“Saving Love Lives The World Over!”
e-mail to a friend in need
September 27, 2011
Making a mess on August 17, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
You must be the hardest-working superhero on the ‘Net. I’ve been reading your column for about three months now, and find what you have to say provocative and sensible. Here’s my big question: how does one deal with guilt? I need a little help.
Obscenely short fact roundup: G and I were engaged, but not particularly happily (you know: he asks you to marry him, then gets freaked out when you start thinking kids, house, future…) He started getting itchy feet, and wanted to break up (sow his wild oats, find someone with a body type ‘more his ideal’, the usual nonsense). So, I agreed, and we moved apart back in October.
I then (not having read BG’s website) broke a number of BG’s rules for breakups: it was long, slow, and messy. I was lonely, and depressed, and we spent far far too much time together. We also kept sleeping together sporadically, which was always followed by a few days of being utterly depressed to the point of it affecting my work and quality of life (thank you to my roommate for making sure that I ate!). All I wanted was to stay friends and to get on with my life (which I couldn’t do when we kept sleeping together). I had made it clear that we weren’t getting back together, but he kept saying that we weren’t and why couldn’t friends sleep together, etc. I wasn’t in a good space. (I should add that he was trying to date some woman in December, but it didn’t work out.)
August 2, 2011
A cautionary tale from July 20, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
My boyfriend of a year broke up with me about a month and a half ago, but I still love him very much. I can’t seem to get over him even though he’s been a real jerk to me. All my friends and family said I should break all ties with him, but I can’t. When he broke up with me he said that it was probably only temporary and that he just needed some space. Well, two weeks later he ended up seeing another girl (Jamie) and according to him he likes her a lot. When we broke up he told me he wasn’t going to see anybody because that’s what he wanted to get away from. I’m still trying everything I can to get him back. Right now things between us are really strange. We are only friends, but he kisses me and has sex with me. Recently I asked if he was still seeing her and he said no. Well, according to my x-bestfriend they still are. I believe her because lately he’s been cancelling on me a lot. Recently I did find out from my x-bestfriend that my x-boyfriend cancelled our date just to see Jamie. He also doesn’t want me to see guys. It’s like he wants to date other people but he wants to keep me for himself. I don’t know what to do, help.
BG sifts through the train wreckage after the jump
January 13, 2011
You know how when you break up with someone and then you tell your friends and they make the shocked Macaulay Culkin Home Alone face? Apparently, that’s pretty much what’s happening to Mila Kunis right now. As a “close chum” of hers told E!, “We all found out [she and Mac broke up] and were like, what?” Over at Jezebel, Anna North reacts to that reaction. “It’s nice that Mila’s doing well, and that her pal acknowledges that fact, but when a breakup leaves all your friends So Surprised, it’s even worse than the usual variety,” she argues. Why? To summarize:
1. It was, in fact, probably sudden. And if that gives your friends “emotional whiplash,” what about the actual exes?
2. “When you just broke up with someone, you don’t want to hear how great you were together.”
3. “You feel a sense of unease with the universe.” “…[W]hen your friends are “like, what?!,” as it were, you’re brought face to face with the terrifying unpredictability of life.”
So yes, as North suggests, if a friend’s breakup blows your mind, process with a different friend, mmmkay? To the breakup friend, show compassion, not surprise. Let her or him tell you how they feel, not the other way around. Let’s remember the immortal words of Bridget Jones‘s friend Magda, who said, “People’s relationships are quite mysterious. No one from the outside ever really understands what makes them work.” Or not work. But we do know what makes friendships work.
For more on our reactions to friends’ breakups, click here.
March 18, 2010
‘Tis the season: Easter, Passover, a delightful asparagus frittata. The New Scientist’s got an interesting thinky essay about which sex has the evolutionary upper hand when it comes to the mechanics of reproduction; there is, thus, discussion of the once-seen-as-all-powerful egg–and the eventually dominant homocentric view that semen “perfects” it. Cue epic battle between “ovists” and “spermists,” then an uneasy truce brokered by the emerging field of genetics. But ultimately (long interesting story short, with other implications not relevant here), the writers (professors of ecology and evolution) conclude that since the mother nurtures offspring inside her body for so many months — therefore wielding more genetic influence — “it looks like eggs rule after all.”
Mothers have more genetic influence; ergo: that’s why men take breakups harder. That’s the theory advanced in response to the NS piece by Alex Balk over at The Awl (h/t The Atlantic). He writes:
Why should it be so that a man has greater difficulty coming to terms with the end of a relationship than his female counterpart? (This is gonna be a very heteronormative discussion here, so gays and lesbians are free to check out some of the fine content at the right.) My research suggests that it all has to do with childhood.
Little girls are often treated as “princesses,” the object of paternal affection in an idealized-but-not-romantic way. This convention is so strong that they are referred to even by non-relatives as “daddy’s little girl.” Daddy is the man who adores them, who sets the template for what they will expect from all other men in life when it comes to affection.
