Q: There’s never a good time to break up with your girlfriend, but there is a really bad time, and that’s what I chose. I did it over the phone as she was boarding a plane to attend her best friend’s wedding. I thought it would be good for her to be with friends after hearing the news, but it ruined her weekend. She pretty much thinks I’m a terrible self-centered idiot, and she’s right. Here’s the good part: I want her back. I’m really not sure why I did it in the first place. I guess I thought she’d be better off without me, and enjoy city life while she’s young and single. (She’s 26, I’m 31.) Now I can’t sleep, eat, or think without her, but she won’t even talk to me. We used to love sitting in a chair together and reading your column on weekends. I’d give anything to be back in that chair with her, reading this and your answer.
A: Accidents do happen. If you aren’t careful, you might walk into a plate glass window or methodically go on the Internet to gauge the exact time your girlfriend’s plane is leaving, dial her cell, wait for her to answer, and — whoops! — announce that you’re dumping her…just in time for the flight attendant to announce “Please turn off all electronic devices, and sit back and enjoy your flight.”
There actually is a good time to break up with somebody, and it’s when you’re sure the relationship’s over. Accordingly, there’s a good time to figure out why you’re breaking up, and that’s before you do the deed. And, why did you break up with your girlfriend? Here’s the good part: You’re still not sure! Luckily, you don’t let that stop you from spinning this as some benevolent act on your part. Yeah, sure, you only dumped her to make her happy. You just want her to enjoy herself while she still has her youth. (After all, at 26, she only has six decades before she needs a hip replacement.)
Want to do a good deed? Buy a homeless guy new shoes and a turkey sandwich. Want to do right by your girlfriend? Figure out why you dumped her. Commitment issues? Pre-emptive abandonment (ditching her before she ditches you)? Only if you let her know exactly what she’s dealing with can she assess whether it makes sense to give you another shot, in a way she can’t with “it was just one of those random acts of blithering idiocy.”
If you’ve had a pretty good record with her up till now (you’ve never left her at the mall or anything), you might be able to worm your way back in. You need to express deep remorse for what you did and beg her to take you back (be specific about why she’s so great and why you’re great together). Of course, getting her to even talk to you will take an act of romantic restitution. (Think John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler, standing under his girlfriend’s bedroom window, boom box over his head, blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”) Women are suckers for a having a great romantic story to tell, especially one where the guy shows that he gets what an idiot he was to ever take the woman for granted — and not just because he called a friend: “Broke up with her this morning.” Friend: “Dude. She was hot. What’d you do that for?” Guy: “Damn, you’re right. I’ll call back and tell her I was just messing around.”
Q: I really like this guy I’ve started dating. We’ve only kissed once. He’s not a great kisser. Can you teach somebody to kiss better? My girlfriends say a bad kisser is a dealbreaker.
A: With friends like yours, Snow White would still be in a coma. The prince would maybe put too much saliva into the kiss, and she’d wake up for a moment — just long enough to exclaim, “Eeeuw! You kiss bad!” — then pull the silk pillow over her head and go back to bed for the rest of her life.
Come on, the guy kissed you once. Even criminals get a second chance. You can’t change a man’s character, but you can whisper in his ear, “softer” or “a little slower.” Don’t make it about what he’s doing wrong but about what you really like. Kiss him the way you want to be kissed. If need be, tell him what turns you on, like how you love gentle biting on your bottom lip (as grateful as you are to have discovered what it’s like to close your eyes and be licked upside the mouth by a romantically minded Great Dane).
© 2010 Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.