As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/

A Lady Thread Novella.... [FINAL UPDATE!]

naporeonnaporeon Seattle, WARegistered User regular
edited December 2006 in Help / Advice Forum
I apologize for the length, folks, but I'm tired and my problem is complex. If reading this is too much for you, I understand; even just the act of writing things out tends to help me, most times.

So, here's the situation at it stands, and I'm going to be as frank as possible, so as to make the resulting advice well-informed and useful:

For starters, a little background: I have the opposite problem of most guys posting relationship questions in the H/A forum. For whatever reason, it seems like 3/4 of my close female friends develop "more than friend" inclinations toward me, and--to be honest--I have a hard time saying no to women, so we often date, with mixed results. The result is that, single or taken, I am usually surrounded by ample temptation. Part of the problem here is that I am rarely single for more than, say, a week or so...even after serious, multi-year relationships. I am also highly disinclined to maintain friendships with exes. More on this later.

Currently, there are two exceptions to this rule. One, my former fiancee, is a great woman with whom I am just simply romantically incompatible. We realized--happily simultaneously--three years into our relationship that what we thought was a rocky romance was actually a top-notch friendship. The other, a brilliant former Fulbright scholar and college athlete now serving her post-doctorate study in cellular and molecular biology at NYU, is just...well...she's an exceptional enough person that I have made an effort not to deflect her, post break-up. I broke up with her early this summer.

Now for the current relationship info: I have what you might call a "laundry list" (or inventory), a mental checklist of romantic deal-breakers. The usual ones are on there (e.g. no addicts, no Republicans, etc.), but several that you might consider a little particular, such as "no divorcees or women with divorced parents," "no women who were only children," "no one more than five years younger than myself," and "no one with genuine clinical depression, bipolar disorder, etc." My problem is, is that many of the women I date are friends first, and therefore slip past many of those criteria. Enter my current girlfriend.

She's a brilliant woman in her own way, a gifted professional artist, outstanding conversationalist, light-hearted prankster, and voracious reader. She has is certainly intellectual, and we share a great volume of interests and tastes, as well as political beliefs. Not to mention, we went to a dance together in high school, many, MANY years ago. However...beyond being a divorcee, she is actually going through a divorce RIGHT NOW (it goes without saying that her ex knows), and in addition is the sort of severe manic depressive that leads otherwise skeptical people to wholeheartedly embrace the diagnosis. We are having some trouble, but I try to tell myself that it has more to do with our differing values; she believes in things like, say, astrology, and I emphatically do not...take this as an accurate sampling of our relative levels of credulity/incredulity. Anyhow, it was nothing major, just annoying. How did this situation happen, you might ask? Well, we were extremely close friends, and--frankly--I think that she got lonely, and wanted to "upgrade" our friendship.

(I do not blame this on her divorce, since she and her husband--a decent fella, by most accounts--have not had a normal, cohabitative spousal relationship for years.)

Fast forward to tonight. For the last few months, the biologist ex that I mentioned above has been shooting me occasional emails and text messages. Now, she is a fantastic lady, and we broke up almost entirely because I decided that I would rather stay at my job in Seattle than to move to NYC with her, and start law school at Columbia this last fall. It is very clear to me that she is interested in "getting back together," although I am not exactly sure what that would or could entail, her being in NYC, and me being in Seattle.

My problem? Well, all of a sudden, I feel like breaking things off with my girlfriend, the very close friend. Not just a little...a LOT. Even knowing that this would effectively mean an end to our friendship, to boot. Should I not do this? Is it possible (or rather, likely) that I am having this "break it off" feeling because of the ex that is hinting at rekindling things? Even considering that--frankly--she doesn't meet most of my criteria? I'm not asking for permission to break things off, mind. I just don't want to leave a vulnerable woman hanging. Still, that seems a piss-poor reason to stay with someone. Also, I seem to be a relationship junkie; I can casually date, sure, but they always seem to turn into long-term relationships almost immediately. Seriously, even while typing this, I'm thinking of a third woman that I could finally be seriously dating, a spectacular wit and one of the most blindingly pretty women I've ever had interested in me.