Little boys are often treated the same way by their mothers. “Mommy loves you,” she will repeat over and over. “You will always be Mommy’s little boy.” Mommy makes it very clear that her little boy is most special boy in the world—even more special than Daddy—and that he will be an object of veneration and pride so long as she lives. This also sets a template.
The difference is stunningly obvious: Dads are far less committed parents than moms. Daddy may tell you that you are Daddy’s little girl, he may take you to a Daddy-Daughter dance one night after weeks of prompting, but most of the time he’s at the office, or away for business, or out with his buddies for important “man time.” Young girls, who, let’s not forget, mature far more quickly than boys, pick up on this: The man who says he loves me, they realize, is not at all reliable. He says what he thinks he is supposed to say, but his actions tell a different story.
Moms, on the other hand, are always there. They do the majority of the parenting, of the cooking, of the cleaning, of all the things that we equate with nurturing. To a boy, there is never any disconnect from the message of love he gets from Mommy and the way that he sees it play out in real life.
And this is why men take break ups harder than women. When a woman breaks up with a man, it is Mommy telling him that she doesn’t love him anymore. And Mommy promised that she would always love him! What is so terrible about him that Mommy stopped loving him? He can bury the sadness with alcohol, or watching a lot of sports, or sleeping around, but deep down he cannot fathom how this rejection has happened to him. His cries of pain, either voiced or shown by his actions, are really him shouting, “Mommy, why did you stop loving me?”
Whereas for a woman, she had no illusions that Daddy wasn’t going to leave at some point. Sure, she’s hurt initially, but she knew the score going into the game. And because women are more or less what Science refers to as “mercenary bitches,” even as she’s filling her pint of ice-cream with those fat, salty tears, she is unconsciously determining whom she will settle on next, the better to get her eggs fertilized so that the cycle might continue. [I should note here that a scholarly friend of mine (who is well-versed on the subject of women by virtue of her position as an expert on young adult novels for girls) had a minor dissent to this hypothesis, noting that every woman has one man who legitimately broke her heart and for whom she will always pine; I am perfectly willing to accept this “ur-Daddy” postulation and add it to the literature.]
Also relevant: the fact that men are not culturally conditioned to feel and express and wallow and process after a breakup. This may or may not be a good thing. (Freeing for the dump-er, limiting for the dumpee?)
So what do you guys think? Broadly speaking, does one gender take breakups harder, and why? Discuss! Through fat, salty tears!
September 23, 2008
This one, at least, was not penned by a supervillain.
Check out Dr. Joyce Brothers’s breakup quiz in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (which “lay(s) out some of the better strategies for a dignified, gentle withdrawal that leaves open the possibility of friendship at the end of the road”) and see if you’ve learned anything from BG — or experience — like, ever.
February 26, 2013
Regretting it on December 7, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Firstly… you rock.
Secondly, I’m kind of a wreck, so I seek your counsel, once again, for a little perspective on my breakup nine months ago. To recap: I’m 29. Me and “John” broke up four times during the four and a half years that we dated, first he with me, then me with him…etc. Every time we got back together it was always because we tried to be friends, and then one thing led to another–you get the idea. We would keep our reconciliations from our friends for as long as possible because we knew they wouldn’t understand. Well, actually, it was mostly my friends who wouldn’t understand because they always felt that John perhaps wasn’t the best man for me, even though they all really loved him a lot, and thought he was a great guy.
When we finally broke up for the last time, it was my decision. We were in the midst of a secret reconciliation, but this time I was really sure that it was not what I wanted at all, but I didn’t know how to stop the cycle. I went to a party, got together with a guy there (with John asleep in my bed at home), and that basically started the whole ball rolling…I told John a few days later that I was going to go on a date–we had decided that we could still date other people, a theory that had yet to be tested–and he obviously became very upset. OK, I told him on his birthday…but you really can’t plan the timing of events like this, right? I went on the date, the date spent the night, John “stopped by” my house the next morning at 6:00 a.m. and proceeded to scare the living daylights out of me/date by banging on the windows, calling incessantly, trying the door, and waiting for us as we came out the front door.
January 14, 2013
Detoxing on November 30, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Great site– First time reader, first time writer…I broke up with my boyfriend between 3 and 6 times — cannot be certain as I was sometimes drunk. Anyway, each time he did the whole flowers, love notes– even love FAXES (during one of the breakups I was in Paris).
Anyway in August he met someone else and all of a sudden he was like “I want to see other people.”
