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Predicament of the Week
In which Breakup Girl addresses the situation that has, this
week, brought her the most (a) amusement, (b) relief that it is happening to
someone else, and/or (c) proof that she could not possibly be making this stuff
Dear Breakup Girl,
I am 38 years old, and have never been in a REALLY serious relationship
before. A few short-term romances, a few really good friendships that might
have been... I had accepted, and was quite happy with the fact that I probably
would never marry, and would spend my life alone.
About 10 years ago, I met a guy who became a fairly good friend. There was
always a little spark of something there, and whenever we were at the same
party, or just ran into each other, we talked to each other to the exclusion of
everyone else. If someone else happened to be around they faded into the
background while we gazed into each other's eyes and talked. But, we were both
busy, and he never pursued anything, so I accepted that the feeling was
probably all on my side, and I moved on with my life.
3 1/2 years ago I moved away, and 2 years ago was in town on business, and
left him a note to say hello. I told him where I was staying, and to call if he
got a chance, but I never really expected to hear from him. That night, he
called, and invited me to dinner and a swim at his house. I went, and we had a
lovely time in the pool, and over dinner, and I went back home thinking about
him. One incident in particular stood out. While he was giving me a tour of the
house, I was sitting on the bed looking at a book, and I asked him a question,
and looked up and smiled at him as I asked it. He was gazing at me with such
intense emotion in his eyes, that it left me confused. When I looked up he
glanced away quickly, and he couldn't answer my question. He nodded, with his
head still turned aside, and I could see his Adam's Apple bob as he swallowed.
I'm pretty sure it was not a lustful look, but a hungry, lonely one. One that
said "Could you possibly love me as much as I love you?"
I let him know when I was going to be in town again, and again we had dinner
at his house. This time, we wound up just holding each other in his pool for
about 4 hours, with my head on his shoulder, and his cheek against mine. I was
shy, and when he pulled me into his arms, I put my head down involuntarily, so
he didn't kiss me...then...We had dinner, and I turned back and kissed him at
the last minute as I was leaving.
The next week, he called me at home, and for 8 months he called me every
week. It was wonderful. He told me some intensely personal things, including
the fact that he had been married, and the circumstances which ended that,
which were truly horrendous, and ego-shattering. Basically, she refused to have
sex with him EVER after they were married, even though she had no problems with
it beforehand. We're talking 0.0, he said.
In the meantime, we made tentative plans to meet someplace, and take our
relationship to the next level sexually, a question he brought up very shyly.
He said "good friends were harder to find than good lovers" and he
didn't want to spoil a good friendship, but he really was attracted to me. Some
of our subsequent conversations left me in no doubt that he was being truthful.
We saw each other several more times, but in circumstances that didn't allow a
LOT of intimacy. The first time we met after we talked about sex, he asked
"Would it be rude if I kissed you?" My reply was "I think it
would be very rude if you didn't!".
Then things changed. He called me and frantically left the message that we
were going to have to postpone our plans, because he had taken on several very
intense projects, and he took full responsibility for postponing things. When I
suggested, after being thwarted at several suggestions, that he simply call me
when he got around to it, he said "Don't just give up on me." The
weekly phone calls continued, and we continued to talk about very personal
things. Once he mentioned that he really didn't want any kids, how about me?
Until that point, I did not think in terms of anything long-term, I still
thought of us as getting to know each other. Then one night on the phone he
told me that he had discovered that he was emotionally claustrophobic, and that
the more emotionally involved he got, the more claustrophobic he felt, and that
we couldn't just go bouncing around in bed together until he sorted out his
emotions (He obviously had no objections earlier, and had told me many times
how much he liked what he had already seen...). I asked him if he would be able
to sort through it. He said he didn't know, he wasn't psychic. I asked if he
wanted to sort through it. He said yes. To this point, he was travelling
extensively, coming home one night a week, tossing the laundry in the washer,
and calling me. I would call and leave a message on his voice mail as a way of
keeping in touch. Several things he said led me to believe he was calling in to
his voice mail from all over the world to hear messages from me.
Then, the projects got really intense, he was away more than he was home.
And, the phone calls tapered off. I was in town once for a meeting, and he
travelled 60 miles to spend one hour with me, before rushing off to the airport
to pick up a colleague and work all night. The airport was about 70 miles from
where we were, and he lived about 60 miles back in the other direction.
Needless to say, neither of us really enjoyed that.
