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Dear Breakup Girl,
So, it's like this: Dated Mr. Steady, perfectly compatible for 6 years,
lived together for 4+. We went to the same college and grad school, had every
intellectual impulse in common, shared values that gave us unspoken ease
together -- the secret language. There were some dark spots, unfortunately and
they sank us: he went from being the most successful guy in the world to having
career paralysis that lasted for two years leaving him still solvent but
unhappy. Our sex life was never more than tepid and got even quieter every
year, but I wrote it off -- what the hell, he's my best friend, I'll deal. Yes,
that meant I suppressed all kinds of wandering/head-turning thoughts and had a
series of weird dreams about standing at the altar and wanting to run away.
But, being a momentum type person, I started to say it's time to make some
decisions about marriage etc....lemme know by New Year's, 97. Which came and
left, leaving us in ashen horror that it was time for someone to break the
stasis. I booted him; he went quietly. No loss of love, just this realization
that maybe this wasn't it.
Tears, alcohol, a fling with a friend got me throught the first four months.
After which I met a VERY neat guy -- and fell head over heels on the first
date. Wham, Cupid's arrow strikes. Funny, handsome, as impulsive as I am. And
it has been a non-stop snog-fest for the past three months. Constant
As frequency of contact will do, the haze of lust/love romance is clearing
enough to give me moments of insight and leaving me with a few questions. I
think this guy is cool and I've never felt this mixture of sweet love and
passion before. I'd marry him if he asked. But, IS IT IMPOSSIBLE for THE ONE to
show up in the Rebound time zone? Which lasts for how long, by the way? Even
though I feel normal, are my emotions necessarily too screwed for me to make a
rational choice? We have a lot in common emotionally, but come from very
different family backgrounds...something that has always spelled trouble in my
past. And I miss my ex without wanting to get back together. He and I talk all
the time on a very friendly level -- is this a seemingly OK thing to do that
could submarine my current relationship without my knowledge?
There is no big decision coming up. No rings, no official living together.
But it seems pretty darn important that I not kid myself or him about what's
going on. I want to make this work, but think that there may be landmines that
only Breakup Girl can help me navigate.
-- Ricochet Rabbit
I hate it when people say this to me, but:
RELAX. While you're right to ask yourself (and BG) these questions, I think I
can put your worries to rest. Ready?
1. The Rebound Zone. It is fixed neither in time nor
space -- nor is it surrounded by an anti-The One force field. While some people
seem to be in perpetual rebound, invoking the R word just to avoid the other R
word, it's entirely possible to leap over the rebound thing altogether. See,
people sometimes exit relationships with a never-clearer sense of what they
require and what they can't abide the next time around; the next person who
shows up will, almost necessarily, fit the bill because the freshly-single
person simply won't have it any other way. You know what I mean? Plus, it seems
like you've already gotten the Urge out of the way with the friend-fling.
2. Tears, beers. Also, as breakups go, this one sounds
tough and bad and all those other breakup adjectives, but not judgment-
addling. Correct me if I'm wrong: it made you par-for-the-course miserable, but
did not permanently nuke your self-esteem or your judgment or your generally
jaunty worldview. Right? Meaning that you don't sound like you're casting about
for someone, anyone; nor, for that matter, does this guy sound like he
came from the Rebound Division of Central Casting (see quiz, above).
3. The family background thing. So it's always spelled
trouble in your past? If you can look me in the eye and tell me that you don't
have some twisted childhood issue that drives you to seek out boys who will
cause In-Law problems, then again: don't worry about it. Or, at least, treat
the past stuff as useful data: What, precisely, was the problem? How did -- or,
more helpful -- didn't you work it out before? What could you do differently
4. Your ex. Also not a problem, I don't think. Sounds
like healthy, if rueful, closure to me. I mean, how often do you talk? Does it
bug Snog Man? If it does, and he (SM) is nice and respectful about it (as in,
"It's totally your right to talk to your ex, and I'm glad you don't have
some bitter scene with him, but could you, um, not call him on my cell
phone?") then work out something mutually agreeable. If not, and you can
look me in the eye and tell me it's just friendly, then fine and
All of that said, the only landmine that Breakup Girl
might detect is this: can you look me in the eye and say this whole letter
wasn't an attempt to get Breakup Girl to tell you to bail on something you
enjoy but want out of and can't think of any reason other than "BG said
so?" If so, here you go: if your heart's not in it, get out.
Just checking. I don't think that's it. Here's what
you really want BG to say, and I'm glad to say it: You're fine. Stay. Step away
from the microscope. Enjoy...and relax.
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