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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,
Could you please give me advice on permanently removing a leech from my
I'm a 33 year-old, good looking, stable, professional, financially-secure,
in-shape, blah, blah, blah, GWM. But I'm totally inexperienced in
relationships. Last December I got together for coffee with a guy from the
personals without a detailed telephone screening in advance (never do that --
if he doesn't have time to talk on the phone and says "let's just
meet," run away!). He turned out to be really cute and masculine-looking,
but with no job and living with a friend. So I knew that a relationship was
out, but it was Friday night and I had no plans so I took him home. The sex was
great. He was fun to be with. A week later he had a job so I decided to date
him figuring he'd quickly find a place to live and all would be OK.
But then, I introduced him to an experienced friend who the next day told me
"This guy's stupid, shallow, a user and a manipulator. You are fated to
get totally involved with him and destroy your life. Mark my words and don't
come looking for help later."
Not heeding my friend's advice, I continued dating User and had a good time,
except that he never looked for an apartment and he kept suggesting that he
move in with me. By Valentine's Day I had gotten my head on straight (at least
temporarily), and broke up with him. I knew that he was a loser, that he would
soon get fired from his new job, and that I had better not get myself in too
deep. I had also learned from him (he is factually honest and truthful about
many of his faults) that he had a long history of jumping from job-to-job and
relationship-to-relationship being dependent upon responsible boyfriends who
act as his surrogate parents.
He lost his job shortly after that, and lived as a gypsy for the next few
months. I know this because we spoke on the phone every few weeks in regard to
the issue of him picking up stuff that he had left at my place and him
returning stuff of mine that he had borrowed (lesson: never keep contact;
forget about your stuff, and mail his stuff to Brazil).
At the beginning of the summer I was feeling very lonely and in need of a
summer boyfriend. Re-enter User. I had long forgotten the bad, and only
remembered the good about him. We had a couple dates which lead to me letting
him come stay with me "for a couple weeks" while he "got his
life together." I spent the next three weeks having a lot of fun with him
while paying for everything with the understanding that he would pay me back
when he got a job. I was also helping him with his resume, cover letters, etc.,
and lending him clothes for interviews (of which he did have many). After week
three I woke up again, and a friend helped me change the locks on the doors and
put User's stuff in a monthly mini-storage while User was out at a job
This would have ended things if I were not an unmitigated wuss. He kept
calling me and begging me for money, etc. Meanwhile his father back home in
West Virginia (whom I had directed User to get help from) had a massive heart
attack (a story which I confirmed through the hospital -- unfortunately all his
"stories" always turn out to be true upon outside confirmation). He
found a place to stay as a house-sitter for an insanely trusting (more so than
me) person for a few weeks, but then I let him manipulate me into letting him
back into my apartment. At this point he had found a part-time job and could
pay most of his base-line expenses (like food and transportation to his
part-time job and interviews). The resumes and interviews etc., continued. The
rollercoaster went up and down between getting along and hating each other. By
the beginning of September I couldn't take it any longer and told him to be out
by the end of the month (knowing that he would never actually leave without my
having to lock him out again).
Since then, he has found a full-time job, but not earned enough money yet to
live on for more than a few days. I'm in therapy and calculate that User has
cost me about $1,500 plus therapy bills. I still want him out by the end of the
month because I am ready to move on with my life, and he is psychotic,
alcoholic, already going to lose his job (or ridiculously quit because he
doesn't like it), etc., etc. I've been tempted to let him stay until he gets
one or two more pay checks, but I feel that I might literally have to move out
of my own apartment to get away from him during that time. Every friend,
relative, and therapist still willing to listen to me has told me to get rid of
him ASAP (!).
