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July 31, 2000   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

I was about to send a shoutout to Alicia that she should take a hint from Bridget Jones. You know, how men are more likely to stay interested if you act like you're not? It's not something I'd like to believe, and I don't say "All men are..." anything. But, the theory has held up more times in my own life than I'd like to admit. Which got me thinking...

Remember the "new boy" I met early in the spring? Well, he's currently away for the whole summer, and I won't see him until very late August which is a very good thing, because things between us have never stopped being awkward, even though we frequently hang out as friends. After some initially promising encounters, I began to realize that he wasn't interested. So I started to approach him just as someone I'd like to have for a friend, but he seemed to think I meant more and acted very uncomfortable around me. Then, when I started leaving him alone -- ignoring him, almost --he started acting friendlier. When I'd act normal again, he'd freak out again. Repeat cycle several times. Ugh!

The last time we saw each other, when I decided to act like his friend no matter what, he acted more like an adult, and we parted for the summer on decent terms. I don't have any expectations for fall; I have better ways to spend my summer than thinking about him. But the thing is, is it true? Do I have to "play games" and ignore someone in order for him to pay attention to me? And, if I just want to approach someone directly -- act friendly, but not aggressive, and not hide that I think he's interesting -- am I doomed to failure?

Of course, I'm pretty sure this one's an extreme case. But it's also a variation on a theme I have frequently encountered in my life. Maybe I'm just panicking because my mom forced my sister and me to stand in the crowd for the bouquet toss at a family friend's wedding (of course, the damn thing landed right at my feet) or because I just got my master's degree and suddenly no longer have that convenient "school thing" for meeting new people? Is there hope for a no-bull, straightforward kind of girl in this crazy world? I'd like to believe that "the right one" will like that about me...or am I being too optimistic?

-- Optimist

Hey, Optimist!

There may be something to be said for the thrill of the challenge/chase, but I'm not at all convinced that it's an "All men are..." kind of thing. I mean, what about all those Women and the Bad Boys who ignore them?

In the case of your Band Boy, I just think maybe he suspected you LIKElike him, yet, oof, he...likes you, and he didn't want to give you "the wrong idea," but he does, want to be your, oof, friend. So he would back off if you backed...on, but then he'd step back up to make sure his, oof, platonic point got across. Anyway, sounds like you left things in an okay place.

So no, you do not have to ignore someone, or egg-time your phone calls, or whatever, to get him to pay attention. Where would that leave the "I'm too shy to say hi" guys, first of all? Second of all, where would that leave this no-bull, straightforward kind of girl? Look, you don't have time to chase or pester, but remember -- middle ground -- coy benign keep-em-guessing flirting is part of the fun, for everyone. Unlike that damn bouquet toss.

Breakup Girl



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