I had been leaving messages on his voice mail, pleading with him to get in
touch with me and let me know what was going on. They had been constantly
ignored. Then, finally, about 4 months ago, he called, and I discovered that he
had not been getting all the messages, because people in his office had been
deleting it from the system (although we established early on that no one else
could listen to his voice mail...unlike email which his secretary checks...) He
said he was obviously driving me nuts, and I was trying to drive him nuts, and
he thought we should just call it quits. He said he had been thinking about me,
and didn't think we could really do anything long-term anyway, could we?
Besides, he might be taking a job in Australia, and how would that work out? I
said, "Well, that would be a different matter." He said
"Oh." I asked him to not make a decision until we could meet face to
face, and talk things through. He said he thought I was being unreasonable (I
really don't think so, after he's kept me hanging on for so long, do you?) and
he didn't think I could change his mind. But he said it in an almost amused
tone of voice. I really don't believe he meant it. I believe he was also
annoyed because I had called one of his friends/colleagues to ask if she knew
where he was, and why he wasn't returning my calls. And, then he said that the
last time we were together for any length of time, it just didn't feel right.
Duh! Almost 200 miles of driving in city traffic, for an hour? I should think
it wouldn't feel right...I told him it was having things so open-ended that was
driving me nuts, not that I couldn't see him...I forgot to mention I've moved
back to the city where he lives...He said it would be at least 3 weeks before
he could see me, and these projects looked like they would last for about
The strange thing is, once I had a timeline, I began looking forward to the
possibility of a relationship. (And, 4 months, almost a third of the year, have
already passed!!!) The fact that his voice didn't sound very firm when he said
he wanted to end things (I heard a lot of "for my good" in what he
said) has given me new hope.
It's been 4 months now, and I'm trying to call him again to get the
long-awaited face to face. I called his office, and found that he's working
someplace else most of the time these days. The someplace else is in areas I
can't go to, as he pointed out when we talked. He also mentioned when we talked
that he had gone to bed the night before, and realized he hadn't gone to the
bathroom all day, he was so busy. I also didn't mention that he told me more
about these projects he was working on (although not specifics) than any other
person in the world to this point. For a while I was the only person outside
the project who even knew he was working in the areas he was working in...
I've rambled on for a long time, but this has been such a confused
relationship. Please tell me, do you think I should keep holding on for a
while? I love this man more than I've ever loved anyone in my entire life. I
can see myself going to bed with him every night, waking up with him every
morning, and waiting for him to return home from these trips that will
doubtless go on. (I work and travel, too, so I wouldn't be just the dutiful
wife sitting at home waiting...) Am I deluding myself that he has very strong
feelings for me too, and he really IS too busy to maintain any kind of
relationship right now? I've dated approximately 2 dozen other men in the past
year trying to get him out of my mind and heart, and it hasn't helped.
Please advise me!!!
-- Goin' Nuts!
You don't sound like one of those people who clutches
desperately at nothing with one hand while maintaining a Kung-Fu Grip on denial
with the other. That's why something told me that this was not so much a case
for the Breakup List as it was a job for ... BG.com's official real-live
professional Breakup Belleruth!
And here's her take: "This guy is phobic about
having sex. Or can't have sex. It may be a physical thing or it may be
psychological. Maybe he's gay. Maybe he's a she, and he's too ashamed to tell
you. So he's chickening out of the relationship in all the other ways, so it
doesn't have to come to a sexual encounter. You're legitimately confused. He is
really interested in you, but there's some sexual problem going on here and he
feels hopeless about it (there's more of this going on in the world that one
would imagine). He should see a sex therapist and he should come clean to you
so he can stop playing games. You deserve the truth."
And that, my dear, is the easy part, 'cause you're not
the one who has to do it. The part you have to do, I guess, is confront him.
Somehow. If you can even get him on the phone. Tell him you need to know if
there's something he's not telling you, and that he needs to know if there's
something he's not telling himself. And if he finds the latter out -- which he
should try to do -- then he needs to tell you that, too.
You may lose him, GN. But not having him at all is
better than... well, you don't really have him, anyway. But it's better than
having him messing with your mind. Still, sealing the deal -- somehow -- will
also help you open your mind and heart to those other folks -- you've met two
dozen already -- who can potentiallly fulfill all of your needs. Like
having someone in both your bed and your life.
Breakup Girl & Belleruth
PS Fasten your seatbelts, everyone -- we're gonna hear
a lot from brilliant Belleruth this week.
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