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June 8

Rules of Engagement

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:29 am

The Predicament of the Week from October 19, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl:

I’m a longtime reader of your page, and your advice has always helped me to figure out what’s going on in my own life. Many thanks. But now I am in a state of complete and total perplexity (which I gather is not that unusual for grad students). Here’s the situation (if it can be accurately depicted in text):

I’m in my mid-20s. I’ve been friends with K. for nearly two years, and we’ve become very close. She’s a few years older than me. A couple months after we first met she started dating this other guy, younger than I am, who for the last year has lived in another city. (Also a grad student, and yes, we are all in the same field. Note to ANSBGS[“Professor Rebound”] it seems it’s always in the same field.) Six months ago, they got engaged. But K. never really seemed comfortable with the idea of being engaged; in fact, the more I learned about her, the less she seemed like the marrying-and-settling-down type. (And he seems way too eager to settle down. K. herself has said this to me).

I’m very much attracted to her, and it seems mutual, but of course we never explicitly admitted it. Until a certain point in April, when we went out one night and ended up pretty much revealing our feelings for each other.


April 19

Taking her home to meet … Breakup Mom

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:20 am

Meeting the parents on October 5,1998…

Dear Breakup Girl,

Here’s one I haven’t yet run across in your advice column…say you have a great relationship in every way, but as it evolves you find out the Jew/Gentile thing prohibits a future (read: marriage/living together). So why is he letting you both get in deeper when he knows he can’t take you home to meet his mother because you’re not ‘ethnic’ enough??? But you’re both so far into adulthood that how to raise any children isn’t even an issue and you both know that nothing this good has ever come along for either of you? Should the taboo against marrying a Gentile outweigh a chance for a dynamite love and friendship? I’ve pondered this for several years, still no peace of mind on this one. Thanks.

–Too WASP But Willing to Change

Dear WASP,

For this question about meeting the mother, how about we meet with Breakup Mom?


April 2

The Second-Longest Kiss Goodnight

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:24 am

The Predicament of the Week from October 5, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

Sorry for my verbosity, but after I wrote this litany of patheticness I felt like deleting any part of it would be like cutting off a limb. Please feel free to skip over any drivel you feel unnecessary.

I used to be pretty good at handling my romantic entanglements when I was younger, but now everything seems to be a big mess. I am really at a point where I am so confused and no longer trust my gut instincts. I have been on this manic roller coaster for almost a year and a half and I just don’t know what to do. I should be happy — I have a very successful career on Wall Street, am intelligent, creative, and have the means to do or go wherever I want. I have a wonderful family, supportive and caring friends, and I know that I am loved.

But my life is not perfect. I was divorced earlier this year after 4 years of marriage preceded by 5 years of dating. It wasn’t one of those messy-throw-all-the-china-at-each-other type breakups. We just got married too young (we got engaged when I was 21 — I am 28 now) and realized that we both changed and wanted different things. We tried to work out our differences, but it just wasn’t meant to be. So we cried, separated, cried, got divorced and cried some more.

People, you have no idea how much more there is after the jump

March 6

From Friends … to Lovers?

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:33 am

So you’ve got this great friend. You do everything together: shop, hang, talk, work out, talk about your lame love lives and NATO expansion. You know each other’s families; you take care of each other’s plants. You fend off friends’ suggestions that you should be a couple, saying, “No way, that would be too weird!”

But then, somehow, you realize, that what you really want to do … is the one thing you haven’t done together.

So you (a) freak out, and (b) make a list.

Pro: Con:
– friendship as sturdy foundation for Relationship – friendship crumbles under weight of Relationship
– undeniable attraction, intense bond – can’t kiss friend, cooties!
– close-knit group of friends think we should be together – if something goes wrong, who gets the friends?
– It’s fate. – I’m horny.

Valid points, all. And here are a few more, from Denver psychotherapist Carolyn Bushong: “Romances built on friendships can be deeper, stronger, and in some cases more ‘equal’ than others, especially when they start off mutually, with no one taking the role of pursuer or pursued. But, she says, love that didn’t start as lust also comes with a unique set of pitfalls and second thoughts. Couples may be troubled not only by the high stakes of gambling on a valuable friendship, but also by the feeling of having “settled,” she points out. “Especially when things aren’t going well, one person might wonder ‘What if I never was all that attracted to him? What if I was just comfortable…?'”

