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Settle Sore

I’m in love with a man I’ve been seeing long distance for six months. He's funny, interesting, and sexy, and I really admire the way he is with people and my horses. He quit his job to move to be with me, but then, without explanation, began interviewing elsewhere. I also learned he hadn’t told his three adult daughters that he and their mother have been divorced for a year! He finally told them on the day he couldn't avoid my meeting one of the daughters. I last saw him three months ago, and he’s been breaking plans to meet ever since and calling and e-mailing less and less. Last week, he e-mailed that I was “just great,” but he couldn’t figure out how to make it work. Well, I’d like a relationship with this man. I know underneath he's caring, loving, and considerate. A great companion.

--Missing Him

Yes, he seems like the perfect companion -- for any girl who can make do with a big carrot in a man’s pocket and a pat or two on the withers.

But, wait…it appears he also has a way with people! (A way of what?) I’m guessing he smiles at the waitress, asks about her bursitis, and leaves 25 percent. But, what about his people? Maybe a guy “forgets” to tell his kids that he got hair plugs or that he’s renting their rooms to strangers. What kind of father waits an entire year -- until his daughter’s about to catch him with his girlfriend -- to break the news that he and Mom have, uh, decided to date other people?

This was a sign -- one of many -- that the follow-up to sweeping you off your feet would probably be dropping you on your coccyx. He was moving to be with you, but then he wasn’t, and never mind why. You’re supposedly in a six-month relationship, but you haven’t seen the guy in half as many months, and he’s calling and e-mailing “less and less.” Wow, right out of Shakespeare -- except in “Romeo and Juliet,” the big question was “Wherefore art thou?” not “Where the hell have you been these past three months?”

Naturally, you prefer to focus on what a “great companion” he is…underneath. (Are you looking for a relationship or a career in mining?) My guess -- you’re not just looking for a relationship but are so desperate for one you’re willing to overlook almost anything: Oh, he eats babies? Well…only after giving them “fair chase”! Being long distance kept inconvenient truths safely out of the way, leaving you to fill in the blanks with wishful thinking and misty memories of just how darn wonderful he was with Mr. Ed.

For future reference, when your boyfriend says he can’t figure out how to make it work, he isn’t telling you he’s stumped, he’s telling you to move on. While positive thinking can be a terrific tool (per my friend Rob Long, “Life hands you cancer, make cancerade!”), you need to bring a little pessimism into your life, and explore why dating a particular guy might be ill-advised, impractical, or downright dim. If you must think positive, opt for “I’m okay with or without a man” before you start swooning, “Why, he’s a regular Lone Ranger! Hi-yo, Silver, and away!” -- and you should catch on quicker when a man’s particularly good at the “away!”

Posted by aalkon at September 12, 2007 5:19 PM

Comments

I've gone out with guys like this before. They are charming assholes and definitely NOT "caring, loving and considerate." Maybe on the outside, where temporary good behavior can be used to persuade and influence people, but certainly not "underneath." She got swept off her feet by a guy who was probably very charismatic and convincing at first, but he's a skeevy liar and clearly not that interested in her anyway.

She should remember the way he made her feel at first, before his true nature started to show through. Remember it, and find that feeling again with someone who isn't just a wolf hiding in sheep's clothing.

The LW is actually pretty lucky. Look at the guy's poor daughters - this lying jerk is their first exposure to what men are like. They are stuck with him as their dad forever, even though they are already grown. The LW, if she scrapes together some confidence and self-respect (and for godssake gets her bullshit radar working!), can move on to much better things.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at September 12, 2007 2:25 PM

I agree w/ Pirate Jo.
It would seem that this fine specimen is as cowardly as he is charming.

Now, one can have short, satisfying flings with charming men. The problem is when they are charming cowards. These guys do not know how to end things. For whatever reason (maybe they don't want to be the "bad guy?") they do what is easy rather than what is right. I dated a charming coward (not for 6 months...more like 2 months). He made small sacrifices to spend time with me (ie, a 2-hour drive). He swept me off my feet. We always had a lovely time together. I'm very cautious when it comes to relationships, but I allowed him to lead me by the hand through talks of a future together (vacations we would take, friends he couldn't wait for me to meet, etc).
Wellllll, for whatever reason, he decided at some point he wanted to end things. I don't bother myself much about why...there have been times that I've wanted to end relationships for various reasons. I feel AWFUL doing it, and it is a very awkward thing to do. Everyone has the right to end a relationship they find unsatisfying...but they must do it with respect because that's just what adults do!
He would bail on plans last minute. Call less (but still call. wtf?) And then, finally, he stood me up (first and only time in my LIFE i've been stood up) on plans that HE MADE!
I got the hint. He was too cowardly to end things, so he was hoping I'd just fall off the face of the earth on my own. So I made no further efforts to contact him.
2 weeks later, I found out that, for the last couple weeks we were "seeing eachother." He had acquired an exclusive girlfriend. How did I find this out? My friend found this information on his MySpace profile along with pictures of them together that were dated at times we were still "seeing each other."
Had he ending things in such a way that it indicated he 1) was an adult and was aware that I was an adult; 2) had respect for me and my time, it would have been cool. I could think back fondly on our time together. Yet, because he was a coward, I'm left with blood-boiling annoyance.

Amy's advice is right on. The LW should just let this worm slither away. "Are you looking for a relationship or a career in mining?" hehehehe. priceless.

