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September 27, 1999   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

BG, you're doing a fantastic job. I think you could really use a sidekick or something to help you deal with the flood of bruised feelings in the world. I'd offer to help, as I have some experience doing this in the past, but I actually have some "problems" of my own. Mainly what I have is a question:

What the heck is up with guys? And I ask you this speaking as a guy and knowing that you've probably asked this question a bajillion times yourself. But mainly, I'm wondering why it seems that whenever a guy (i.e. me) gets into a happy relationship with a girl, he eventually just gets this need to be single again, to chase around some other girls, or just to be alone and miserable for a while. I'll give you some specifics:

About a month ago, I broke up with my girlfriend of about a year and a half. Our relationship was great, and we both felt that we were best friends, as well as gf/bf. We were completely honest and open with each other, interested in many of the same things, and I was very much physically attracted to her. It was her first real relationship, and my first really serious relationship, at least in the physical sense. Sounds perfect, right? So why, after these 18 or so months, do I suddenly get the urge to break up?

Now, this didn't just come out of the blue, I must admit. I had had a crush on a younger girl in my school whom I didn't really know very well. (This was pretty much OK in our relationship: she had told me about crushes she'd had on people, and I eventually told her of mine. We both felt that it was stupid to pretend that these feelings don't exist, so they were OK as long as we didn't actually act on them). So anyway, I told her of my crush, and she was a little jealous but pleased that I could share that with her honestly. This crush didn't bother me because I never expected that it would amount to anything...but of course, I started seeing more and more of this girl (I'll call her K) culminating in a school band trip. I ended up sitting with her on the bus, hanging out with her (usually with other people too), and generally getting to know her a little more than I'd expected to. And also enough that I could tell that she was interested in me, too. This upset me since I loved my girlfriend, but something was obviously up between me and K, and, even though I knew it was still just a little crush, the whole thing messed with my head enough that I eventually told my girlfriend about it, and after about two weeks, I somehow broke it off.

So...first thing I'm wondering, Breakup Girl: is this a normal thing for a guy to feel? Am I a complete jerk for essentially dumping my loving girlfriend for some other girl who interests me? Personally, I'd like to believe that it isn't this way since I've remained very good friends with this ex-gf (why not call her J), possibly even too friendly, as I think I'll get to later. Anyway, I also didn't break up with her expecting to get into a relationship with K, although I've talked to her on the phone a few times since and gone to a movie with her, and she seems to still be interested. It was just a feeling that made me doubt my relationship and want to be single, possibly even that I wanted to feel depressed and lonely again, which seems weird to me.

Also, when you remain good friends with your ex, what's the best way to deal? I say this because J and I still enjoy each other's friendship a lot and spend a fair amount of time together. This time spent together has unfortunately lead to us fooling around again on a few occasions. But we both feel bad about it afterwards and try to avoid this kind of thing. I sort of see it that we're still "in the process of breaking up," and that we'll gradually feel more independent. I'm not really sure where I'm going with this, but I still love her as a person, and we've both been very important to each others' lives. Basically, I'm asking for some affirmation: Am I doing the right thing? Am I being naive? Am I actually just a male jerk being lead through life by my pelvis?

Once again, thanks for providing the world with a valuable service and be sure to look me up if you need a slightly confused male sidekick-in-training!

-- Super Guy/Typical Male Jerk

Dear Super Guy/Typical Male Jerk,

You said it; I didn't. The jerk part, I mean. I really didn't. You're really not, and also: 'Typical Male Jerk?" Ain't no such cat, kid. Men and women find all sorts of innovative and diverse ways to be jerks -- or at least to leave relationships -- every day. But no such bad person, I promise, appears in your letter.

There are, however, two key words that do:

1. Bus. I'm telling you, things always happen on the bus. Just ask Genji (not to mention Chris and Alise). The Transportation Safety Board just found that seatbelts may do more harm than good in the event of accident; perhaps we still need them for other reasons. Which is to say, SG/TMJ, that what's happened to you on that yellow and black Hormonemobile is Typical, without the Male and Jerk part. You have relationships; not all of them (ideally, only one) lasts for ever. Interest wanes, eyes wander, sparks dim. Arguably, many relationships -- and I mean this practically, not cynically -- are, much like toasters, a matter of planned obsolescence. Not, say, welcome-worn adolescence. Treat ending relationships seriously, kindly, and gently, of course, but I see no sign of a multi-heart crash in the road ahead of you.

2. Pelvis. Any guy who asks if he's being led through life by his "pelvis" -- is not. That said, your "process of breaking up" still may call for this Important Breakup Girl Maxim: Do not fool around with someone in order to get over someone, especially if it's that person. I don't think you guys are in deep trouble here; but the relapse method (clarion call: "You look great without ... commitment") is just not all that effective. Led around by your pelvis, maybe a little; held back by your "process," maybe a lot. Try to keep four feet on the floor for a while, and both hands on the phone.

Oh, and about the sidekick, I've got, well, two. But thanks. Anyway, you're busy enough with band and all. Go ahead and work on finding someone to share the bus driving.

Breakup Girl



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