Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's sort of like Dear Abby, choose-your-own-adventure style.

A weirdly unexpected side effect of deciding to write about dates all month is that this has somehow now been deemed a dating blog. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that this might happen, but I never claimed to be a quick study, after all. In any case, I am seeing more dating-related search engine activity in my Sitemeter stats lately; I am part of a virtual book tour for a dating advice book next month (guess I better get started on reading that; hadn't I?); I received an email inviting me to set up my own "private label millionaire dating site" for fun and profit; and today I received a message from a stranger asking me for relationship advice.

I decided to ignore the "private label millionaire dating site" message, but I did respond to the relationship question one--as best I could, anyway. I'm no Cary Tennis--never thought I'd have any reason to be, actually. I wondered for only a second or two why a total stranger would write to me (me!) for relationship advice, but quickly realized I know why someone would. Because sometimes, when you're battling your own brain, running through the same cluster of feelings over and over, you just need someone else's take--a neutral third party who can try to look at it with some fresh perspective, in a way that your friends (who are too close to it, and have likely heard the story a hundred times) cannot. In my life (since I've had a blog, anyway), that's often where the Internet comes in. You guys are smart, level-headed people who have often been the voice of support and reason and differing perspectives at many points when I've needed it. You guys love to help, and you're good at it. How's about helping someone else out today, too?

Below is the message I received from a reader I didn't even know was out there. I thought that if what she needs is some neutral perspectives, why not put it out to more of the Internet than just me? (Note: Yes, I got the message sender's permission before posting this.) Do you guys have any words of wisdom for her?

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Stefanie,

You don't know me from Adam, but I am a regular reader of your blog. I am having a relationship issue and thought I would ask your honest opinion about it, since I'm so frustrated about the whole thing.

Five months ago a six-year relationship ended. We lived together for the last three years of that relationship. He worked a commission only job and worked all the time, even when he was home. So, there was not a lot of time for us to do things together. And he was miserable at the job, so the miserableness (is that a word?) carried over into our daily life.

We decided to end things this past June because we just did not know what else to do.

Well, between moving and working like a fiend and even working for my dad part time I did not fully allow myself the time to process or grieve the ending of the relationship.

Fast-forward to about a month ago. My ex calls (we had been in touch a handful of times, just to check up and see how the other was doing) and says the girl he has been dating for five weeks is an alcoholic and a few times violent and it's now over. So, being the good person and friend that I am, we talk for three hours about it. And a few days after that he invites me to go with him and his family to see a movie, which I do, and upon seeing him and going out and all of that I decide I want to give our relationship another chance, as we are both good, decent people, and I've come to the realization that when you find love, you have to try to hold on to it as tight as you can.

So, after that night a few days later I find out that he is considering getting back together with the alcoholic, because he is "drawn" to her and wants to give that another shot.

Well, I decide to lay it all out on the line and I write two long e-mails to him detailing that I want to get back together, et cetera.

Well, in effect, he chooses her and three days later they are broken up again and have been ever since. And, of course, he contacts me and wants to talk about it.

Now, in all of this, when we split, he could not keep up the apartment we had, so he moved back in with his Dad and is trying to get his life together. He has started a new job, which he loves, and is trying to get his life on track.

After the second breakup with the alcoholic we see each other a few more times and it's great, and he's somewhat affectionate, but he says he needs time to figure out if he wants to give us a second shot.

Okay. Fine. Giving him his space. But then I realize that what am I waiting for? Some lightbulb to go off in his head that says, oh, I'm so great, and he'll come back to me?

So, we talk today on the phone and I'm like I don't know what I'm doing, waiting around, and he says he is going to do some serious soul-searching because he can't continue to leave me in la-la land, and he doesn't know what's holding him back from saying, yes, let's give it a shot. He says he loves me, I'm a great girl.

And I told him to not decide that yes, he wants to get back together because he is afraid of losing me as a friend. That's the risk he'll be taking, as I've made it crystal clear that it's one or the other. I can't be friends with him if he's dating someone else.

And I'm thinking WTF am I doing? I don't want someone who doesn't want me. I'M NOT THAT GIRL!!!!

