January 29, 2013
Looking for more on December 7, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have been dating the same man for 1 and 1/2 years now and he is totally content with the way the relationship is right now. I am ready for some sort of commitment and he likes his time alone. He says he loves me, but I am not getting the attention I need from him. We see each other only when he’s not busy. I am very frustrated with this relationship. I am 37 and he is 47.
What sort of commitment? Like, engagement? Exclusivity? The reasonable expectation that you mean more to him than plan B? All of the above are fine, but you need to be more specific with him than you’ve been with me. Not that he’s, like, a Dumb Man who needs things spelled out for him. But how can you define your relationship without defining your terms? To wit: what kind of attention do you need? How often would you like to see him? How much time alone does he want (this is something you should both have, by the way)? There are no right answers to these questions. Which is exactly the point: concepts like “content,” “commitment,” “attention” “time” are often in the eye, heart, watch, etc. of the beholder. So: do spell it out. And if he’s not content to try and meet you halfway, well yeah, that spells O-U-T.
January 28, 2013
Decision time on December 7, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I’m struggling with the decision of whether I should break up with my girlfriend. I’m 32, she’s 28 and we’ve been dating for a little over a year. I guess it’s to the point of do we take the next step, marriage, or do we go our separate ways? I had thought that we were progressing towards marriage. However, for the last several weeks, she has seemed increasingly unhappy. Neither of us seem to have much interest in sex anymore. And, I know that both of feel the other is taking us for granted. Don’t get me wrong, I think she is a great person. And, the last thing that I want to do is cause her pain. But at the same time I don’t want to waste her tine and mine on a love that’s grown cold. I guess the nutshell questions are: Is there hope to respark what we once had? And, if so, how?
Time to pop the question. No, silly, not that question. This one: “Hey, muffin, is there something bothering you?” What worries me is not that you two are unhappy; it’s that you, Sparky, have no clue as to why. Either you two have to hone that thing we call Communication Skills, or you have to admit that your heart isn’t in this in the first place. And I have to admit that I’m leaning toward the latter. Why? Well, to be fair, perhaps passionate poetry just isn’t your thing. But “Don’t get me wrong, I think she is a great person,” is what you say before you say, “However, I am a stronger candidate for the school board.” Not before you say “I do.”
January 24, 2013
We’ll know six weeks from December 7, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have been dating this guy for 6 months. Two months ago he got a really good job offer in another state and moved there. We decided that there is enough between us to keep the relationship going. I have visited him twice there and he has come here once. Beginning in January, we plan to see one another twice a month. But before that happens, we will have a separation of 6 weeks where we can only speak on the phone, email, or Instant Messenger. He is an outgoing person and feels he will go out with other people and the more time he spends around them, he will want to get to know them better, which can lead to dangerous situations. I have given him until the end of the six weeks to decide if he loves me enough to commit to me and move back here where we can build a life together. He says he loves me with all his heart, but not seeing me daily or almost daily is hard. I love him truly and am hurting so badly now and am just wondering if I am putting myself through unnecessary pain. What do you think?
I hate to say this, but your IMee is already developing an exit strategy. He is entitled to move in order to take a really good offer. And he is entitled not to move back to be with you. Aaaand you are both more than welcome to attempt the long distance thing. But if he doesn’t know if he can go he can go even six weeks without stumbling into a “dangerous situation,” then no, sweetie, there is not enough between you. Which means, actually, that what you are putting yourself through isnecessary pain. Because: better a deadline then a drag-out. Despite how hard you’re hurting, you made a good call. Healing will not be instant, no, but yes, you sent the right message.
January 23, 2013
Getting impatient on December 7, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Is there any cool way or time to find out if my boyfriend is ever going to propose? I’ve held off for a REALLY long time because I did not want to rush things or do that stereotypical ultimatum thing. But…in January, we will have been together 4 years. I’m 25; he’s 26. I know that’s part of the problem — I’m at “that age,” we attend weddings constantly, and not a week goes by where someone doesn’t ask me when we’re getting married. Apparently, people don’t do that to men. Or it doesn’t bother him. It’s starting to bother me a lot, especially since I have no answer for myself.
This is not a letter I ever expected to write. ( I bet you wish you had a dollar for every time you read that line.) I have always been, and still am, very career oriented, not man-dependent. I was “most likely to succeed” and everyone expected me to do what I said — escape from the midwest and conquer the world.
We met in my last semester of college. Since he is on the (cough) 10-year bachelor’s degree plan, we compromised by moving back to the nearest major city after I graduated so he could finish his degree in-state. That city is my hometown, where I swore I’d never go back, where I’m sitting now.
