What's a Reichstag fire breakup?

by phil on Tuesday Mar 3, 2009 11:00 PM
helpful words to label things, neologism

I love meme-spotting.

Anyway, Anonymous asked MetaFilter, "What does 'back off' mean?" She then goes on to describe a weekend of missed calls to her boyfriend, culminating in an abrupt email from him stating, "This isn't working, back off."

scody replied with a handy comment:

I feel like this is a no win situation and just wonder if this is his immature way to break up for good with no conversation responsibility.

I think you nailed it. It's what I call a Reichstag fire breakup -- create a nasty conflagration that you can then blame on the other party as justification for moving on. It's a small, nasty, coward's way out. It's also not that uncommon, though one would hope that someone in his late 30s would have grown out of it.

Read the rest of his comment here.

Similar thing happened to a friend of mine recently.


Squidhelmet said on March 9, 2009 11:25 AM:

This is a great post and a great metaphor.

I remember having that feeling with a high-school break-up. Wondering if I could somehow avoid that break-up explanation discussion because I knew that I would be stoically sitting there next to someone who would be crying to me.

The funny factors are the age of the people involved, the length of the relationship, and the sort of unequivocal language he's using that is still somehow unclear.

Saying "back off" to someone you love means one thing, and saying "back off" to someone you don't love anymore means another. Here confusion is totally justifiable. Men...

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