July 31, 2012
Taking a break on November 2, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I’m a 31 year old woman/girl who has been happy to be single for about 1.2 years. For the first 1.0 years I was very happy to not be attached to someone. I have had some very unhealthy relationships in the past, (starting at age 17) and this present break from the pain and the passion and the excitement and the horror and the sex and the waiting, waiting, waiting for the phone to ring syndrome has been the most productive and stress-free period in my life so far (not including before doing the rude thing with boys period)
I have sorted a lot of things out and feel very strong but I have found that during this period of single-hood, there has always been someone on my mind that I have fixated on, making me feel as though I do have a love life when actually I don’t, and…the thing is, now I wonder if I’ll ever be able to behave maturely in a relationship with anybody that I actually know, and indeed, if I’ll ever find anyone with whom to behave maturely with in a relationship. As you are not psychic, I suppose I need to ask a more specific question regarding my predicament/Lerve Question:
How can I stop myself from clinging to ridiculous fantasies about guys I hardly know and then feeling really stupid when I find out (after months of building up the fantasy) that they are Married, Gay or just in need of a babysitter. I seem to thrive (until they dissolve) on these psuedo-relationships in which I don’t actually know the guy but feel content and fulfilled just thinking about how gorgeous they are and how excited I am about seeing them next. Could it be that I have these fantasy relationships to protect myself from the cruel world of relationships that I have experienced in the past? Probably yes. And is it the case that I have a problem with getting to know and like men at the same time. It seems that the more I know a guy, the more I see their imperfections — things like the way they chew their food or hold their pen. Why am I so picky about minor details but have, in past relationships managed to forgive massive personality flaws? As you would say, Breakup Girl, one big fat Hmmm…
July 30, 2012
Last week, Breakup Girl happened to talk to an adorable 15-year-old named Emily in Charleston who wanted to go as Rose from Titanic for Halloween. Partly because she would get to wear a most excellent dress (and also spit); partly because, in her words, “I am completely in love with Jack Dawson.”
Teens swooning over Titanic? Slow news day, Breakup Girl?
Stay with me. Actually, most teens have already weighed anchor and docked their obsession elsewhere. Anyway, Emily knows she’s behind the tide: “I still watch my video once or twice a week,” she said. “But I realize I’ve gotten to the point where I have to stop talking about it.”
Fortunately, she went on. What does she love about Jack? “He’s so free-spirited and self-confident,” she says, reciting entire movie scenes, line by line, to support her point. “He’d break the rules and do anything for Rose. And he looks really good in a tux.”
Is Emily going to date Jack Dawson? No. With him as her ideal, is she now locked in to holding out for someone who will run into a sinking ship/burning building/dinner with her parents to save her? Well, that would be nice. But is all of this teen obsession — which, you all, is different from grownup obsession ONLY in that adults are less likely to use scotch tape on their walls — silly, pointless, or worse, false-hope-building? Is this all foamy Calgon that will take you nowhere? Not necessarily.
Because: do Emily’s voyages of fancy help shape her sense of what she wants from love, life, and her neighbors’ candy, back on land? Yes. Welcome to this week’s theme:
We all have our “ideal” partners: David Duchovny, Lara Flynn Boyle, Lara Croft, The President of the United States of America, Breakup Girl, our first love, the one that got away. And we all have … our real lives. Clinging to a larger-than-life fantasy can loosen our grasp on — and appreciation of — what we do or could have, or keep us from having it in the first place. And, when the ideal meets real, the practically inevitable result: crushing letdown.
All true, yes. But Breakup Girl is not going to give you guys some boring finger-wagging Get Real speech. Because BG thinks that overly cautious hardcore get-realism throws out the babe with the bathwater. And she does want you to expect and deserve to be with someone freaking fantastic.
So instead, consider this Important Breakup Girl Maxim: FANTASIES ARE DATA.