January 22, 2013
In the game of ultimate frisbee, people who stay to the middle of the field and lead the charge instead of breaking long for the throw are Handlers. As they do so, handlers might yell “Cut or clear!” — which basically means “get open for a pass, or get out of the way!” In ultimate, this admonition is generally considered obvious and annoying. In life, however, we are often entitled to yell, “get open to commitment, or clear your things out of my drawer!”
But when? What’s the middle ground between blind faith and brute force? How can you tell the difference between Not Ready Yet and Will Never Be? Will the act of pushing drive someone away?
Tough calls, all. And they’re pretty much case by case. But I will tell you this … though you’re not going to want to hear it. An ultimatum — if you choose to use one — is not about getting someone to do something. It is not bouncing the ball into the other person’s court — that is, out of your hands. It is not a tactic, not a strategy, not a plan. It is not setting a pick. An ultimatum is a statement of your purpose. It is, ultimately, your responsibility. Because, ultimately, your partner is going to do whatever s/he is going to do. YOU are the one who has to come through.
Remember what I told Cameo (who couldn’t get her boyfriend of 8 years to “commit” — nor her biological clock of 28 years to stop ticking)?
I told her to walk.
I told her, that is, to walk this way: “I don’t mean that you should say, ‘I’m walking out if you don’t commit! Look at me! Here I go! Yoo-hoo! I’m walking! I am so walking … sort of near that door! Waaaaalking! Watch me go…!’ I also don’t mean walk out the door, and then walk by his house ten minutes later to see if he’s committed ‘yet.’ I mean: walk.
What, does Breakup Girl believe that a relationship don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that ring? No. Does she want to promote the stereotype that a girl’s best friend is all a woman wants, needs, and hopes for? No. [First of all, I’d give the same advice to a guy. Second of all: ] I’m just going with what you’re telling me: that marriage and babies are what you want, and that they may not, alas, be available in your current (eight-year!) relationship. You can’t ‘get him to commit;’ go get what you want with someone who wants the same thing. And the thing is — I hesitate to say this, because I am in NO way advocating game-playing — but, well, when you walk, this guy just might realize that he is that someone.” In which case, I should add, you may walk — carefully — back.
This is just one example. I am not advocating some sort of mass walkout. I am just saying that — again — if commitment is what you want, you’ve got to demonstrate it, too…whereever it may leave you.
But in determining whether an ultimatum is necessary in the first place, you’ve got to break deep for a view of the whole field. In this month’s issue of New Woman, Dalma Heyn writes about her friend Jen, whose boyfriend kept talking about how scary closeness was. “Yet there he was at [Jen’s] place, doing the dishes, fixing the washing machine, loving [her] in the most obvious way. Instead of pointing out the discrepancy, Jen let him talk. [She’d] say, ‘Mmm, closeness is scary.’ … [She] didn’t jump on him or insist that he commit. [She knew] he just had these residual fears to work through. While tiling the kitchen floor, he announced casually that these tiles were so durable they’d last as long as their marriage did.” They were engaged before the grout dried. Huh.
See, in a sense, waiting can be as active as walking. If you actually think s/he will come around eventually, back off. If you really aren’t sure, get on his/her back. As long as you’re sure that you are prepared to make the ultimate commitment.
This column was originally published December 7, 1998.
January 21, 2013
Looking for some fun on November 30, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I’m a 37-year-old graduate student who’s having the usual dating difficulties common among those of us who are old and grey and cankered. I know (since you mentioned it) that there’s a book entitled “How to Get Married Over 35” and I’ve had a look at that; the problem is that I don’t want to get married, I just want a date or three, and so the advice is just a trifle off the mark (I mean, I don’t want to meet a nice church going man who wants a mother for his three sons, as much as this would doubtless be another woman’s dream).
Therefore, I’m wondering if you (equipped as you are with superhearing, supersight and super-connection-to-this-particular-aspect-of-the-Publishing-world) happen to know of any other titles, websites, mailing-lists, what have you, that are focused on this particular segment of the dateless population (old farts).
There are tons of on-line personals ads, of course — but I’m not interested in sending erotic e-mail to a phantom on the other side of the globe. My fantasy life works just fine all by itself (after all, as you pointed out, fantasies are just that, and that’s why they’re fun). I’m looking for more concrete suggestions.
Do you have any? Suggestions, that is…
BG’s answer after the jump!
January 18, 2013
A second chance on November 30, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
First off, I love this place I come back every single week to check it out…you do a fantastic job with advice..and this would be your cue to come in :).
About two years ago, this guy, we’ll call him Adam, and I were together. We were together for about 9 months. We had our ups and downs like any other couple but we managed to get through them and survive as a couple. I guess that can’t last forever though.
