“Saving Love Lives The World Over!”
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September 13, 2012
Last week, Feeling Adolescent wondered how many steps to take with a flirty fellow recoverer. BG and BR basically said, “Who-hoo!” But a reader named Christine stepped in to say, “Whoa!”
There most certainly is a “rule” about dating in the first year of recovery in 12-Step programs, and for a good reason. It leads to big emotional upheavals that dramatically increase the chances of “relapse,” or the return to the use of drugs and alcohol. The suggestion that a woman with only two months of clean time from drugs should get involved or pursue a romantic relationship is seriously in error.
I’ve been sober a modest eight years, but in that time I have known a number of people to drink or use drugs over “relationship” issues. The consequences of that happening are much greater than most people realize. A number of people close to me have died from heroin overdoses or having shot themselves while in a blackout. I will see that again, I’m sure. Recovery for an alcoholic/addict is really life or death, not a romantic puzzle. A relapse for an alcoholic or addict has greater consequences than is often portrayed on TV. It isn’t just “falling off of the horse and getting back in the saddle again,” a characterization I saw on that show “JAG” about military lawyers. Many never come back to recovery, or they try and never get more than a short period of sobriety again. I have seen this time and again.
I’ve known people who, after years in AA, froze to death on the streets of DC, across the street from the White House! Make no mistake, it could happen to your reader. And her sobriety is not the only one at risk. Many times, the person with longer sobriety who has a relationship with a newcomer also drinks.
There is a mechanism in 12 step programs called “sponsorship.” People can get help and emotional support from someone with more recovery experience and emotional stability. It has been my observation that newcomers (people with less than a year of continuous sobriety) are especially needy and vulnerable. The reaction/temptation is to attach to someone else as a distraction. Often it is a sadrepetition of previous poor relationship patterns. I seem to recall something you wrote about a new insight into oneself does not necessarily mean everything will be better with the next one. [See Duderino Rides Again.] You can double that for early recovery.
It never seems that way, though. I remember what it was like. Suddenly I didn’t have a hangover every day and I started to notice flowers and sunny days. Why not the sunny days of my heart? Can’t that awaken now, too? Yes. Just not yet. A little more time. It’s tough to see now, but severe damage has been done mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. We keep ourselves from really seeing how bad it got for a couple of years. So waiting a year is the least she can do. Thank you.
BG responds: Thank YOU, Christine. Our bad. So many people have trouble finding a natural buzz with someone in the first place, you see, we just get a little excited when someone actually does. So, FA, you may not be able to shut down your feelings entirely (nor he his). But yes, looks like you should discuss them with a sponsor to find out where to put them — if anywhere — ’til, oh, November 1999 at least. And let’s hope that the promise of “reawakening the sunny days of your hearts,” clean and sober, with him or whomever, helps all of you stay strong and well.
This comment originally appeared November 9, 1998.
September 5, 2012
Getting with the program on November 2, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl:
First of all, I want to thank you for your site. I have been reading it for months, and am always impressed and amused by the advice you offer.
Secondly, I’m afraid I may be in the running for the longest advice question ever. I have tried to get it down to a minimum, but it’s still pretty long-winded and involved (sorry). Here goes: My third marriage (which lasted 14 years) broke up over two years ago. Since the divorce I chose not to pursue relationships because of my poor track record with marriage, among other issues. But during these two years a lot of things have changed in my life and I have a much better understanding and perspective. Although I am well educated and have a good job, bottom line, I am an addict and always got involved with other active addicts — not a good situation to be sure, but I had no insight into this until I got clean and sober.
I am getting tired of being on my own and would like to have a meaningful relationship. But it’s tough –I’ve been out of the dating/relationship loop for so long that I feel like an adolescent, which I definitely am not. Add to that the complications noted above, and I’m a tough sell, even though I am still an attractive woman. Up until recently I hadn’t met anyone that I wanted to get involved with either, so when it happened, I was pretty stoked.
About 6 weeks ago after a 12-step meeting I went to a coffee shop with a bunch of people and struck up a conversation with The Guy (TG). We really clicked — talked non-stop for almost 2 hours. That night he indirectly asked me to a dance (”Are you going? — I’ll be there….), so I went and we had a nice time. We danced and talked and he walked me to my car when I left, but he didn’t try to kiss me and we didn’t exchange phone numbers (I had told him I didn’t have a phone).
