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February 23, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

I was in a relationship for almost a year and it finally ended last week. It has had ups and downs, breakups and reunions so many times that I cannot remember the numbers. I love him very much, but he cannot live with my past (which really isn't shady at all!). When he was asking me some very personal and unnecessary questions, I lied to him for fear of losing him. The truth came out. For five months, we have been trying to work through this, him accepting my past (three other men) and the fact that I lied to him; I've been trying to move on from his insults. Last week, he told me he couldn't stop thinking about my "mistakes" and he wanted to see other people. I should be happy to be free from the arguments, but I'm not. I love and only want to be with him. I go to a very small school, so his presence and any girl he takes home are always near. I don't want to sit in or go out anymore on weekends. How can I go out and deal with the fact he's with other girls, ones who are in the place where I want to be? Breakup Girl, I obviously can't change the past, but my future seems in peril! I wish he would accept the past and that I love him. Instead, he's thrown me away like yesterday's garbage! HELP!

-- Discarded and Depressed

Dear Discarded,

Breakup Girl is seeing red, and you can bet it ain't due to an excess of Valentines here in her "advice nook."

Your "past," whether it contains zero men or the NBA, is not your boyfriend's to "accept" or reject.

He has the chutzpah to call your experiences "mistakes?" I don't care if they were cringeworthy flings or epic romances, or a little of both; that's beside the point. Look, this whole thing is a heady mix of
(a) an unacceptable female-virtue flashback to the Dark Ages: What, he expected you to save yourself for him before you knew he existed? What, he dumps you because you'd seen people so that he can see other people?
(b) a lame, cruel, easy-out excuse he's using to break up, and
(c) a serious ego shortage ... for all parties involved.

For your ex-boyfriend's part, well, as Colin McEnroe (i.e., a guy) writes in this month's Mademoiselle, "When guys have to deal with their girlfriends' sexual pasts, they may act angry and judgmental, but they in fact feel scared and small, as though you've had experiences beyond anything they can offer." And as for you, my pretty, your first warning sign -- about your relationship and about your security in it -- should have been the fact that you felt the need to lie about your "past."

Geez, you know, I can't believe anyone's calling "three other men" a "past." People on Knot's Landing have "pasts." You have a life. Now get on with it.

Breakup Girl

P.S. One more thing: no one should willfully misrepresent their pasts, but no one should feel the need to either. Hey, people: don't create some false gold standard of full disclosure and ask each other more than you really want to know. The answer will likely be: more than you really wanted to know.



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