To make a long story short, he cheated on me. It was a very messy break up, name calling, bad mouthing, etc, on both our parts (I know, I know, sounds like something little kids do but..well, I did say it was messy). As we went along our ways, things cooled down. About 3 months after we had broken up, his friend, whom we’ll call Jay, called me up because Adam was crying because he wanted to talk to me. He got on the phone and told me how much he loved me still and how he messed up terribly and he was sorry..he wanted to get back together. At this point, I still had feelings for him and I really had to fight myself not to just jump back into a relationship with him. I knew that the feelings were still to raw in my mind and heart so I told him it would be best for us both if we took more time apart to really thing about things.
Well, it’s been nearly two years..we still talk and are good friends..lately I’ve been feeling as though I’d like to try things out again. We’ve talked about why we broke up freely (something we could never really do while we were together with problems we had) which leads me to believe that we’ve both matured while we’ve been apart. That time apart has taught me how to be mature about a break up (I’ll never go back to the name calling and bad mouthing after a break up again; it caused too many hurt feelings), how to be happy by myself (I’ve had time to practice) and realize that I don’t NEED him now, as I often felt then, but would LIKE to have him back in my life on another level. He’s been hinting that he would also like to try things out again and has told me that he’d never cheat again because of the mess it caused. My question is, should I give things a shot? Is it true, once a cheater, always a cheater? The trust has been repaired so I was thinking that it’d be possible for us to give things another go.
— Time after Time
You’ve done all the right things; you’ve said all the right things — to each other and to me. If I had a Get Back Together List (hmmm…), you’d be at the top this week.
Just wondering on November 30, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
What does it generally mean when you’re constantly comparing your current boyfriend (unfavorably) with someone else, whether it be an ex-boyfriend or just a really good guy friend?
That you want Breakup Girl to give you permission to break up with him?
January 17, 2013
Sucking it up on November 20, 1998...
Dear Breakup Girl,
My ex-girlfriend is getting married. This upset me, BG. When I heard it, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Seriously.
Since we broke up about 1 1/2 years ago, I’ve been in touch with my ex in a very lite sense of the word. We had a little post-breakup flirtation that nearly destroyed me since I fell for her again and she didn’t fall for me. She never really gave a reason for our breaking up other than “a lack of a gut feeling…” which drove me crazy. So for the last year or so when we’ve chatted it’s been about my family and her job and things like that, not about whether we were dating or not. So the first I hear of this new guy in her life is that she’s marrying him.
She’s been seeing this guy 7 months and all I know about him is that his name and his age. She’s my age (34) and she’s marrying someone twenty years her senior. I use the word Senior intentionally. She’s moving in with the guy in a house they bought together (this was the girl who wouldn’t let me keep underwear at her place after a 2 1/2 year relationship–who says it’s just men who can’t commit)? It’s a lot to process and I’m not sure what to say other than I’m happy for her (which I’m not) and I wish them the best (which I don’t). Someday I’m sure I’ll grow into a mature state of acceptance but right now I feel like Dustin Hoffman at the end of the Graduate. Except I don’t have a convertible or attractive older women hitting on me.
What does one do in this situation? Help me, Breakup Girl Kenobi. You’re my only hope.
–Bummed Out Boy
BG’s solution after the jump!
January 16, 2013
Next Page »
Getting messy on November 30, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I dated a guy for a year. It began as an almost exaggeratedly casual “dating” situation, both of us trying to be too cool for words, but dammit, we got along REALLY well. So, stuff happened-couple stuff like going on vacation together, and talking twice a day (we are on opposite coasts), and showing up together at functions and what have you. This guy is cute and sexy and smart and a wee bit spoiled, and my read on him was always that he was very attached to me and maybe even a bit in love, but that he wasn’t gonna fess that up to ME anytime soon. And frankly, I’m pretty much the same way, a self-protective goon. So after about eight months of this deepening but unaddressed relationship (led on by him , thankyouverymuch), I find out he’s had a one-nighter with some Norwegian au pair. I inform him that I know very well that we don’t have a formalized commitment, so he was well within his rights to do that, but I don’t like it, and so sayonara. Well, natch, he freaks, informs me he’s crazy about me, says it’s the only time it happened (substantiated by my independent counsel investigation of various mutual friends), says he wants a commitment, and we are off to the races. It gets a tad more serious (i.e. I meet the family) and then two months later he drops the bomb. His ex (six year relationship, he failed to pull the trigger, she bailed and married someone else and now there are photos of her in all drawers of his house) is coming unglued from her marriage and has been calling a lot and he’s “confused” and doesn’t want to break up but wants to be “truthful” about his “mixed emotions” and intends to go hang out with the ex. So being a strong 90s girl I dump him and tell him to call me when he gets his sh*t together. It hurts like hell.
Six days later I meet the sweetest guy on the planet. This guy cooks dinner for me, gives foot massages and washes my car when I go out of town. I cannot imagine this guy playing head games or being deceitful. He’s brilliant and the sex is amazing and I start to learn all kinds of nifty stuff I can expect in a relationship, like respect, communication, expression of tender feelings.