I'm 34 and tired. And to think that THIS is included in God's plan for me. He has a very funny sense of humor.

Any insight? I feel like a mental patient sometimes.

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23 comments:

Stefanie said...

P.S. I thought about posting my entire response to the message writer in addition to the original message, but that seems a bit unnecessary, I guess. Instead, I'll just say, again, good luck! I hope the wise and knowing Internets can help. :-)

Heather said...

I'm not the world's best advice giver, but this guy sounds like a ding-dong and you deserve a lot better than this.

If nothing else, while you're waiting for that light bulb to go off in his head, I'd start looking around for some other light bulbs. Perhaps that'll make his go off a little faster! And maybe you'll realize that you don't even want the light bulb after all because it's one of those fancy three-way kinds that no one can figure out and you'd rather just have one of those nice ones with the outer coating that lights up the room all nice and makes you look pretty and feel cozy.

plumpy said...

I suppose I could be more eloquent, but I've been dealing with a lot of female friends who have boy drama recently, so I've given up beating around the bush: it's a bad idea. From the end of your email, it's obvious even you know that. There's a ton of other people in your world and it's not worth getting hurt again just because this one seems easy.
It's a waste of your time and energy. Don't do it.

steve said...

If you're interested in a guy's perspective, you absolutely, positively NAILED IT when you said:

"And I'm thinking WTF am I doing? I don't want someone who doesn't want me. I'M NOT THAT GIRL!!!!"

He does not truly want you, and doesn't have the cojones to say it, and/or he wants to hang onto you until someone more interesting comes along.

steve said...

When I said "someone more interesting", I didn't mean it to sound like you're not interesting!

Just wanted to clear that up.

togethertheycome said...

RUN!!! And I agree with Heather. He is a ding dong. I

Neurotic Grad Student said...

Totally in agreement that he's a ding dong.

Break ups suck. You could kill yourself with the "but I miss hims." Spend longer than a few months without him (say a year, year and a half) and then if you still want to contact him and you haven't started dating someone else who spends time with you and treats you like the princess you are and if he hasn't destroyed his life with unwise girlfriend choices, THEN and only then should you reconsider the breakup.

If all of those requirements are met, maybe your relationship is in the cards. If they're not met, then you've learned valuable lessons about not having hope at the end of a relationship.

Longest comment ever. Sorry.

3carnations said...

It's hard to sever ties...But I'd say you need to. It's not a healthy situation. The fact that he chose the violent alcoholic over you, even for a few days, is very telling.

Good luck!

The Dutchess of Kickball said...

Thank god, I thought I was the only one on the virtual book tour that hadn't actually read the book yet. I was all set to do so, and then there was Twlight, and that sort of slowed down the process a bit!

nancypearlwannabe said...

Giving up something that has been such a part of your life for so long is going to be really, really hard, but it's so necessary for you to move on from this. The guy obviously is not able to give you what you want, and he's both said as much and indicated as such with his actions.

Personally, I wouldn't be able to be friends with him at all, whether he was dating someone else or not, but if you do feel you need to remain in contact at least make sure he knows where you stand.

lizgwiz said...

Yeah, you definitely need to cut all ties, whether he's dating someone else or not. He's never going to give you what you need, regardless of any affection he may well have for you, and it sounds like trying to be friends with him is keeping you from being ready to move on. It's nice when being friends with the ex works (and it can), but it just isn't always possible.

Noelle said...

I'm tempted to tell you to stay with him just to be contrary to everyone else, but it seems like you should move on. I think that's what you truly want, even though it's the harder choice. If you didn't want it, you probably wouldn't have gone asking for help with the solution. Just make sure you have a support system that's got your back, and move on!

Sauntering Soul said...

