November 15, 2012
Changing his tune on November 23, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Hmm. Wow. This is weird. I never thought I’d actually be writing to you–I mean, like, ever, in a million years. It’s nothing personal–I think it’s just one of those male ego/”of course I know where I’m going, that farmhouse over there looks just like all the others we keep passing at regular 10 minute intervals because we’re in Nebraska–or is it Kansas?–for God’s sake”/”I don’t need your help, I can quit anytime” kinda things. Plus, it’s been quite a long time since I’ve needed any chick-type advice because . . . well, it’s been too long since I’ve, um, been in any kind of position to need any chick-type advice (which, of course, I will elaborate upon further when I’m done with my really long greeting-paragraph-type-thing). So, anyway, commencing with long-formulaic-breakup-girl- “help-me-help-me-I’m-in-such- utter-despair-and-inner-turmoil” letter version 1.0 . . . or .01 . . . or something like that. . . .
You rock. Your column rocks. Your Mom rocks, your dog rocks, your car rocks, etc. etc. (I mean it all sincerely, but I know you get that stuff all the time, and hearing it from me probably won’t send you up to cloud nine or anything–if, on the other hand, it *does*, then, well, I went ahead and said it).
Allow me to quickly tell you about myself (trust me, it’s all relevant–really, it is). I’m a 19 and a half (yes, I count “and-a-half”s) (okay, I’m going to stop it with these parentheses thingies or I’ll never get this letter written) year-old college student. And I’m a transfer student–I’m from down South, went way up North for a year, enjoyed myself, money and stuff like that didn’t quite work out, came back down South to an in-state school and am doing fine. I’m also–okay, prepare yourself–shy. But unlike a lot of shy people, including those among my friends and most of those who have written letters to you, I’m not really embarrassed about my shyness. In fact, I’ve kind of learned to accept it and to be comfortable with it. Maybe this is a little difficult to explain, or maybe I’m just deluding myself or something, but I figure that the world needs shy people just as much as, if not more than, it needs those who are outgoing; were it not for reclusive, creative people, we’d still be living in caves, wearing fig leaves, and competing with the sabertooth tiger next door for our dinner–nothing would ever get done and we’d all be fighting each other and confused all the time. And to me, shyness isn’t a form of “social phobia”; it’s just another way to be, not something that I need to change, something I need to overcome, or something of which I need to be cured. Besides, as Ralph Ellison so succinctly put it, “I yam what I yam.”
But, that said–how, then, does an introvert get along in such an indelibly extroverted society, especially in matters of the heart, without waning completely Invisible?
October 11, 2012
Looking for help on November 9, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
First of all, I LOVE your column and read it all the time. Your advice is really sensible and that’s why I’m writing — I’m hoping you might be able to help me with this. You see, I see the problem, but the solution is far from sight.
I’m 22, a virgin, had a total of 2 boyfriends (one Internet one I never met) and have a real problem getting boyfriends. OK — or anyone (I believe myself to be Bi — but since I’ve never been with anyone — I’m not sure if you can count that). I finished college, have my BA in English, am not completely unattractive, have terrible self-esteem and about 20 years of mental and emotional abuse from my father, whose house I am still living in until I save enough to get my own place. No — I have not gotten therapy for this yet — I can’t afford it and I OBVIOUSLY can’t get my father to pay for it. My mom won’t pay for it either — and she’s perfectly aware of why I need it too. (I do have a job that pays well, but I still can’t afford an apartment, much less anything big like therapy.)
I know I need to get out of my house and meet friends and people off the net, but the opportunities never seem to come up. It’s only recently that my brother taught me to recognize when other men are really flirting at me, and only recently that I realized that I am possibly attractive to other people. I used to believe that I just needed a boyfriend so bad just to have some love in my life. I still kind of half believe it. My sense tells me that I have to give that kind of love to myself before I can expect anyone else to give it. It’s harder than it sounds and I am trying to work on it. It’s hard when I’ve spent so many years hating myself for being lazy, slow, fat, unmotivated and all the other things my father spent years telling me that I am.
September 26, 2012
A long dry spell around November 9, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
First of all, please allow me pay homage to your site. It rocks, really.
