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February 21, 2011

Ask Lynn at Happen: Following the 80/20 rule

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:43 am

MSN.com, Match.com, HappenMagazine.com: they’re in a healthy and satisfying 3-way relationship. Meaning that you can find MSN/Match.com’s “Ask Lynn” columns –penned by BG’s alter ego — over at Happen now as well.

This week Lynn helps a gal who’s Stuck after six months of dating. She likes this guy, but wonders if the amount of feelings she has are enough…

He is an amazing man, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He’s got so many of the qualities I’ve been hoping for, but I’m still having issues with “that feeling.”

Is Stuck in love with the kind of guy he is, or the guy himself? How much of a relationship is getting everything we want and how much is settling? Lynn tackles the 80/20 rule and more in this weeks letter at Happen Magazine.


  1. Greetings,
    I am a 31 y/o woman who just broke up with a perfectly wonderful 40 y/o man after 15 months of dating, and before the looming move-in/marriage proposal/child bearing/forever phase. I am a woman who definitely wants to share my life with a man in a relationship without end that includes having or adopting children. This man is responsible, thoughtful, loving, supportive, smart, motivated, positive… everything that I feel SHOULD be my top priorities. Probably 80 percent there. However, I’m just not sure if I’m in totally in love with him or if we do have that ‘magical spark’ that would get us through the humdrum of decades of minutiae-filled family life. I can see myself getting exponentially more annoyed by his personality quirks over the years, yet I fear this might be my last chance at a stable lifetime relationship. I honestly would rather stay with him than grow old by myself with no children (and I will not attempt to raise one on my own).
    I recently discovered your helpful and hilarious writings and felt the majority of this 80/20 article that applies to specifically to my situation was very helpful, although I have to disagree with “Don’t leave someone just because you’re not 110 percent spark-tastic together” part. Having just pulled the plug AGAIN last week (after two unsuccessful attempts within the last six months), I was beginning to feel like I had made the right decision- to take the chance of finding someone I’m spark-tastic with AND who is a dependable, supportive, loving individual. I feel like the magical spark just can’t lay within that missing 20 percent- right?!? Or should I get back together with Mr. Great, But….?
    ~Torn between possibly settling and not wanting to be alone the rest of my life and fearing I’ll never find another man as great as the one I just broke up with…

    Comment by Ann — February 21, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

  2. Welcome, Ann! Glad to have you, and thanks for the compliment! A couple things: You are YOUNG. This is/was so — SO — not your “last chance.” You are nowhere near “alone for the rest of my life” land. Not even on the same planet. So listen: for some, the 80/20 rule (which I did not write) is helpful. For others, perhaps the Porch Test (which I did)? http://www.breakupgirl.net/advice/980629/980629.html See what you think. But bottom line, if this is your gut, then go with it. Arguably, if he’s that great, then only serious doubts about *something* could have led you to end things. Right? And remember, now you are freed up to meet your 80/20 porch guy. Even if it’s this guy, down the road, when you’re both ready.

    Comment by BG — February 22, 2011 @ 7:34 am

  3. People shouldn’t define what they want in the negative. The woman who wrote the letter wants someone who’s not a liar and a cheat. Well, yeah, but that’s sort of a given, not an aspiration. I wonder if she’d do well to think more about what she DOES want in a man. Before I met my now-SO, I made a list of attributes. Cheesy sorta but it made me think about what I really wanted, as opposed to just nice-generic-marriageable-guy.

    Comment by Stephanie — February 24, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

  4. Good point, Stephanie: as I like to say re attributes like kind, thoughtful, etc; — “that’s a given, not a plus.” Though even when you make a list of desired attributes — which is a perfectly fine thing to do — it’s so often an indescribable X factor that, between 2 people who are great on paper, so to speak, makes one feel right for YOU.
    PS Hi! Thanks for commenting!