Posted by: sofar [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 12, 2007 3:29 PM

I think charming cowards are secretly into power. They come on strong to make a girl fall for them hard, and they like that part, but they don't want to do the work afterwards of actually paying attention to her.

There's an appeal for some in having someone helplessly dangling at their mercy! Too bad this also excites contempt. I have been on BOTH sides of this scenario.

If these people were more honest up front, they'd present themselves as charming but honorable rakes. Why aren't there more of these?

Posted by: Red Ree at September 12, 2007 3:49 PM

I just can't figure out how to make it work is player-code for "I'm done fucking you, I'm going to go find a new toy to amuse myself with".

The guy is an immature piece of shit. I really doubt that he wasn't banging everything that looked his way while he was married. He probably managed to con the wife into not kicking him to the curb "for the kids".

LW would do well to walk away. And get her asshole detector tuned.

Posted by: brian at September 12, 2007 5:46 PM

A great companion, my ass! This guy is a classic case of Borderline Personality Disorder! I agree with brian; the LW needs to get her bullshit meter recalibrated! o_O

Posted by: Flynne at September 12, 2007 6:27 PM

Sofar, sometimes it is amazing how many experiences and viewpoints we have in common! You nailed it about the guy being a coward. The experience I had in mind when I made my earlier comments was very similar to yours, and cowardice was at the root of his very weird behavior. The whole breaking up without breaking up thing ... jeez, just TELL me already. I can take it my big girl pants on, really! Although I don't think he even wanted to break up, it was more wanting to keep me on the "back burner," etc.

The guy I am thinking of was slowly drowning in quicksand of his own making, the result of MANY similar cowardly episodes. He ended up getting his just desserts later, when (I found out through the grapevine) one of his girlfriends read his e-mail, contacted the WIFE it turns out he had (though not the same one he had kept secret from me two years earlier) and contacted her. It all came out in a big, icky mess, and his wife ended up sending a big e-mail out to a whole bunch of women he slept with, including co-workers, and big drama ensued, etc.

And you know, that stuff IS best served cold. I hadn't spoken to the jerk or seen him in all that time, and the biggest laugh I got out of the whole thing wasn't just that he ended up looking like an idiot, but that I no longer cared. It is possible to think the sun rises and sets on someone's ass in the short term, and to be completely indifferent to them after some time has passed. In the long run, it's nothing to be afraid of.

I looked back on the situation trying to redeem myself by at least learning a lesson from it, and my bullshit detector did indeed get a few refinements added to it. I will never stoop to reading some guy's e-mail or checking his cell phone history, but there were things I admit I should have taken note of. In the end, sometimes you just get fooled, plain and simple. It doesn't mean you can't trust anyone, only that you can't trust EVERYone.

I think the LW sounds like a nice person who probably has a lot going for her - and HORSES, wow! She is way too good for this guy. Would she really want to keep putting up with crap like this? It can be so much better.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at September 12, 2007 7:02 PM

A great book for strong women who get suckered by guys who seem to be ready for relationships but are really incapable of having them - "Drama Kings," by Dalma Heyn:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594865302?ie=UTF8&tag=advicegoddess-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1594865302

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 13, 2007 12:11 AM

Wow, the venom flows freely today, even brian has his fists dug into his hips.

If a relationship ends on terms other than your own, it is painful. How complicated is that?

On what planet do people become emotionally entangled and then one day sit down to discuss severance terms and part with a firm handshake?

In my experience, women think of relationships as their exclusive terrain. It is they who will decide where the relationship goes and if, when and how it will end and any man who violates that code is a [insert vicious epithet here.] But that's just my perspective because I haven't dated any men.

Red Ree admits to having been on BOTH sides of this scenario and still wants to know why aren't there more honorable rakes. Answer: because after the first 5 or 12 drinks in my face, I dialed it back. Women seem to like for the niceties of romance to be observed even if it is transparent BS. (I once dated a woman who would buy mushy Hallmark cards for me to sign and give to her.)

So can all the people who flit about in the realm of "no promises, no demands*" please begin wearing a label pin or something? Some of us just want to get boring and paunchy with that special someone and all this drama is for the kids.

*Flynne?

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 7:35 AM

Martin, we all know that "Love is a Battlefield", but I think even Pat Benatar would like to know that when she gives her heart to someone, they won't deliberately rip it out of her chest and stomp on it. People with Borderline Personality Disorder, and even others with just the basic traits of selfishness and cowardice, take this one step further, because they have no problem whatsoever stringing along as many men/women as it takes to get them off, and the hell with the consequences. They have no sense of personal responsibility, therefore, they haven't got the balls to do the right thing when it comes to relationships. Hell, they don't have the balls when it comes to doing the right thing in their relationships with themselves! As Carrie Bradshaw once said (paraphrasing here), "Instead of not having the Breakup Talk because you're afraid of being the Bad Guy, you need to have the Breakup Talk, because not doing that? That's what makes you the Bad Guy."

"...come to your senses, hold me tight, and love me like you used to do..."

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 8:22 AM

Martin - in LW's case, only one person was emotionally entangled. To the other, there was never anything to sever.

I say this because I know a man who uses precisely this technique. He'll charm a girl off her feet, bang her for a few weeks, and then tell her "This just isn't working" or some other thing. THAT is the entire content of the "Breakup Talk" that Flynne mentions.

Believe me, if I were enough of a cad, I'd probably do the same thing. But I just don't have it in me to do that to another human.

Love is a fairy tale people tell themselves to rationalize lust.

