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December 21, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

I've been reading your column for months, and I think you're spot on -- you helped me get through some tough times by giving other people good advice, thanks!

I've been seeing this amazing guy; we have tons in common, and he's even more than beautiful. When we first met, he told me he was dating someone. But dating -- as in dating, not girlfriending. So I thought, well, I don't really know him, and it's too early to be saying, "You should just see meeee...!"

We've gone out 6 or 7 times, it's always so wonderful and fun and silly and *gush*... Last weekend I had him over for dinner (and overnight, and the next day...), and I started to get upset about the other woman he's seeing. So we went and played arcade games, so we could forget about it (which worked for a bit anyway) and he invited me to a party which was so awesome and fun -- and we were a little drunk and it was too late for the bus so we walked home.

It took a couple of hours, and I was crying almost the whole way home. It started because he said "I love you." That's supposed to be a wonderful thing, but I couldn't handle the circumstances: First of all, we were drunk. Sometimes drunk people say things they don't mean. And if that wasn't enough, he's seeing someone else. We're not supposed to be that serious if he's seeing someone else. (Don't get me wrong -- I want to be that serious.)

This guy is awesome -- I could go on and on. He's okay with the monogamy thing, it's actually that he just has to decide whether he wants to lose the other woman as a lover or not. Or lose me for good, because I don't think I could deal with him as just friends.

We talked about doing a two week thinkaboutit, only that sounded so horrible (hello, it's Christmas!) that we decided that it was a bad plan. So instead, I guess I'm waiting, indefinitely, until he figures it out or I go nuts and just call it off. (This sucks!)

He's got lots of his own issues that are coming up because of this, sexual stuff, responsibility/time-to-grow-up stuff, but I think that's all a cover for the fact that he actually just has to make this painful decision.

Of course this raises all sorts of other questions -- will a "favorable" choice mean that we have way too much pressure to be a happy couple? Will I be angry about this for way too long? (Is it possible to survive this as a couple?) I don't like waiting for my life because of someone else, but this guy is awesome, I won't just give him up.

So other than venting, I just wanted to know: Any words of wisdom? Is there a better way to do this? Thanks.

-- Annie

Dear Annie,

I've said it before, I'll say it again: boyfriend wants to have his fruitcake and eat it too. He is allowed, initially, to date more than one person (in fact, I think we'd all do well to go back to the measured days of Brady dating). But once one person in the triangle, rhombus, dodecahedron, or whatever, wants more (say, to go "steady"), then yes, he must rethink what he wants -- though yes, he is still allowed to rededicate himself to polydating. And he is also allowed to have issues about responsiblity, commitment, whatever. Who doesn't? But he is not allowed to mess with anyone's mind (including his own) by saying those six little words ("Cuervo Gold and I love you"). Whoops, too late.

Before I go on/forget, here's one thing you mention that I wouldn't necessarily worry about: whether this potentially rocky start does or doesn't bode well for happy couplehood. Never mind that. It's a rare relationship, Annie, that starts off complication- or past-entanglement-free. Wishing for anything else is what Breakup Girl calls a fool's gold standard. Heck, arguably, you start out with a fixer-upper, and you're that much more invested, attached, and devoted. You know?

So what to do? Well, you can't make him do anything. So you, Annie, need to decide what truly works for you. Venting is a good thing -- as is, sure, cutting him some he's-human slack -- but waiting "indefinitely" may not be. Deadlines, Annie, sound harsh, but they can be a gift for everyone. I understand your preferring a justdoit to a thinkaboutit during the holidays, but beyond that, no, I'd don't want you tapping your toe under the mistletoe for someone who may or may not show up. He already knows what you want, right, Annie? So tell him by when. And either he'll come through or he won't. Up to him. Remember, y'all, you don't set a deadline as a threat, strategy, or tactic; you set a deadline because it's unhealthy and unpleasant for you to hang by a single thread of tinsel until the next millennium.

And then you stick to it. Right?

Breakup Girl



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