So whether your idealized lover is someone you’ve glimpsed, met, dated, or downloaded, ask yourself these questions:
Who’s there? What is it about this person, really, that fascinates you? Think about it, really. Ask them to kindly step down from the pedestal so you can see what writ-large characteristics you’d actually ike to have on your level. We are talking actual human traits. Not, like, just “Cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute!!!!” or “I just really admire the way nothing comes between her and her Calvins.” Emily, for example, was specific. So specific I didn’t even have room for it all. Words like “free spirited,” “confident,” “devoted.” (Yes, “tuxedo,” too, but that was last.) Look at what you’re drawn to, for better or for worse, and think about why. Disassemble your ideal; keep the pieces you can really use. This is real information, you guys — about what you truly love, about what you might feel you lack. Which brings us to:
What’s missing? Anyone see Cupid week before last? (Just for the record, lest you now think that she sits around watching TV instead of flying to your aid, BG has seen Dawson’s Creek and Titanic each only once.) (Okay, while i’m at it, if you’re not watching that genius show Sports Night, you’re missing something major.) ANYWAY,Cupid. In addition to a subplot about first loves, the show was about a woman — a transplant to Chicago from the ranches and canyons of the West — who had developed quite a “relationship” with the rugged Marlboro-type man on the billboard outside her office window. Cupid, doing his job, set her up with the actual model. Everything went swimmingly until she discovered that he wasn’t like her (or his larger-than-life image) campingly, ridingly, hikingly, mountainbikingly, etc. Crushing blow? Only slightly. Important information? Yes. This dalliance not only helped her realize just how truly important it was to her to pitch her tent with someone who … can pitch a tent; it also showed her that she was fundamentally unhappy in the city and really just needed to get the hell outta Dodge — with or without a cowboy to take her away. Aha. To switch abruptly over to hockey imagery: focus on the empty space around the goalie. What does this person’s commanding presence — or absence — distract you from? When the spotlight’s on them and their pedestal, what’s going on in the dark? Shine your flashlight into those corners and see what you see.
A version of this column was originally published November 2, 1998.
July 27, 2012
Unsettled on October 26, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have been widowed 14 years and have been seeing this widow for 12 , yes, 12 years. At first it was great and we have had great times, but over the years I always felt that my needs were not met and she finds it difficult to talk things out. I’ve made my needs known and quite a few times she would try to change and would for a while, but would then go back to being unaffectionate and not thinking about me and not doing all the nice things I do to her and for her. She cannot share her thoughts and feelings and I never know what is on her mind. If we have a disagreement she puts her head in the sand and thinks it goes away. If I go on a trip I bring her back a little something. The times she’s gone away, she didn’t think enough of me to bring a little something, even like a rock or some dried flowers from where she was. I have had to beg her for any little kindness or consideration, which she has come to expect from me and which she does get.
I made out a form and asked her to share herself by filling it out. It had 4 parts:
#1 What can I expect from this relationship?
#2 What do I get from this relationship?
#3 What can I do to make this a better relationship?
#4 What can my partner do to make this a better relationship?
July 26, 2012
Unrequited on October 26, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
There’s a girl whom I really like that I met this year at college. She has a bf who is in the Navy who is thousands of miles away. I know she really cares for him, and loves him. I don’t want to come between something like that. I don’t want to be the jerk who breaks up a good thing. But I can’t help but feel the way I feel. When I’m around her, I feel so alive. At the same time though, she is a really good friend. I feel like I can open up to her about anything, but what I don’t feel is the same from her. How do I go about showing her I can be one of the greatest friends of her life without flirting with her, or making her feel I want a closer relationship out of it. I mean, I do, but right now all I really care about is strengthening our friendship.
Then maybe if things were meant to be, something will come out of if. If not, then I’m happy just being friends. My biggest concern is that once the semester is over and I don’t have any more classes with her, which I’m sure I won’t, it will be difficult finding reasons to call her or go to her place. Thanks.
— Hopeless in Hartford
Okay. Don’t overdo it, but go ahead and do all the things that I always yell at the accursed Friend-Boys for doing. Do nice stuff for her. Do fun stuff with her; do not touch. Build her a loft, for all I care. And/But if you find yourself without a good reason to call, then don’t. Instead, find a reason to call someone else. And ask her out.