Posted by: brian at September 13, 2007 8:29 AM

I say this because I know a man who uses precisely this technique. He'll charm a girl off her feet, bang her for a few weeks, and then tell her "This just isn't working" or some other thing.

A "man" who uses this technique isn't a man at all, but a piece of shit player who doesn't deserve any attention from me or any other woman, other than to kick his ass to the curb.

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 8:51 AM

Geez, whining and complaining about a man who pulled a fast one on somebody is so easy to do...so easy to blame the guy for being an evil piece of shit. Come on people, we are all grownups! Every single one of you has had something like this happen to you in a relationship...you would think by now you would be able to see that this stuff just happens. There is alot of guys out there, and women as well, pulling the same stunts every single day. Not just guys---everyone.

Love is hell. All is fair in love and war.

So easy to jump all over the guy and bad-mouth him. There is nothing you can do about him. Worry about yourselves.

"On what planet do people become emotionally entangled and then one day sit down to discuss severance terms and part with a firm handshake?" Good one Martin--the answer is not this planet!

I guess some of you could go toilet paper his house, or spray paint his car, or maybe flat his tire--just to get back at the horrible mean Mr. Man.

Posted by: mike at September 13, 2007 9:10 AM

Will Martin and Flynne ever meet?

Pirate Jo rocks!

Posted by: susan [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 9:14 AM

I can only speak from my own experiences but I did try to have the breakup talk with Hallmark Girl. I tried to discuss our relationship in a way that gave us both credit for being mature, responsible adults with a fundamental right to be treated with dignity and respect.

She morphed into an emotional terrorist psycho-stalker witch and if I had it to do over again, I'd have secretly moved away. What I actually did was let H.G. find out that I was being seen about town with another woman. She left me one final rage-filled message and then returned to her usual, reasonably well adjusted self as confirmed by neutral third parties.

If people are out there practicing terrible manners in matters of the mattress, I submit it is because the old manners don't work anymore (and yes some people are just sociopathic jerks.)

The core of Amy's terrific advice is focused on LW and spot on: Love yourself first. Maybe the guy is a criminal mastermind preying on lovesick women and maybe he is just a bumbling idiot. Uh, who cares? Let him write his own letter.

"...come to your senses, hold me tight, and love me like you used to do..."

Only if you'll be my Dixie chicken.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 9:15 AM

But mike, darling, it wasn't mean Mr. Man who wrote the letter, it was poor Ms. I Got Burned. If Mr. I Got Burned wrote in saying the same thing, he'd probably get the same answers. I've been burned by guys before, and my bullshit meter is so finely tuned now it isn't funny! But it also detects women that are bulshit artists too, and I've pointed out to a few of my male friends that the women who have burned them were mean Ms. Women. That didn't stop them from being upset about what happened, and they needed some time to get over it. That's what Ms. I Got Burned needs, so we're giving it to her. And also giving her some advice and a wake-up call. All is NOT fair in love and war, we just want it to be.

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 9:23 AM

The core of Amy's terrific advice is focused on LW and spot on: Love yourself first. Maybe the guy is a criminal mastermind preying on lovesick women and maybe he is just a bumbling idiot. Uh, who cares? Let him write his own letter.

You'll get no argument from me on that!

"...come to your senses, hold me tight, and love me like you used to do..."

Only if you'll be my Dixie chicken.

"...no, no, honey, not tonight. Come back Monday..."

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 9:46 AM

The core of Amy's terrific advice is focused on LW and spot on: Love yourself first. Maybe the guy is a criminal mastermind preying on lovesick women and maybe he is just a bumbling idiot. Uh, who cares? Let him write his own letter.

You'll get no argument from me!

"...come to your senses, hold me tight, and love me like you used to do..."

Only if you'll be my Dixie chicken.

"...no, no, honey, not tonight. Come back Monday..."

Posted by: Flynne at September 13, 2007 10:12 AM

Oooops! Sorry 'bout that...o_O

Posted by: Flynne at September 13, 2007 10:13 AM

Actually, I was wondering what the woman's problem was, that she couldn't see that the guy was just not interested in her. When people meet online, they don't always have the same chemistry in person. Seems to me he *did* break up with her ("just can't figure out how to make this work" = just don't want to date you anymore), and she just didn't get the message.

Posted by: Melissa G at September 13, 2007 10:21 AM

Is this a joke Flynne? I am sooooo sure if a man wrote in here and said the same thing that he would get the same answer. That is so much BS! You and some of the others would rip him apart...you would 1)spend an enormous amount of time trying to figure out what HE did wrong to deserve such treatment 2)Call him a little wussy sissified wimp and tell him that if he had any self respect he would quit whining and get over it. Would you ever once blame his strong, independent, entitled girlfriend??? Not likely...its all obviously his fault...of course, this is all pure speculation, and i am NOT speaking for all men on this board, and i am NOT saying ALL women are like this...so there, I got out the disclaimers..

No, all IS fair in love...you get burned, then you burn someone else...it is a vicious cycle that goes on and on.

Just because you got burned does not mean that you get a pity party.

Posted by: mike at September 13, 2007 10:21 AM

Mike - you might want to consider reading the archives before you try to play the "stop picking on men" card.

Just because you got burned does not mean that you get a pity party.

And you'll notice that nobody here is throwing LW one, even though that's clearly what she wants. She wants someone to feel sorry for her and tell her how to keep the cad. But the guy isn't worth keeping for what she wants. And that's what she's been told. The girl's got her idealism glasses on, and this is the real world.

