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October 20

Family, photos

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 8:35 am

Sorting it out on August 24, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

My boyfriend and I broke up five weeks ago, after a little over a year. Mostly he broke up with me, but I sort of put myself in the way of it, too.

Tensions had been building for a few months. I was really in love, and it was pretty painful to be “too serious” with an otherwise wonderful, lovable guy who would every now and then begin talking about his fantasy around-the-world solo adventure, complete with sex and the exotic, unknown foreign woman. You can see how that might bother me.

He was a great guy in most ways, but when they talk about the “Seinfeld phenomenon” of men who don’t want to grow up…well, that was this guy, I think. Really nice, really smart, really sensitive and sensual…and really afraid of settling down and being in love with a great, gainfully employed, attractive, healthy woman who wants a life with someone. Why, he might miss out on a one-night stand with another one of the addictive-personality emotional train wrecks he dated before he met me…OK, I’m a little bitter.

Now, I miss him like hell.

We had a few weeks of sorting out who had what stuff and a couple tearful phone calls and meetings. I haven’t talked to him for two weeks and I’m trying to keep it up. I figure that feelings of outrage and nausea when I think about him going on a date are a good sign that I’m not ready to “be friends.”

Here’s my question (finally!): photographs. As it happens, just about all the pictures we took over the course of what was mostly a wonderful year together were with his camera. Now I don’t have any, and he has them all.

I am debating writing him and asking him to make and send me some prints. But I don’t trust myself that this isn’t some way for my id to sneak past my ego and reinitiate contact with the boy. Emotionally I think I want that, but I know it will just make me a weepy mess at this moment. I am not at all over him.

But I want some of those photographs. It’s like I’ve lost a record of this entire year of my life.

What should I do?

I also have an auxiliary question: What does meeting the boyfriend’s family signify? My ex took me to meet his family about two months after we started dating. I took this to mean that he felt pretty serious about me. I think his family did, too. And yet, it seems to have meant very little to him. And now on top of having broken up with the boy, I will probably never again see these people with whom I camped, did Thanksgiving, exchanged holiday gifts, etc. So, what is the deal with this these days? Do I just avoid meeting another bf’s family unless I think we’re about to be engaged? Or is this just the chance I have to take in getting to know someone? What do I have a right to reasonably expect from a guy who takes me to meet his family? Can I reasonably expect that he’ll come to meet my family (who live quite far away) when I ask?

This boy’s categorical refusal to come with me because it would “mean too much” for him to travel with me and meet my family helped catalyze our breakup.

— Emily


Dear Emily,

Yeah, I can see how hearing about his travel plans might bother you.

I can also see why you want some of those photos. Sure, maybe it’s an in for your id … but who knows, it could also help with the healing. Why not write a terse but polite letter with your request — no drama! — and include a SASE? Only a little work for him, limited contact for you. And if he doesn’t respond, well then, ick. But you can’t bug him again.

About the family: Meeting the Family is Significant, but it doesn’t signify the same thing for every family. Some people hang out with their folks a lot because they have a bitchen beach house and invite “new friends” over all the time, no big thing. For others, it’s a regular Middle East Peace Conference. What you do next time is follow your gut feelings before anyone follows anyone home. Does the invitation sound casual, or Meaningful? Is it, like, they’re going to happen to be in your neighborhood and it would be weird NOT to have a drink with them? Or have they summoned the great-grandparents to the family homestead? If you do meet his ‘rents, what you have a right to reasonably expect is this: that he’d rather not break up, but it doesn’t magically mean that it will never happen. And as far as meeting yours is concerned: when the situation comes up, it’s definitely reasonable at least to ask how he’d feel about it and take it from there. Yes, a categorical refusal of what’s basically a quid pro quo thing is a big red flag. But — I’m not defending this — expecting someone to travel a great distance to meet your family is an excellent way to get someone not to come home with you. Especially if the next trip he was planning was an around-the-world solo adventure.

Love,
Breakup Girl

[breakupgirl.net]

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