At the time I lived upstairs from him in the same building so I and had to see him/his apartment every day. It was too Melrose so I moved across town but couldn’t get him out of my mind. Mostly I hated him but recently I began to think I loved him deep down. I even had 3 dreams about him. I had refused to talk to him until last weekend– I made up an excuse to see him– I was not impressed with what I saw and the meeting went NOT WELL. Last night he called on my cell phone asking why I was so mean to him Sunday and saying stuff like HE misses me and you don’t appreciate what you have till its gone, blah, blah,blah….. I told him I hate him and not to ever call me again — but I can’t stop thinking about him…
I know I badly need to get a life, but apart from that — and therapy, which I plan to start this week — can you give me any advice on how to feel human again? I am so tempted to call him– he still has the Sneaker Pimps import CD we used to have sex to– I could demand it back but what’s the point if I know he is just going to torture me about having this other guy in his life….. What should I do?
BG’s answer after the jump!
November 15, 2012
This time of year always brings back memories of one of the cooler annual school field trips Noah and I used to take: visiting to the living museum that is Plimoth Plantation. They’ve recreated the Pilgrims’ 1627 settlement, complete with interpretive guides living the lives of actual townspeople and speaking only the dialect of the time.
I should have known this was a bad sign: no matter what you do, you can’t get them to talk about the future.
So, too, may you notice seasonal signs of unrest in your relationship. Perhaps a certain separatism, even Puritanism — dare I say Miles Standoffishness — on the part of your settler? If so, it’s only natural at this time of harvesting, reaping, taking stock, deciding if you’re Taking Him/Her Home (or deciding which friendfriend to take home as a parent decoy). Don’t let it get to you.
But if your relationship truly is on the rocks, do not hold out just for Auld Lang Syne’s sake. (Otherwise known as “sticking it out for the stockings.”) Mark my words:Wishing you were under the mistletoe is better than wishing you weren’t. So if necessary, do the deed. With any luck, your ex-intended will still be groggy from the tryptophan.
And if you’re alone already, well, what can I tell you? Just be thankful you won’t have to hear Breakup Mom say, “We’re just thankful to have you here with us, sweetie. Especially because your father and I aren’t getting any younger. Did you sit with anyone interesting on the train?”
In all seriousness, Breakup Girl is truly thankful for: you. Thanks for visiting, writing, reading, laughing, shopping, and helping make breakups so much fun. I am also endlessly grateful to my trusty behinder-the-scenes pardner, Chris, who not only makes this site pretty, he also makes Breakup Girl exist. As And thanks to Breakup Belleruth — BG.com’s Actual Credentialed Expert in Residence / Someone Else’s Mom — for the generosity and infinitude of her wisdom. Chief Massasoit would have said: mad props.
July 18, 2012
Staying for no reason on October 26, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have been dating the same man for about 9 months now. We have dated off and on in the past, and he was my boyfriend when I was a naive 16 years old (so needless to say we have some history). I am now 21, and he just recently asked me to be his girlfriend.
Problem is, I have realized that in my family there is a cycle that we females seem to get hooked into regarding men. My mom married my dad who was totally wrong for her and divorced him, and married an alcoholic. My older sister has married an inconsiderate buffoon, and it just starting to realize her mistake.
Back to me, while I realize I am not in love with this man, and I can see all the ways we are not compatible (he’s unreliable, selfish) I am reluctant to break the relationship off. He is 28 and feels his biological clock ticking and talks constantly about wanting children before he is 30. I am only 21, I’m a starting digital artist trying to make a name for myself, art is my passion, and I am not ready for children. He seems to be unpleased with my independance and wants to change who I am. So maybe asking me to be his girlfriend again might seem not to be a big deal to most, from the way he is talking about wanting a family when he can’t even take care of himself tells me what kind of commitment he is really wanting.
Anyway, to draw this letter to a close, I know this is break up material right here in my head, and I don’t love him. But why am I so reluctant to get out of this unhealthy relationship?
BG’s answer after the jump!
April 2, 2012
Next Page »
The Predicament of the Week from October 5, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Sorry for my verbosity, but after I wrote this litany of patheticness I felt like deleting any part of it would be like cutting off a limb. Please feel free to skip over any drivel you feel unnecessary.
I used to be pretty good at handling my romantic entanglements when I was younger, but now everything seems to be a big mess. I am really at a point where I am so confused and no longer trust my gut instincts. I have been on this manic roller coaster for almost a year and a half and I just don’t know what to do. I should be happy — I have a very successful career on Wall Street, am intelligent, creative, and have the means to do or go wherever I want. I have a wonderful family, supportive and caring friends, and I know that I am loved.
But my life is not perfect. I was divorced earlier this year after 4 years of marriage preceded by 5 years of dating. It wasn’t one of those messy-throw-all-the-china-at-each-other type breakups. We just got married too young (we got engaged when I was 21 — I am 28 now) and realized that we both changed and wanted different things. We tried to work out our differences, but it just wasn’t meant to be. So we cried, separated, cried, got divorced and cried some more.
People, you have no idea how much more there is after the jump
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