Posted by: brian at September 13, 2007 10:32 AM

One more from Mike:

I guess some of you could go toilet paper his house, or spray paint his car, or maybe flat his tire--just to get back at the horrible mean Mr. Man.

uh... reading comprehension?

Nobody here has said anything other than "You got played, he's not coming back, move on."

Posted by: brian at September 13, 2007 10:35 AM

'Love is a fairy tale people tell themselves to rationalize lust.'
I like that line.

It's also a lot easier to project your fantasies on another person than to see what is right in front of you. MH sees everthing that this guy is doing, processes none of it, and ends the letter with 2 sentences that have no bearing on reality. 'I know underneath he's caring, loving, and considerate. A great companion.'

If you're living in a self-delusional fantasyworld, be prepared for pain upon waking.

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 10:43 AM

Calm down, Mike. Seriously, have you been read any of Amy's columns before this one? Because if you have, you'll notice that she's straight up with you whether you're male or female; she just tells it like it is. So do most of us who/when agree with her. And I do appreciate your disclaimers, because they echo my own. I don't need a pity party, I've already learned my lessons. And all is NOT fair in love and war, I haven't burned anyone just because I got burned, simply because I'm not that mean. It fucking hurts, and I'm not going to inflict that on someone else just because someone did it to me. However, if I got a chance to get back at the asshole who burned me, I probably would consider it.

Posted by: Flynne at September 13, 2007 10:49 AM

"No, all IS fair in love...you get burned, then you burn someone else...it is a vicious cycle that goes on and on."

Ohferchrissake. Want some cheese with that whine? Go back to americanwomensuck.com and stfu already.

"I am sooooo sure if a man wrote in here and said the same thing that he would get the same answer. That is so much BS! You and some of the others would rip him apart..."

Which stinky orifice is this crap coming from? It is a) purely conjecture, and b) not true anyway. Yet you are "sooooo sure" (by the way, are you actually a 16-year-old girl?) we'd all treat a guy like dirt. What a bitter little prick you are being - your disclaimers don't amount to anything.

I am still friends with the majority of guys I've dated. Several of them are part of the local cycling community and I see them quite a bit. One in particular, a funny, goofy, very entertaining guy to be around, was completely straightforward and honest with me when he announced his intention to date someone else. I was sad, because we had been having fun together and I really liked him, but feeling disappointment because something didn't work out is definitely not the same feeling of anger you get when someone treats you like crap. Being broken up with is not the same thing as being totally shit on. I still see him around a lot, the chemistry is totally gone, but I still think he is a total laugh riot.

The difference is in expectations - I don't expect that every relationship I get into is going to last forever. Getting mad just because you break up is juvenile and stupid. But I do expect to be treated with honesty and respect, and most of the time that's what happens. If not, well, the guy can forget about being included in my circle of friends - his choice.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at September 13, 2007 10:51 AM

I think Pirate Jo's comment is very telling. In my younger and not-so-wise days, I once had to use a similar analogy to reason my way through a difficult relationship matter. I was dating a gal who was very sweet, but neurotic as all hell and quite self-destructive. After we dated for a while, I started to realize that it was far beyond my abilities to "repair" her. One day I had to tell myself, "Coz, your own existence has to come first. Time to get off this boat before it sinks and drags you down with it."

Posted by: Cousin Dave [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 11:03 AM

*Pirate Jo wrote:
"The guy I am thinking of was slowly drowning in quicksand of his own making, the result of MANY similar cowardly episodes."

hehe good! And I just love how it's so shocking to some people when they realize that they do NOT, in fact, live in a consequence-free environment. The guy I described got a little taste of Karma when he discovered his girlfriend's cousin/BFF happens to work with my friend. It makes him quite uncomfortable that these two ladies have put 2-and-2 together and are comparing notes. Apparently he's wiggled out of attending several company parties he knows my friend will be attending. If doing the right thing isn't motivation enough for these people to exercise some manners/respect, one would hope social awkwardness (a coward's greatest fear) would be enough of a deterrent to juvenile behavior.

*"I looked back on the situation trying to redeem myself by at least learning a lesson from it, and my bullshit detector did indeed get a few refinements added to it."

Yes, it sucks to think you've been just plain fooled. But I think a lot of these cowardly people get off on it when the person they burned keeps coming back for more. I guess the only thing you can do is not give them that satisfaction.

*"The whole breaking up without breaking up thing ... jeez, just TELL me already. I can take it my big girl pants on, really! "

*"As Carrie Bradshaw once said (paraphrasing here), "Instead of not having the Breakup Talk because you're afraid of being the Bad Guy, you need to have the Breakup Talk, because not doing that? That's what makes you the Bad Guy."

I agree on both counts. I hate it when someone insults the value of my time. A 30-second phone-call would have sufficed. "Hi. Look, it's been a lot of fun. But there's someone I'd like to start seeing exclusively, and for that reason I cannot continue having sex with you." Fine. Maybe a little ouch, but at least it would have shown that he 1) recognizes that my time has value; and 2)recognizes that I'm not a delicate little girl who would burst into tears at the news and sob about how I'd already picked bride's maids!

*"On what planet do people become emotionally entangled and then one day sit down to discuss severance terms and part with a firm handshake?"

