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April 24, 2000   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need



Dear Breakup Girl,

I can't decide whom to marry. I am a 26-year-old male with three very good candidates who all love me very much. I have dated all of them at one time or another, and they all know each other.

The first one is Lara. She is 20, and we dated for two years. We were planning on getting married; we were each other's "first love," and (I believed) soul-mates. I went overseas to teach English, and while I was gone, she kinda flipped out since she was so young. She started doing drugs and cheated on me. It was very hard for me, and she wanted nothing to do with me. For over a year we hardly saw each other, but barely a day went by that I didn't think of her. Now she wants me back. She has had two years away from me now and knows what she wants. She is sorry and is saying and doing the right things. She is in school 1,000 miles away. I am back in school. We are both sophomores. So Lara wants another chance. But I don't know if what happened was a sign to let go and move on or if we are being given a second chance. She drove out to see me, and it was incredible. It brought back all my memories of her, and it felt like home. But I am still trying to remain objective.

In the meantime, this summer I fell in love with a girl I met when I was overseas. Nothing happened between us when I was away from Lara; we just met and that was it. I was still in love with Lara, but then she came to the United States, and we started to hang out a lot. We talked a lot this summer, before I knew Lara wanted me back. She knows about Lara, as I have told her everything. Nino is only 17, so that is a bit of a problem. But I am in no rush. If she is the one, I am willing to wait. Her culture has old-fashioned values, and she will be faithful, a good mother, a good cook, and all that old fashioned stuff. They get married at an earlier age in her country, and she is very mature. (I'm not just saying that, I know.) I was very careful with her, since I know she is young, and I didn't want to repeat the mistake I made with Lara so we have not kissed or anything, but we have a very strong connection. I dated quite a few girls after Lara left me, but Nino is the first girl since Lara who gave me the "in love" feeling. I know we would be happy together, even though there would be a lot of challenges. She has stepped down for the moment to avoid being in the way of my making a decision about Lara. She said she knew Lara would come back to me, even though I had no idea. I guess that is just female intuition.

The third lady is Erin. She is 29, and the "mature" side of me likes her. She owns her own house, has a master's degree, and is a successful therapist. She has a very strong heart and loves me a lot, too. I just never fell in love with her, even though we dated for about six months. We have been through a lot together. I feel like I never gave her a chance, but that were I to let myself love her, we would be happy, too. She is very tall and very beautiful. But I don't want to make my decision based on beauty.

To me, Nino is the most beautiful and exciting. Lara is the most familiar, and the closest I have ever had to real love. Erin is the most mature and makes the best "business sense." (Besides school, I own my own business and have to meet people. Erin makes a dashing impression and is the most beautiful by others' definitions.)

So, am I obligated to Lara to make things work, or to give her (myself) another chance? I trust her now, and I know she loves me the most of any of these girls. She said she would step down for Nino, too. But I am tired of the games and not being able to make up my mind. I know I would be happy with any of these girls if I would just put my mind to it. I think my problem is that I won't allow anyone to love me or allow myself to love again, maybe because I feel scared and am still hurt. I know I can only give one girl my heart, and I want to give all of it to just one. But WHO? I know I am fortunate to have three wonderful people love me, but I want to make the best choice! HELP!

--Can't Decide After Bad Breakup

Dear Can't Decide After Bad Breakup,

Invidual comments, then one big one.

  1. Erin. She is a grownup, and (especially given the rest of the field) that is an excellent point. But "she makes the most business sense!?" No.
  2. Nino. One (well, you) might be tempted to say "age is just a number." But 17 - 26? Those are a lot of numbers. Especially in your world, which is where you would live, right? And while I acknowledge that your feelings/intentions feel strong and pure right now, I really don't see you hanging out, priestlike, until time bends and that nine-year gap "narrows" with age. Culture, schmulture. Mature, schmature. Wait, schmait. She is a child. No.
  3. Lara. Well, I do wonder if you're (re)considering her partly out of just-in-case obligation. Also, I will say that first love is often the last to fade in your memory, the highest of standards by which we measure what follows. If you keep that in mind -- i.e. maintain your perspective (from a distance of 1000 miles?!) -- then maybe. Maaaaaaaaybe.

Now then.

I understand completely if you're "at the age" where you'd like the next woman you pursue with any degree of focus and vigor to be someone you will -- I mean, could -- theoretically, marry.

But mister! If you're still at the point where you've got (a) "three" (b) "candidates" -- not all of whom you've actually dated recently, or ever -- then the question you shouldbe asking BG and yourself is "Which one, if any, should I consider pursuing further ... toward a possible goal of one-day marriage?" I feel like you're doing a little of, "Okay, ready now. Let's see who's in the lobby." Which again, is fine, in theory, for dating. Starting from square one or two. Not for "You! I do! Do you?"

Also: it's good not to limit yourself to seeking out only one type of woman. But the way you describe the pool here, you've got the "home" one, the "business" one, the this one, the that one. Seems to me like each is, in some sense, part of what you want. And -- at the risk of getting in over my head psychologically-- it sounds to me like you're pursuing mirror-shards of fragmented pieces of yourself. You're all over the place, kiddo. You own your own business in the "real world," yet you're also still a sophomore who relates to a teenager. Not to mention: your breakup may have thrown you for a loop, confused you about who you are and what you want. (And again, it's great to not be too rigid in that regard.)

But my observation is that you need to slow down and consider what it is about each gal you like. And consider that you might find all of that -- feelings toward her and character traits already in place -- in one person, when everyone's ready. More important, if LOVElove is what you want, and if you are willing to wait -- and whether or not you wind up with one of these girls -- I'd hold out until there's just one of you.

Breakup Girl



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