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Hopeless Is More

My girlfriend broke up with me because she doesn’t want a commitment and wants to “explore dating other people.” Although I’m honestly not ready for commitment either, it kills me to see her dating other guys. There’s also a twist: She says she still has feelings for me and wants me sexually. I know I should play it cool and wait her out, but it hurts so much, I don’t see how I can. I’d like to find a place between being totally committed and “just friends.” Is it possible to do that and make her crave me again?

--Agony Central

Phoning something called “customer service” probably seems like a bright idea to any customer who has yet to experience “press one to be ignored in English; press two to be ignored in Spanish.” The term “office park” suggests a scattering of desks under centuries-old oak trees, with deer wandering over to eat out of your hand -- not the apparent homage to prison life in much recent office complex design. Then there’s the girlfriend who wants to “explore dating other people” -- which makes it sound like she’s planning on putting in lots of long, lonely nights at the library, poring over boyfriend data in Consumer Reports.

Of course, what she’s really planning on is having sex with a lot of guys who are not you. Or maybe just several guys. Or maybe just one or two. Exact census aside, it’s unlikely that her search will lead her to a bible study partner who’ll join her in reciting from Deuteronomy at the diner over a couple of cherry Cokes.

Unfortunately, people who break up with other people are not always kind enough to be adequately cruel. This leaves those who got left to pick up the slack. This would be you. Come on. It’s time for some self-inflicted hope-crushing. Crack off the candy coating. Cue up the dirty picture show. Stare straight into all that’s painful until something becomes painfully obvious: She doesn't crave you. She craves variety. Sure, she says she still has “feelings” for you -- probably like the cozy feeling that you’ll do quite nicely as a backup penis, should any of the dates on her international sex tour cancel. There's no telling what the future will hold -- or who’ll be holding her in it. That said, it’s extremely unlikely to be you if you suck away any respect she might have for you by waiting at her door like a sad doggie while she runs around with a bunch of other guys.

Forget searching for "a place between being totally committed and 'just friends'" -- a romantic Switzerland that does not exist. For you, right now, there’s only the place between humiliating yourself and totally humiliating yourself -- where friendship tinged with a sniffly "B-b-but, why don't you want me?" undertone will take you. If it’s really friendship you seek, be your own best friend and put some space between you and this girl. Crawl away and lick your wounds, and prepare to date women who share your level of alleged disinterest in commitment. Maybe, in a few months, or a year, you’ll have what it takes to be this woman’s friend: the ability to find her emotionally interchangeable with the rest of your friends. In other words, if, when your 230-pound pal Bubba has a date, you generally stay home, curl up in a fetal position, rock back and forth and cry your eyes out -- you’ll want to do exactly the same for her.


Copyright ©2003, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.