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Dear Breakup Girl,
Having just ended a disastrous fling a week ago, I am coming to grips with
a sad, sad fact: I am INSANE when it comes to deciding whom to date.
Let me give you the specs: I'm 21 years old and was both high school and college
valedictorian. YET most of the guys I date are fairly dumb. I'm not throwing
around the term "dumb" loosely -- I mean dumb as in I have to explain movie
plots and can't speak normally because they don't understand most of my favorite
words. Some of them even border on ANTI-intellectual, thinking books and studying
are LAME. (While I am going for my PhD.) Considering that I am bigtime interested
in intellectual things, it is astounding to me that I keep dating guys who aren't.
I don't think I could ever be truly happy in a relationship if I didn't feel
free to talk about things I'm interested in at the level I'm interested in.
But with most of the guys I've dated in the last couple of years, I wind up
being a "watered down" version of myself.
Also, I don't smoke, do drugs, or drink. Most of the guys I date do most/all
of the above in various big-time-party combinations; the last couple have been
borderline-alcoholic, chain-smoking, "hook me up with the good sh*t"
types. I know this is insane. Why do I get into relationships with people whose
lifestyles are so different than mine?
Well, I've got a couple theories. One is that I like to date really, really
good looking guys. And all of the good looking guys I know who are also smart
and not seriously wacked out on substances have girlfriends already. So I date
the good looking, loser types. Oh my. Also, I know a lot of people think that
someone brainy like me must be some sort of intellectual snob, so I think I
bend over backwards to prove I'm not by not letting intelligence factor into
whom I date.
Also, the fact that I don't drink or do any of that stuff makes a lot of people
think I'm some sort of self-righteous, stuffy person, which I'm really not;
I'm afraid of being too judgmental, so I will put up with a lot of substance
abuse in boyfriends.
Another part is that I think I'm young -- I don't have to look for Mr. Right
yet -- so it's okay if the guys aren't perfect. I guess there's a difference
between "not perfect" and "completely and utterly wrong for me." But I never
see that distinction until I'm deeply involved, often infatuated (but not in
Maybe there are self-esteem issues involved. I'm not sure. I just don't understand
why I'm upset about ending a brief relationship with a guy who happened to be
really, really cute, really, really affectionate, and really, really good in
bed but who also has serious addictions, terrible mood swings, and other fairly
This is an issue I've been struggling with for a long time and need some good
thoughts on it. Whenever I decide I'll just have "higher standards" or "be more
selective," it never happens. In fact, I seem to be in a downward spiral. My
high school sweetheart was brilliant (went to Princeton), ultra-caring, and
substance-free. My big college relationship was with someone who was pretty
smart, rarely drank, and also a caring, wonderful person. Since then, I have
dated the slime of the earth. What is wrong with me? Or more to the point, is
there anything I can do to snap myself out of this ugly cycle?
So you've gone from one kind of tiger to another. Why?
Well, let me ask you this: How's school? How's life? Are you bored? Do you no
longer feel like the star? Are you [finally] rebelling against expectations
of achievement? Are you overwhelmed, over-challenged, afraid to fail? I mean,
when you're with these guys, do you feel both watered-down ... and smarter by
comparison? Because it seems like, for some reason, you feel like you've got
a lot to prove; sounds like this valedictorian needs some kind of validation.
That said, trying to prove how down you are by dating
"down" is ... dumb. Also, it is judgmental to not date someone because
he doesn't have expensive clothes; it is not judgmental to not date someone
because he does have an expensive habit. Steer clear.
How to snap out? Well, the thing is to figure out what
it is that you're actually getting out of all this "slime" -- you
tell me; see first paragraph -- and then decide you don't need it anymore. Or
figure out how to find that it elsewhere. See, now it's time to explain the
plot to yourself.
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