This is how many relationships should end if and when both parties are rational adults. I'm sure that the LW's guy had some inkling that she desired an exclusive, long-term relationship with him. If he didn't want the same thing (or did at first and then changed his mind), he owed her a respectful breakup talk to prevent her from wasting any more of her time. Plus, he didn't tell his own kids that he'd divorced? And he sent her an E-MAIL to break things off??? Her damn horses are probably more mature. At worst the guy is deliberately manipulative. At best, he's a coward with no manners. The LW should consider neither of these to be acceptable.

Posted by: sofar [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 11:08 AM

Reading between the lines here, I'm guessing there was never any commitment between the two in the first place (except in LW's mind). Willing to bet the entire relationship consisted of emails, phone calls and maybe a couple in-person visits.

Maybe the guy stretched the truth to get laid. Worse sins out there. Its on LW to do some due diligence if she's going to go fishing on the net for long-distance relationships.

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 13, 2007 11:55 AM

Wow, pirate, you really have a nice potty-mouth there...kind of an insult to your intelligence huh? Get over the 16-year-old girl bullshit would you??? Can you think of anything better to say than that? Can you use your years of experience and wisdom to talk like a rational human instead of someone who sounds completely hysterical? Did i attack you? Did i even mention your name? Yet you are acting exactly like I figured you would when I made my comments above.

BTW, who is Carrie Bradshaw???

Posted by: mike at September 13, 2007 12:46 PM

Calm down, Mike. You're starting to sound a little hysterical there, yourself.

BTW, who is Carrie Bradshaw

The character played by Sarah Jessica Parker in 'Sex and the City.'

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 12:54 PM

Off on a tangent from the last comments, but how can TWO people be divorced for a year and not have their adult daughters know? If he didn't tell them, how come they didn't hear it from the mother? That just made me wonder. Missing Him is better off without him.

Posted by: Tlynne at September 13, 2007 1:36 PM

Snakeman: "Reading between the lines here, I'm guessing there was never any commitment between the two in the first place (except in LW's mind). Willing to bet the entire relationship consisted of emails, phone calls and maybe a couple in-person visits."

Good call. :)

Tlynne: "how can TWO people be divorced for a year and not have their adult daughters know? If he didn't tell them, how come they didn't hear it from the mother?"

I was wondering the same damn thing myself. Those daughters never had a chance...

I think LW situation was a volatile mix of TWO defective personalities. YES, the "boyfriend" is a piece of shit. For keeping his daughters in the dark about the divorce, if for nothing else. A liar? Absolutely. A coward? Certainly. Adversely, LW is so incredibly emotionally needy as to still call him "a great companion" after not seeing him for 3 months?!? She clearly can't take a hint, and sounds like potential psycho to me...

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 2:17 PM

Martin wrote: "I can only speak from my own experiences but I did try to have the breakup talk with Hallmark Girl. I tried to discuss our relationship in a way that gave us both credit for being mature, responsible adults with a fundamental right to be treated with dignity and respect...She morphed into an emotional terrorist psycho-stalker witch and if I had it to do over again, I'd have secretly moved away."

That DOES suck. But at least you can say that you took the high road. If a guy were to want to end things with me, I'd prefer he just do so honestly and politely than assume I'm some emotionally volatile fruitloop who couldn't handle a respectful breakup.

Mike wrote "No, all IS fair in love...you get burned, then you burn someone else...it is a vicious cycle that goes on and on."

I will never agree with the whole "all's fair in love and war" thing. I just can't let go of that pesky respect-for-other people thing. Like Pirate Jo says, there's a difference in someone breaking up with you and a person just treating you like shit. I've been burned, and I still remember how much it feels like a slap in the face. So, I've vowed to NEVER do that to anyone else. If I want to end things, I do it without burning. It's inevitable that, when a relationship ends before you're ready for it to (ie, you get dumped), it will hurt. But adding insult (disrespect) to injury is just unnecessarily cruel, and I would hope guys I date would never do that by taking the easy way out. And even if they do, I'm not going to allow myself become part of some "endless" cycle of burning by doing the same in my next relationship.

And, I think snakeman99 has an interesting point: "Reading between the lines here, I'm guessing there was never any commitment between the two in the first place (except in LW's mind). Willing to bet the entire relationship consisted of emails, phone calls and maybe a couple in-person visits."

I guess I'd assumed that, if he moved to "be with" her, they'd discussed the progression of their relationship...might not be the case. I've got to stop assuming that people make cautious and logical decisions when it comes to relationships. And, on that note, it would kinda freak me out and set off the crazy-person alarm if some guy I'd been seeing for less than 6 months quit his job to "be with" me. Obviously he was flaky enough to ditch a job...might just be flaky enough to ditch me as well...

Posted by: sofar [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 2:50 PM

"I guess I'd assumed that, if he moved to "be with" her, they'd discussed the progression of their relationship...might not be the case."

- Me too, until I re-read. LW says he quit his job to be with her. Not that he actually moved. Who knows why he quit his job? Or if he had one in the first place?

"And, on that note, it would kinda freak me out and set off the crazy-person alarm if some guy I'd been seeing for less than 6 months quit his job to "be with" me."

- I actually cut LW slack on this one. If she's interested in a guy with adult children, I'm assuming both parties are a little older. Not as much a stretch to move for true love if the kids are moved away and you're financially straight. In fact, its downright admirable (not that LW is dealing with anything resembling that situation here).

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 13, 2007 3:44 PM

"If I want to end things, I do it without burning ... I'm not going to allow myself become part of some "endless" cycle of burning by doing the same in my next relationship."