July 25, 2012
The family that plays together on October 26, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have been dating this girl Meaghan for 1 month. When we went out clubbing the other night her brother Zach came too. That was cool, cause I am friends with him, I have noticed that Meaghan and Zach are close which is good, but tell me if this is something to be concerned about….
If you were watching us in the club that night you would have thought that they were a couple and not Meaghan and I, first they were talking to each other all night long and not really involving me in their conversation — that was ok, they are Bro & Sis. Then they walked together, held hands, gave each other hugs and even pecked each other on the cheek here and there!!! During all of this I received no affection at all. THEN Meaghan saw some friends and they came over to us, and she goes, “This is my brother Zach”…and then continued blabbing with them without bothering to intoduce me, like I wasn’t even there!And I was standing next to Zach. That was it for me, I left them, got a drink and went mingling. What the heck would you think was going on? YEAH, I know…Their family seems close…REALLY close!!! Do you think I’m just paranoid? I live with my sister and I love her to bits, but Meaghan and Zach seem to give me the willies…Would I be a dick for breaking up with her? And how exactly would I do that without implying anything? Thanks —
BG chimes in after the jump!
July 24, 2012
An international incident from October 26, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I’m a 28 year-old single woman with a house, a garden, a couple cars, a PowerMac — the whole nine yards. At long last, I can finally say I’m as happy as I imagine clams must be, what with that handy calciferous shell and all. I mean, sure, I’d like a guy to bum around this wacky planet with, but it’s no big deal. For real.
Anyhow, around the first of the year I met this guy (he’s 31) from another continent on the Internet. I knew he was far, far away, so I didn’t take it seriously at all. But Around-the-World Boy had other emotional ideas, and I got a little swept along. After about four months he decided he wanted to come visit me. It seemed like a zany, romantic adventure and I was really looking forward to it — but he bailed at the last minute, saying he “didn’t feel the same all of a sudden.” For the first time in my life I heeded those big, red bells clanging away in my head, cut my losses right there, and told him I didn’t think we ought to write anymore. A teary, sorta embarrassed (I mean I met him on the *Internet*…) call to mom, a pint of coffee Haagen-Dazs, and a couple margaritas with the gals later I was already starting to forget it.
Flash forward a couple of months, and what should arrive but some mail from ATWB saying he’d been thinking about me. So I replied in a just-friendly kind of way, and we’ve been writing to each other a few times a month ever since. In the meantime, I’d made arrangements to use my frequent flier miles for a free overseas vacation. Since ATWB and I had once discussed meeting in the country I’m going to (I’ve wanted to go there for years), I debated not telling him that I was going because I didn’t want him to think it has something to do with him, which it honestly does not.
July 23, 2012
Psyched out on October 26, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I am 16 and in a relationship with a 20 year old. He is smart, funny, ambitious….and sensitive, caring, thoughtful, vulnerable. And I am DESPERATELY in love with this adorable guy. And he is always telling me how much he loves me. But I don’t feel worth it. I feel like sooner or later he is gonna realise I am not worth the trouble and I am not as great as he thinks, and dump me. And the thought scares me to death. I still live with my parents and although they accept our relationship, they really don’t approve, and have thrown some obstacles in our way. If they had any idea that I am having sex with him, it would be hazardous to his health, even though I am very much the instigator. (I finally bedded him via daring him to christen the backseat of my parents car, because I know he can’t say no to a dare !) My insecurity makes it difficult for me to see him, knowing that one day, all the things that he fell in love with me for will be all the reasons he falls out of love with me.
He gets offended so easily, and he admits he has a habit of taking things the wrong way from past experiences even though he knows I don’t mean them that way. And when he gets offended, I hate myself and wonder why he bothers with me. I have a short temper and several times I have verbally taken my anger out on him when I am mad about something else, and I see how much it hurts him, yet I never learn. He has such a gentle soul, and I seem to hurt him all the time. I feel tactless, thoughtless, and basically like a downright mean person. I love him so much it is going to kill me when it ends, but I know it will end and this makes it harder. A couple of days ago, we were on the phone quite late, and as he gets up at 6 a.m, he has to go to bed early. During the conversation that night, he had mentioned several things about me which were not good.
