Disengaging on June 29, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have been reading your column for about six months now and I think it is just great! Here is my problem: I am 29 and have been dating a guy for three years. I have known him for 15 years. We were best friends since high school before we started dating. We took it real slow in the beginning as we didn’t want to ruin a great friendship. Now after 3 years I want out. I am not sure if it is just that I have the three-year itch. (I have had two other relationships that have lasted three years and then I called it off.) We talked about marriage but I no longer see it as an option. I have tried to break up with him but he cried, said he loved me and wanted to marry me, and I gave in. I really don’t want to hurt him and don’t know how to ease his pain. How do I get out before we wind up engaged? There is noone else; I am just not in love with him anymore.
“Before we wind up engaged?” Again with the word choice that makes it sound like engagement is something that happens to you by chance, as in, “Let’s clean up the picnic before we wind up getting rained on!” Similarly, you “tried” to break up with him? That has about the same logic as, in the age of voice mail and beepers and communications satellites, saying “I TRIED to call you.” What, you “tried” to call, but your cell phone wound up getting rained on? In breakups, as in telephones, and telekinetically levitating X-Wing fighters out of swamps, there is no “try.” Now, I don’t mean to ignore the fact that getting out is going to SUCK, given especially how long you’ve been close (and we can talk about that in another letter). For more about HOW — and especially how NOT to, see the Predicament of the Week. But if you need resolve-strengthening, remember what I said to Wishy Washy: no mercy marriages. You wanna “ease his pain?” Then cut the cord before you tie the knot.
P.S. Thanks for the compliment.