Damn straight! I agree with you for two reasons - one, when you've learned firsthand how much it sucks to have insult added to injury, being a good person means learning from it and not doing the same thing to someone else. Secondly, if I liked someone well enough to date them in the first place, they are probably someone I would at least want to be friends with. Treating people like dirt isn't the best way in the world to make friends.

Looking at this from the opposite side of the coin, I've gone out with guys who have been treated badly, and the real men among them treat women better when they have a clearer idea of how they want to be treated themselves. They stand head and shoulders above the ones who become bitter and whiny about it. Nothing irritates me more than some "damaged goods" asshat who has been treated like crap and then turns around and does it to someone else. Way to lose your "bitching rights!"

Posted by: Pirate Jo at September 13, 2007 6:10 PM

I loved the comment above from Tlynne above who wondered how in the world could he not tell his daughters they were divorced...it made me think about why EITHER of them could not buck up and tell the truth, which leads to the possibility that they decided between them that it would be better not to tell them for awhile...

Sounds to me like the guy got caught in a lie and then decided to make a hasty getaway since he was "outed".

Or maybe he just got a better deal. I find it interesting that people say this and that about being controlled in a relationship, and that they will never let themselves be owned by someone--and that they can still be independent even though they are dating someone, and that nobody owes anybody anything--and then get all pissed off when that exact thing happens to them. I mean, I'm in a relationship right? I make my own rules right? I do what I want right? I'm not accountable to anyone right?

I think the poster above, martin, hit it on the head when he said that women believe that making decisions in the relationship is their exclusive territory, and that any man who violates this is an asshat. Why can't a man decide he wants to change the rules? Why can't we ALL, male or female, terminate something without an explanation? Its not like they were married or anything, of course that does not mean a thing either these days.

Don't jump all over my back on this Pirate Jo. I say it as I see it. I have jumped on your side on several occasions on this board. And no, I'm not 16, and I'm not a misogynist, or an ass----. I am a father and a damn good guy, and I bet you can't hold a candle to me when it comes to experience in relationships. Quit spewing all the vile personal attacks...I have said nothing to you that you should take personal...

Posted by: mike at September 13, 2007 6:38 PM

I think the poster above, martin, hit it on the head when he said that women believe that making decisions in the relationship is their exclusive territory, and that any man who violates this is an asshat.

Not all women believe this, but perhaps it's perceived like this because most men (notice I didn't say all men) don't or won't make any decisions in the relationship, whether it's as petty as which restaurant to go to or as big as how much money to put down on a piece of property or even how to discipline the kids, or any number of things, because either they do nothing and the partner doesn't want to nag and act the shrew, or they just pass the responsibility to the partner, because that's what their father did. And this is not exclusive to male/female relationships either. There's a lot of passive/aggressive behavior that goes on in all kinds of relationships.

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2007 6:27 AM

Mike, for the umpteenth time, calm down! I'm not jumping all over you, making any kind of personal attacks on you, or directing any comments of any kind toward you at all. In fact, except for that one comment I posted two days ago, I'm ignoring you completely, so quit reading into things.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at September 14, 2007 6:37 AM

Flynne has a point with "most men (notice I didn't say all men) don't or won't make any decisions in the relationship".

I've noticed that some guys just show up for the relationship, go along for the ride for as long as the woman does all the work, then when she starts making 'demands' as he perceives it, he bails out. That could be why some women get so angry, because they invested a lot of time and energy and when they felt it is the guy's turn to invest his time and energy, he bails. The solution of course would be for the woman to invest nothing up front and wait for the guy to prove his 50 percent investment in the relationship up front (that being the phoning, arranging the dates, the communication, the tending to the woman's emotional needs, etc.)

Women have to stop being little mothers taking care of these guys.

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2007 6:53 AM

"I've noticed that some guys just show up for the relationship, go along for the ride for as long as the woman does all the work . . . . That could be why some women get so angry, because they invested a lot of time and energy and when they felt it is the guy's turn to invest his time and energy, he bails."

"All the work?" "Investing time and energy?" Geez. Sounds more like a day at the quarry or some laboriously intricate 401(k) strategy. Maybe instead of "investing" all this so-called work in a relationship, you may consider investing it in yourself, and looking for a partner who does the same. You'll end up with two far more rational, well-rounded, and fun people - and a lot less tit for tat.

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 14, 2007 9:39 AM

I don't know where Flynne and Chrissy are experiencing this. From what I've seen, more often than not the woman will avoid making decisions about anything at all, and when the man finally makes a decision, she says "but that's not what I want".

And you wonder why we give up? Relationships are a losing proposition. Which would explain the popularity and growth of the 'pick-up artist' (a.k.a. Da Playa).

Posted by: brian at September 14, 2007 9:52 AM

"Me too, until I re-read. LW says he quit his job to be with her. Not that he actually moved. Who knows why he quit his job? Or if he had one in the first place?"
The letter says he did move. ("He quit his job to move to be with me.") Whether or not that should have set off alarm bells depends on the job and the circumstances, I guess. But I would hope that the fact that his decision to quit his job and move was followed by his interviewing elsewhere "without explaination" would clue the LW in to the possibility that the guy is a flake...not someone who would be on board with "making it work" (although why anyone would want to "make" a relationship work is beyond me).
Mike wrote:
"Why can't we ALL, male or female, terminate something without an explanation? Its not like they were married or anything..."

