Dear Breakup Girl,
I have just recently discovered your column…and I love it! However, I have an issue that I need to get a second opinion on. I have this boyfriend that I’ve been seeing for only a couple of months now. But we’ve known each other for 4 years and had crushes on each other all that time. Well everything’s good I suppose but there’s some things I have a problem with. OK, he’s the same age as me (21) but he has a 14 month old child. He rarely gets to see it but he does pay child support. I’m not sure why it bothers me so much…perhaps because he was a virgin until this girl came along and “seduced” him. He claims she “tricked” him and told him that she couldn’t get pregnant and that she was on the pill. And you know how dumb and gullible some men can be. Well he believed it and they slept together for the next three or four months. He even had the nerve to tell me how many times a day they had sex!! Well, needless to say she got pregnant and he realized what a huge mistake he had made. Now this whole situation really disturbs me sometimes. I don’t know if I just feel threatened by her…I mean I know he doesn’t want her back. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. It’s just that he has all this excess baggage that I have to deal with.
And there’s another issue. His next door neighbor is someone that he has known since he was in diapers. They grew up together, so naturally, they are best friends…that’s all hunky-dory and fine with me but the only problem is my ridiculous jealousy…she’s a female. He used to be “in love” with her when we all used to hang out together in high school. So I know he still has some strong feelings for her. She’s away at college so he doesn’t get to see her as frequently as he used to. For Labor Day weekend he went out of town with her and her family. It’s “tradition”–they go every year together. I know with her I feel very threatened…extremely. Of course, I haven’t told him that I have a problem with any of these things so he is unaware of my conflicting feelings. I’m just confused and wondering if I should ignore these feelings I have or just save myself the heartache and call it quits. So that’s where you come in…to give me some advice on what the hell to do.
Thank you so much Breakup Girl!
I’ll spare you the speech about his (your) nut/slut blaming of the previous girl. And also your dumb/gullible stereotyping of “some men.” Listen, we all have twinges of that absurd jealousy that makes us think thoughts like, “How DARE you date her when you didn’t even know I existed?” And yes, we all want to be the first, the best, the most — whatever — in the lives of our squeezes. But mostly, we hear and treat these blips as Silly Human Reflexes. You, however, are taking them way too seriously. You, Threatened, have baggage of your very own. Like, a big empty steamer trunk, open and waiting for someone else to pack it all up with your self-esteem and boyfriend worthiness. Do you see what I mean? So no, you should not call it quits — not for this reason, anyway. Leave this place as is, and that empty trunk comes with you. Same thing will happen next time. For that reason, no, you should not “ignore these feelings.” Au contraire. You should explore them. WHY do you let yourself feel so genuinely threatened by pasts and friends who, as far as I can tell, are part of his life, not part of a plot? What is it about your past, your friends, that might be a factor here? You tell me. And here’s some incentive for sorting this out: you are boyfriend-worthy, I’m sure — and you will be even more boyfriend-irresistible (to this one or the next) if you actually believe it.
This advice was originally published September 14, 1998.