    Comment by BG — February 25, 2011 @ 6:56 am

  5. Hi BG and Stephanie,
    Thank you so much for your thoughts. In theory, I do totally agree that these qualities of his that I keep returning to in my quest for my ‘final answer’ on the fate of our relationship- his unconditional support and adoration of me, his amazing listening skills, his loyalty and trustworthiness, his habit of helping me live a more balanced, healthy life, and his humored patience with my neurotic antics- really should be givens in any healthy relationship. There are just a few nagging details in my case that I would like to share:
    1. I think I have a hard time trusting my taste in men, since I have previously been head over heels for men that weren’t a fraction as loving and supportive as this one is. I’ve been devastated after being dumped twice by men I had major lifelong designs on after only a few months of dating, who gave pretty clear signs all along that they were just not that into me. So my tendency is to think my judgment of a good relationship is flawed, and I’m trying to make a healthy, realistic, adult decision about this very viable option I have before me of being with a man who fulfills me in so many ways and would be a dependable life partner.
    2. At this point, as has happened with my previous failed attempts over the last half year at ending things between us, he is again doing a damn good job of persuading me to renege through what my friend has termed ‘therapatizing’ me. This involves a breaking down of my ‘real’ reasons for wanting to break up that all (through his logic) basically point to my projecting my insecurities and issues onto him. I am practically defenseless to this in person- I mean, he’s probably 90% correct about those assessments- though I do marginally better via email or even phone (only to reiterate after the in-person breakup, of course- I would never do a real breakup electronically. Or maybe I should have… then I would be whooping it up being single right now instead of continuing to agonize, and stuff my face with chocolate). After a 10-day cool-down period after I told him I wanted more time to think about jumping back into this again (the day after agreeing to get back together with him 6 hours into the supposed breakup conversation), we have another in-person meeting tomorrow night.
    3. Here is what I am thinking about this meeting: I think that some things can’t be explained or reasoned out, and I think I can allow myself to stop ‘proofing’ my decision to break up with him. I don’t have to have a logical reason. It is just in my gut. Reason tells me I am lucky to have such a wonderful, loving man in my life. But there is some inexplicable feeling I have that just says NO. He does not pass the porch test. I am not completely in love with him. I know relationships take work, and that’s what he keeps saying, but I think that they should require real work AFTER the honeymoon phase, not from day one, or even month 15 (this is probably a stretch but I know I read somewhere once that the honeymoon phase normally lasts a full two years, neurologically speaking).
    4. Confession: I also think it’s OK for me to have nagging feelings for months on end that something isn’t right, to keep having dreams that I’m breaking up with him, only to decide, once and for all, over something seemingly VERY insignificant that he innocently did recently, that he is 100% not the one for me.
    5. And the thing is, even if I am flawed, and am breaking up with him for the ‘wrong’ reasons – aka my own unimpressive at best emotional IQ- I still want to break up with him. My flaws don’t mean I have to stay with him, even if he has taught me a lot. This leads me to think I should probably remove myself from the dating world for the moment, and concentrate on my own personal development, and not stay with him because I’d basically be committing to a life coach, not a love.
    6. Practically all of my friends are married and having kids, but at 31 (thank you for saying I am YOUNG!!!), after unexpectedly not dying of old age/spinsterhood after hitting 30, I fully feel OK saying goodbye to Great, But… and leaving myself open for whatever comes next relationship-wise… even if that next isn’t for a couple of years. I have time, right? Right?!?
    7. PS. In doing research for the big talk tomorrow, in a last desperate attempt to figure out what it is I’m feeling about this guy, I came across this line of yours that really hit home for me: “So be advised that if you do renew your “search” — with her or out there — there’s not one perfect The One out there whom you either find or you don’t. The One is the one about whom you say, falls, faults, and all, “This one.” I’m so not in the zone of feeling that way about this guy, and so want to be (about someone else in the future). But it’s nice to think that there is no straightforward equation that I’m somehow missing, and that while I can reason this thing out to death, that undeniable, elusive something extra might just may not ever appear to me on paper.
    8. And just one more thing, that has sort of revealed itself to me as I’ve considered the unpalatable prospect of getting back into the dating world at some point: finding the One is not a competition, greater than/less than thing amongst who is the prettiest, funniest, smartest, etc. It’s about who YOU think is the hottest, most hilarious and brilliant person- it’s about the connection two people share, and it’s not a contest. Right?!?
    9. Sorry this has gone on forever, feel free to ignore but I feel a million times better having gotten this out of my system and I will be forever in debt to BG for giving me this outlet. One more thing I want to say is that, obviously, this guy does not deserve to be with a woman who is so ambivalent about him. He will find his person, I will find my person, and we’ll all be the better for it.
    10. This being said, it’s OK that I don’t relish the thought of him doting on another woman just yet, right? If this idea makes me theoretically jealous, does it mean I’m not ready to leave him?
    Thank you so much,

    Comment by Ann — March 1, 2011 @ 3:32 am

  6. Hi Ann — Just because of policy/for various reasons, I can’t get into (any more) full-on advice giving here in the comments section. I’ll just say a few things: First: You have thought this through with a lot of self-knowledge. Second, the answer to #10, above, is NO. And the answer to #6, above, is YES. I still don’t know enough to offer my personal/superhero opinion as to whether you SHOULD leave him. But it sounds like you are asking permission. In which case, based on the case you have articulated, I grant it.

    Comment by BG — March 1, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

  7. Breakup Girl,
    I really appreciate your reading through that rant of mine. I feel worlds better about the situation now that I really spelled out the fact that my real reasons for this breakup can’t necessarily be spelled out. I’m going to take this list with me tonight to arm myself for the final final breakup talk, which I’m going to make brief. I’m happy to hear your answer to 10 is no, and that your answer to 6 is yes. And I’d bet that if you knew ALL the tedious details (there is even more where the above came from), your superhero opinion would probably be right on board with that of the vast majority of my friends and family, and now myself- that I SHOULD leave him! After this experience, I’m hoping the next time around I’ll be much more willing to heed my intuition from the get-go. And PS., thank you for confirming that I’ve “thought this through with a lot of self-knowledge.” That feels so great to hear!!
    BG is the best,

    Comment by Ann — March 1, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

  8. You’re most welcome! Strength and courage!

    Comment by BG — March 2, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

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