October 25, 2012
Dear Breakup Girl,
I was told again today, in as blunt a manner as possible, that “no way will a relationship work between us.” According to her though, I should not change. All those times I made breakfast in bed for her, brought her flowers just because, opened the car door for her (which she totally loves), and respecting her wishes about not sleeping together before she was ready. All those things shouldn’t change. The reason being that the next woman would love to be treated that way. Am I missing something here? I did all those things, but I still get “no way will a relationship work between us.”
I know that I’ll have to get over it and move on. But my dilemma is this: If I do all those wonderful things, then why doesn’t it work? I’d like to think that it’s not me, but this isn’t the first time this has happened. I’m one of those so-called “nice guys” who never can seem to catch a break. I try to do the right things, but again I get “no way will a relationship work between us.” I’m just about ready to give up. I’m sure you hear it all the time, about how women like nice guys, really they do…. Well, I’ve never seen those women. And I’m starting to doubt their existence. I’ve also tried being a friend.. I just would like your thoughts on all of this.
You and all those things you do are, I’m sure, genuinely nice. But it’s wrong to base a relationship entirely on doing the right things. See, Alex, it sounds to me like you’re Doing Boyfriend on people. Muffins, flowers, courtesies — lovely. But when you brought her her breakfast, did you ask her what she dreamed about? Was it the prefab “Flowers for My Sweetheart” bouquet, or a fistful of sweet pea blossoms that reminded you of her laugh? When you close the car door, can you hear her voice through the glass? Your flourishes are important, Alex, but as demonstrations of a two-way bond; as the bond itself, scrambled eggs and baby’s breath will not hold. Do you see what I mean? So don’t stop with the gestures; just rejigger their job description for the next object of your affection. Pay attention to the man behind the curtain. Next time, offer her: yourself.
This advice was originally published November 16, 1998.
July 26, 2012
Unrequited on October 26, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
There’s a girl whom I really like that I met this year at college. She has a bf who is in the Navy who is thousands of miles away. I know she really cares for him, and loves him. I don’t want to come between something like that. I don’t want to be the jerk who breaks up a good thing. But I can’t help but feel the way I feel. When I’m around her, I feel so alive. At the same time though, she is a really good friend. I feel like I can open up to her about anything, but what I don’t feel is the same from her. How do I go about showing her I can be one of the greatest friends of her life without flirting with her, or making her feel I want a closer relationship out of it. I mean, I do, but right now all I really care about is strengthening our friendship.
Then maybe if things were meant to be, something will come out of if. If not, then I’m happy just being friends. My biggest concern is that once the semester is over and I don’t have any more classes with her, which I’m sure I won’t, it will be difficult finding reasons to call her or go to her place. Thanks.
— Hopeless in Hartford
Okay. Don’t overdo it, but go ahead and do all the things that I always yell at the accursed Friend-Boys for doing. Do nice stuff for her. Do fun stuff with her; do not touch. Build her a loft, for all I care. And/But if you find yourself without a good reason to call, then don’t. Instead, find a reason to call someone else. And ask her out.
July 3, 2012
Sending signals on October 19, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Discovered your site about an hour ago, and you’ve already answered a few questions I didn’t even know I’d asked. But ay, here’s the rub. I’m a 27-year-old card-carrying nice guy. Other than not having a car and still living with the ‘rents, I’m a pretty good catch, or so I’m told.
Which is part of the problem… I’m invariably told I’m a “great catch,” “real prince,” “such a sweet guy,” etc. By women who either a) have no romantic interest in me whatsoever, b) are married/engaged/ blissfully happy and thus can compliment nice guys with impunity, or c) both. You’d think they’d tell their single female friends… but then again, life would be too simple if things happened that way.
Which brings up my first question… how do I upgrade myself, or at least my perceived image, from NiceGuy 1.0 to the version that actually lets the world know I have other features?
And then there’s my other problem, the cluelessness. I am *awful* at reading signals… positive ones, anyway. Complete lack of interest, I get right away.
May 8, 2012
Trapped in the middle on October 12, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have been dating this girl for about a month now. She is a really pretty, nice, smart, and sweet girl. But there is a problem. I think that I might have started dating her for the wrong reasons. There is this guy that keeps bugging her and tells her that he loves her and all this junk, and she doesn’t like it. The more I think about it, the more I feel that I started dating her to protect her from this guy.
But, that’s not all. I’m the type of guy that my friends rely on to help them with their troubles. Especially being the middle man when my friends break up. You know, being the nice guy, trying to cheer them up. But this time something happened between me and the girl whom I was trying to cheer up. This is another big problem because the girl just broke up with one of my good friends.
I need some serious help.
Here’s how to be a gal’s main — not Middle — man. Trust her to like you because you’re being who you are, not because you’re Helping. When the next one comes along (or, at least, when you reevaluate your current flame), assume she wants a boy, not a bodyguard (unless she’s Whitney Houston).
