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February 25, 2011

30-something dry spell

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:49 am

Desperately single on May 25, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

I need to whine, and I think this might be the best (most constructive) place for it. I’m having a really hard time being single at age 35! I feel so isolated lately. I live alone, in a town that’s very popular with 20-somethings. Most of my friends are married, engaged, living or completely involved with their significant others. Ditto for my co-workers, who are also much older than I am, so there’s no social action there. I do belong to a gym, but that’s yet to produce any dates. I join groups, I go to networking events, I get out, but I am BURNED OUT on the search! I even tried the personals. I haven’t had a date since December, and I don’t see any prospects on the horizon. Let me add that I am very attractive, spirited, smart, and warm. I wonder — is there anybody else out there suffering from the 30-something dry spell? What is a girl to do? I’m actually thinking of trying to find a bartending or waitressing job, just so I can meet and flirt with some men again! This situation is crazy! Any insight!?

– Ann

(more…)

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January 4, 2011

But what’s in it for me?

Filed under: Psychology — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:15 am

Even superheroes take like three weeks to get through the Sunday paper. So in case you missed it, or are still stuck on Automotive, here’s a nod to an interesting piece in the Times by Tara Parker-Pope. At a time of “sustainable”-chic, what — Parker-Pope asks, makes a relationship (in this case, marriage) last? It’s not just a toolbox containing “communication skills,” say. Actually, those things do help relationships endure, but they don’t — necessarily — make them “meaningful and satisfying.” As it turns out, “the best marriages are those that bring satisfaction to the individual.” (Emphasis added.) In other words, it is all about you.

Well, sort of. Let’s put it this way: it’s about finding someone who makes your life interesting — who inspires you to try new things, to shift and change in ways that please you.

Caryl Rusbult, a researcher at Vrije University in Amsterdam who died last January, called it the “Michelangelo effect,” referring to the manner in which close partners “sculpt” each other in ways that help each of them attain valued goals.

Dr. Aron and Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., a professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey, have studied how individuals use a relationship to accumulate knowledge and experiences, a process called “self-expansion.” Research shows that the more self-expansion people experience from their partner, the more committed and satisfied they are in the relationship.

/snip/

While the notion of self-expansion may sound inherently self-serving, it can lead to stronger, more sustainable relationships, Dr. Lewandowski says.

“If you’re seeking self-growth and obtain it from your partner, then that puts your partner in a pretty important position,” he explains. “And being able to help your partner’s self-expansion would be pretty pleasing to yourself.”

/snip/

Over time, the personal gains from lasting relationships are often subtle. Having a partner who is funny or creative adds something new to someone who isn’t. A partner who is an active community volunteer creates new social opportunities for a spouse who spends long hours at work.

I mean, even relationships that end, if they had some good to them — and come on, most do — you still get something, leave with something, carry something forward that enriches your life. Hobbies, interests, new perspectives, learning experiences. Like, from that one boyfriend, I got skiing, and art history. From another, bread-baking, and rage. I KID. (Just about the rage.)

What this also says to me: no one — no one! — should be made to feel bad or needy or girly or “desperate” or whatever for wanting to find love. We are social, seeking beings. We don’t want someone just to make us complete. We want someone to help make us, and our worlds, even bigger. And to do the same for that someone.

Bonus: Take Parker-Pope’s quiz to find out how much your relationship, past or present, “expands[/ed] your knowledge and makes[/made] you feel good about yourself.”

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May 12, 2010

True Confessions: I just want to be left alone!

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 8:58 am

Classic advice from April 13, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

After a spate of bad relationships, I just want to be alone for a while. I know I will get over it, but in the meantime: no fixups, etc. The problem is that the world in general seems to be fascinated and worried about my lack of interest, and coworkers and friends are constantly shoving single, willing men at me. (Where were these guys when I was looking for them??) And single, willing men are throwing themselves at me as well, which is getting annoying. I feel terrible having to reject these guys — some are very nice, but they want more than I can offer right now.

I am sick of getting comments like, “Gee, do you think maybe you’re gay?” and “Maybe there’s something wrong with you.” I just need a little time and space, please! How can people be so insensitive and so insistent? And what’s a good polite way for me to tell them to drop dead?

