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July 13, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

Okay, I consider myself an intelligent girl. And I am not the type to kid myself over unattainable men. BUT, three years ago I was dating a man who I had been friends with for six years. He had just broken off an engagement, and I was well aware of his being on the rebound. I was newly divorced and not looking to get serious, so it seemed like a good situation for us both. I, however, fell in love . . .hard. And after six months, he left me to reunite with the ex. Well, I considered this a lesson learned: convenient mutual sexual attraction and broken hearts do not make a healthy foundation for a relationship. No more looking for a port in a storm for me. One year later I began seeing a man who I thought was a real possibility for a LTR. We were, I thought having a great time. And I still believe that I wasn't kidding myself. He was the pursuer from the beginning. Six months into dating, and only one month after having become lovers (so, I can't believe this was just sex for him to kill time during breakup recovery), he stands me up for a date. I was shocked. He called the next day and tells me he has been in love with his former girlfriend all this time, who he has not mentioned more than in passing in our six months of dating, I swear. Well, she had called him and wanted to talk. One thing led to another and they were reunited. Bye bye. Last month, I met a man, lots in common, great sense of humor, easy to talk to. We go out on our first date, and in the middle of dinner, he starts telling me about his ex. She had called him the previous week and he thinks they may be able to work things out. I feel like Charlie Brown trying to make a field goal! At least the wait is growing shorter with each round.

So my question is, am I completely deluded, or have I got some magical power for the reuniting of former lovers? Find myself a guide book on Reality and How to See It, or open my own business . . .

-- Proprietor: Peaches and Herb Escort Service


You probably feel used enough as it is, so forgive me when I say that I'm going to use your situation to tackle the issue of Rebound Conduct.

Though before I forget, let me handle your specific question about whether or not you have this "magical power" that brings everyone together, except you. Well, I dunno. If you really haven't left out any pertinent details -- e.g. guy #2 had a shrine in his bedroom to Francis Patrizi, patron saint of reconciliation, but you didn't think much of it at the time -- then I really don't see what signs there might have been that you could have missed. I also don't have enough data to make some sort of flip pronouncement that your psyche comes equipped with Unavailability radar.

So I would say, next time: find out. Scientists in Breakup Girl Language Labs are still perfecting this inquiry, but you could say something like, "Forgive me, this is going to sound insane, but the last few times I've gone out with people it's turned out that they've got major unfinished business -- like, the rest of the relationship -- with an ex-girlfriend. You're not one of them, are you? I'm not asking you for any sort of scary commitment or gut-spilling; consider it a yes or no question. Just wondering if I've broken that odd streak. I'm sorry to put you on the spot." (Men reading this: if that would be a terrifying thing to hear, let me know; I'll gladly accept revisions. I'm just trying to take some of the guesswork out of this straightforwardly and practically.) Oh, and PPHES: if you make this speech at all, wait 'til the third date.

Okay, back to Rebound Conduct. I know that these are not classic, perfect rebound situations, but they're close enough for me to make my points. Plus your Charlie Brown comment (not to mention the P & H reference) was so funny I just couldn't wait.

So heads up, rebounders on the mack: Don't mess with people's minds.

> If you already know they're looking for the same thing (see "Lovegety," above), then fine, go with it, carefully.

> More likely, though, you don't know. So. Key words: informed consent. I know it's kind of unrealistic for you to announce, pre-Date One, "I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS IS ONLY A REBOUND." But don't pile on indications to the contrary! If you're just looking to shack, then don't play house. Don't take the reboundee to fancy dinners ... at your parents' house; make out with him/her in a divey bar. Don't call them every day. Don't call them "pooky." Do you see what I mean?

> But also, do not send the rebound signal by talking about your ex on the first date (see guy #3, above). This rule isn't in the realm of rebound management, it's in the realm of date etiquette. Point being: don't say things that will leave your date at a loss for words. I mean, how was PPHES supposed to respond? "You might be able to work things out with your ex? Who hooo!"

That's it. You're a good date, Charlie Brown. It'll happen.

Breakup Girl



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