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Dear Breakup Girl,
Your column has been one of my saving graces for the past few months. Your
advice is very wise, and as I've read your columns weekly, I've been able to
see myself progress from the deepest depths of break-up despair to the
head-just-above-water stage. Things look a little brighter from here.
Last summer my boyfriend of six years broke up with me. We'd been in
counseling for about a year because we were faced with that watershed moment --
to get married or call it quits -- and he seemed to be paralyzed by this
decision. Marriage seemed to be OK with him as long as we were talking about
forty years hence, but the idea of getting married in the near future seemed to
fill him with dread and near-distaste. When he finally decided to end our
relationship, though, he would not admit it was because he had any kind of
commitment problem. Instead, he gave me the "it's not me, it's you"
routine -- in other words, he was perfectly capable of getting married, but I
just wasn't the person he wanted to marry.
When we broke up, I told him I didn't want for us to be in touch for the
foreseeable future. As much as I knew I was going to miss him, I knew I wasn't
ever going to get over him if I kept seeing him or talking to him. He has
respected that wish, and we haven't spoken or written in eight months. I've
gone through the full range of post-breakup emotions, and I've finally come to
that place where most of the time, I can see what was wrong or missing in our
relationship and know that I am better off without him.
So, that's the background. Here's my dilemma: My ex-boyfriend and I have a
mutual friend who is close to both of us. This mutual friend has just called to
tell me he's getting married in a couple of months. He wants me to come to his
wedding. My ex-boyfriend will be in the wedding, and surprise, surprise,
apparently he started going out with someone a few months after we broke up.
They've become very serious and our mutual friend tells me that my ex is
talking about moving to where she lives. He thinks they'll get married. This
new chick is sure to be at the wedding.
So, should I go? Part of me thinks I can handle this and that it may even be
a triumphant moment -- a chance to prove to myself how far I've come in my
healing process. Another part of me thinks I'm only fooling myself and
shouldn't set myself up for pain. Still another part of me thinks that even if
I could handle it, maybe my ex-boyfriend and his new love won't be able to and
that there could still be negative repercussions for me. And finally, there's
the part of me that thinks I'll really regret it in fifty years (when I'm,
hopefully, happily married and in a better relationship than I would've been
with my ex) if I miss a good friend's wedding. I should mention, by the way,
that this wedding is on the other side of the country, so there's no option to
go for thirty minutes and bail out if the going gets tough. I'm hoping you can
help me out. Thanks, Breakup Girl.
-- Wanting to do the Right Thing
How healthy and well-adjusted of you not to ask me
trickier questions like "Should I arrange to bring an intimidating
date?" The answer, while we're on the subject, is no. Certainly not. That
would be contrived, bordering on tacky. Instead, purchase an actual engagement
ring (keep the receipt!) or score a loaner by mowing someone's lawn or
something. To explain the absence of your betrothed, smile mysteriously and
murmur words like "yacht" and "Onassis" into your
Okay, Breakup Girl is SO kidding. Especially because
she is going to tell you to go ... but NOT because you have anything to prove
to your ex -- nor, for that matter, to yourself. Your close friend is getting
married. He wants you to be there. So go. At this point -- since, as you say,
you believe you're out of the throes of the most acute pain -- that obligation
trumps the other concerns. Your friendship with the groom is also the only
non-wild card here. Otherwise, don't set yourself up for feelings or moments
that may or may not happen. It's not that simple. You may have a triumphant
surge of Over-Itude, or you may have an aneurysm. Or, in fact, both. You're
human. I mean, let's face it: you're over your ex while you're alone in your
room; but you haven't really test-driven your healing in an, um, romantic
setting. (As for whether your ex and his squeeze can handle it, by the way,
that is so not your problem.)
So even if it mostly sucks -- hey, you showed up.
Other people have hurt friends' feelings by missing their weddings for far less
compelling reasons ("yacht," "Onassis," etc.). Doing that
deed -- no matter how lousy it may feel in media res-- will make a big
difference to your friend, and to you.
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