|Dear Miss Information,
I’ve been with my great thirty-eight-year-old girlfriend (I’m thirty-three) for almost a year. Monogamy has made me long for an ex-girlfriend who left me four years ago after a serious nine-year relationship. I wanted the whole enchilada with her, but she was a virgin when we met. That, along with other little things, eventually got to her. She was inexperienced and I’d been many times around the block.
Four months ago I passed through her town, and we shared a bottle of wine and talked about our lives. Since then we’ve played it casually, and she’s responded to a couple letters I’ve written with cryptic fifty-word postcards. The last card I received had the word "love" on it in my mother tongue.
If I could believe that she’ll finish her wild-oat sowing in the next five years, I’d wait for her. I’d do anything for her. But my ex’s mind is unknowable, even to herself. My current girlfriend’s clock is a-chiming, and I don’t want her to be a casualty. Do I have to dump her now to not dump her later? Would second best ever be good enough? — Compassionate Dumper
Second Best Syndrome (SBS) is to long-term monogamy what HPV is to sexually transmitted diseases. In the majority of instances it’s non-threatening, and almost everyone has it at some time or another.
SBS can even be healthy. It’s a temporary mental escape, an opportunity to vent the boredom and frustration that inevitably arise in a committed relationship by returning to something idealized, uber-romantic and deliciously tragic. It sounds immature and short-sighted, but we need that crap sometimes. We’re not going to get it from our current set-up — which is no doubt good, but oppressively vanilla and functional.
Also like HPV, SBS will often pass on its own, leaving both partners largely untraumatized. You write some journal entries, confide in a good friend and pen a few emails that never make it out of the outbox. It only becomes dangerous when you start engaging in high-risk behavior — leaving fantasyland and actively initiating contact with the person. You’re in this advanced stage of SBS right now.
If you want to live up to your name, Compassionate Dumper, you’re going to have to decide (and soon) which side of the flirt fence you fall on. If you’re going to stick with your girlfriend, you’ve got to stop talking to this woman; no more meeting for tête-à-têtes, no more foreign-language postcards. If you don’t, it’s going to be a hell of a lot harder to keep up the pretense of commitment and the lies will flow more and more. But the way I see it, breaking up with your girlfriend is a no-fail proposition. You’re making yourself happy by one, making it possible for your ex to get back together with you (although she already dumped you once — why will she want you now?), and two, opening yourself up to finding a new lady. You’re also making your girlfriend happy. She deserves better than all this wishy-washiness. It’ll be hard to let go, but you’re doing her and her screaming ovaries an invaluable favor if you do.
|Dear Miss Information,
I slept with my best male friend a couple times in high school. It wasn’t a big deal. I saw him occasionally when I was home from college. I recently moved home and one night we slept together again. Neither of us were drunk. We watched a movie, held hands, laughed non-stop, and then I stayed over.
Now things have changed completely. He barely talks to me when we hang out in our group of friends and breaks plans every time we make them. His closest friends say that this is how he treats all girls now and that I shouldn’t take it personally. I really like him as a friend and I thought I might like him as more because of our past and how much fun we have together. I’m not just some girl he brought home from the bar. Why is he acting like this? And does this mean anything more than friendship with this guy is off the table? — Repeat Offender
Dear Repeat Offender,
A social worker would call this guy “low functioning.” Able to excel in certain basic activities (movie-watching, hand-holding, best-friend fucking) but failing miserably in anything requiring emotional sensitivity, communication skills, adult behavior or advanced reasoning. While you have a big bloated normal-person brain floating about in your cranium, his is tiny and reptilian. Instead of wondering whether or not he’s still up for grabs, a cool girl like you should be asking herself why she’s trying to romance Godzilla.
What I’m getting from his actions is that he doesn’t want to date you. He just wants you as a casual friend and fuck. He’s paranoid that you’ll get the wrong idea now that you’re living in the same town. This dismissive treatment — ignoring you, not calling and so on — is his clumsy, immature way of establishing distance and spelling that out. The crappy part is that it’s making you feel rejected, vulnerable and maybe even shamed.
Let him continue being weird. It’s not your problem. Lift your energy off this mofo and move on to other stuff. Stop treating his friendship as a priority. There’s nothing good that could possibly come out of it right now. If he’s mean to you, you’ll feel even more rejected. If he’s nice to you, it’ll hurt that much more when he switches from hot back to cold. (Which he will. Those types always do.)
It seems unbearable right now, what with being the dead of winter and the most depressing days of the year slogging by us. But trust me, I just ended it with an iguana-type individual myself. Similar to your dude, he also preferred to express his feelings (“misgivings,” I think he called them) in actions rather than words. I’m still checking his Facebook damn near daily, but it’s been an amazing recovery overall. The moment you stop striving for positive interactions with someone who doesn’t want to give them to you is the moment you start feeling better about yourself.
©2008 Erin Bradley and Nerve.com