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May 24

The Rhinoceros Head in the room

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:21 am

Still suspicious on July 6, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

All right, here’s the dilly: I’ve been with my girlfriend for nigh 3 years now. Recently, we both went through major upheavels in our lives, during which we fought & came close to ending things. During that time, she started seeing another guy. I found out because I came over for Valentine’s Day and he sent her flowers saying they had started something beautiful. Anyway, I freaked, and she told me that they had just gone on a couple of dates, nothing serious. From V-Day until recently, I had always been suspicious she was still seeing him, but whenever I asked, she told me she wasn’t and that I was being paranoid. Which, I believed, because she never lies, even when it’s the easy thing. One time I tried snooping but was caught so the only thing I accomplished was ruining her trust.

Last week, one of her good friends (who isn’t the smartest person) told me (she doesn’t know it though) that I was correct. She was seeing this guy, slept with him, etc. and lied to me when I asked. Another friend of hers told me that they did have something for a while, but it was over and that she digs me again and is head over heels. So what do I do? I don’t want to ruin my gf’s friendship on account of her friend being an airhead. At the same time, I “triumphed” over the other guy, because now everything between us is wonderful. Is there a reason to bring up these past issues? On the other hand, she lied when I confronted her and made it look like I was the person that was wrong, and she managed to make me believe it. What’s to say it won’t happen again? I don’t want to be in a relationship where I can’t trust her when we aren’t getting along.

Should I leave well enough alone or do I dig until I get the truth at the probable expense of the relationship between us and between her friends?


Dear J,

First amendment lawyers out there may be able to help me finesse this, but this is my understanding: let’s say a Bad Guy walks into a newsroom and hands over some very interesting — but stolen — documents. Even though bad guy got the documents illegally, the newspaper did not; therefore, the newspaper is allowed to use the information. Right?

So, we can argue about whether or not your GF’s friend made a bad (illegal) call by spilling the dilly, but either way, you got the data legally and are thus entitled to use it as you see fit. And frankly, I think you should. You’re not the one who meddled; the friend is (and maybe it was out of a sincere “I think you should know” impulse, anyway). Your gf’s relationship with her friend is, in this case, their business.

But here’s the main thing. As you should all know by now, Breakup Girl — when it comes to issues that are ultimately inconsequential — does not support Full Disclosure as a moral imperative. More harm than heal, yadda yadda yadda. But in this case, her “something beautiful” (eeeuw) boy is clearly not inconsequential. I think — and I’ve said this kind of thing before, too — that you’re spending more energy trying not to talk about it than you would if you got it out in the open.

Or, to invoke the deliberately cumbersome nickname I use for these things, what you have here is a Rhinoceros Head. Let’s say your relationship is a living room. It’s pretty nice and comfortable, warm, sunny. But there is a rhinoceros head on the coffee table. It’s not really in the way, but you can’t ignore it. In fact, you’re trying so teeth-grittingly to pretend it’s not there, that things in a otherwise nice room are stiff; you’re staring straight ahead, tiptoeing around, instead of flopping on the couch, putting your feet on the … coffee table… and just hanging out. Get the picture?

So deal with the rhino. Tell your gf that you are thrilled that things are wonderful right now, and you don’t want to change that. But you can’t shake the Ick left over from V-Day. Tell her you are willing to put it behind you — if, indeed, it is behind her. Don’t accuse; discuss. Talk about trust, your (both of your) expectations thereof. Talk about how you might handle things the next time you’re having problems. I don’t know what all the answers and resolutions will be, but just talking should help clear the air. And the coffee table.

Breakup Girl


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