March 15, 2012
A success story from September 18, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I just wanted to share one of my own experiences that touches on a lot of the stuff you talk about. Although we’re broken up now, my ex and I were best friends for a year before we went out. We’d talk on the phone until 1 AM on school nights, be there for each other, do anything for each other — best friends. He was completely in love with me the whole time,which sounds rude to say, but it’s true. I did, admittedly, take advantage of that sometimes. But you know what? After a year of him being there for me for everything, I finally gave in to him and said I would be his girlfriend. Although things didn’t turn out so we could be together forever as we’d initially planned, we’re only in high school, and it was the best six months of my life. So this letter not only goes out to nice guys for being such great friends, and to tell them to keep being great, it will pay off eventually — but I also want to encourage girls to give that “nice guy” a chance. For the longest time I always said “I just can’t see you that way.” But I took a chance — I didn’t know how it would end up. I wondered if it would be weird kissing him, let alone MAKING OUT because we were such good friends, but you know what? We had the best first kiss because we already had mutual respect and love for each other. So those “nice guys” that aren’t always the best looking or the most popular might be just exactly what you are looking for and never knew it. So take a chance, ladies, and guys, don’t give up yet. Thanks for being so great.
February 21, 2012
Finishing last on September 21, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I’ve been going out with this girl for a while now, and I’ve been hearing rumors that she wants to break up with me. The main problem is that I’ve heard that reason is that she likes this loser who’s known as a “bad boy.” You know the type. Into drugs, sneaking out of the house, heavy drinking, doesn’t say much, doesn’t come to class much… my question is, why do girls always seem to go for the bad guy instead of the good guy?
I’ve talked about the Nice Guy thing a lot before, cautioning everyone that the opposite of Nice Guy is not Mean Guy; it’s a nice guy who also acts like a boyfriend-guy who’s not “too nice” to ask you out. But about the bad boy thing, yeah, fair enough. For men, it’s the thrill of the chase; for women, it’s the thrill of the … car chase. If you wanna dig into the whole psychology of the phenom, there’s a mildly cheesy but quite informative book called — guess — Bad Boys that can give you some good answers. (If you want to retain any semblance of badness yourself, I’d get a friend to pick it up for you.) I will say this, though: most people assume that we go for the baddies (if/when we do) out of some sort of pathetic zero-self-esteem “Hurt me! Ignore me! You’re right, drugs are more interesting than I am!” impulse. Well, okay, yeah, that’s pretty on the mark. But sometimes, it’s also this misguided faux-noble mission to be the one to — claim to — find the diamond in the roughneck. Or sometimes, you seek out the bad boy to make you look good (though also, granted, dumb) by comparison.
February 3, 2012
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have an almost ridiculous problem. Although I am sixteen and have never dated, I have fallen in love a few times. And no, not the kind of two-week-obsession we teens are vulnerable to, but fawning over boys for up to three years. And while I am kind of big (and beautiful, thankyouverymuch), I am not shy or unpopular. In fact, I’ve become friends with these guys most of the time. The reason I have not dated is this (and I am 100% not kidding): Every guy I’ve loved has turned out to be homosexual. They are open about it and comfortable with it, and I guess I would be, too, if I hadn’t fallen head-over-heels for ’em.
I guess my questions are these: Am I wrong in expecting a nice guy to be straight? Are the only gentlemen left in the world not interested in women? And how can I know when I’m falling for someone who can love me back?
Okay, let’s don’t slip into the “all of the good ones are taken or gay!” lament. I know TONS of nice straight gentlemen who are totally interested in, um, my friends! What’s really going on here, I think, is that you think you’re going out on some high-drama limb, but you’re really playing it safe. That is: if these guys don’t go for you, you have a really good reason. Hey, Frustrated, that’s excellent Rejection Protection. Sure, maybe these boys have some innate qualities that you really do dig. Identify them in these guys, and then look for them in someone straight.
This advice was originally published September 14, 1998.
January 6, 2012
The Predicament of the Week from September 21, 1998…
Readers will recall that Brad’s original predicament vaulted into Of the Week status the moment he recounted that the girl who wanted to hang out, hold hands, snuggle — and just be friends — went so far as to bake him a cake.(Thus serving up, for Brad, immense confusion, and for Breakup Girl, a veritable dessert tray of metaphors.). A week later, the frosting thickened, and our man B. got in trouble for being nice-guy-shoulder/pastry-chef — not, say, Boyfriend — for the women he desired. His unrequited cooky-baking had begun to take a toll-house on his will to love. THEN, Brad came back for BG-record-setting thirds, prompting a rather sugar-free response.
But now, at long last, Brad tests — and shares — a new recipe for romance!
