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October 11

Planned obsolescence

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:30 am

In for repairs on August 24, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

I have a great and mysterious power. I can sniff out women who are still on the rebound, even if the breakup was years ago, and even greater and mysteriouser, I have the ability to wave my magic wand of fixing, and make everything better. Then it comes back and bites me on the ass.

Am I being obtuse? Let me clarify.

I have been in two serious relationships, and a two close-to-serious ones (I’ll explain what that means later). For reference purposes, let’s call them SR1, SR2, CTSR1, and CTSR2 (aren’t I original?). In all cases, the lady love in question’s last boyfriend was a total jerk (to hear them tell it). SR1’s was physically abusive, SR2’s was completely insensitive and mind-gamey, CTSR1 and CTSR2 both had exes that cheated on them. (I hate referring to them in numbers, because each was amazing in her own right, so from here on in, when I say “she,” I mean “they.” But anyway.)

When we started going out, I could tell that although she liked me too, she was a little apprehensive, and more than a little guarded when it came to matters of the heart. It was pretty obvious that her last relationship had screwed her self-esteem over big time. But that didn’t stop me from becoming more and more attracted to her. I could see how beautiful she was (inside as well as out), even though she had forgotten. And even more, I was determined to remind her. Long story short, we ended up in a relationship, and it was wonderful. [“not to toot my own horn, but…” disclaimer here] I was attentive, caring, loving, romantic, sensitive, honest, faithful, everything jerk-o wasn’t. And over the course of the relationship, her scars began to heal, and her beauty began to shine again. And when the damage that jerk-o had done was more or less repaired, she was the amazing, beautiful woman that I had seen in her in the first place.

And then she left me for another guy.

* Note: in the “close-to-serious” cases, she managed to “heal” and find someone else before the relationship got serious (i.e., me falling in love).

I don’t mean to imply that I was the solution to all her problems, and was singlehandedly responsible for the “healing of her shattered ego.” Hell no. It was as much her as it was me, if not more. But I know that I did help, because I was nowhere near the scum-level of jerk-o.

Thing is, if this were an isolated incident, I wouldn’t be writing this letter. But it happened in that past FOUR RELATIONSHIPS I’VE BEEN IN!! I do believe that four times does a trend make. So, what? Is it me? Do I just “know how to pick ’em?” Not to encapsulate four great relationships (at least, until the end part, that pretty much sucked), but it was like “Thanks so much for helping me realize that not all men are scum. By the way, I’m in love with the pizza guy. See ya!”

Is it something I’m doing, or just really, REALLY bad relationship luck? Please help, because I’ve started seeing this one woman, and she’s great, I really dig her (far out), but mutual friends tell me that her last relationship was a doozy, and took her half a year to get over. If she’s gonna turn out to be TSMFHMRTNALAS. BTW, IILWTPG. SY! number five, I’d like to know now before it’s too late.

— The Handyman

Dear Handyman,

First, a little perspective. For all intents and purposes, everyone’s last relationship was a doozy. And as far as your current squeeze’s getting over it, six months — TRUST ME — isn’t necessarily that long. So as far as she is concerned, I wouldn’t worry about what your friends are telling you; I’d worry about what your gut is telling you. Does the climate in this relationship feel familiar? Do you have a nagging sense of deja vibe? In other words, do you feel yourself stepping into the role of Healer … again? If so, well, don’t call Domino’s.

Cause yeah, Handyman, it pretty much is you. Don’t stop being as excellent and truly nice as I’m sure you are. But do start thinking about this: what is it that doesn’t do it for you about women who don’t need you to administer self-esteem? Or, to get in there even deeper: what is it aboutyour self-esteem that makes it show up only — as it were — in relief? What would it be like for you to date someone who was already doing just fine, thanks? Where would that leave you? Who would you be?

Perhaps those insights may help you rechart your course in your current relationship — or start the next one from an entirely new angle. Either way, I hope the next letter I get from you says: “TSMFHMRTNAWNMHAAMOVME. BTW, NIATPG, IYKWIM. SY!”*

Breakup Girl

* “Thanks So Much For Helping Me Realize That Not All Women Need My Help As a Means Of Validating My Existence. By The Way, Now I AM The Pizza Guy, If You Know What I Mean. See Ya!”


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