Seinfeld Life Lesson: Male Un-bonding

By Samantha Blend

In the second episode of Seinfeld, Jerry finds himself awkwardly grappling with “Male Un-bonding”. (Side note: “Male Un-bonding” is the name of the episode and is actually the only episode title of the series that doesn’t begin with the word “The”. This latest useless fact has been brought to you by yours truly). In the episode, Jerry is trying to “break up” with a male friend of his. Their friendship had sparked when they were children over a common love of Ping-Pong:

“He had a Ping-Pong table. We were friends. Should I suffer the rest of my life because I liked to play pingpong? I was ten! I would’ve been friends with Stalin if he had a Ping-Pong table.”

But that common interest was overridden by the fact that the boy Jerry knew from childhood had become a self-absorbed man who talks down to waitresses and pays so little attention to other people besides himself that he doesn’t even catch Jerry making up a story that the Hezbollah have invited him to do a show for him. So Jerry tries to figure out a way to put an end to the friendship.

His predicament brings up some tricky questions. How are you supposed to break up with somebody you’re not dating? Can you actually break up with a friend? Is it as simple as just not returning their phone calls? One would like to believe it is that easy, but usually when you’ve built a relationship with somebody, it’s easier said than done to just halt all communication at once.

But the fact is that friends come and go in life. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just the way life goes. You had something in common with that person at one time (let’s call it the Ping-Pong factor). The Ping-Pong factor could be anything: You had two classes together junior year of high school, you both liked the same band, or you had a lot of mutual friends, etc. But now you just don’t feel that you click with them. Don’t get me wrong. There are some friends that will be there for you no matter what, for many years, but those are the exceptions. Many times, your life roads will head in two very different directions. Or you might start to realize that every time you talk to them, you feel exhausted and put down.

Whatever it is, there comes a point when it clicks in your head: This relationship is not affecting my life in a positive way. It’s always a good thing to change aspects of your life that are affecting you negatively. But therein lies the challenge. How is one supposed to do so? You may not consider this person to be a friend anymore, but he or she is still a human being. Also, it’s not a good idea to completely burn bridges. When Jerry tries to end it cold turkey, he ends up making the guy cry and causes himself to feel terrible about it.

It always depends on the individual situation, so maybe you do feel totally comfortable just ignoring the person, in which case they’ll probably get the hint. Sometimes people don’t get the hint though, or maybe you just aren’t comfortable with that. In this case, it’s totally acceptable to just let the person know you need some space, that you’re trying to figure things out about your life and that you need personal time to do so. After some weeks of space, it might be a good idea to grab a quick lunch with them (if you’re able to tolerate it). Then, gradually, once you start to become busy with other friends, family, your job and responsibilities, the time between those lunches will probably get longer and longer. You won’t really be friends, but you will be on good terms, which is always a good thing. No longer will you be brought down by their poor attitude, but you also will be able to avoid hurting them.

You could also do what Jerry did and make a list of excuses, so that every time they call, you’re ready with a new one (I have choir practice, I have to tutor my nephew, etc.) to avoid seeing their face.

But Seinfeld gets it right when he says, “I’ve come to the conclusion that there are certain friends in your life that they’re just always your friends and you have to accept it.”

Intro to Blogger: Sam Blend

Hello, I’m Sam. I’m a sophomore English major who is obsessed with Seinfeld and coffee a little too much. I’ve decided to put my previously useless knowledge about the sitcom to use and blog about lessons that we can learn from the show. By reading my posts, I hope that you will learn something valuable and gain some appreciation for Seinfeld (a show that might not be as much about nothing as they say).

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