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October 26, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

I have this wonderful, wonderful boyfriend. We've been living together for over a year now, and I couldn't be happier. We are best friends, and I genuinely enjoy spending time with him. The problem is, he had a girlfriend before me. Now, keep in mind that he no longer speaks to this girl (not to mention the fact that this girl is supposedly getting married, or maybe already got married) and says he doesn't like her at all, and didn't like who he was when he was with her. However, despite all the logical attempts I have made to overcome this, I have a raging jealousy of her. She was his first everything -- girlfriend, kiss, sexual partner. They only dated for a month. Now, I realize that:

1. I am the one he comes home to now, the one that he shares things with and chooses to be with.

2. I am being incredibly petty about this.

But, this continues to bother me. Why? He doesn't even talk to her! (How do people whose SO's are friends with their exes ever deal...?) What can I do, BG? I'm going nuts here! I wish I didn't know anything about her, but silly me, I insisted that he tell me stuff. (Warning to readers if you print this: DON'T ASK, you don't want to know!)

I've talked to him about this, and not surprisingly, he doesn't have many suggestions for me other than to just forget about it. That's what my friends all tell me, too: that it's kinda silly and I'll get over it, don't worry. But it's been a long time, and I haven't gotten over it. What can I do? PLEASE help!

Thanks ever so much. I'm a huge fan of the page... read it every Monday. :)

-- Petty

Dear Petty,

Second hand, second-rate, second class, second fiddle. "Second" does get a bad rap, doesn't it? And when it comes to love, our firsts are in a magical mystery class by themselves. So it's totally normal to get a little pouty about the one who went before -- especially when she's the First Lady.

A little pouty, yes. But write-to-Breakup-Girl jealous, no. So what's your deal? I'm not sure.Two possibilities come to mind: (1) that maybe, when the first twinge twanged, you actually didn't realize it was perfectly normal. Instead of pausing to notice it and then shrugging it off, you gave it credence, let it grow. Decided it was a problem. Et voila: it is. Or (2) there is something missing for you in this relationship: a sense of security, clearly, and a sense of worth and entitlement. Are you saying "I love you" and whispering under your breath "How will I measure up?" "How will I make this relationship, if not the first, the best?"

Either way -- and it's probably some of both -- I think your focus is off. Instead of Trying Not To Be Jealous, or Forgetting About Her -- which is about as effective as Not Thinking of a Pink Elephant -- how about noticing what already is great about this relationship? Not as an antidote to the jealousy, just as a celebratory end in itself. How come you guys rock as a couple -- and what about each of your pasts and histories and mistakes and memories actually enriches what you have now? Also, quit talking to him about it -- there's really nothing he can, like, do. And quit looking to him for "proof" that he's all yours. You say that he comes home to you, opens up to you, chooses to be with you; yes, he does, yes, he should be doing all those things, and yes, that's an excellent point. But how about knowing that you're worth it just 'cause you are, not 'cause of what he does? I don't know how to tell you to actually go about doing that, but I do have a feeling that for you, it might be a first.

Breakup Girl



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