Gah...what is wrong with me? I don't really have commitment issues. Quite the opposite, actually. I just can't stay satisfied (either while being single or while with someone) for any real length of time.

I don't want to emotionally harm these women, and further, I don't want to be "that guy"...the one that plants all sorts of emotional mines in the dating pool, effectively ruining things for decent guys.

Any advice?

naporeon on

Posts

  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2006
    Interesting.

    I think your girlfriend being a vulnerable woman is a rather poor excuse to stay in the relationship. It is certainly nice of you, but you aren't doing yourself, or her, a favor (she has to learn to stay on her feet by herself eventually).

    I also think you shouldn't rekindle your old relationship with the NYC gal. It is only going to make you more confused. Besides, logic would suggest that if you have a potential prospect here in Seattle, you should invest your time and energy in her over the ex who is a continent away.

    I mean, it comes down to this: do you want to make things more complicated, or less complicated? Your current relationship sounds pretty complicated to me. And starting a fling, or even two flings, won't help that.

    tldr; break up, ignore the NYC girl, go for the third girl (the pretty one). You could use a fresh start.

    ege02 on
  • Chief1138Chief1138 Registered User regular
    edited December 2006
    I wish I had your "problem," lol.

    Seriously though, I think ege's suggestions sound about right. You've already given it a shot with the current girl and the NYC girl, so unless you have some mysterious reason to think continuing your current relationship (or rekindling the other one) will suddenly work whereas it didn't before, I'd say go for the new one.

    Chief1138 on
  • naporeonnaporeon Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2006
    Thanks for the advice, guys.

    To clarify, the "new" girl that I mention isn't precisely "new." We actually dated casually before, in the month or so after the NYC ex and I broke up...nothing serious, just a few dates.

    Also, my concern isn't so much "which girl should I see." My issue is rarely a lack of viable dates. At the moment, my problems are basically that I'm concerned 1) that I may be feeling like breaking up SOLELY due to a "grass is greener" impulse, and 2) I have qualms about breaking up with a woman I perceive as vulnerable, especially since in all honesty it would be terminating our friendship as well.

    A tertiary concern is that I am a relationship addict, of sorts. I am happy single and/or dating only casually, but rarely stay that way for more than a few weeks at a time.

    naporeon on
  • Chief1138Chief1138 Registered User regular
    edited December 2006
    naporeon wrote:
    Also, my concern isn't so much "which girl should I see." My issue is rarely a lack of viable dates. At the moment, my problems are basically that I'm concerned 1) that I may be feeling like breaking up SOLELY due to a "grass is greener" impulse, and 2) I have qualms about breaking up with a woman I perceive as vulnerable, especially since in all honesty it would be terminating our friendship as well.

    Well, you said it yourself. Not breaking up with somebody because you feel sorry for them is a pretty lame excuse. It sucks that your friendship might end up being collateral damage, but honestly, that's how it often goes for the rest of us.

    As for the grass is greener thing, I don't know about that. From what you describe it doesn't sound like your recent inability to sustain a relationship is really your fault...nobody can blame you for breaking up with someone who moved across the country, nor can we blame you for considering breaking up with someone who has serious emotional issues.

    Chief1138 on
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2006
    naporeon wrote:
    A tertiary concern is that I am a relationship addict, of sorts. I am happy single and/or dating only casually, but rarely stay that way for more than a few weeks at a time.

    You can always try taking a few months off of the dating scene when you find yourself single the next time.

    But you shouldn't be concerned with it. As long as your new relationships/dates aren't emotional rebounds and you aren't throwing yourself from one to another, what you do is not wrong or bad on any level. On the contrary, in fact.

    ege02 on
  • naporeonnaporeon Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2006
    ege02 wrote:
    naporeon wrote:
    A tertiary concern is that I am a relationship addict, of sorts. I am happy single and/or dating only casually, but rarely stay that way for more than a few weeks at a time.

    You can always try taking a few months off of the dating scene when you find yourself single the next time.