August 21, 2012
Rushing things on November 2, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I’m 20…and I recently became a widow…my husband was 24…and we have a one year old daughter. He and I were together for almost 2 years. Towards the end…our marriage was on really rocky ground..and I wanted out…but things changed when he all of a sudden died. What I’m curious about is…when is it appropriate to start dating again? I loved my husband…but wasn’t in love with him at the end. I’m anxious to jump out there again, but I’m really worried how my family and friends will react. How long do I live the part of the grieving widow in mourning..? Rather than the grieving widow who needs to get on with her life? Help!
BG’s answer after the jump!
June 13, 2012
Getting competitive on October 19, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I wrote before and got lovely helpful advice about healing my fairly broken heart. Thank you. Now I just kind of want your thoughts on a phenomenon. At work I sit next to an attractive guy named oh, say, Sam. I could go for him, but that’s actually not the point. He just broke up with his girlfriend. He has FOUR DATES this week. Ignore what this says about his reboundness. What does this say about his networking abilities vs. mine? (I’ve had one date, from a party. No click — we went out twice.) In fact, Sam says three of his dates are fixups from friends’ parents. Is there such a shortage of “nice Jewish boys” and an overabundance of me’s? Or is he better at networking?
Well, of course you can’t answer the specifics, because you don’t know either of us, or our families. But what do you think about getting the word out, BG? How does one get into this fixup network?
– Nice Girl
Dear Nice Girl,
Yeah, he’s just better at networking. Either that or some high-speed YentAlert went out, via bulk e-mail or phone tree, when Sam the JM became S.
As for you, start asking around. NOT VIA BULK E-MAIL OR PHONE TREE. Tell select friends (and parents of friends, I guess) that you are looking, and willing to blind-date. People who know you well. People who know lots of other cool people. People, actually, who might know Sam.
March 23, 2012
Lacking confidence on September 28, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I kicked my girlfriend out of my apartment at college because since we moved in together she has been sucking me dry of money. In only a month that we lived together I gave her $850.00 dollars. I feel I was the idiot. Well, now I am having a hard time having the courage to ask girls out on a date — yes, I fear rejection and honestly I have no confidence in myself to flirt or whatever. Seems like all the girls I’m interested in want the jocks or the ones with the new trucks. What should I do? I already turned down Model Search because I was still in a relationship — should I pursue that still?
Does anyone want to tell Breakup Girl what “Model Search” is? Seems to me like we have enough of them, without having to go looking. Or, are some missing?
In the meantime, listen, Rick: you had a bum deal with that girl, and it’s made you twice-shy. But I think the balances in your security and confidence accounts might have been a little low even before then. I’m sure it was very nice of you to give her so much money, but it was also a little needy. On your part. Did you maybe think that getting an ATM card at Rick Bank was the only way she’d like you, need you, stay? You were trying, in your own way, to be the cash jock, the guy with enough money for the new truck. It’s all the same. Something to think about before you relaunch Girlfriend Search. And I’m hoping you won’t have to go looking too hard.
August 8, 2011
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 hears from Stressed Jess who’s getting back out there after a finally ditching a “stuck” relationship.
The only problem is that my town is a small conservative town where there aren’t a lot of options. I’ve tried the whole online dating thing, but some people are just too far away or some just seem to want a fling. … How do I get back into the dating world?
Read Lynn’s advice at Happen, then come back here and add your own suggestions below!
June 2, 2011
Another reader response from June 15, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I’ve just got a quick comment on your advice to Sheri (the 42-year-old with 2 kids). You told her to be up front with her 34-year-old potential squeeze/summer fling, and suggested that any guy who is scared off by kids isn’t worth it [Note from Breakup Girl: Whoa! That's totally not what I said. BG is not in the biz of that kind of flip character call. My actual point: some guys (and gals!) are -- legitimately -- reluctant to get into a pre-fab family when they'd like to fab one of their own from scratch. And also for the reasons that Jo so eloquently describes below. In some cases, this may mean that -- even all other things being lovely -- a potential couple may be, practically speaking, incompatible. That's all.] I just wanted to add something.
