loeb - albeit through a lawyer. The couple split in 2014 but they've been embroiled in an ongoing legal battle over two frozen embryos they created in 2013.
Loeb has named the embryos - Emma and Isabella - and co-signed their right-to-life claim, which of course involves a substantial inheritance. Vergara was recently ordered to pay Loeb the sum of $80,000 in legal fees, but the battle over the frozen embryos - which are still in cryogenic storage - rages on.
There was a time, not so long ago, when a couple with no children and no marriage certificate could break up and move on fairly easily. Modern couples, on the other hand, have a slew of entanglements to extricate themselves from before they can walk away.
They're dealing with the evolution of fertility treatment, the rise of plant and pet parenting and the pitfalls of rampant consumerism. The non-tangibles can be just as tricky. Who gets to continue going to the gym you both joined last year? Which one of you opts out of the charity challenge you both signed up to last month? Who gets the friends?
The tyranny of technology presents another hurdle. There are social media accounts to tweak, shared Netflix and Spotify subscriptions to negotiate and WhatsApp groups to leave (you can only hang around like a creepy voyeur for so long).
And while the age-old dilemmas still apply (Who takes over the lease? What do you do with gifts and sentimental items?), considerably more complicated predicaments invariably come to the fore. Who gets the cat? Who gets the dog? What do we do about Alexa?
It goes without saying that divorce with children is the most harrowing experience that any couple can contend with. Indeed, the ramifications described here probably sound like a blissful walk in the park to those who have been through the wringer of custody arrangements and so forth.
Yet it's also worth acknowledging that break-ups with live-in partners are stickier and trickier than ever. The younger generations are putting home ownership ahead of marriage and pets before parenthood, and redefining what a long-term relationship looks like.
They aren't burdened by the "until death do us part" pact of marriage or the life-long commitment of children and, at first glance at least, it looks like they can move on after a break-up with relative ease.
How it plays out, however, is something else entirely. Long-term cohabiting couples are uniquely entangled in each other's lives before they even consider marriage or children. And despite what anyone says, there's no such thing as a clean break.