    But you shouldn't be concerned with it. As long as your new relationships/dates aren't emotional rebounds and you aren't throwing yourself from one to another, what you do is not wrong or bad on any level. On the contrary, in fact.
    This is what concerns me. I dated one girl for three years, and then broke up with her; I started dating the next girl (the one I was later engaged to) two days later. We also dated for over three years...and I started dating the next girl less than a week after breaking up with her. These are clearly rebounds, but even my rebounds end up lasting years and years.

    My problem with this? How can I be sure if I'm really into the woman, and not just, say, anestheticizing myself?

    naporeon on
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2006
    A rebound typically lasts a short time, until the person gets over their ex.

    Besides, you have to be interested in them quite a bit to see them for over three years.

    It might be an emotional dependency thing, where you don't feel "complete" when you're single, which is why I suggested taking a few months off and seeing how you fare.

    ege02 on
  • _X__X_ Registered User regular
    edited December 2006
    I think that by basing your people to date off of certain criteria is a shallow and assholish way to go about relationships but that may just be me. I don't base a relationship off of things such as age and only children. Have an open mind about everyone and you'll probably enjoy it more, not everyone is perfect, even if they get past your "list".

    As for the current situation you should find out from the NYC person what she is interested in, if you didn't want to move there before why would you now? Moving halfway across the country to be with someone that you may have a chance with isn't the best idea. Look at what you are getting from your current relationship and just ask yourself if you see things working long term or if you're just in it right now until you find someone else.

    _X_ on
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited December 2006
    Just a question.

    You really will not date a girl if she is, say, admittedly Republican?

    I am asking because I am very much a Democrat and liberal, but I'm wondering if a vast different in political views would affect a long-term relationship in the same way as, say, a difference in religious views.

    Drez on
    Switch: SW-7690-2320-9238Steam/PSN/Xbox: Drezdar
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited December 2006
    ege02 wrote:
    A rebound typically lasts a short time, until the person gets over their ex.

    Besides, you have to be interested in them quite a bit to see them for over three years.

    It might be an emotional dependency thing, where you don't feel "complete" when you're single, which is why I suggested taking a few months off and seeing how you fare.

    I know my girlfriend started dating me about a week after her last relationship, and we've been together twice as long as any she's had before. Admittedly, we were High School Sweethearts, so the situation is different, but it's not like anything less than a year after you break up with someone is tainted.

    I'd still take a break, maybe. Like ege said, it does pay to know that you can deal without a significant other in your life.
    naporeon wrote:
    Now for the current relationship info: I have what you might call a "laundry list" (or inventory), a mental checklist of romantic deal-breakers. The usual ones are on there (e.g. no addicts, no Republicans, etc.), but several that you might consider a little particular, such as "no divorcees or women with divorced parents," "no women who were only children," "no one more than five years younger than myself," and "no one with genuine clinical depression, bipolar disorder, etc." My problem is, is that many of the women I date are friends first, and therefore slip past many of those criteria.

    I'm somewhat on the fence about keeping a critera list. Most of these are both obvious and pretty important to keep track of (yes, bipolar disorder is not something a relationship needs), but it seems like these are related more to either big obvious defects or to just not liking someone. I just think it might not be necessary to watch out for certain criteria, as you're going to consider someone on their merits anyways. If they think George Bush is a great president, maybe you won't date them. But then, you wouldn't really enjoy hanging out with them that much, anyways.

    Mostly I say this because 3 years ago I would have called you crazy if you said the woman I would fall in love with wouldn't even know what a comic book was, and would think that SF was boring. Sometimes a criteria list keeps you from finding out that someone is great for you in other ways.

    Of course, in deference to your criteria, they are for the most part pragmatic while mine were just nerdy and kind of dumb.

    durandal4532 on
    Take a moment to donate what you can to Critical Resistance and Black Lives Matter.
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2006
    _X_ wrote:
    I think that by basing your people to date off of certain criteria is a shallow and assholish way to go about relationships but that may just be me. I don't base a relationship off of things such as age and only children. Have an open mind about everyone and you'll probably enjoy it more, not everyone is perfect, even if they get past your "list".