It looks like Sheri wants a nice, relaxing, “just for Mom” relationship; she’s not thinking tickets for four to the Spice Girls with hotdogs to follow, she’s thinking candlelit dinners and a suite at the Ritz. It seems to me that she needs to a) let the guy know that she’s got kids, and b) (once she’s sure this guy is going past date #4 or so) let the kids know that she’s got him, but c) let everyone know that the relationship is for fun, not fatherhood. She won’t have to hermetically seal the kids off from the relationship, but she can keep their evenings out for the nights when Dad/her mother/her best friend has the kids. Then, if their relationship lasts past Labor Day, the two of them will have a good relationship, which will help when he gets to know the kids.
June 1, 2011
A reader comment from June 15, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
You missed the boat on your answer to Sheri re: summer romance and the kids. Of course she should tell the guys she’s thinking about going out with she’s got children, and I liked the soft-pedal way you suggested she let them know. HOWEVER, she’s absolutely right about not introducing the kids. Well, maybe introducing (10 and 12 are old enough to be curious about who mom’s having dinner, movie, etc. with ) but certainly not including them in any events. You think it’s hard for just one person to be the dumper/dumpee — try having your whole FAMILY included in a mess like that. Some possible scenarios:
* The kids get overly attached and nothing comes of it — then regardless of who dumped whom — it’s your fault.
* He/She loves them so much when you break up they still want to see them — and the kids agree. This is especially true for kids just coming out of a divorce situation or haven’t ever recovered from it — Hey! Here’s someone to take up where mom/dad left off!
* The kids/date hate each other so much you’re doomed from the beginning. And there’s a good chance they will. Kids want all your time, date wants all your time…and everybody resents you can’t give it all to them (and what’s more, you’re supposed to choose who you love the most as in, “If you loved me, you’d ______”).
If you care about your children, you never let them get involved in your dating life, unless and until you start to maybe, just maybe (gasp, wheeze) think this is THEEEE one. Of course, hopefully by this time some of the major questions on both sides have been worked out. The kids may want to know you’re seeing XYZ for a movie Friday evening, but that’s ALL they want to know. (And all you should share with them.) Now, take all this and think “summer romance,” as in 3 or 4 months and end-o, zippo, that’s all folks…do you think this grief would be worth it on anyone’s part? Methinks not. (If you doubt my word on this, check with Breakup Mom — give you 5 to 1 she agrees with me.)
Breakup Girl responds: Sounds like you know what you’re talking about…all too well. And your comments are actually not consistent with what I said … or, anyway, um, what I meant. I should have made more explicit my distinction between “introduce” and “involve.” And — hmmm — now that I see what you’ve written so wisely, perhaps that distinction isn’t as significant or as un-slippery as I thought. So no, I don’t doubt you. But the reason I’m not checking with Breakup Mom is that she and Breakup Dad are on vacation. For the next few weeks, we’re on our own.
May 31, 2011
About a boy or two on June 8, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I’m a very young looking attractive 42 year old, divorced with two children, ages 10 and 12. I’m usually attracted to younger men and they to me, but some of them freak out when they find out I have children. I just met a handsome man at a formal dinner/dance and it turns out he has asked a mutual friend for my phone number. He is 34. Do I tell him right from our first conversation that I have children? I don’t plan on introducing him to my kids; my last relationship ended in disaster partly because he did not like my kids (but that’s another story!). I’m not expecting this to go anywhere really, a summer romance would be nice though. So, what do you think? The thought of an “instant family” scares off many younger guys, even though they are projecting way off into the future. Thanks for any input.
BG’s suggestions after the jump!
May 25, 2011
Next Page »
Staying in the game on July 6, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Is it a good idea to date people who you don’t really like just to keep yourself socially involved and “out there”? My truest love so far broke my heart about six months ago, but I try to date most guys who ask me out even though I don’t feel particularly interested in them. I’m afraid if I stop dating I will feel worse. On the other hand, sometimes it’s really difficult to muster even the slightest bit of enthusiasm for any of the guys I meet. None of them lives up to the legacy of Mr. Right. What do you suggest?
See “Flirtation Continuum,” below.
It is a good idea:
- to date just to keep yourself socially involved and out there.
- to accept at least one invitation, no matter what — you never know.
- NOT to fall — as you have not — for the next guy (or series thereof) who comes along, just because he’s there.
It is not a good idea: