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August 23, 1999   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

My boyfriend and I have been together for seven months. And it all started out e-mailing each other back and forth telling each other what kind of gf/bf we wanted, and the more we did that, we slowly but surely found out that we were perfect for each other. We got along GREAT. We were each a half of a soul, and now we were one whole. We were both each other's first TRUE love, and, after talking about it for a long time, we decided to make love. (Although he wasn't my first, he accepted that.) And don't get me wrong, it was just like my first time. I loved every minute of it. And then, like two weeks after that, we decided to get each other promise rings.

Well the same day later on that night, we got on the computer to talk (on the AOL Instant Message thing). And he had to get off and use the phone for a sec, and said he would be right back. As soon as he logged off, this guy I didn't know asked me to chat w/him. But before I did, I looked at his info and it said he was from the same town as me and went to a high school in town. So I decided to talk to him and ask him if he knew my bf's best friend Jeff. Well he said he did, and asked me what my name was, and what school I went to. And then he asked me if my last name was such-and-such, and I freaked cause he got it right. I asked him how he knew that, and he had said that Jeff talked about me all the time and would break up with his gf if I would break up with my bf, his best friend. I said I couldn't do that to him; we had been through too much, and I loved him. And then I told this guy that Jeff had asked me to go behind our gf/bf's back with him. And I considered it, but felt bad I even considered it, and never talked to him after that. And the guy said I should tell my bf, and I said no, nothing happened, and it would just cause ONE BIG MESS. And he said if I didn't, then he would.

Well then just out of nowhere, he wrote "I love you." I asked him why he wrote that since he didn't even know me, and he said "Because I've told you that all day today and for the past six and a half months." Well my mouth just opened, totally surprised. It was MY BF! The WHOLE time. So he knew everything. I really hurt him. He got mad that I even considered it. And he told me about a week later and said that we had grown TOO far apart. Now excuse me, but how do you do that in less than a week? Well, then he told me that he forgave me and we wouldn't break up, but that same night, he went to the guy's gf's house (the gf that I was going to go behind her back with her bf) and cheated on me w/HER cousin.

I found out, and his excuse was that he thought we had broken up or decided to see other people. He didn't bring that up until about a week ago. And I don't like the idea of sharing him at all. He's all I've got. And then this evening he called me yelling at me that I told my best friend about us having sex. And now all of his buddies are calling him asking him about it. (I can't get in any more trouble, I'm telling you.) And I am really sorry about writing this novel. It's just that if I left out a small part, it would be confusing. What am I saying? It STILL is.

I guess what I am asking is what should we do? What is he trying to say/do? PLEASE help. I've cried every night these past few weeks. And I can't talk to anyone with out telling them EVERYTHING, and if I do that, then he'll get mad that I told. I think I've worn myself out worrying over this stuff. But I need to know. Please help.

--Emotionally Worn Out

Dear EWO,

Oh, sweetie. My sense is that there's some flavor of "entrapment" going on here, and I'm not talking about the kind where there's sexual tension between a really old art-thief and a really young (hey, my age!) FBI agent and no one except Gregoire raises an eyebrow.

Here, then, is a brief from the Breakup Legal Department.

"Entrapment, in its strictly legal sense, depends on there being a government actor enticing someone to do something illegal. Unless this woman's boyfriend was a cop, and unless, God forbid, it's illegal to think about having sex with a significant other's friend, this isn't legally entrapment.

"It may, however, be social entrapment. For the police to entrap someone, they have to get them to do something that they weren't otherwise disposed to do. This is the difference between having a woman cop dress as a prostitute on a street corner (not entrapment) and having that same woman cop approach a guy in a bar, grab him, and say "I'll do anything you want for $50" (As in, 'Well, I need a hand moving a piano.').

"But there's an added wrinkle especially pertinent here. In manipulating someone to do something that they wouldn't otherwise do, the police also cannot play on specific weaknesses or personality traits that they know about that person. So in this case, the boyfriend basically entrapped his girlfriend to reveal information that she was otherwise disposed to keep to herself. If he had merely gone on line and said, 'Hey, you don't know me, but do you have any secrets you want to unload?" -- and if she said, 'Yeah, I'm really tempted to do my b/f's friend' -- not entrapment. Under those circumstances, the boyfriend merely would have given her an opportunity to get something off her chest that she obviously wanted to. But his anonymous communication was much more manipulative. The b/f pretended to know key players (Jeff), he made flattering statements about Jeff's feelings, and he basically coaxed her into a confession. In short, he played to her weaknesses and got her to reveal something that she otherwise wouldn't have. It's not legal entrapment, but it is boyfriend/girlfriend entrapment. Tom Hanks may have gotten away with it, but I think you -- and she -- should throw the book at him.

"That'll be $ 845."

See, EWO, you're worn out not only because you have plain ol' fashioned bad and sad feelings, but also because someone has been -- successfully -- manipulating them for you. Your boyfriend is allowed to break up with you. It happens. Maybe he was even looking for -- and then exploiting -- some sort of out. Maybe he was doing something that he was already disposed to do. But he is not allowed to follow that cruel logic where he's all, "Now I will behave like a big meanie so that she'll miss me less." Which I think is what he's doing. Which is also what tells me that there's nothing, really, that you (singular or plural) can or Should do. Except that you should hang, face to face/real user name to real user name, with the people you trust and like and love. Now, I don't expect you to feel better as instantly as an IM. I so so so so get that this guy was your first true love -- and if you think about it, nothing can delete that, 'cause it already happened. But the evidence has shown that he is no longer "all you've got" -- like, not even half. And that one day you will find a boy who never doubts that you're all that.

Breakup Girl



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