    On the contrary, there is nothing "shallow" about being a little picky, especially considering how successful this guy is with women. He knows what he wants, and bases his relationships on that.

    ege02 on
  • naporeonnaporeon Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2006
    _X_ wrote:
    I think that by basing your people to date off of certain criteria is a shallow and assholish way to go about relationships but that may just be me. I don't base a relationship off of things such as age and only children. Have an open mind about everyone and you'll probably enjoy it more, not everyone is perfect, even if they get past your "list".

    As for the current situation you should find out from the NYC person what she is interested in, if you didn't want to move there before why would you now? Moving halfway across the country to be with someone that you may have a chance with isn't the best idea. Look at what you are getting from your current relationship and just ask yourself if you see things working long term or if you're just in it right now until you find someone else.
    First, I appreciate what you're saying, but know that most of these criteria are based on things I've learned through hard-earned experience. Age is a very consistent indicator of life experience, for example, and virtually all only children I know have entitlement issues. Add to this the facts that divorcees and children of divorce tend to see relationships as being of a more transient nature, as well as the sad and unfair--but still demonstrably true--observation that mentally ill people are high-maintenance, and you can see that I have founded these criteria on sensible ideas. Dating by criteria is not "assholish" behavior. Far from it. It saves everyone the time and energy of wasted emotion and commitment.

    As for moving across the country...why the heck not? I mean, I would love to live in NYC, really. I'm an aggressive, assertive, commie leftist pinko intellectual. I'd be right at home at her place in Washington Square in the Village. I just didn't want to start law school this fall, otherwise I would've gone. If I could find a job that pays even 1/2 of what I make now, I'd consider a move, with or without the prospect of her being on the other end of it. Hell, I've looked into moving to France next year; NYC would be a cakewalk.
    Drez wrote:
    Just a question.

    You really will not date a girl if she is, say, admittedly Republican?

    I am asking because I am very much a Democrat and liberal, but I'm wondering if a vast different in political views would affect a long-term relationship in the same way as, say, a difference in religious views.
    In my experience, differences in politics and religion can quickly erode a relationship if they are ever brought to the fore. I, for example, consider most politically conservative folks to be selfish, shortsighted pricks, just as they might see me as a foolish, naive ideologue. Open-minded religious folks can be fine (e.g. the NYC girl is Jewish), but they have their beliefs, and I have my...suspicions. I know that I am happier with politically and spiritually similar folks, 9 times out of 9.01.
    I'm somewhat on the fence about keeping a critera list. Most of these are both obvious and pretty important to keep track of (yes, bipolar disorder is not something a relationship needs), but it seems like these are related more to either big obvious defects or to just not liking someone. I just think it might not be necessary to watch out for certain criteria, as you're going to consider someone on their merits anyways. If they think George Bush is a great president, maybe you won't date them. But then, you wouldn't really enjoy hanging out with them that much, anyways.

    Mostly I say this because 3 years ago I would have called you crazy if you said the woman I would fall in love with wouldn't even know what a comic book was, and would think that SF was boring. Sometimes a criteria list keeps you from finding out that someone is great for you in other ways.

    Of course, in deference to your criteria, they are for the most part pragmatic while mine were just nerdy and kind of dumb.
    Oh, I have no real criteria regarding interests. At least, nothing specific. I know that to be happy, I have to be with a woman with an active intellect, and the ability to--at least on occasion--appreciate argument-as-game. She has to enjoy literary fiction and "art-house" cinema, if not exclusively then at least in high volume. Outside of that, I don't much care if she likes to play chess or the occasional RTS, read "Y: The Last Man" or "100 Bullets," watch MST3K and Venture Brothers, or listen to The Decemberists or Bob Dylan. A willingness to share my interests, twinned with a desire to share hers with me is certainly necessary, but she doesn't have to have a Brock Sampson tattoo or anything.
    ege02 wrote:
    On the contrary, there is nothing "shallow" about being a little picky, especially considering how successful this guy is with women. He knows what he wants, and bases his relationships on that.
    Thanks. That's exactly how I feel.

    naporeon on
  • ZonkytonkmanZonkytonkman Registered User regular
    edited December 2006
    I really don't have much to say about the discussion going on lately in this thread, but if you're seeing greener grass somewhere else, of course you should break up with your current grass. It wouldn't be fair to them for you to have "settled" for them. If you aren't 100% commited to a person, then why the fuck are you wasting both of your time?