I agree that when a relationship is no longer satisfactory for whatever reason that the person should be able to end it as quickly as possible, if not immediately.
I guess I'm not sure what you mean by "without explaination." I'm cerainly not naive enough to expect a one-night-stand or a guy i've been on 1 date with to call me and explain why he doesn't want further contact. And I don't expect any guy I've been seeing to tell me in detail why he's ending things, especially if the relationship was a short/casual one (to be perfectly honest, giving too much of an explaination can rude and hurtful). Whenever I'm in doubt as to whether a break-up call/conversation is needed, I think about whether not doing so would waste the other person's time, assuming that person is reasonable (I'm excluding the girls who have already planned the wedding after 1 date).
For example, if a guy made plans with me for the weekend and decided at some point before the appointed meeting time that he didn't want to see me anymore, not calling would clearly waste the time I'd spend driving to the restaurant and waiting there and wondering why he's late. And the time I'd spend afterwards wondering how someone could be such a prick. OR if a relationship has been going on for several months, it leads to the assumption that you're both reasonably compatible and the expectation that, until you're told otherwise, more dates/correspondence will follow. A certain degree of friendship has likely developed and, just as with a friend, not calling/not returning calls might leave the other person wondering why. Are you dead? Busy? Just plain rude? This wondering, even if it's only for 10 minutes during lunch breaks, is wasted time that could be avoided by a polite, 1-minute-or-less phone call.

Posted by: sofar [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2007 10:33 AM

"Who knows why he quit his job? Or if he had one in the first place?"

"The letter says he did move."

You can tell anybody anything. Talk is cheap, though. Maybe he got fired, maybe he was planning on leaving anyway. It's all spin and happy talk until until there's action behind it.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 14, 2007 10:48 AM

The letter didn't say he did move. She said he "quit his job to move" to be with her.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 14, 2007 10:56 AM

snakeman & brian, I'm saying the same thing, that women should back off and see if the guy is interested. I just said I've seen my friends doing this, and I wish they would stop. I haven't experienced this myself with my relationships, as I am a very good communicator, not a control freak, and not trying to be some guy's mom.

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2007 12:16 PM

“It is possible to think the sun rises and sets on someone's ass in the short term, and to be completely indifferent to them after some time has passed. In the long run, it's nothing to be afraid of.”
This comment by Pirate Jo reminds me of the poem of William Wordsworth.
“What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind...”

Posted by: Chang at September 14, 2007 1:37 PM

Verse?
Head over heels did I fall.
In my heart you soared above all.
But it drew to a close.
You know how it goes.
And I couldn't be bothered to call.

Listen you monkey faced whelp.
You don't put my heart on a shelf.
If you had just let me know.
(like it was such a big blow)
Then I'd've been onto somebody else.

You probably think I'm just lazy.
Or that my good sense and manners are hazy.
But I tried to shoot straight
with an ex-girlfriend of late.
And that bitch she went pure batshit crazy.

You think an excuse makes it right.
So, you suffered some personal slight.
But if you'd take the high road
Instead of bringing this load
I wouldn't have to shoot you on sight.

You've taught me a valuable clue.
Next time, I'll know what to do.
But the reason I rang
My heart knows a new pang
Can I talk to your hot sister Sue?

Posted by: martin at September 14, 2007 5:00 PM

Relationships that don't work are often or mostly failures because of what snakeman99 gets at -- not because one or both of them don't slave away hard enough in the relationship coal mine, but because two broken people don't make a whole.

Essentially, you have to remember this: You can't have a healthy relationship with an emotionally unhealthy person. And if that (emotionally unhealthy) describes you, fix your ass instead of foisting it on somebody else you hope will (gag!) "complete" you.

I NEVER "work at" my relationship. I've been with Gregg for five years, and we always have a blast. If we didn't, we'd break up. I'm with him because he's Gregg. I don't need a boyfriend just to have a boyfriend. I'm happy by myself (plus a boy toy or two). I have great friends -- Lena, for example, who usually only comments on my blog, not on columns. So, it's kind of like having everything a relationship gives you but in different servings instead of from one person.

Being secure means I can laugh at stuff a lot of other women get offended by (guys tell me this) and that I can be truthful about the realities of human nature; ie, if I leave my boyfriend on the street here in Paris (where I am now) while I go in a store, he's likely to take a photo or two of some chick in a short skirt (which I will then yank off his flash card while he's sleeping and put on my blog). See link below:

http://www.advicegoddess.com/archives/2007/09/not_exactly_dee_1.html

This doesn't mean he doesn't love me; it means he's a man. If he wants somebody else badly enough, he'll dump me and be with that person. But, I don't think that's going to happen. We just have too great a time together.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 14, 2007 5:14 PM

"will (gag!) "complete" you"

heh heh heh.

I know, right. So, until I'm whole, I'll just keep having a hell of a fucking time.

Posted by: kg at September 16, 2007 2:44 PM

People with Borderline Personality Disorder, and even others with just the basic traits of selfishness and cowardice, take this one step further,

Not saying that you're doing this, but

I think Borderline Personality Disorder is one of those things people hear about or read about, then give amateur diagnoses to their ex-es to try and explain away any legitimate reasons why those ex-es ditched them.

Years ago, I dated a woman professionally diagnosed with Borderline for about three months (she isn't the one who told me about her diagnosis). I have trouble describing what that's like, but I've never experienced anything comparable. She actually tried to stab me with broken glass when I said something that sounded like something someone I didn't know said to her years before I met her (then or now, I couldn't and can't follow the logic). Self-inflicted violence. Compulsive (and by compulsive, I mean compulsive) drinking. Constant screaming at God-knows-who about God-knows-what. Crying. Begging. Wildly uneven libido. I can't even imagine what drugs they've got her on in the mental hospital she's surely in by now. But I can say after severing ties with her it felt like emotional post-concussion syndrome for almost a year (which is far longer than I knew this person).

