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August 23, 1999   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

Once upon a time, there was a boy with a degree in engineering, geeky hobbies, and the social skills of your average boulder. But one day he met a girl who actually seemed interested in talking to him, and they became close friends. She managed to make him open up, and he even got something like a social life. Naturally he fell in love with her.

When he told her, she answered that she'd rather have him as her friend. He couldn't stop loving her, but he nodded, and they stayed very close friends. Time went by, and he watched her go through several relationships, each of them another scar on his heart.

One day, after she had broken up with her latest boyfriend, she told the boy that she had always seen him as something more than a friend but was scared of getting into a relationship with him because they were so close. But she felt the situation was starting to be ridiculous and didn't want to run away from her feelings anymore.

The boy was overjoyed and for the next two weeks they got into the beginnings of a romantic relationship.

Then she went back to her ex-boyfriend.

The boy was crushed. When he asked her "Why?" she couldn't give him any reason. Now he was confused and crushed. Great. Exit fairy tale, enter reality...

A month has passed, and I still can't think about it without flinching. I've never had a relationship before. Hell, I've never even been in love before. Now that wouldn't be too bad if I were a teenager, but now, at 31 years old, I probably should have had a decade or more of experience. Instead, I suddenly feel like a small boy lost in a very dark and confusing forest. I don't know how to handle this. Can't stop loving her, because...I can't. Can't forget her, losing our friendship would be an even harder blow. Can't keep on loving her, it's slowly driving me insane. And I'm tired, so very tired of this cycle of hope and despair.

I don't think there's any simple solution to this but maybe a superhero like yourself can give me a word of advice or two? I surely could use some. Really like your site by the way. It's a sunlit glen in the aforementioned forest.

-- JB

Dear JB,

Of course you feel like a lost boy; this was your very first forest. No bread crumbs left from before to gauge your way, pace out the scale of what's happened. So strike out on a different path for now. Friendship with her? Maybe at some point, Prince Pining, sure. But not right now; it won't even count as friendship yet.

The girl, you see, wasn't supposed to be there at the end of the story. Your relationship was real, but she was also in disguise. She was actually the mysterious crone, the one who approaches you partway through, holding out a bag of magic beans. You take them, and you thank her, yet you don't know what they're for yet. But I do: when you weigh them in your hand, they remind you not of what you lost, but of what you have finally had for the first time, and what you've thus proven you can have again, with some other princess. This is the sad part right now, JB, but you're still in the middle of the story.

Breakup Girl



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