    I have nothing against casual relationships, or good-enough-for-nows, as long as both people are aware of what the score is, but if you're really out for romance, how could you ever consider marrying someone who wasn't the most amazing person in the world for you?

    Every day that you're with someone that you're 90% compatible with, you are losing a day that you could have spent with Mrs. 100%.

    Zonkytonkman on
  • naporeonnaporeon Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2006
    I really don't have much to say about the discussion going on lately in this thread, but if you're seeing greener grass somewhere else, of course you should break up with your current grass. It wouldn't be fair to them for you to have "settled" for them. If you aren't 100% commited to a person, then why the fuck are you wasting both of your time?

    I have nothing against casual relationships, or good-enough-for-nows, as long as both people are aware of what the score is, but if you're really out for romance, how could you ever consider marrying someone who wasn't the most amazing person in the world for you?

    Every day that you're with someone that you're 90% compatible with, you are losing a day that you could have spent with Mrs. 100%.
    I agree that if one person is looking for something very long-term, and the other one is having chronic "grass is greener" feelings, it's unfair to stay in that relationship. On the other hand, I don't necessarily agree that a relationship that is not headed toward, say, marriage, mortgage and kids constitutes a "waste of time." For the record, though, I have never seriously considered marrying any woman other than the previously-mentioned ex I was engaged to.

    But ultimately, you're right. We're both "out for romance," and only one of us is actually getting it.

    Which brings me to....

    UPDATE: After a long conversation last night, I broke up with the girlfriend. I made the ultimate breakup mistake, however, and cracked under the pressure of a sobbing woman, and agreed to give things another chance. During the uncomfortably long "why are you breaking up with me?" portion of the conversation, I repeatedly asked her to consider whether I was really truly making her happy, and whether, all things considered, we were compatible and/or looking for the same things in the long run. That accomplished precisely zero. In retrospect, I should've known better than to try to apply reason during a break-up, but there you go.

    Now, as embarrassing as it sounds, I need breakup advice. While I consider myself pretty successful with women, I have historically been FANTASTICALLY BAD at breaking up. I mean horrible. It hurts a little to admit it, but on occasions like this before (to wit, ones in which I cave in during a break-up, and submit to staying together), I have taken the disgusting route of behaving like a total ass and waiting for them to come around on their own. Now, I feel like a total cad, and really want to let this amazing woman down as gently as possible. I really do respect women (especially this one), and don't want her to be hurt anymore than is necessary.

    So...break-up advice? Quick like a band-aid? Would it be best to just say, "Look, this isn't working for me. We can't be together anymore.", and just end the conversation there, letting her deal with the emotional upheaval and such on her own? That seems to put the responsibility squarely on my shoulders, without the false hope-inducing complications of a "I think you're a great woman" or "It's not you, it's me"...which both happen to be true in this instance.

    naporeon on
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited December 2006
    Ouch, that's a difficult situation. I'd say don't drag it out. I've had less relationship experience, but the one time I did try breaking up by "letting her figure it out", I ended up feeling much worse about myself, and it made it harder to remember how fun it was when we were together because of the time spent unhappily stuck.

    durandal4532 on
    Take a moment to donate what you can to Critical Resistance and Black Lives Matter.
  • DynagripDynagrip Break me a million hearts HoustonRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2006
    Sorry, dude. Somehow girls are always the first to the breakup line with me...

    Dynagrip on
  • naporeonnaporeon Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2006
    Ouch, that's a difficult situation. I'd say don't drag it out. I've had less relationship experience, but the one time I did try breaking up by "letting her figure it out", I ended up feeling much worse about myself, and it made it harder to remember how fun it was when we were together because of the time spent unhappily stuck.
    You know, I have never really thought of this aspect of break-ups before. Seriously. Most of my memories of past relationships are tainted by my utter ineptitude at break-ups. Perhaps this contributes to my near-total aversion to maintaining a friendship with exes.