July 18, 2012
Staying for no reason on October 26, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have been dating the same man for about 9 months now. We have dated off and on in the past, and he was my boyfriend when I was a naive 16 years old (so needless to say we have some history). I am now 21, and he just recently asked me to be his girlfriend.
Problem is, I have realized that in my family there is a cycle that we females seem to get hooked into regarding men. My mom married my dad who was totally wrong for her and divorced him, and married an alcoholic. My older sister has married an inconsiderate buffoon, and it just starting to realize her mistake.
Back to me, while I realize I am not in love with this man, and I can see all the ways we are not compatible (he’s unreliable, selfish) I am reluctant to break the relationship off. He is 28 and feels his biological clock ticking and talks constantly about wanting children before he is 30. I am only 21, I’m a starting digital artist trying to make a name for myself, art is my passion, and I am not ready for children. He seems to be unpleased with my independance and wants to change who I am. So maybe asking me to be his girlfriend again might seem not to be a big deal to most, from the way he is talking about wanting a family when he can’t even take care of himself tells me what kind of commitment he is really wanting.
Anyway, to draw this letter to a close, I know this is break up material right here in my head, and I don’t love him. But why am I so reluctant to get out of this unhealthy relationship?
BG’s answer after the jump!
July 16, 2012
Feeling second rate on October 26, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have this wonderful, wonderful boyfriend. We’ve been living together for over a year now, and I couldn’t be happier. We are best friends, and I genuinely enjoy spending time with him. The problem is, he had a girlfriend before me. Now, keep in mind that he no longer speaks to this girl (not to mention the fact that this girl is supposedly getting married, or maybe already got married) and says he doesn’t like her at all, and didn’t like who he was when he was with her. However, despite all the logical attempts I have made to overcome this, I have a raging jealousy of her. She was his first everything — girlfriend, kiss, sexual partner. They only dated for a month. Now, I realize that:
1. I am the one he comes home to now, the one that he shares things with and chooses to be with.
2. I am being incredibly petty about this.
But, this continues to bother me. Why? He doesn’t even talk to her! (How do people whose SO’s are friends with their exes ever deal…?) What can I do, BG? I’m going nuts here! I wish I didn’t know anything about her, but silly me, I insisted that he tell me stuff. (Warning to readers if you print this: DON’T ASK, you don’t want to know!)
I’ve talked to him about this, and not surprisingly, he doesn’t have many suggestions for me other than to just forget about it. That’s what my friends all tell me, too: that it’s kinda silly and I’ll get over it, don’t worry. But it’s been a long time, and I haven’t gotten over it. What can I do? PLEASE help!
Thanks ever so much. I’m a huge fan of the page… read it every Monday.
Second hand, second-rate, second class, second fiddle. “Second” does get a bad rap, doesn’t it? And when it comes to love, our firsts are in a magical mystery class by themselves. So it’s totally normal to get a little pouty about the one who went before — especially when she’s the First Lady.
July 13, 2012
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Beyond “staying friends” on October 28, 1998...
Dear Breakup Girl,
I am doing okay except that my friend has a problem. I have a friend who has been having trouble with his girlfriend. She is five years younger than he, and just moved to school about three weeks ago. Oh, did I forget to mention that he is my ex? Yes, we are doing the “friends” thing, and so far, after failing a few times at it, it is finally working out.
You see, part of his problems with her center around me; she does not like the fact that he hangs out with me, calls me, and even (by some sort of a fluke, out of our control) stayed in my room at school last weekend (he slept on the floor on an inflatible mattress — very innocent. He would never cheat on her, and I would not allow him to with me.). When we get together we spend a good chunk of our time discussing her and his problems with their situation.
We have a very honest relationship, and always have, and I have told him many times that I think this girl is dragging him down. I only hear the negative things about her, and I, quite frankly, did not treat him poorly while we were dating and haven’t since we have become friends. We are best friends, and I don’t think she realizes how important we are to each other. He doesn’t place limits on whom she can hang with at school, and he doesn’t think it is fair for her to do that to him.