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The Rude To Recovery
I just posted another Advice Goddess column. Here's the question:

I love my girlfriend of eight years very much, but I’m at wits’ end over her (non-romantic) relationship with her ex-boyfriend, who lives in another state. To her, he’s a helpless 37-year-old boy who needs constant motherly supervision so he doesn’t get taken advantage of. They talk on the phone multiple times daily, and she sees every problem he calls about as a catastrophe that MUST be handled immediately (he needs a doctor or a house to rent or to vent about a driver who cut him off). I’m bothered to no end when she leaves the table during dinner to go talk to him or gets up when we’re watching a movie, leaving me to pause the DVD for 30 minutes until she returns. During eight years of this, I’ve asked her not to talk to him while I’m around since we have conflicting schedules and limited time together. She’ll agree, but nothing changes. I do my best not to upset her, but sometimes I let it be known I’m ticked off, and she flips out, and says she’ll leave me if I can’t handle her “talking to (her) friends.”

--A Sap

And here's my answer:

Well, you got the sap part right. It’s only taken you eight years with this woman to begin to suspect that the actual saying is “I am my kid’s mom,” not “I am my ex-boyfriend’s mom.”

There are times to interrupt a meal with your partner to take a friend’s call, or even an ex-partner’s call -- like when it’s coming from the emergency room, the bail bondsman, or the space shuttle: “Houston, we have a problem…” “This is Houston. Say again, please.” “Well, this big meanie just refused to pull up in the left turn lane, and I was stuck there for three whole lights!”

Don’t mistake this “Girlfriends Without Borders” act for some kind of selfless humanitarianism. She might care for him, but her real motivation is probably being too busy with safe, ego-boosting mommylove to risk real attachment in grownup love with you. Meanwhile, if she takes over for this guy much more, he’s likely to devolve into a giant amoeba with one big finger for telephone dialing.

But, let’s give credit where credit is due. You can’t have “Girlfriends Without Borders” without “Boyfriends Without Boundaries.” (That would be you, Mr. Poodle.) It sounds like she’s not the only one with abandonment issues. Why else would you sit there like a big ventriloquist’s dummy while she regularly dumps you in the middle of dinner or a movie to go off on a phone date with her ex? (And, what is it this time, cancer of the hangnail?)

If you insist on being treated like you matter, there is the danger that she’ll leave you for good. (That’s worse than being left daily?) Time to go rent a pair of snap-on testicles. For operating instructions, buy the book No More Mr. Nice Guy, by Dr. Robert A. Glover. Tell her what you need to be happy, and if she screams and yells and says she’s leaving, say very calmly, “That’s really a shame, I’ll miss you.” Let her know that the next time she gets up from the table to take his call, you’re not waiting around for her, you’re going out to the bar. And then do it. Grab your cell phone, take a stroll to the corner, and ring in on call waiting: “Your mashed potatoes are getting cold, and so is your boyfriend.”

The original post is here.

By the way, Glover's book is just terrific. If you know any wimpy guys who delude/compliment themselves by calling themselves "nice guys" give them this book.

P.S. A guy who read this column of mine in Stars & Stripes sent Glover a note about it, and Glover forwarded it on to me. Here it is:

Dear Dr Glover; I am currently sitting here in a wooden hut next to the Baghdad International Airport, Iraq; working for //EDITED OUT BY AMY// and needed to write to you.

One Sunday last month in “Stars and Stripes” (our daily military newspaper); Amy Alkon was responding to an article a “Nice Guy” wrote to her, whining about this or that and mentioned your book and his need to probably purchase it; to help him with what he originally thought was his partners problem, not his.

The guy she was responding to sounded just like me.

I purchased it and read it in less then 2 days.

Where were you and this book when I was 16 years old and trying to figure out why Sally or Alice or whomever, still wanted to go out with the jerks, yet pined on about why their “jerks” couldn’t be more like me; yet I never got laid until I was 22? I am just kidding you figuratively of course about the “where were you comment,” not about the Sally/Alice comment; that actually happened to me a lot.

But I wanted to thank you for possibly saving my life. Up until now I was sitting here alone, in my hut whining about how my life “has gotten away from me.”

38 years old, 120 pounds overweight, wife is spending every dime she can get her hands on from my and her lucrative incomes, no sex life, etc etc etc.

After I read your book I went back to the gym which:
1. is free- provided by the military
2. less then 10 minutes away

But, I never went because it was too far away, too early, no energy, and so forth. In less then 2 weeks I have already lost 10 pounds and can’t wait to get up at 4 AM to get to the gym and my date with the treadmill.

I set boundaries with my wife and OUR spending issues and felt more comfortable talking about our future when I come home; instead of making excuses on why I needed to stay out here any longer to make ends meet, pay our bills or whatever the original reason I came out here for.

I will be working on my sex life when I come home for the July 4th holiday. I was able to take a “no sex” moratorium activity easily here; since there are no females out here anyways.

But, in the essence of your book; I was able to see that I am comfortable being me, maybe making a mistake or two, setting boundaries and telling others dear to me exactly what I will or will not tolerate any longer.

And after just these two weeks; I also realized that my wife still loves me, we will not be in the poor house and that I can handle it.

Thank you again.
Warm regards,

Made my day. And Glover's, too, I'd bet.

Posted by aalkon at June 7, 2007 8:40 AM

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