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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,
My boyfriend (Josh) and I have known each other a long time, about 6 years,
and have been dating for the past 3. When we met we had our own respective S.O.s
but recognized an instant attraction. We promised to date if we ever happened to
be single at the same time. Over the next few years, I was his confidante
through break-ups and reunions, real breakups, a new girlfriend (Mara) and one
pregnancy scare. I did my own breaking up and found a new boyfriend, albeit not
the pick of the litter. It sounds very high school, I know, but that's how old
we were and all I can say is at least we acted a bit more mature than most.
Josh and Mara eventually broke up, and a few days later, he kissed me. (We're
into college now, and so acting appropriately collegiate and uber-cerebral.) I
assumed they would get back together... again... but they didn't. And after a
few months of cloud-skimming courtship, we started dating.
Flash forward. He's never quite managed to get over Jenny, which I understand
to the extent that I understood his intense former feelings for her and his
tendency to not get over things well (8th grade girlfriend, junior year
girlfriend, father deceased these last six years). He feels that he never did
anything but screw up with her, and wishes the impossible; that he could fix the
past. I am much the same way, to a lesser degree; I also understand that he
really does love me too, in a different, cautious, less-encompassing, more
dare-I-say-it mature way. If he didn't we wouldn't have stayed together for nigh
on three years, and he certainly wouldn't spend as much time with me as he does.
(Well, maybe, but that's a different letter altogether.)
I have kept in touch with Mara over the last three years, because I always
got along well with her, and we have a lot more in common than this mutual male.
She and Josh have relapsed into bed once or twice, but both apologized profusely
to me and recognized it as a bad thing. I am as always very understanding and
forgave them both (if not right away). We lost touch with each other in the last
seven months, as we all moved (Josh and I to go to new schools, her out of her
parents' house) and got busy with new lives.
So last week I finally left a message at her dad's and got a call back that
evening. And now we have scraped away the soil and loam to get to the gnarled
root. Mara is seven months pregnant. She's moved in with her boyfriend and plans
to get married next year.
They couldn't be happier. Granted, it's not a move I would EVER make with my
life, but this isn't my life and as such, I'm very happy for her too. They are
financially secure and he treats her like a princess.
But I know. And Josh doesn't. Mara is taking, er, baby steps towards telling
him. We agreed that it was her responsibility to do so, even if He isn't her
responsibility anymore. She started by telling her she moved in with her new
boyfriend (which he's not taking well). Next she may tell him they have a pet
snake (which won't go over well either). And finally, the joyous news. Which
will most likely send him into a depressive fit, perhaps leading to OUR breakup.
I knew there was a reason I was writing to YOU, specifically, other than that I
love your costume.
How much psychotic reaction is reasonable? I know I would freak out if my ex
were going to be a father and I was WAY less into him, so I may be excessively
permissive in this case. But what should I really expect? Is it okay for him to
go into seclusion for a week? Is it okay for him to refuse to speak to her ever
again? Already, when he does even hear from her, his "compass spins and he
feels like he's drowning... in a bad way." Is he going to break up with me
to deal with his unresolvable feelings for her? Will this force him to deal with
it or just drive him away from all relationships to avoid more ghosts? And how
long should I let him stew before I call him on it -- or do I just let him be
until he comes to me? And how long do I wait for him to do that? I'd really like
to be able to go to the baby shower without lying to him.
Dear Aunt Sarah,
Uber-cerebral? Then let's do some geometry.
First of all, lines. As in boundaries. Postulate 1:
there are none here. Which is a -- if not the -- problem. This may sound
radical, not to mention unappealing, but Josh and Mara -- that is, their
non-relationship -- are actually not your business. As our very own Belleruth says: "The way Josh still feels about Mara is for him to
work out. And not share with you. Same goes for Mara. This is basically common
courtesy and good manners. In fact, you should want it that way. But you
encourage them to tell you all? This," in Belle's own technical terms,
Which leads us to...
Postulate 2: "You've gotten yourself happily into
a soapy love triangle and seem to dig all the drama and intrigue," says
Belleruth. "There's something in this for you about being in the center,
the only one who (presumably) knows the full score."
Belleruth's query: if these two suddenly kept their
mouths shut, as they should, how much interest would you have in either? Or --
and here is her bold hypothesis -- is your most passionate relationship actually
the one you've got with said triangle?
Think about it. And in the immediate, well, minor
freakage when an ex gets hitched/pregnant is permissible, human. But seclusion
for a week? Again: weird.
So if you want to preserve and strengthen this
relationship -- which, believe me, I would love for you to do -- take a lesson
from Euclid: "It is possible to draw a straight line from any point to any
point." In your case, it is recommended. I don't care what the precise
points are (or if it's a beeline to a bit of break-with-the-past counseling),
but their relationship should neither parallel, nor meet, yours.
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