Okay… where to start? Well, I am a 19 year-old male college freshman and I have a problem — I don’t drink. Doesn’t sound like a problem yet? Ah, but read on… I go to a school where it would be the understatement of the year (perhaps of the decade) to say, “lots of people drink.” EVERYBODY here drinks (except me, it seems). There are huge parties every weekend, beer flows in the streets, people sleep on the lawns, etc… Typical college campus.
This isn’t normally a problem for me. I study a lot, I juggle, I play ping-pong, I do lots of stuff that doesn’t require drinking. The problem arises in my relations with the opposite sex. Now, I hope it’s not too weird not to “want” a girl who smells like beer and/or who just threw up on herself from drinking way too much.
This is why it’s been difficult for me to do anything relationship-wise, because I am afraid that anybody I ask out will be a drinker, and everything we do will end up being based on that activity, which I abhor. I also fear that when/if I start dating a girl and I tell her that I don’t drink, she will drop me like yesterday’s Bud and go find herself a brand new Jack Daniels to party with.
August 3, 2012
Making a move on November 2, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I guess this question isn’t too hard to answer. I’ve liked this girl, let’s call her Joan, and for four years now I’ve been crazy about her, but I never had the guts to really go for her. I’ve since supressed all my feelings for her because I don’t feel I’m good enough for her. So, NO ONE knew that I had these feelings for her. Joan’s the sweetest, kindest, most beautiful, most perfect girl in the world, but she’s just a regular friend to me and that fact is killing me.
I’m not the ideal guy for girls. I’m the quiet guy who no one really bothers to talk to (hardly popular), except to ask for help on a homework assignment. I guess you can call me a nerd, but I’m not that dorky. Her friends can stand me, but they don’t really enjoy my company if you know what I mean.
Well, I know for a fact that Joan doesn’t like me in that special kind of way, and I need to find someway to let her know how I feel without completely scaring her away. I don’t want to lose her friendship. I talk to her whenever possible about little things and I spend as much time as possible around her without seeming conspicuous. I call her from time to time just to talk. I make up some excuse and ask about what assignment we got from which class and then go onto other, more casual things.
August 1, 2012
Feeling shy on November 2, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Well, I like this girl my friends introduced to me, and I am so obsessed with her, I almost ran away from home just to see her outside with my friends. I doubt she feels the same way too, and I’m always depressed when I can’t see her, and I don’t want to call her cause I think she might say I’m annoying, and I want to get over her, but I don’t think I ever can. I really want help. My school marks are falling and I can never concentrate because I really like her, the only way she said she would go out with me is to get to know me better, but I’m way too shy. If I can’t win her, I’ll need all the help in the world to get over her… I don’t think anything or anyone can get my mind off of thinking of her for at least 1 second — I really love her!!!!!!
— A Depressed Soul
Uh-oh, kiddo. Do you see the itty bitty problem you’ve set up for yourself here? This girl gave you your mission — to let her get to know you better — but if you say you’re too shy to try, then you’ve already chosen not to accept it. That’s the immediate problem. The other stuff to think about, according to Belleruth, is this (it’s heavy stuff, take it slow):
May 2, 2012
Opening up on October 12, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I’m a 18-year-old college student who is really shy. There’s this girl in one of my classes who I’m attracted to. I think she’s attracted to me, also. We played the little game where you look at someone and when you get caught by that person, you look away. I haven’t had a g/f in a long time. I also haven’t been really lucky for some reason with girls. We say hi to each other when we meet. But we never really talk. So I would like to know how should I go about to start talking to her? I don’t want to open myself to her so much. And I don’t want to get my hopes high either. I would really like to get to know her, but really don’t know where to start. If you have any advice, I would really appreciate it. Thanx for your time.
Talking to someone is not the same as opening up to someone. Some people talk to each other for years without ever opening up. You start talking, you open up, little by little, as you’re ready. So take a hint from Chris (below) and pipe up.
November 10, 2011
Back to basics on August 31, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I am 17 years old, and have NEVER had a girlfriend. I am attracted to women and all, but have never had a girlfriend. I’ve liked many girls. It may be because I am shy when it comes to women, I just don’t know. So, is this abnormal? What can I do about it?