– Non-Drooly Julie

(more…)

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March 25, 2010

Spinster stigma alive and well

Filed under: Psychology, books, issues, pop culture — posted by Mia @ 3:49 pm

Single women are still feeling the “stigma” of spinsterhood, a new study of middle class, never married, women over the age of 30 has found. In fact, single women between the ages of 25 and 35 reported feeling both highly visible in certain social situations — like, God help us all, bouquet tosses at weddings — and highly invisible when it came to social status, in almost every situation from consideration by political representatives to expectations in office environments.

Despite the fact that 40% of all adults in The United States were single in 2009, it is women who often feel pressure to explain or justify their single status.

Pandagon goes into more detail about the humiliating catch-22 of the bouquet toss,and also explores the potentially harmful situations the pressure to be married can foster. That is: “men can make higher demands on women in exchange for their validation of women. Sometimes a woman’s devalued position in a relationship merely means she does most of the housework and emotional work, and her sexual satisfaction is a secondary concern. But in the worst case scenarios, culturally created female desperation can be used as leverage by domestic abusers to keep their victims in place.”

A new book by social scientist Bella DePaulo, PhD, Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After
addresses all these issues and more. (The  fabulous bullet list she includes in her post about the book had me yelling, “sing it, sister!” at my computer screen.)

And here’s another antidote for all the single ladies, all the single ladies — and anybody who loves a great self-published comic: the amazingly funny and philosophic story, “My Every Single Thought” by Corinne Mucha. This comic chronicles the author’s attempt to get over an old relationship, and come to terms with a — yes — saucy new label: Single.

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January 21, 2010

The singleton diet?

Filed under: Psychology — posted by Rose @ 12:31 pm

Loads of props to Psychology Today’s Living Single blog, an excellent source of pro-single advocacy courtesy of perennial BG fave Bella DePaulo, Ph.D. One of their trusty commenters picked up on the singles-bashing embedded in this recent New York Times article about research out of Australia suggesting that  married women may gain more weight than single women. The study in question, conducted over a ten-year period, found that whether or not they bear children, married women tend to pack on more pounds than their never-married counterparts.

It’s not the findings themselves that slant anti-single; it’s the totally facile, clueless quote that another (female) egghead, asked to comment on the study, got away with. I’ll let DePaulo sum up what sucks about it:

“Before I tell you her answer — which was just a guess — imagine what answer would have been proffered if it were the single women who got fatter. Probably that they are home alone sitting on their couches eating ice cream, in a desperate attempt to sugar-coat that bitter man-less taste in their mouths.”

Buh-zing, DePaulo. Here’s the real quote:

“‘It’s interesting and brings out some important points,’ said Maureen A. Murtaugh, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Utah, who has published widely on weight gain in women. Perhaps, she suggested, a more active social life may help explain why women with partners gain more weight.”

Marrieds have more active social lives? Don’t people usually assume the other way around? Oh wait, I get it… because singles, mortified of revealing their grotesque, table-for-one faces in public, eat tear-soggy dinners under the covers of their twin-sized Murphy beds.

“‘Think of going to a restaurant,’ Dr. Murtaugh said. ‘They serve a 6-foot man the same amount as they serve me, even though I’m 5 feet 5 inches and 60 pounds lighter.’”

Okay, I’m thinking of that… that has nothing to do with being married. And btw, way to sneak in an elbow jab toward us glamazonly-tall girls. And also btw, I’m married, not incapable of asking for a doggie bag when I judge that titanic slab of man-meat I’ve just been served too much for my delicate belly.

As the blog entry notes about studies of marriage in general: “Even when marrying has a bad* effect, it will be attributed to something good.” Lots more juicy stuff here.

*Ever non-fat-phobic, we’d stop short of saying that gaining weight always = “bad.” But point still taken.

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February 19, 2009

‘Til rent do us part

Filed under: News — posted by Rose @ 2:26 pm

We trendsniffing BGers have pointed out lots of the ink that’s been spilled over Depression 2.0 and how it’s affecting the coupled-up:  They’re having hope sex! They’re having no sex! They’re bemoaning lost billions! They’re the bargain-hunting betrothed!