Ugh. So what are you going to do? Especially ’cause you can’t ask your, uh, friend for advice. That, of course, is where BG comes in:

  • What to ask yourself.

“What flavor of friends are we?”

Are you longtime pals from, like, before you were old enough to date? (Pro: The “Mr./Ms. Right There All Along” thing. Con: You’ve already bathed together.) Or are you more recent friends who, for whatever reason (say, other boy./ girlfriends) have never had the opportunity to upgrade? There’s no one right way to proceed in either case; I’m just trying to give you ways to calibrate your feelings. In the latter scenario, for example, it’s possible that you’ve become friends because you’re attracted to one another — but you’ve been treading water for so long that no one dares take the plunge.

“Is the crush enhancing the friendship — or interfering with it?”


November 28

More than “a Drawer:” Living Together

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 8:32 am

livingtogetherAccording to the US Census Bureau, there were 500,000 couples living together in 1970; now there are more than 3.7 million. Slightly more than half of adults in their 20s and 30s have lived with a squeeze. Why such a dramatic rise? Factors may include: economic necessity, relaxation of taboos, increased desire to freak out parents.

But more important than the question of why couples love-shack is this: what happens when they do?

Two recent studies offer some concrete answers.

1. A Penn State study found that cohabiters are less enthusiastic about marriage than those who live with their parents. Now, before you say, “Duh, I’d marry The Grinch to get out of living at home!” allow me to finesse this finding. Point is: living together actually caused couples to get less psyched about getting married. Now, before you say, “Duh, ’cause they realize they’d be marrying the Grinch!”let me further finesse. They don’t get less psyched about each other; they get less psyched about marrying each other — and more psyched about keeping things the way they are.

2. Just last month, a Bowling Green (Ohio) State University study presented to the American Sociological Association found that in some cases, moving in can get you down. Of the couples studied, the measure of “life satisfaction” was highest for married couples and next-highest for couples who lived together two years or less (that is, until marriage or breakup). Whose “life satisfaction” was at rock bottom? Long-term live-ins . Huh. And notably, cohabiting women with kids were significantly more depressed than married mothers. Sociologist Susan Brown surmises that what’s behind these blues is the wear and tear of, if you will, the relationship’s permanent impermanence.

Now that I reread them, I see that putting these studies together in close quarters underscores their trivial differences. Funny, that. But anyway, what we can distill from both of them — and from pretty common credence — is this: living together does not necessarily work as a dress rehearsal for marriage. How come? Well, for one thing, you’ve said “I do” only to the landlord, not to each other; there’s always — in theory –– a relatively easy out (unless you live in Manhattan, where the only way to get a good place is to marry a landlord). It’s NOT the same.

But I’m not telling you not to live together, I’m just telling you not to do it as a dry-run. Do it because you can’t stand to go one minute in the morning without seeing each other. Do it because you’re totally committed to each other and aren’t interested in the institution of marriage. Do it because your housemates have already turned your room into a study, anyway. Okay?

Other than that, BG does not have a particular pro or con position on living together — she prefers to evaluate your lovenests on a place-to-place basis. Just a couple more things to note, though, as you load up the U-Haul of love: (1) your cohabitation will make it approximately 89% more difficult for your friends to find worthwhile wedding presents, and (2) make no mistake: even if you live in the same room, you will still email each other. Oh, and if you’re looking for someone to live with, consider attending the next social at the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. They sound rather handy.

A version of this column was originally published on September 7, 1998.

July 14

Happy Birthday to Ex 2

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

Another celebration on July 20, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

I broke up with my girlfriend almost 3 months ago. The breakup had been building, I was tired of trying to fight through all the intimacy issues that she and I both had. I felt I couldn’t go it alone so I suggested counseling for us. That request was met with an emphatic “NO” from her. I felt like there was no other choice but to break up. Unlike other breakups I’ve had, this one was distinctly non-emotional — no tears, no calling back just to “hear your voice”, no heartfelt attempts at reconciliation. Just silence. And it’s been that way for three months. Two weeks ago it was her birthday. I decided to send a card, just to show that I didn’t hate her and that I do have some class. I didn’t get a response. All I wanted was a simple acknowledgement/thank you. So now I’m pissed. I still have some things of hers, and I’m wondering, should I send them? Or keep them and continue the road to recovery? I really want to be civil, but I’m angry, so I thought of including with the package a note letting her know how completely classless I think she is.

— Dane

Dear Dane,

Now do you see the point I was making to Wondering (about expecting a particular response, not about Ziggy)?


