A long one from October 19, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I’ve been reading your site for months now, and I love it. I’ve been feeling the urge to write in, but I haven’t actually had any questions to ask. You just remind me of a good friend of mine who moved to Seattle a few years ago. I figured I could send in a “Look! It can get better” letter for your collection.
I’m in my ninth term at college now, and the story goes way back to the beginning of college. I never had any relationships in high school. All the boys were so… young. So was I, but gee, you’d never have gotten me to admit it. So I get to college and poof! Suddenly there are all these smart, interesting people around. Amazingly, some of them are attractive, and some of them are scary, and some of them are both. But the only way to stop being scared of something is to just deal with it, right? Besides, all the scary people are the fun ones. These guys aren’t into drugs or guns or anything. They just know what they think and like and refuse to waffle about it. Plus, they’re fun. So they decide I’m an interesting person and we start hanging out. One of these guys is *incredible*, tall, funny, extroverted, incredibly handsome, dances, gives great hugs… oh yes, and he just came back from another coast to discover that his fiancee has been cheating on him, just to see what it’s like to be with other men. So this incredible guy decides that A: Relationships suck, and B: Sex is good. And starts seducing anything interesting (successfully; he even gets the girls to go after him). Ever see a man with a neon sign that says “BAD PLAN” in bright glowing red letters? There’s one. So the friend you remind me of spent a year telling me, “Bad plan! He’s notinterested! Run away!” and telling him, “She’s too young! She’s not interested! Run away!” And then the rumor mill decided we were going together, manufactured our dates, our proclivities, and our fights, much to our amusement. Can you say, OBSESSION? I knew you could.
Summer break after freshman year. I decide that I had better Get Over Him, and seduce someone or something, all the while thinking that I really want to seduce Bad Plan, but he doesn’t want to be anyone’s first. So I go and pull a one-afternoon stand with a guy I knew for 3 weeks in 8th grade, unprotected sex and oral sex, on some random guy’s waterbed with the reek of flowering marijuana plants. Can you say STUPID? I knew you could. (I was also very, very lucky — no pregnancy or STDs.)
So I go back to school and wait to see what happens, and along about January my friend’s efforts fail and Bad Plan and I do it. And boy, was it fun. He was all he was reputed to be. Wow. But you see, I was Obsessed, and despite my previous activity, I didn’t really grok casual sex. Can you say FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE? Can you say UNEQUAL EXPECTATIONS? I knew you could. I thought we were Together Forever now, and he just thought we’d spent a nice night together.
Enter: The Clinical Depression. I go to a pretty intense college, and the culmination of 15 months of obsession was a roll in the hay and a bitter, bitter disappointment, not to mention a severely strained friendship (we’d managed to become pretty close in 15 months of avoiding the issue). But I, I didn’t like the way antidepressants sucked the color out of life. Come springtime, the strain and my depression became too much, and Bad Plan decided he couldn’t deal with me anymore… and decided I just don’t exist.
Lessons? Communicate. Heed the neon signs. Don’t go in for casual sex unless you’re prepared for the consequences. Depression sucks, and so do obsessions. Watch those expectations…
End of spring, freshman year. Gotta move on. Gotta move on. So I pick GoldenBoy. Adorable. Built. Short. Has this incredible long blonde hair. Pretty much the antithesis of BadPlan; the best way to get GoldenBoy to talk is to throw something at him. But he’s cute, and nice, and receptive… Can you say, TRANSFERENCE OF OBSESSION? I knew you could.
Six weeks later, one hour before getting into the car with my parents for the 17 hour long drive home for the summer, GoldenBoy gets around to telling me that he doesn’t really want to be having a relationship at all, he just didn’t know how to tell me. Ouch. Can you say, FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE? I knew you could. Sounds familiar. See lesson from BadPlan.
After spending a summer obsessing about GoldenBoy and plotting how I’m going to get him back when term starts again (I even moved across the hall from him, but that was coincidence, really, sort of) I met GoldenBoy’s new girlfriendthingie. That Woman. Can’t try to break them up, that’s against the rules. Gotta move on…
Enter Leo. I’ll call him Leo because he looks like Leo DiCaprio, only cuter, and I met him before Leo became famous. He sings. He’s as different as they come… he’s a fratboy, for heaven’s sake. He wants to be a minister. He’s got this Obsession thing going with some girl from high school, but it just made me think we had something in common. Three weeks into it, and I’m wondering what it would be like to be a minister’s wife (I’m atheist and proud of it). Leo and I have another thing in common… we both have clinical, untreated depression. His is from family disasters of the first magnitude. But I’m going to rescue him…. Can you say, TRANSFERENCE OF OBSESSION? I knew you could.