And we thought the worst of it was the stories of divorced couples who’ve had to continue cohabitating in their homes lest they lose a bundle on the surreal estate market. But the Debbie Downers over at Alternet have hit upon something just as sucky: the increased likelihood of singles having platonic roommates well past their age-appropriate 20s and early 30s. Possibly even (dum-da-dum-dum!) for liiiiife!

And I read: “For many urban professionals — despite having a good job and a college education — the American dream has been seriously downsized. Instead of hungering for the house with the white picket fence, they fantasize of one day renting an apartment with no one else’s milk in their fridge.”

While the story cites historical contexts for the rise in roommate-dom — everything from the invention of TV dinners  to the rise of women in the workplace — writer Nan Mooney really hits the nail on the head re: just what it is about being a grown man/woman with a roomie that makes one self-loathe:

“But at what point does having a roommate contribute to the fact that we’re still single and lonely? It’s all too easy to get stuck in that twentysomething, no plans, no worries, no furniture kind of lifestyle. The one where you go out for beers with your buddies every Friday night, crash on your futon and never get around to saving for retirement or contemplating a more permanent relationship.”

And, even more bitingly: “It can be hard to cultivate intimacy with someone when there’s a third party on the couch watching Jon Stewart. By our 30s and 40s, many of us are looking for either independence or intimacy instead of some limbo between the two.”

Thus my much-self-ballyhooed quest to “get New York-married” continues. Having become roommated in late ‘08 at the age of 34, for the first time since college, I admit that this article has sent a shockwave through my social life. Not sure what to do yet, but I sure know where not to go looking…

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January 9, 2009

Looking for love

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:39 am

Classic LetterAll the good ones are taken, from January 19, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,
I’ve broken up from my one-year relationship with my girlfriend last April. However, I can’t seem to be able to meet ANYONE single at the moment. It feels like a statistical phenomenon, although I go to parties, clubs and all…everyone I meet is in a relationship, engaged, married or worse. What’s going on? How can I break this vicious cycle?
– Patrick Loveless in Paris

Dear Patrick,
What, do you work for the Rome Tourism Commission or something? Mon dieu, you’ve completely dashed Breakup Girl’s vision of Paris as the world’s most romantic city. Try Flagstaff, I guess.
Love,
Breakup Girl

P.S. “Or worse” ?

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July 20, 2008

“Live Alone and Like It”

Filed under: Advice, Treats — posted by Breakup Girl @ 1:01 pm

Via The Daily Bedpost: Go-gal advice for single women from an editor at Vogue, in 1936. About Miss S., a teacher in the New York public schools, she writes: “In spite of living by one of the most underpaid professions in the world, Miss S. has been to Europe three times and to Mexico once, and three years ago she paid for the care of a tubercular pupil. She feels very sorry for her friends in Maine whose lives are limited to husbands and a trip to Portland.” Swell! Read more here.

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June 17, 2008

Now at MSN.com: Single & Happy

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:13 am

Here is this week’s installment of Ask Lynn, the advice column that BG’s alter-ego writes for MSN.com (powered by Match.com). This week, Lynn responds to a letter from Daria, who is quite content being single.

But if she’s happy without a partner, why write? Could she be lying?

Definitely not! But Daria needs to know that loving her independence does not preclude loving someone else; Oh, and not every guy is going to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars from you.

It’s a must-read. Then, when you come back here, a must-comment!

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June 11, 2008

Single? “Happy?” Lying!

Filed under: Psychology — posted by Breakup Girl @ 3:38 am

Via Broadsheet:

Yes, it’s happened again. An expert has proclaimed that single women, despite their protestations to the contrary, are completely miserable. According to Pam Spurr, an author and psychologist, single women who assert they are happy with their lives despite “their crushing loneliness and desperation” are not merely deluded, but outright lying. How does she know? Body language.

Upon talking with a woman at a party, who had every semblance of confidence, maturity and fulfillment (every semblance, that is, except for a ring on the all-important finger), the subject of sex and marriage came up. The sex therapist recounts:

“She immediately described herself as happily single. And yet her body language told another story: Chloe crossed her arms defensively over her chest until I just wanted to shout: ‘Yes my dear, now try pulling another one.’”

Hmm. You don’t suppose her body language seemed defensive because she realized she was talking to a hostile busybody eager to make snap judgments about her life on the spot and write disparagingly about her in an international newspaper, do you?

(more…)

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