Cut Loose: (Mostly) Older Women on the End of their (Mostly) Long-Term Relationships

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Dumped, jilted, ditched, abandoned, rejected. There are a myriad of words to describe the unceremonious end of a relationship, particularly when initiated by one party. In fact, there are new terms being coined all the time. "Cruised," which applies especially to celebrity dumping, has surfaced only recently and alludes to the letting go of Nicole Kidman by Tom Cruise.

Although breakups—whether celebrity or everyday—are a constant source of fascination, surprisingly little attention has been given to women who are cut loose in their later years. This book addresses that largely unexplored but growing demographic. It is a book about (mostly) long-term relationships that have come apart. Each woman involved, the majority of whom are over sixty, tells her own story through journal entries, essays, poetry, or stories. While the overwhelming sentiments shared by these women are those of grief, loss, emptiness, and depression, there is a double edge to their predicaments. Although in many senses they have been abandoned, they have also been set free, untethered, and for some, liberated sexually, mentally, or emotionally.

The book is divided into two major sections. The pieces in the first part are personal narratives. Among the varied voices, we hear from women in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships who have been left by their partners or who have decided to leave them. In one account, a woman explains why she needed to abandon her thirty-year marriage to save herself. Another woman describes how she has been both left and also done the leaving: "I was dumped, I moved on to dumping, and at the end was dumped again. And then, in a very small way, I dumped myoriginal dumper."

In the second section, the contributors look at being left and leaving from psychological, sociological, economic, sexual, medical, anthropological, and literary perspectives. Other essays explore the shared experiences of specific classes of women, such as single women, widows, or abandoned daughters.

In unflinchingly honest and intelligent prose, the women in this book address the gamut of subjects related to the ending of their long-term relationships. Covering emotions that range from anger and revenge, to the slow and painful process of mourning, to the complicated issues of love and aging, the other—often younger—woman, friendships, and internet dating, this volume gives voice—both aggrieved and celebratory—to what it means to be cut loose.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813538464
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Part I: He/She Left Her/Him
Page Dougherty Delano, "If Not" and "I Give My Husband Fish Sausage"
Laurie Silver, What Was Home
Octavia Nevins, "Chapter Four You Break Up": A Journal
Marita Lopez-Mena, Growing Up Middle Aged
Diane Raymond, Reflections on April Fool's Day
Zohra Saed, Talaq, Divorce
Sue O'Sullivan, No More Romance for Me
Harriet Luria, From Buddy to Joe to Harriet
Naomi Woronov, So Much for "Happily Ever After"
Susan Becker, Dear Harry: Unsent E-mails to an Ex
Margie Kaplan, My Own Dance
Mary Stuart, Event Horizon
Janice Stieber Rous, The Only Life I Have
Phyllis Berman, Observing the Cormorant

Part II: Perspectives on Being Left and Leaving
Carol Burdick, Trashed
Anne Simcock, Marriage Comes and Goes but Sex Is Forever
Helen Fisher, Lost Love: The Nature of Romantic Rejection
Catherine B. Silver, Leaking Affections: A Socio-psychoanalytic View
Marilyn Ogus Katz, What's Really Going on Here: The Therapist's Perspective
Nancy Dailey, Divorce Is Economic Suicide
Nancy Berke, Single Women at Midlife: The Always, Already Dumped
Isabella Giovanni and Annie Peacock, Snow White and Rose Red Meet Their "Prince"
Merle Froschl, Left Alone: Deserted by Death or Divorce
Nan Bauer-Maglin, Splitsville: Break-up Literature
Louise Weinberg, Break-up Art
Diana Festa, "Unholy Matrimony" and "The Chore"
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