May 30

Summer Romance Time!

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:27 am

summerromanceWhat is it about summer romance? Why — here above the equator, anyway — is there no such thing as a Winter Fling? What were they thinking, re-releasing “Grease” in the spring? Theories abound as to why summer makes us all hot and bothered. For one thing, unless you are Smilla, seasonal shoulder-baring tanks and open-toed sandals are generally considered more flirtatious than the average anorak. Also, unless you are a lifeguard, the summer seems to bring on that crazysexycool feeling of reduced responsibility and urgency: 8 PM looks and feels like 3; vegans say, “Aw, what’s one cheeseburger!” — and since your must-see TV is in reruns, heck, even your VCR is on vacation.

Some experts even say — I am not making this up — that the male body actually produces more testosterone during summer months. Something about the position of the Earth in its orbit around the sun. Whatever. I say it’s because — well, as my friend Matt once pointed out, “there’s hardly a man in America whose hormones don’t start pumping at the thought of searing a huge chunk of cow over the open coals.” (He added: “But when a New Yorkerbarbeques, he gets the added rush of knowing that he’s an outlaw, the Jesse James — Jesse James-Beard? — of the brownstones, because open-flame cooking is apparently illegal in most NY public and private spaces. Which means that barbecuing legally in the city confers yet a different kind of manliness, because it means that the barbecuer has some abnormally large yard or deck. Especially in Manhattan, such real estate identifies the chef as filthy stinking rich. And in this town, there’s nothing more macho than money.”)


May 10

His feelings are stronger than mine

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:06 am

Finding a balance on June 29, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

Is there a moral or ethical imperative to break up with someone you KNOW to have hopelessly stronger feelings for you than you have now (or may ever have) for them? Or is the burden on them to take the information they have been given (accurately reflecting this emotional imbalance) and make their own decision as to their life and if they get hurt along the way, it really was their fault anyway?

— Chris

Dear Chris,

You and Jamie Summers have a lot in common. Rather than supplying equally legalicious commentary, let me take this, prose-wise, in the opposite direction:

Let the person know. Let it sink in for a while; see what happens. Don’t look for some “imperative;” see how you feel. If and when “guilt” exceeds “fun,” you’ll know what to do. Just promise to say it in English (and without parentheses).

Breakup Girl

May 9

How not to break up with someone

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 7:52 am

Predicament of the Week from June 29, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

After three years together and two years of friendship my girlfriend broke up with me…over the phone. She informed me that she did not want a relationship and then refused to talk to me about it because she was late for a movie! I tried calling her later that evening and once more she refused to talk about the breakup, only saying she enjoyed being single, and hung up on me. A few days later she sent me an e-mail saying that she never said goodbye and that she needed time; our time together, she went on, was important to her, and she would never give up all the gifts and stuffed toys I had given her over the years. She told me she would call me on Thursday — well, Thursday came and went and she did not call. I worried, so I called her and her first words were, “I’m going out with someone else now and there is no chance of us getting back together.”

It only gets worse after the jump…

April 11

Defamation of Independence

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 8:31 am

No need for neediness on June 15, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

I hope you can give me some help or at least some insight into a man’s brain. I am a 30 -year-old woman and I am fairly independent, believing in standing on my own two feet most of the time and having strong relationships based on intellect and feeling. What I keep finding is that the strong (strong inside and out), intelligent men who seem at first to be my equal are only interested in me for either “just friends” and/or sex. They don’t want a woman their equal, they want a woman who is meek and dependent, who NEEDS them all the time — almost as if the woman needed them in order to live. I do realize that people do need each other from time to time, but I am not the needy/clingy type. I have had men actually say to me, “Well, you don’t need me,” in a sad matter-of-fact tone of voice, and then dismiss me as a girlfriend altogether! What am I supposed to do, beg and say, “Oh no, I really really do need you! Please don’t go!?” I want men to realize that a woman will stay with them NO ONLY because she needs him, but because she likes him and wants to stay. So my question is, how do you show a man that you do need him but in a healthy give and take way? I don’t want to have to become a needy, clingy woman who seems to need a man 24/7 just to get a boyfriend.

— Puzzled Near the Pacific

BG’s response after the jump…

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Breakup Girl
is the superhero whose domain is LOVE or the lack thereof! Her blog combines new comics, observations and dating news with classic advice letters--now blogified for reader feedback!
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