Wow, this all sounds so similar to my ex-husband and I. We were together for 10 years and divorced not because of any ONE BIG THING, but simply because we were both miserable. He moved out, and for the next 6 months he would tell me one day he wanted to go through with a divorce. The next day he would tell me he loved me more than anything on earth and wanted to work things out. I kept hoping we could work things out. One day something seemed to slap me upside the head and I realized I had been miserable when we were together for a million different reasons and why did I really want to go back to that kind of relationship? I finally put my foot down and told him I wanted out and he was pissed. Pissed because he was no longer in control of the final outcome of our relationship and no longer able to string me along at his own whim. Our divorce was final 10 months after we separated. I spent the next year working on me and remembering what made me happy. Then I started dating again and it was hit or miss. But then two years ago I met the man of my dreams and we are planning to get married. I'm happier than I've ever been. I now crack up when I think back to the time I thought there was no life after my ex.

Okay, now I've written a novel. Feel free to email me if you'd like to chat more: bevvyc@comcast.net

Mickey said...

You answered your own question: You don't want to be THAT GIRL. So don't be. Move on.

And ask yourself: Do you want to get back together because you really love him or are you afraid that he's your best shot and it won't get any better. Either way, try being alone for a while. It's good for you.

Alice said...

after my ex left me for another woman, i spent some time thinking that i would take him back anyway if he asked, because you can't just give up on love if you've found it.

i don't think that's true any more, though. there are things people do - like going back to a violent alcoholic rather than his sane, longterm girlfriend - that ruins the love, in some ways. it doesn't mean the love you had wasn't real, or wasn't good, but i do think i means it's no longer the love you deserve.

Courtney said...

Sometimes writing out your feelings helps you figure things out, and I think you answered your own question there at the end. No one wants to be that girl.

I must agree with the other commenters: Move on. It won't be easy, but it is necessary. It sounds to me like this guy is reeling over everything that has changed in his life -- new job, new living situation, breakup with you, dealing with violent new girlfriend. I think he's trying to hang on to you because you're a thread to something familiar, not because he loves you. I'm sorry, I know it's hard to hear.

Good luck to you.

badger reader said...

I actually started getting a little misty-eyed reading all the commentary. Sometimes the topic hits a little too close to home on the gigantic, anonymous web. I don't know anyone who hasn't had someone like this in his/her life.
I have to agree that it is time to end things for good. You seem to know that. You deserve someone who feels the same way about you, not someone who needs to mull it over.

abbersnail said...

Two years ago, I was living this letter. The only thing I can say is: It gets better. Everyone deserves to be with someone who wants to be with them. And I mean desperately wants to be with them.

At the risk of sounding harsh, it's going to suck pretty hard for a while. But then it won't. And then it will all fall into place and be GREAT, and you'll wonder how you ever let yourself feel so low.

Hugs to you!

Aaron said...

Yeah, what that one person said about "ding-dong".

I would never feel qualified to give advice to anyone about anything (except how to survive a zombie apocalypse), but I'm sure whatever you wrote back was helpful, Stef.

Danielle said...

Thank you to everyone who commented. I am the person this situation is about. And it's okay that everyone knows my first name. After reading all of the comments and doing some serious soul searching, I called my ex this morning and said we can't do this. I should not have to convince someone to want to be with me. Just like someone else said in a previous comment, I need to be with someone who desperately wants to be with me. Yes, it's going to suck, for a long while, but it will get better, and in the meantime I can work on myself. I may even start a blog. But thanks again to all of the comments.

Stefanie said...

Danielle--You're right; it will get better. Not right away, but it will. One of the most important things I had to remind myself when getting over my last "real" boyfriend (the one I wrote about last night) was that moving on is never a linear process. You'll feel awful, and then a little less awful, and then a little less, until all of a sudden you feel nearly normal again... and then one day you'll wake up in a funk or something will remind you of him, and you'll feel right back at square one. It doesn't mean you're not healing and getting over it. Setbacks are normal. They're what friends are for.

Good luck to you. I know I don't know you, but consider yourself hugged anyway. I think the rest of the people who commented are Internet-hugging you, too.

trish said...

Someone may have already said this, but if that guy doesn't know if he wants to be with you after SIX YEARS, then you need to move on.

And really, do you REALLY think this is God's plan for you? You think God couldn't find a better guy for you? I think He can.

12ontheinside said...

I'm so glad to read the decision Danielle made - that was going to be my advice too. Lots of people have one of these relationships in their lives. So hard to make that break - but once you do, it'll be all good.