Dear Breakup Girl,
Hello. Again. It’s me, and first off I would like to thank you very, very much for listening to me ramble and rant and cry and weep and moan and groan and bitch and scream “Oh my God, why me, why ME?” three times now. I promise you, if this was going to be another one of those letters, I wouldn’t be writing it. Instead, I would probably be off in the corner weeping softly to myself with my head tucked between my knees listening to Jewel or Amanda Marshall.
First off — Lynore.
I walked out to my car early one morning to go pay my tuition fees and as I got into the car, I noticed a note on my windshield. It was from Lynore, and it said the following:
“Brad — I miss you! I know (so do you) that I’ll NEVER call, but I really want to see you. I work at Rising High after 5 PM most weekdays and my phone number is xxx-xxxx. Don’t be a stranger! Love, Lynore.”
What would a sane person do? Well, I don’t know, but I fought with myself for a week and finally said ,”Let’s go see her.” Long story short, she hasn’t changed one bit. Five minutes into our conversation she made it clear that she wanted my pity (her boyfriend? That moved to Florida? Whose family she’s living with? He destroyed her self-esteem.) and she asked if I thought she looked okay. She said that she still loved the guy, whatever, blah blah blah, and that she just wanted to see me because I was such an understanding person, and that she needed someone to cry to. Okay, so am I wrong in translating this as “I want to use you as a doormat?” No thanks, Lynore. In fact, I’d just had another girl call me up after not speaking to me for two weeks. Why? Boyfriend problems. I finally just told her (let’s call her Janet) “Janet, look. If you really want to be my friend, call me on occassions other than those during which you’re sad or depressed, okay? Thanks.” She got really angry and hung up on me. No word from her since.
November 2, 2011
The Predicament of the Week from August 31, 1998…
Readers will recall that Brad’s original predicament vaulted into Of the Week status the moment he recounted that the girl who wanted to hang out, hold hands, snuggle — and just be friends — went so far as to bake him a cake. (Thus serving up, for Brad, immense confusion, and for Breakup Girl, a veritable dessert tray of metaphors).A week later, the frosting thickened, and our man B. got in trouble for being nice-guy-shoulder/pastry-chef — not, say, Boyfriend — for the women he loved. And now, Brad is back, setting a BG record for number of P of the W appearances…and prompting a sugar-free response.
Dear Breakup Girl,
I really, really hate to keep bothering you. By now, though, you have realized that my life is nothing more than a soap opera — and not one of the easy-to-understand ones, either. No, my life has to be one of the most complicated soap operas around.
This time, it has nothing to do with Lynore or all those other girls that I’ve said anything about before. In fact, I still haven’t seen Lynore (that guy moved away, but she’s still living with his family and being antisocial, waiting for him to return). As for the other girls I have previously mentioned, I’ve not made any special efforts to contact them. I called a couple of them once or twice, but the conversations were filled mostly with silence. After hanging up the phone, I decided that if they REALLY want to talk to me, then they can call me themselves. Otherwise, I’m no longer a part of their lives, which is just fine with me.
Unfortunately for me, I have a lot of girls in my past, and one of them has come back to haunt me lately. No, she’s not the ex-girlfriend whose photograph I altered so that she had a huge, huge grin and enormous eyes like those of a surprised cartoon character. This girl is one that I had a huge crush on for almost three years. In fact, I had myself convinced that I was in LOVE with her for over a year of that time.
March 21, 2011
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Not just desserts from June 8, 1998…
Readers will recall that Brad’s original predicament vaulted into Of the Week status the moment he recounted that the girl who wanted to hang out, hold hands, snuggle — and just be friends — went so far as to bake him a cake. (Thus serving up, for Brad, immense confusion, and for Breakup Girl, a veritable dessert tray of metaphors.) This week, the frosting thickens.
Dear Breakup Girl,
Since I was your Predicament of the Week, I figured that just maybe you would like to know how everything has been going in my twisted little world lately. Where to start? It started when I made the huge mistake of deciding to bake chocolate chip cookie bars for Lynore. My feeling was this: she baked for me, then I can surely bake for her. Well, I took them to her after school one day. They were still warm. She ate five of them, I think, but only said “thank you” one time. In the meantime, her friends were eating them, and one of her friends (Kelli, who doesn’t come into play after this point, I swear) said that she wanted to marry me. Amber and Tina talked about how wonderful the food was, and how wonderful I was to have baked it. Not one more word from Lynore, though.
Then Stu dumps that new stupid girl and runs right back to Lynore. Lynore says sure, and leaps into his open arms. In fact, to escape her paranoid abusive mother, she moves in with Stu and his family! WHY NOT? Makes sense, RIGHT? I, of course, managed to mention to her that she was making a stupid mistake. Tina did the same thing, since Tina HAD DATED Stu, and she KNOWS what kind of person Stu is. Lynore just got this dreamy look in her eyes and said, “That’s debatable.” Well, I snapped. I said something about her intelligence being debatable, and I drove off very very fast. So now, let’s push Lynore aside for the moment. She’ll be back, though.