August 21, 2009
Flirting with disaster on February 23, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Why is it okay for dudes to flirt with all kinds of gals but when a gal does it they think we’re hooches?
Oh, because there’s been this idea since the dawn of history that there’s not enough room in Western Civilization, in the Garden of Eden, or wherever, for both men and women to have sexual experience and power. Because, in a broad psychological/biological sense, it’s a little nerve-wracking to have no real way of knowing if you’re the dad. Because the more sown your oats, the more alpha your malehood. Because … oh, Breakup Girl could go on for hours. Those are just a few of the many reasons why it’s “okay.”
But it is NOT OKAY.
And gals: you are SO not off the hook. Yeah, you complain about guys who are “players,” but you still hook up with them. You also call your sistahs hooches, sluts and hos — when what you really mean is “Damn, I wanted him!” or “I hope I look cool in front of the guys when I agree with them.” You are not helping.
Homework for everyone: Read Promiscuities by Naomi Wolf. Not a flawless book, but it’ll (a) answer your question, (b) make you feel bad about what you should feel bad about, and (c) make you not feel bad about what you shouldn’t feel bad about.
August 20, 2009
True story: Somewhere between our initial flirtations over email and the end of our second date, I found out that my fiance-to-be’s surname was not Jaffe; it was Lorre. Thank goodness his friends tend to call him by his last name, so that all I had to do was listen to another one of his long, boring stories (j/k, babe!) to realize that I’d remembered it wrong.
But if you don’t get lucky like that, Tango’s got a short list of other memory tricks that just might work. One comes straight from ex-Prez Bill Clinton, who reportedly repeats a person’s name back at him or her while looking him or her in the eyes… I’m guessing this explains much about Slick Willie’s usual effect on the her’s.
Of course, as the story points out, you can always just ask. I like to ask while feigning a moment of memory-escaping befuddlement (hand to forehead, squeeze eyes closed a sec), and then when I ask “What’s your name again?” and inevitably receive the person’s first name, I say, “No, no, no, I’m sorry — I meant your last name.” It works!
Two guys and a girl on February 23, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I am currently sleeping with not one but two of my really close guy friends. The problem is one of them asked me about starting a public relationship with him and I told him I wasn’t interested in starting something like that and from then on he has been treating me like a bitch. The other guy recently told me he loved me and I don’t believe in love and don’t want to experience it. My friends know about this and I will tell anyone who asks me the truth, but I was wondering if this make me a slut ???
— Clueless in Idaho
Having sex outside of a “relationship” does not make you — or anyone — a “slut.”
But having sex with people who you know want more of a relationship than you do, and then hurting their feelings, does make you: lonely.
August 19, 2009
Getting “friendly” on February 23, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I’ve been going out with my boyfriend for five months; he’s 17, I’m 16. Things were giong really well until I noticed how “friendly” he is with other girls. He says he loves me,and I truly know that he does, it’s just that he cannot seem to stop “flirting” with other girls. I am his first serious relationship and he was used to having a lot of close friends, but whenever I am present or not, he playfully frolics around with their hair and their clothes and I don’t think it is appropriate! Maybe he just likes attention, but it drives me insane! I don’t want to have to break up with him over it, but he also creates these double standards where he gets jealous if I even receive e-mail from another guy. What should I do?
— Feeling Betrayed
August 18, 2009
Of all the things I’ve done with possessions from failed relationships — trash, garage sale, bonfire — it never once occurred to me that I should start a museum dedicated to my failed love affairs. But that’s exactly what two Zagreb, Croatia artists, Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic, did when they broke up.
The pair told the BBC they wanted to do something creative with the pain they were feeling. They collected objects that represented their relationship and asked their friends to do the same with their past breakups. More than 100 objects later, the Museum of Broken Relationships is up and touring.
Currently showing in Kilkenny, Ireland, the museum has plans to return to North America in 2010 with possible stops planned in St. Louis; Providence, R.I.; and Toronto.
Among the objects in the exhibit: a wedding dress, a bicycle, a prosthetic leg from a man who fell in love with his physical therapist and an axe from a woman who chopped up the furniture of her cheating female lover.
The museum is still collecting exhibits (details of how to donate are on its Web site). I have a stupid Texas Longhorns bottle opener that plays the university’s fight song that might look good on one of its shelves. What would you donate?
The opposite of sex on February 23, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Do you think it’s possible for someone in a serious/committed relationship to be close friends with someone of the opposite sex? Based on my own personal feelings and experience, I don’t think so. I argued a lot with my girlfriend of almost three years about this, yet she always assured me that the guys she hung out with were “just friends.” Well, I put up with it, until she finally cheated on me with one of them. Do you think it’s too much to ask of a girlfriend to not have guy friends? Personally, I don’t think it’s possible for a guy and a girl to be “just friends.” I mean, all of my relationships have started out as a friendship first…
— The Man
August 17, 2009
There are some situations in which Breakup Girl sticks firmly to her double standards. Examples:
- Good music. I conveniently forget that the Godfather of Soul is the Mother of all Wife-Beaters.
- Yum! I turn up my nose at milk-fed veal, but my bare hands have gleefully brought death and dismemberment to countless Maine lobsters.
- Statements, fashion and otherwise. War is bad, but my 82nd Airborne-surplus Corcoran paratrooper boots are good.
Basically, double standards occur when someone adheres both to a principle and also to a big fat self-serving exception to that principle. And usually, the big fat self-serving exception means that someone (wives, lobsters, civilians) gets dealt a lousy hand. That’s how BG describes it, but just to make this official, let’s have a look at the definition of double standard in Breakup Girl’s American Heritage Dictionary (a high school graduation gift from an ex-boyfriend, who like all of her high school boyfriends, is now married with child. See also “harsh.”):
"double standard, n. A set of principles permitting greater opportunity or liberty to one than to another, esp. the granting of greater sexual freedom to men than to women."
Aha. So Breakup Girl has backup when she says: Guys. Cut it out. All of you.
Boys/men: No fair expecting girls/women not to do or have done anything you would do or have done. (Also see “madonna/whore complex”.)
Girls/women: No fair letting boys/men treat you like milk-fed veal.
Breakup Girl is about to go After-School Special on you, but listen up: respect each other’s — and your own — actions, choices, and dumb mistakes. If you feel like someone is doing something mean and lousy to you, get up offa that thing and call them on it. If you feel like someone is getting away with some bad behavior by flashing some fake “that’s how men/women are supposed to be” license, call them on it. Realize that in relationships, these boy/girl double standards are, deep down, all about (more After-School Special words) insecurity and self-esteem. As in, “If she looks at another guy, she might not like me!” As in “If I call him on his double standards, he might not like me!” (Or, worse, “Wow, he won’t let me look at another guy — he must really like me!)
So, basically, Breakup Girl is allowed to have double standards, and you’re not.
Every day this week we will showcase an advice letter on this theme. Call it the “Daily Double Standard!”
Too much information on February 23, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I was in a relationship for almost a year and it finally ended last week. It has had ups and downs, breakups and reunions so many times that I cannot remember the numbers. I love him very much, but he cannot live with my past (which really isn’t shady at all!). When he was asking me some very personal and unnecessary questions, I lied to him for fear of losing him. The truth came out. For five months, we have been trying to work through this, him accepting my past (three other men) and the fact that I lied to him; I’ve been trying to move on from his insults. Last week, he told me he couldn’t stop thinking about my “mistakes” and he wanted to see other people. I should be happy to be free from the arguments, but I’m not. I love and only want to be with him. I go to a very small school, so his presence and any girl he takes home are always near. I don’t want to sit in or go out anymore on weekends. How can I go out and deal with the fact he’s with other girls, ones who are in the place where I want to be? Breakup Girl, I obviously can’t change the past, but my future seems in peril! I wish he would accept the past and that I love him. Instead, he’s thrown me away like yesterday’s garbage! HELP!
— Discarded and Depressed
August 14, 2009
Tongue-tied on February 23, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I am seeing this guy and I like him so much that I have a hard time talking to him. I get my words mixed up and if I say anything I feel so stupid. I can talk to him on the phone but something happens to me when I try to talk to him in person and I feel like its making him lose interest. HELP ME!!!!
Ooooh, is it David Duchovny? Because when Breakup Girl talks to David Duchovny — well, that one time when she talked to him (BG is not making this up) — the same thing happened! I like him so much that I said something really stupid! Which I really think is why he lost interest!
But in your case, no matter who the guy is, here’s what I’m worried about: excited-love-jitters are great — they’re fun, and they should never wear off completely. But they really shouldn’t get in the way every time. And problem is, now, you’re nervous about being nervous. So Sally, consider this: anyone you’re “seeing” should be someone you’re comfortable with. Someone with whom you feel smart, not stupid. Someone whom you feel you’ve got something to say to, and who likes what you have to say. If this particular match doesn’t fit that description, speak up and find one that does.
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Taking the leap on February 23, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I am a perfectly attractive, intelligent, successful, and talented young lady in my early 20s. I am also incredibly shy and so, I never got into the whole dating/relationship scene (yes, I am for real!). So I have a couple of questions: 1) Is it too late for me now, since everyone else has at least 7 or 8 years on me of experience? And does my delay mean there is something inherently wrong with me? 2) How do I go about it now that I’m out of the high school/college scene and working? I’ve just moved to a new city and know absolutely no one! and 3) is it even worth it after all the horror stories I keep hearing in your advice columns? These are three mysteries of life I’ve been pondering for a while now and can’t seem to find anyone else who can answer them.
— A Basket Case in C
Dear Basket Case,
You do realize, of course, that the people with all this “experience” are the same people with all the “horror stories.”
You’ll be fine.
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