BG needs to know more about your technique. If any. You say you’ve liked many girls … but is BG the only girl who knows that? Look, if you’ve been too “shy” to talk to them at all, you could not be more “normal.” (Also, single.) Just listen to what the supercute Everyguys who wrote What Men Want have to say: “When men feel that spark of attraction, we become excited and nervous. … It is the woman we really want to meet who makes us tongue-tied. We erect a barrier of fear and desire that may become difficult to break through. As soon as the spark is lit, our confidence tends to plummet, we lose our rap, and we become fearful, fumbling idiots.” So now do you feel normal? (Also, hopeless?)
Listen, Mike, if walking up to a complete stranger and saying “Where do you been here all my life often?” is not your style, so be it. It’s just as well. So try to meet and hang out with people in situations where you already have a surer foothold, a more comfortable context. Thing is, though, when you LIKE-like someone; you’re gonna feel shy. It’s part of the tingle. (Also, terror.) But take heart, not flight: we actually think it’s pretty cute.
November 9, 2011
Underachieving on August 31, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Well, here you have yet another of those “I haven’t had a boyfriend in __ years, am I pathetic?” letters. Except combined with one of those “I am __ years old and haven’t ____ yet, am I pathetic?” letters. I’m 19 years old and I have never had a relationship of any kind, unless you count a disposable camp/vacation fling several years ago (which, while fun, was very brief, decidedly casual and ended badly). I am constantly surrounded by dating/engaged/even married friends, teen romance movies and TV shows like Dawson’s Creek and Buffy etc. where these decidedly younger people are far beyond my experience (I know it’s just TV but it’s still depressing) and letters in your column from an army of young lovers. Well, I haven’t had a hint of romance or even lust thus far, and I don’t understand why!
Well, OK, I do. I was one of those driven, Straight-A Activity Girl Overachievers in high school, and while that was handy in the scholarship department it did not exactly work wonders for my love life. It didn’t bother me (much…) at the time, because I figured there was plenty of time for that Later. WELL it’s Later, and still no luck! I’ve seen my college friends hook up while I stay horribly single. Now I’m feeling lonely and wondering where I went wrong. It’s not like I’m ugly (decidedly average looking to tell the truth). I get along well with people, I’m reasonably funny and interesting (so I’ve been told). But, you guessed it, I’m horribly shy. I don’t know what to do. I know things will be easier once I’ve jumped into the dating pool, but I have no idea how to do that. Please help.
P.S. Am I pathetic???
BG’s suggestions to be less Lonely after the jump!
October 28, 2009
Well, boil me in beer and ship me to Sheboygan — it’s an update from Chris the Lonely Bratwurst! When we first met Chris, he wondered how he could translate his confidence as an improv performer into smoothness with the laydees off stage, one on one. Later, he wrote back wondering how he could get his all-partnered-up friends to for God’s sake stop calling him The Single One or, at one fateful barbecue, “Chris the Lonely” … yeah.
Here’s what he has to say!
This is Chris, aka Chris The Lonely Bratwurst, aka Chris the Improvising Bratwurst… aka now Chris the Married Bratwurst.
After writing a few times in 2000, getting published in your column, and taking your advice to heart, I figured out a lot of things and actually started dating. In 2003, I met the girl I would eventually marry in 2006. We now live in the midwest and are absolutely loving life.
I can honestly tell you that in the long process I went through to overcome my shyness, you were a difference maker. And I wanted to make sure you know that you can add that tally to the board.
Thank you a million times over, and continue to pass on the good word!
Peace, Love, and Sausages,
Thank YOU, Chris!
May 15, 2009
Next Page »
Justifiable matrimony from February 9, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
My girlfriend and I are both interested in marriage and children, and find each other sufficiently attractive that we’re willing to consider pursuing those goals jointly. We’re both approaching 40. I’m very shy, so I’ve had only three serious relationships before. She is about equally shy, but has had a little more experience, because as a woman she hasn’t been required to take the first move in relationships.
The thing that worries me is that we share almost no common interests other than our common interest in making a family. Can such a relationship work? Are we just getting desperate, and trying to make a relationship work that really can’t?