Suffice it to say, nothing about the guy from this letter says Borderline to me (though I've never knowingly met a man with Borderline). I think it's more simple--he just doesn't want to be hassled with explaining himself and (as Amy said) hopes our letterer will go away.

I don't think it's cowardly either. Cowardice implies fear.

His inaction shows more of a lazy, callous, disrespect.

A complete absence of character which this letterer does need to stop fooling herself about.

But let's not start filing out the psych ward paperwork for him just yet.

Posted by: Steve at September 17, 2007 1:25 PM

Unless you need drugs for what ails you, and even then, I think it's very easy to name what people supposedly have and often, not very helpful -- or necessarily correct. And don't make the mistake of believing that people with degrees in psychiatry or psychology necessarily get it right. The next time you're at your shrink's, if you have one, take a look at their desk and bookshelves. Notice any books published recently? A stack of journals that indicate they keep up on the latest research? Or did their studies stop 20 years ago when they graduated from shrink school?

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2007 3:12 PM

The world is full of armchair psychologists and they suck.
"Diagnosing" people outside of a professional context is just name-calling. It is a way to ostracize people by portraying them as defective and unclean. It plays on people's natural reaction to weakness and illness (fear of contamination.)

Using pseudo-clinical terms to discount someone's experience is not only cowardly but cruel towards people who genuinely suffer from mental disorders. A professional approach to psychiatric illness begins with compassion, not derision.

Posted by: holier-than-thou martin at September 18, 2007 7:26 AM

(and yes some people are just sociopathic jerks.)

Using pseudo-clinical terms to discount someone's experience is not only cowardly but cruel towards people who genuinely suffer from mental disorders. A professional approach to psychiatric illness begins with compassion, not derision.

Pot, kettle, black, holier-than-thou martin?
I only said that LW's guy was probably a BPD because I was also a victim of of a BPD, whose condition was exacerbated by alcohol. He was hospitalized, diagnosed, and released with meds which he absolutely refused to take, because "there's nothing wrong with me!" Total lack of personal responsibility, which the psycologist told me was one of many symptoms. He was also a functioning alcoholic. After he left, I was finding empty vodka bottles hidden all over the place, in the attic, the basement, the garage, and even one duct-taped to the inside of the toilet tank lid! It would have been laughable, if it hadn't been so freakin' sad.

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2007 9:04 AM

Flynne,
Yep, guilty. I can't accuse people of name-calling w/o doing some name-calling myself.

(Although I tried that experiment where you point one finger and 3 are supposed to point back at you but I found they pointed behind me and to my right so I think I'm okay.)

I don't dispute that there are people out there who genuinely meet criteria for clinical diagnoses. Vodka bottles in the toilet tank and a licensed shrink's opinion are legitimate grounds for clinical terms.

I'm just saying I get tired of ordinary Joes and Janes throwing clinical sounding terms around everytime they run into someone who doesn't meet their expectations.

It is High School, in-crowd B.S. and it winds up doing real damage.

"...so freakin' sad." I know and have known too many alcoholics, and sad doesn't begin to get at it. "Detours, fences."

Posted by: martin, unmasked at September 18, 2007 10:17 AM

Yeah, martin, I hear you.

And I just got another dang earworm:

"...there's just not enough breathing room
between passion and pain..."

Posted by: Flynne, the earworm inflicted at September 18, 2007 11:14 AM

ooh, curve ball
Sources close to Steven Tyler say that should be:
Now there's not >even Between pleasure and pain.
Cryin'

"Detours, fences." ??


Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2007 11:58 AM

"I get defensive..." but I'm not a big Concrete Blonde fan.

I heard him sing the lyric I posted earlier this year, so maybe he forgot how he wrote it! Still sounded good to me, though, even with the crappy acoustics at the Mohegan Sun arena. That place is almost as bad as the (now defunct) New Haven Coliseum when to comes to sound.

Posted by: Flynne, concert goer at September 18, 2007 12:29 PM

The Blonde? Meh. That's the only song of theirs I ever had time for. All about dealing with an addict. It always kept me from getting murderously angry when someone I loved showed up 3 sheets to the wind, ready to babysit my infant son.

I used to love huge stadium concerts even though the acoustics were hopeless. They were always the shit when I was about 17 and we'd make a two day bender out of it. Now I like smaller venues. I was in New Orleans just a few months ahead of Katrina and my friends had to club me and stuff me in the trunk to get me out of there. One of the best places for live music on the planet.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2007 1:04 PM

Oh yeah it is! My BF and I were there in May 2005. Dinner and jazz at Snug Harbor on Frenchmen Street, just outside the Quarter, it was excellent! We stayed at the Hotel Ste. Marie on Toulouse, right around the corner from Bourbon. The Old Opera House was on the corner. I was also there in June this year, guy called Snake was playing piano at Jean Lefitte's, he was pretty damn good, too!

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2007 1:24 PM

I've got to get back there. One of the best places in the world.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2007 1:44 PM

Yep, me too. I think the crew I went with in June is going again next year, so I'll be on the list for that. There's a litle place called Yo Mamma's on I think St. Phillipe's right off of Bourbon, best damn gumbo ever!

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2007 1:48 PM

I guess these two got a room.

Posted by: Pussnboots [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 10:05 PM

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