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September 7, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Predicament of the Week
In which Breakup Girl addresses the situation that has, this week, brought her the most (a) amusement, (b) relief that it is happening to someone else, and/or (c) proof that she could not possibly be making this stuff up.

Dear Breakup Girl,

I am 38 years old, and have never been in a REALLY serious relationship before. A few short-term romances, a few really good friendships that might have been... I had accepted, and was quite happy with the fact that I probably would never marry, and would spend my life alone.

About 10 years ago, I met a guy who became a fairly good friend. There was always a little spark of something there, and whenever we were at the same party, or just ran into each other, we talked to each other to the exclusion of everyone else. If someone else happened to be around they faded into the background while we gazed into each other's eyes and talked. But, we were both busy, and he never pursued anything, so I accepted that the feeling was probably all on my side, and I moved on with my life.

3 1/2 years ago I moved away, and 2 years ago was in town on business, and left him a note to say hello. I told him where I was staying, and to call if he got a chance, but I never really expected to hear from him. That night, he called, and invited me to dinner and a swim at his house. I went, and we had a lovely time in the pool, and over dinner, and I went back home thinking about him. One incident in particular stood out. While he was giving me a tour of the house, I was sitting on the bed looking at a book, and I asked him a question, and looked up and smiled at him as I asked it. He was gazing at me with such intense emotion in his eyes, that it left me confused. When I looked up he glanced away quickly, and he couldn't answer my question. He nodded, with his head still turned aside, and I could see his Adam's Apple bob as he swallowed. I'm pretty sure it was not a lustful look, but a hungry, lonely one. One that said "Could you possibly love me as much as I love you?"

I let him know when I was going to be in town again, and again we had dinner at his house. This time, we wound up just holding each other in his pool for about 4 hours, with my head on his shoulder, and his cheek against mine. I was shy, and when he pulled me into his arms, I put my head down involuntarily, so he didn't kiss me...then...We had dinner, and I turned back and kissed him at the last minute as I was leaving.

The next week, he called me at home, and for 8 months he called me every week. It was wonderful. He told me some intensely personal things, including the fact that he had been married, and the circumstances which ended that, which were truly horrendous, and ego-shattering. Basically, she refused to have sex with him EVER after they were married, even though she had no problems with it beforehand. We're talking 0.0, he said.

In the meantime, we made tentative plans to meet someplace, and take our relationship to the next level sexually, a question he brought up very shyly. He said "good friends were harder to find than good lovers" and he didn't want to spoil a good friendship, but he really was attracted to me. Some of our subsequent conversations left me in no doubt that he was being truthful. We saw each other several more times, but in circumstances that didn't allow a LOT of intimacy. The first time we met after we talked about sex, he asked "Would it be rude if I kissed you?" My reply was "I think it would be very rude if you didn't!".

Then things changed. He called me and frantically left the message that we were going to have to postpone our plans, because he had taken on several very intense projects, and he took full responsibility for postponing things. When I suggested, after being thwarted at several suggestions, that he simply call me when he got around to it, he said "Don't just give up on me." The weekly phone calls continued, and we continued to talk about very personal things. Once he mentioned that he really didn't want any kids, how about me? Until that point, I did not think in terms of anything long-term, I still thought of us as getting to know each other. Then one night on the phone he told me that he had discovered that he was emotionally claustrophobic, and that the more emotionally involved he got, the more claustrophobic he felt, and that we couldn't just go bouncing around in bed together until he sorted out his emotions (He obviously had no objections earlier, and had told me many times how much he liked what he had already seen...). I asked him if he would be able to sort through it. He said he didn't know, he wasn't psychic. I asked if he wanted to sort through it. He said yes. To this point, he was travelling extensively, coming home one night a week, tossing the laundry in the washer, and calling me. I would call and leave a message on his voice mail as a way of keeping in touch. Several things he said led me to believe he was calling in to his voice mail from all over the world to hear messages from me.

Then, the projects got really intense, he was away more than he was home. And, the phone calls tapered off. I was in town once for a meeting, and he travelled 60 miles to spend one hour with me, before rushing off to the airport to pick up a colleague and work all night. The airport was about 70 miles from where we were, and he lived about 60 miles back in the other direction. Needless to say, neither of us really enjoyed that.

