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June 12, 2000   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need

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Dear Breakup Girl,

Quick question for you: If you fall in love with someone, are you obligated to tell them?

The reason I ask is that I think I've fallen for one of my best female friends. (I'm a 26-year-old guy who, other than this, is pretty happy). She's smart, funny, and really seems both to understand me and be able to keep up with me -- a rare thing. She even seems to like me. I've even got all the cliche symptoms: I miss her when she's gone, get weak in the knees smelling her perfume, and feel like the best version of myself when I'm around her, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

Of course, she's engaged to someone else (who's totally wrong for her, and she doesn't seem terribly passionate about him, but none of my business), so my feelings are pretty academic.

So my question to you is this: Do I have to tell her? On the one hand, I'd feel better if she knew and think it might lend some perspective to her own relationships. On the other, it would be about as pleasant for me as a fun-filled weekender in a medieval torture chamber. Help me Obi Wan, you're my only hope!

--Jack (All Trade Variety)


This is a job for The Guy at the End of the Bar!

Yo Jack, Buddy,

It's not about 'obligation.' Doesn't BG say something about the "fool's gold standard of full disclosure?" No one has to tell anyone everything about anything. Especially if it's not gonna help anyone. Look, no one should live with the kind of regret I do. We've gotta be true to ourselves and fight for what we believe in.

But! There's no one "right" way of doing that. Being true to yourself here could just as well mean not saying anything because, say, you think it would weird her out and you don't want to do that to her ... because you love her. See, son? So don't worry about some fixed "obligation" (especially because your circumstances are quite different from this kid's). Instead ask yourself: which hurts worse? Not telling her how you feel, or telling her, and risking ... well, you did use the word "torture." Still, kid, it's totally up to you.

If you decide to pipe up, though, remember a few things. I'm sure your instincts are good, but it's hard to say for sure how "wrong" for her he is or how "passionate" for him she is. Well, it's easy for you, but you know what I mean. In that Bridget ...Fonda lady's book, isn't there something about how you never really know what's going on in someone else's relationship? So forget about "giving her perspective." That's not your job. Don't bother trying to make it all noble; you just really love this lady and are (you think) dying to tell her...that's really all that's going on here. So if you do tell her, remember, they're your feelings, your business. Tell her because you need to tell her, not because you're doing her a favor or "helping." Learn the lesson Paul the Intern learned and her because you need to tell her, not because you will then expect or demand that she feel or act a certain way back.

And if you decide to say nothing, decide not to regret that either. Figure that something stopped you. For a reason. Trust yourself, son. When last call comes, you're all you got. And if I were as good with words as that BG, I'd add some clever last line about making sure you don't play it 'safe' by always falling for the unattainable ones.

So long, kid.
-- The Guy at the End of the Bar

PS: "All trades" better not include Loftbuilding.

 
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