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Dear Breakup Girl,
I began dating a co-worker who admitted that he had his eye on me for the last
seven months. Although we had not really talked that much beforehand, everyone
at work told me that he was a very sweet, caring guy who has always been hurt
by girls he had dated before (all former co-workers). They also said that he
always talked about being somewhat dominated by his mother but that he seemed
We dated for almost three months. In general, he was a nice guy, but he drank
a bit much. (He knew I didn't drink at all but insisted on dragging me to the
bars anyway.) His affection towards me was always fluctuating. One day, he was
warm and tender; the next day, he was cold and withdrawn. I thought it was just
tension at home. (He's 24 and still lives with his parents... oh, well.) When
he was warm towards me, he would buy me expensive gifts and brag about me to
all his friends, saying that I was the best girlfriend he'd ever had, how thankful
he was to have me, etc. He would tell me that he was so glad I didn't drink,
do drugs, screw around, or lie to him like all his previous girlfriends did.
This made me feel like he really cared for me, and it made me forget when he
was distant to me for no reason.
About two weeks before he broke up with me, he started accusing me of wanting
something serious and trying to move too fast in the relationship. I say "accusing"
because I clearly stated from the very beginning that I wanted to take things
slow, but he kept insisting that I felt otherwise. He then informed me that
he had been "testing" me by flirting with other women in front of me and taking
me to bars with him and making me sit there while he got drunk. He conducted
these "tests" to "prove what an ass he could be." When I asked him if he wanted
to break up, he said he didn't. He wanted to stay with me, but only on the condition
that I "slow down." Since I was already going pretty slow, I agreed and tried
to slow down even more (practically going backwards!).
For those last two weeks, it was as if ass and nice guy merged into one. He
continued to drink himself silly while praising me and bragging about me. One
day, he didn't show up for work. I called him the next morning (we worked afternoons)
just to make sure everything was OK; he had been having car trouble, and I thought
he might need a ride to work. He became hostile with me on the phone, said I
was "obsessed with him" and informed me that our relationship was over. He said
he was tired of my always sitting with him at lunch (uhhh, HELLO, when
you work with your girlfriend at the same place, same shift, and have the same
lunch hour, you're probably going to sit with her among other people!). Then
I began to cry (which I am still very ashamed about), and he said, "I'm doing
this for you, too. I still want to be friends." You know, standard line. He
also told me that he'd been planning to break up with me for the last two months
and that now seemed like a good time to do it. Just a few weeks before, he was
buying me a Sony Playstation and a dozen games and making plans for us to fly
to New Orleans together next spring. Now, he tells me he's hated me sitting
with him at lunch. I don't understand.
So now, fast-forward about two weeks. I switched to a different shift so I
would not have to face him. Lately, he's been hanging all over this homely,
40-year-old alcoholic who (you guessed it) lives with her mother. She has been
trying (in vain) to sleep with every available man at work in hopes of finding
a place to live so she can drink without her mother's knowledge. (I know this
because a male friend of mine -- a gay man, no less -- was her latest target.)
My ex-boyfriend is her new "thing."
What galls me is that she is everything my ex told me he was so glad I wasn't:
she comes to work drunk nearly every day; she sleeps around; she's got some
serious codependency problems. Yet, I see them together every day. He drives
her to work and back every day, and now I'm hearing rumors that he has given
her money for an apartment of her own. They've only known each other a few weeks.
This hurts so much because he always told me I was intelligent, kindhearted,
decent, respectable, beautiful, caring, considerate ... and then dumped me out
of nowhere. One of his closest friends informed me that he has a "white-knight"
complex and that all his previous girlfriends have been older, "needy" women.
He said my ex really likes being with these kind of women, and he left me because
I had a nice car, a place of my own, and lead a (generally) trouble-free life.
Frankly, this doesn't make much sense to me.
A few days ago, I did something very odd. I was sitting at home, thinking
about our experiences together (who knows, maybe I AM obsessive!), and I had
the overwhelming urge to apologize to him ... in case I had actually done something
that he didn't want to tell me about. So, I went down to work and spoke to him
privately. When I apologized, all he would say was, "We were just two different
people. I felt I didn't have the strength to be with you right now. I've got
a temporary problem that I need to take care of in my life." I walked away feeling
somewhat satisfied, but none of it seems to make any sense to me. Everyone who
knows him thinks he's just got some emotional problems, but I feel like I'll
never be truly satisfied until I know why he would say such kind things to me,
make plans for me to visit his family in Louisiana, and buy me expensive gifts
if he had really been planning to break up with me for the last two months.
I'm sorry this is such a long letter, but could you please give me some objective
advice on why a man would act so strange and quirky with someone who tried to
be so kind, supportive, and (as he told me directly) was more fun to be with
than any girl he'd ever dated? And why would he want to waste his time with
the woman he's with now? I'm 27, and judging by his track record, I'm the youngest
woman he's ever dated. Do you think he has a "mommy complex" to go along with
his "white knight" syndrome?
--Searching for Logic in an Illogical Man
Dear Searching for Logic,
It's not that I don't want to hear your story. I really
do. It's just that in letters like this, the deal's broken
by the third paragraph. Complexes, syndromes, "temporary problems,"
lunch angst, expensive gifts, "ass tests" .... whatever! "Quirky?"
Searching, this guy is, to use one of our very own expert Belleruth's technical
terms, "a wacko meanie." Which means you can't make sense of
his behavior. By definition.
If you have to ask yourself "Why would this person
behave in a consistently bizarre, disrespectful, and downright unacceptable
manner?" then you also have to ask yourself, "Why am I even bothering
And please take my word for this: his wackomeanie
doings are nothing you did. Or didn't do. And -- though I understand the
urge to do or say something constructive with your hurt and confusion
and sense of gall -- they are nothing you need to apologize for.
Sure, Searching, a girl needs a little praising and
bragging-on and trips to the bayou and pricey trinkets every now and again.
But not in unpredictable steambath-and-glacier intervals; not at the price you
pay in between. Please don't misunderstand; I don't mean to "blame the
victim." But never mind him: why would you let something like this
go on longer than ... three paragraphs? Why, indeed, would you be willing to
share the all-important Lunch Table with someone who treats you like that? Seriously,
Try, sweetie, to make sense of that. Really. And
to take solace in this: Wacko Meanie is many unsavory things, but he is not
necessarily a liar. Between the two of you, you've both said that you are kind,
supportive, intelligent, decent, respectable, beautiful, caring, considerate.
You were more fun to be with than any girl he's dated. You are
different. By dating you, it's as if he checked into rehab, realized he couldn't
deal, and checked back out. So do not feel slighted by him; feel ... what's
the opposite of slighted? Next time, grant bragging rights only to someone who
really deserves them. As in: someone who deserves you.
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