So next Friday is D-Day. I'm taking a day off from work to (again) change
the locks on the door and put his stuff in mini-storage. Again I will be paying
for a month of mini-storage and giving him the key. Again I will have him
calling me, and showing up outside my apartment and my office begging me,
crying, letting me know that he is scared with noplace to go and no money
(except a few hundred dollars from his most recent paycheck)... that he will
have to offer himself up sexually for money, that he has no proper clothes for
work except those he borrows from me, that he will lose his job and it will all
be my fault, that his relatives on Long Island will not let him stay with them,
that he cannot ask his parents to send him money (these people probably know
the deal and cut him off long ago), that he needs to know that I still care
By the time you respond, Breakup Girl, all these things will be going on. I
am hoping that maybe you will have some advice or encouragement for me, at that
time, as to how to be heartless and save myself. After all, he is not on the
Titanic, and my lifeboat is full at this point anyway, so-to-speak (forgive the
stupid analogy). This is not going to be easy because I am not completely
confident that I have completely sunken to the absolute depths of my
loser-hood. As User once said to me, half-kidding, "I've seen your
financial statements and I know that you still have money that you are holding
back from me."
BTW: As a post-script I'll mention that I know from secret snooping that he
has already begun placing and responding to personal ads to find his next
victim. Watch out, gay male NYC!
-- Big L
Dear Big L,
Lots of people write to ask about detecting the subtle
signs of a potentially
dicey relationship. Here's one: when your personal hottie says, "I have a
long history of jumping from job-to-job and relationship-to-relationship, being
dependent upon responsible boyfriends who act as my surrogate parents!"
Someone wears that T-shirt, it does not mean you should not give them a chance
(BG is all for rehabilitation). It does, however, mean you should be on your
guard. But you knew that.
Yeah, no point in making you go sit in the corner with
a "DUH!" cap. Especially because somehow, somewhere, a fraction of
your Use-ee status arises from genuine kindness and generosity, sincere concern
and love (lust) for your fellow man. I'm sure you do "know better" in
other areas of your life (for further reassurance on the complex human
confusion over our own prurient vs. best interests, read last week's predicament).
We also don't need to go to far in analyzing
"User's" personal m.o., except to point out that it's rather
effective. Come to think of it, it's kind of like that ittybitty irony where
The Man has the derring-do to mobilize an international air strike in a
heartbeat, but can't get it together to... feed the children. You know?
Analogy: User is, in a sense, so "good" at persuading people and
problem-solving and advancing an agenda -- how come he can't use it for good
and not for evil? You'd think those skills, applied "correctly,"
could, you know, get him a job.
But anyway. You want advice and encouragement? Okay.
The key to being "heartless" and "saving yourself" is
looking at what you've been getting out of this whole thing. You burn
yourself on your gas stove, you don't go, "Well, all right, I'll touch it
again. But just this once." If something sucks -- but you keep doing it
anyway -- there's something in it for you. Let's make a list.
1. "Fun." If you say so. But at what price?
Perhaps you also groove on the danger, the impermanence, the Melrose drama at
your doorstep, the "this could fall apart at any moment" thrills and
chills. Dunno if that's true or why, but it's worth thinking about. What is it
that's less "fun" for you about the "good" boys?
2. You get for his demise not to be "your
fault." Legit ... in feeling, not in fact. He's plucking your
heartstrings, extended dance version. You feel bad, you don't want to be
responsible. Understandable. But the phrase "tough love" does leap to
3. You get to be the big nice good sweet sugar daddy.
You say you're "stable;" how stable do you feel? Only by contrast? As
in, when someone else stumbles into you? Do you need someone hapless around to
make you feel hardy? Hmm.
So yes, Big L, you need to be strong ... only strong
for real -- not strong in the way that someone [apparently] weaker makes you
feel. Because User is smart. Your grifter-a-go-go doesn't have resources to
spare: He's not gonna waste his time hounding someone who's not gonna help him.
Send him that message. He'll deal. He has before, and he's already looking
again, anyway. And when you start looking again -- if you want a
relationship that's not measured in month-to-month Mini-Storage leases -- well,
here are the key words: "stable, secure." In your ad, and your
intended's. And also, not just on paper.
P.S. As a practical aside, until U. gets the hint, be
extra careful about his showing up at your office. It's essential that we all
keep up the appearance of not bringing "home" to "work."
Consider calmly and responsibly acknowledging any intrusions up front with
colleagues, superiors, security, whatever. Just a thought.
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