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February 1, 1999   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

My boyfriend and I broke up (yes I'm gay) about two weeks ago. I'm trying to get over him, but I get urges to call him at work (which I end up doing), he tells me to leave him alone, but I can't, I don't know why I can't... he told me that if we were to be friends it wouldn't be until later, and he would page me when he was ready. What can I do to forget him or get over him? Please I hate having a broken heart -- it hurts...even around friends I still think about him.

-- Augustus

Dear Augustus,

People like to speculate about what precisely is it that separates humans from the cheetahs and the chickadees. Is is the capacity to laugh? To measure time? To fork over $4 for a mediocre macchiato? Here, as far as BG is concerned, is what makes us different from our animal neighbors: we do stuff we know we'll regret. Dare I say, in fact, because we'll regret it. Perhaps we've developed and enveloped ourselves in so many creature comforts that we can afford a self-fulfillingly self-destructive complex here and there. Keeps the gene pool interesting, I hear.

Hi, Augustus, I haven't forgotten about you [THE WAY CERTAIN PEOPLE SEEM TO HAVE]. (There, feel better?) I know that you are hurting but bad and I am so totally sorry. But the above paragraph and I are here to tell you that the thing that's driving you nuts -- calling him at work even though you know both of you will hate you when you do -- is also the thing that makes you human. Self-flagellation, self-torture, ordering your bad self a hot fudge sundae with a side of guilt. He was your boyfriend, you miss him, you feel bad, you call him, you feel worse.Voila. So I promise you, impulse calls such as these are totally normal ...

...but not advisable. Here, then, is an irritatingly circular admonition from Breakup Girl: the way to facilitate getting over him is to not call. I know, I know. But here's what you do: designate a patient friend to stand in for the doofus loser hose beast who dumped you. Next time you want to call the ex, call the friend, and say what you were going to say. (Alternative: write it down.)

Now, I know this is like telling the dieter to keep carrot sticks at his desk so he won't eat M&Ms. ("IF CARROTS TASTED LIKE M&MS, I WOULDN'T HAVE THIS PROBLEM!" ) I know calling your friend is not hearing His voice. I know. But your friend will not say "leave me alone." And, though you may not feel appreciably better when you hang up the phone with the friend, you will not feel bad. 'Cause right now, as far as calling goes, you can kill the urge only by killing time. And each step away from the phone is another step closer to "over him."

Breakup Girl



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