I had been leaving messages on his voice mail, pleading with him to get in touch with me and let me know what was going on. They had been constantly ignored. Then, finally, about 4 months ago, he called, and I discovered that he had not been getting all the messages, because people in his office had been deleting it from the system (although we established early on that no one else could listen to his voice mail...unlike email which his secretary checks...) He said he was obviously driving me nuts, and I was trying to drive him nuts, and he thought we should just call it quits. He said he had been thinking about me, and didn't think we could really do anything long-term anyway, could we? Besides, he might be taking a job in Australia, and how would that work out? I said, "Well, that would be a different matter." He said "Oh." I asked him to not make a decision until we could meet face to face, and talk things through. He said he thought I was being unreasonable (I really don't think so, after he's kept me hanging on for so long, do you?) and he didn't think I could change his mind. But he said it in an almost amused tone of voice. I really don't believe he meant it. I believe he was also annoyed because I had called one of his friends/colleagues to ask if she knew where he was, and why he wasn't returning my calls. And, then he said that the last time we were together for any length of time, it just didn't feel right. Duh! Almost 200 miles of driving in city traffic, for an hour? I should think it wouldn't feel right...I told him it was having things so open-ended that was driving me nuts, not that I couldn't see him...I forgot to mention I've moved back to the city where he lives...He said it would be at least 3 weeks before he could see me, and these projects looked like they would last for about another year.

The strange thing is, once I had a timeline, I began looking forward to the possibility of a relationship. (And, 4 months, almost a third of the year, have already passed!!!) The fact that his voice didn't sound very firm when he said he wanted to end things (I heard a lot of "for my good" in what he said) has given me new hope.

It's been 4 months now, and I'm trying to call him again to get the long-awaited face to face. I called his office, and found that he's working someplace else most of the time these days. The someplace else is in areas I can't go to, as he pointed out when we talked. He also mentioned when we talked that he had gone to bed the night before, and realized he hadn't gone to the bathroom all day, he was so busy. I also didn't mention that he told me more about these projects he was working on (although not specifics) than any other person in the world to this point. For a while I was the only person outside the project who even knew he was working in the areas he was working in...

I've rambled on for a long time, but this has been such a confused relationship. Please tell me, do you think I should keep holding on for a while? I love this man more than I've ever loved anyone in my entire life. I can see myself going to bed with him every night, waking up with him every morning, and waiting for him to return home from these trips that will doubtless go on. (I work and travel, too, so I wouldn't be just the dutiful wife sitting at home waiting...) Am I deluding myself that he has very strong feelings for me too, and he really IS too busy to maintain any kind of relationship right now? I've dated approximately 2 dozen other men in the past year trying to get him out of my mind and heart, and it hasn't helped.

Please advise me!!!

-- Goin' Nuts!

Dear Nuts,

You don't sound like one of those people who clutches desperately at nothing with one hand while maintaining a Kung-Fu Grip on denial with the other. That's why something told me that this was not so much a case for the Breakup List as it was a job for ... BG.com's official real-live professional Breakup Belleruth!

And here's her take: "This guy is phobic about having sex. Or can't have sex. It may be a physical thing or it may be psychological. Maybe he's gay. Maybe he's a she, and he's too ashamed to tell you. So he's chickening out of the relationship in all the other ways, so it doesn't have to come to a sexual encounter. You're legitimately confused. He is really interested in you, but there's some sexual problem going on here and he feels hopeless about it (there's more of this going on in the world that one would imagine). He should see a sex therapist and he should come clean to you so he can stop playing games. You deserve the truth."

And that, my dear, is the easy part, 'cause you're not the one who has to do it. The part you have to do, I guess, is confront him. Somehow. If you can even get him on the phone. Tell him you need to know if there's something he's not telling you, and that he needs to know if there's something he's not telling himself. And if he finds the latter out -- which he should try to do -- then he needs to tell you that, too.

You may lose him, GN. But not having him at all is better than... well, you don't really have him, anyway. But it's better than having him messing with your mind. Still, sealing the deal -- somehow -- will also help you open your mind and heart to those other folks -- you've met two dozen already -- who can potentiallly fulfill all of your needs. Like having someone in both your bed and your life.

Breakup Girl & Belleruth

PS Fasten your seatbelts, everyone -- we're gonna hear a lot from brilliant Belleruth this week.



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