    Anyhow, thanks for framing a perspective on this that I hadn't considered before.

    naporeon on
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2006
    naporeon wrote:
    UPDATE: After a long conversation last night, I broke up with the girlfriend. I made the ultimate breakup mistake, however, and cracked under the pressure of a sobbing woman, and agreed to give things another chance. During the uncomfortably long "why are you breaking up with me?" portion of the conversation, I repeatedly asked her to consider whether I was really truly making her happy, and whether, all things considered, we were compatible and/or looking for the same things in the long run. That accomplished precisely zero. In retrospect, I should've known better than to try to apply reason during a break-up, but there you go.

    Now, as embarrassing as it sounds, I need breakup advice. While I consider myself pretty successful with women, I have historically been FANTASTICALLY BAD at breaking up. I mean horrible. It hurts a little to admit it, but on occasions like this before (to wit, ones in which I cave in during a break-up, and submit to staying together), I have taken the disgusting route of behaving like a total ass and waiting for them to come around on their own. Now, I feel like a total cad, and really want to let this amazing woman down as gently as possible. I really do respect women (especially this one), and don't want her to be hurt anymore than is necessary.

    So...break-up advice? Quick like a band-aid? Would it be best to just say, "Look, this isn't working for me. We can't be together anymore.", and just end the conversation there, letting her deal with the emotional upheaval and such on her own? That seems to put the responsibility squarely on my shoulders, without the false hope-inducing complications of a "I think you're a great woman" or "It's not you, it's me"...which both happen to be true in this instance.

    Well, even though you haven't broken up completely, you have entered the break-up phase. Since you want to break up, and she knows it, break-up is just a matter of time at this point.

    You shouldn't worry too much about not having broken-up completely right then. You have been with this girl for quite a while now, and it's only normal that it was difficult for you as well.

    Just try to move things toward the ultimate break-up. Start spending less and less time with her. Less and less sex. Less and less conversations. Eventually she will realize it, you'll have another "talk", and it'll be over. Just think of this phase as the "cooldown" phase when you are approaching the end of your treadmill cardio workout.

    ege02 on
  • naporeonnaporeon Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2006
    ege02 wrote:
    Well, even though you haven't broken up completely, you have entered the break-up phase. Since you want to break up, and she knows it, break-up is just a matter of time at this point.

    You shouldn't worry too much about not having broken-up completely right then. You have been with this girl for quite a while now, and it's only normal that it was difficult for you as well.

    Just try to move things toward the ultimate break-up. Start spending less and less time with her. Less and less sex. Less and less conversations. Eventually she will realize it, you'll have another "talk", and it'll be over. Just think of this phase as the "cooldown" phase when you are approaching the end of your treadmill cardio workout.
    Incorrect. We have only been together for a month or so. We've KNOWN each other since high school, but we've only been dating for a brief period. But your advice is still fairly valid.

    And I tend to end my cardio workouts rather abruptly. :wink:

    naporeon on
  • naporeonnaporeon Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2006
    FINAL UPDATE:
    So, I did it. I told her in no uncertain terms that things were completely over. She got upset again, but I stayed strong and weathered that storm admirably. I put things in as neutral and short a way as possible, made it clear that there would be no getting back together, and wished her well.

    She sent me an email, yesterday, completely playing off how much she cared about me. It was bitter and nonsensical...a long, meandering catalogue of how little I meant to her and how she was hoping that she'd come around to me, but that things just weren't working for her. I mean, someone unfamiliar with the situation would read that email and think that she was the one that had done the leaving. Crazy. Now normally, I would have responded with some sort of similarly harsh diatribe, but I recognized that there's nothing to be gained by doing that, especially with her. She's a great lady who's just feeling upset and emotional. If telling herself that I'm a sack of sh*t whom she never really cared for that much makes her feel better, then I'm fine with that.

    Thanks for all the advice and support, guys!

    naporeon on
Sign In or Register to comment.