Agony Agatha

Friday, 20 March, 2015

I know my boyfriend is about to break up with me. He never wants to spend time with me and he doesn’t even reply to my texts! What should I do?

Allow me to plunder my philosophical goldmine, share some pearls of wisdom, sprinkle you with some Agatha ‘Swarovski’ Chrystals…

Breaking up is a lot like murder.

I know what you’re thinking. A murder-mystery themed advice column is liable to call anything and everything ‘a lot like murder’. But, in this case, I haven’t simply themed myself into a corner. Breakups are a lot like murder. Breakups, like murders, aren’t the beginning of a story, but the end – a point driven home in Christie’s masterpiece Towards Zero.

“I like a good detective story” begins retired lawyer Mr Treves in Towards Zero, “But, you know, they begin in the wrong place!” To Treves, murders aren’t a beginning, but an end, preceded by “all the causes and events that bring certain people to a certain place at a certain time on a certain day”.

So, what does this mean for you? Murder can, theoretically, be diagnosed before it happens; so too can breakups. In short, I’m inclined to believe you when you say you “know” this one is coming. The uber-logical Poirot, who scoffs at Ariadne Oliver’s intuition approach to detection, ‘feels’ murder before it actually occurs in, like, half of Christie’s books – even if he doesn’t actually manage to predict the victim or killer. And if you know about a murder before it happens you can, theoretically, prevent it.

But, unfortunately, here’s the kicker. To be blunt, your relationship may already be dead. Just like murder is a confluence of events, emotions, motives, so too are breakups. By the time you begin to sense a murder, the seeds are well and truly sewn. Don’t get me wrong – you can do some sleuthing, find out what went wrong, and be on the defence. Salvage your relationship, save a life. But when the hourglass is flipped, and Zero Hour is set, the end has a powerful gravity. If your boyfriend is avoiding you, rather than being open about his issues, then his mind may already be made up.

But hey, it could be worse. Breakups, as much as they may be like murder (and they actually are, I swear it’s not just the theme thing), do have one thing up on homicide.

You’ll live.

Trouble in paradise? Need love advice? Email Alistair <>