Just before thanksgiving break, Leo decides to save me or save himself and runs away screaming. Hm. I think that maybe I was going a bit too far, too fast. And we never really talked about what we wanted… see Lessons from BadPlan.
By Christmas, I’m firmly attached to the nice young man who I talked to a lot online while waiting for GoldenBoy to log in over the summer. We’ll call him ComputerBoy. ComputerBoy has a nifty way of listening and saying just the right thing to a clinically depressed person… he learned on That Woman #2, the PsychoGirlfriend who is bipolar and left him earlier that year to Explore her Bisexuality. (and her next longterm boyfriend is ComputerBoy’s best friend from high school, but we won’t go there) So I dump on ComputerBoy and he takes good care of me. Maybe, I think, I can make a good choice for once! TRANSFERENCE OF OBSESSION strikes again; it took all of 2 weeks after Leo disappeared… But ComputerBoy was a little freaked out by the way I dealt, but he wanted to be my friend, and besides, he kind of had a crush on That Woman #3. So we all start watching movies together sitting on the same couch… me next to ComputerBoy trying to get him to respond to my none-too-subtle advances, ComputerBoy trying to not respond but not annoy me, That Woman #3, all in a row. The unhappy obsession waves roll on…and on… and on… until April. Five months… me, CB, TW3…then I finally get sick of it. I’m still depressed but less so; I’ve changed majors; I’m not failing out of school; I can talk to my parents… Life is good, except for …me, CB, TW3…
So: (DrumRollPLease) I begin to look around for another place to transfer my obsession to, on the assumption that maybe it’ll land in a good place, or go away altogether if it can’t find a target… and I hit on a friend of ComputerBoy, who turns me down. I’m telling the story to ComputerBoy, and he decides… that he doesn’t want to lose me! Ack! Just as I was getting over him… he tells me not to!
Best thing that ever happened to me. We’ve been together for 18 months. We’re solid. We’re considering the future. I’m getting treated for depression and my life is in order… I’ve got a Real Job and I’m writing my Thesis… ComputerBoy is proving himself an amazing person, dedicated to what he cares about (me, the computer, my cat, some friends, and whatever we care about), reliable and sensitive. And very cute. We have our share of problems, and some of them are real doozies. We’re doing this communication thing, though, and by gosh, it’s working. Talking to your partner! Wow!
TRANSFERENCE OF OBSESSION aborted. Lessons? Get treatment for depression; get therapy for obsession. Don’t transfer it; you’ll spook the object, even if they’re your soulmate. Get out there, check out what’s available… and stay single until you don’t mind anymore. Play with friends, engage in a little casual sex if you must, but be sure you mean it to be casual. Heed the neon signs. Talk to each other… and listen. Figure out how to break the evil cycle, whatever it may be. It does get better!
Can you say BRAVISIMA? I knew you could.
Just let me finesse one point: No one is cuter than Leo.
Other than that, your letter allows me to briefly underscore several others:
> the possibility of full interactivity with Mr. Right There All Along.Yay! Plus — is everyone paying attention? — it’s a clear, reassuring example of (see this week’s final letter) Nice Guy 1.0 being upgraded to Boyfriend ‘98.
> “the evil cycle, whatever it may be.” Sometimes it’s not about up and breaking it all by yourself — sometimes it’s about allowing someone to break it. It’s not like ComputerBoy swept in and saved you from yourself; you had to say “E-tah!”
> “ComputerBoy and I have our share of problems.” Yes. You guys, if you the goal here at breakupgirl.net is Getting Some[one], end of story, think again. If you think the problems stop once you’re all hooked up, you got another thing coming (say, a breakup). See, it’s not just about scoring a fuzzy new pet for Christmas. It’s getting over the stuff that gets in the way of (a) getting someone, (b) getting the most out of a relationship, or (c) getting okay about being alone. (N.B. This is also why having a partner would not cost BG her job.)
Okay, you guys? Listen to WTF. Do what you can to run down the battery on your series of Simon relationships: you know, the ones where the colors keep looking different, but you’re really just eking out the same four notes, hoping it’ll last a bit longer each time. Let your not-so-artificial intelligence kick in. Learn new tricks. Raise your eyes; open your ears. See Lesson from … Furby.