Bunny can’t buy you love
Q: I’m 23, my boyfriend’s 28, and we’ve been together for four years. When we met, I had low self-esteem and didn’t realize there was more to a relationship than straining for his approval. I’ve come a long way and have grown unhappy with our relationship.
There’s no romance, we barely have sex, he’s totally lazy when we do, and he’ll never make out with me, despite my telling him it’s important to me and really turns me on. While I make an effort to dress sexy, be good-humored, leave him alone, take him out, leave him cute notes, and play coy, he’s let himself go (sitting around packing on the chub). Last night in bed, his big paunch was pressing into me so hard, I couldn’t breathe. Overwhelmed with resentment, I blurted out, "Jeez, you need a girdle!" I felt bad, but realized I also want to make him feel bad for not listening, not being affectionate, and for making me waste some of my young hot years with him. When I try to get him to stop taking me for granted, he just gets angry. I’m on the brink of leaving, but I truly love him, we’ve got pets together (two bunnies), and I’d miss his family.
Also, he’d be devastated. — Exasperated
A: Of all the ridiculous reasons to stay in a bad relationship, at least you picked a cute one. You’re actually going to stick around for increasingly occasional bad sex and near smotherings by a boyfriend who refuses to kiss you or pay attention to you ... because Flopsy and Mopsy can’t suffer the effects of a broken home? Couldn’t there maybe be a helpful accident, where they both mysteriously trip and fall in the stew pot? Or, where you come home and you’re like, "Wow, that sure is one soft toilet seat cover!"? (Just kidding, everybody — it’s just been a while since I’ve gotten hundreds of angry letters from PETA.) Of course, the bunnies and missing his mommy and daddy are just companion excuses to your star excuse, "I truly love him." Love is so oversold in our culture; it’s supposed to be "all you need," "the answer," "forever." Just saying you have it is supposed to shut everybody up: "Sure, he beats me a little. But, I love him!" Well, okay then! As for this guy, what exactly do you love...the way he puts on his girlfriend-canceling headphones and stares deep into the television set whenever you talk about saving your relationship? What gets you to the U-Haul place is figuring out what "I truly love him" is truly code for. Fear of being alone? Fear of change? Or maybe, "I’ve been campaigning for his approval for four long years, and dammit, I’m not leaving till I get it!" The ironic thing is, you’d probably have an easier time leaving if he gave it to you. And what’s with trying to punish him? Okay, he’s about as attentive as a potato. This isn’t some nefarious secret he’s been keeping from you. If there’s anybody to resent here, it’s the girl who keeps trying to beat a dead horse in hopes it’ll get up and run like Seabiscuit. If you actually do value you, you see to it you’re with people who also value you. If that newfound self-esteem stuff is merely talk, go ahead and stick around with him, but forget the slinkywear and show him the kind of skin that seems to turn him on. Your big decision: a tattoo of the TiVo remote or a cupid’s arrow through a bag of Doritos?
New Year's Leave
Q: I'd been wanting to break up with my girlfriend, and then it was almost Christmas, and I couldn't bring myself to do it, so I was waiting until after New Year's Eve (so she wouldn't be alone). Then, she said she wanted us each to make a "little book of wishes" to give each other on New Year's to help make our 2009 more romantic. Since my overwhelming wish was "to be single," I broke up with her then, the day before New Year's Eve. Could I have done something differently?
A: Well, you could've made it a two-part book, with footnotes: On New Year's, give her the wishes, like "I wish we could go away more for romantic weekends..." and the day after, give her the footnotes, "separately, with other people." Once she let the book assignment out of the bag, there just was no good solution. But, you exacerbated the problem by procrastinating. Telling somebody it's over is hideous, but the kindest thing you can do is to break up as soon as you know. That way, your girlfriend gets on with her life faster, and with fewer wishes of the sort that are decidedly not best expressed in glitter pen on flower-embedded handmade paper.
© 2009 Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.
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