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Q: Dear Laurie -
I'm a sixteen-year-old girl with a rather confusing situation that is making me feel like a bit of a floozy. I've been in a "relationship" for the past four months, although at the beginning of it all I told the guy that I just wanted to "try it out over the summer", which to me meant a few weeks, a month and a half at the outside. He was a close friend who'd liked me for a while, and he became extremely attached, and every time I've tried to break up with him, a situation arose which caused him to need my support even more. He's very dramatic and unstable, and I'm worried that if I break up with him something bad will happen; he has a history of threatening suicide.
He's put so much into the relationship, but instead of feeling loved I feel ungracious and trapped. I really don't want to go the level of physicality that he does, either, but I feel like I owe it to him. I'm dissatisfied and uncomfortable, but without the spine to break it off (mainly due to my concern for his feelings and emotional health), I can't look elsewhere, yet I still feel attraction to others. Does that make me "loose" or a "tramp"? I kind of like this other guy, who I know likes me, but what can I do?
How can I let my current boyfriend down gently without causing all kinds of turmoil within our group of friends? Not to mention, my boyfriend is incredibly jealous and paranoid (which he admits, but won't try to change).
Can you advise me of any way I can do this (breaking up) the best way for all involved, and possibly go out with the guy I actually like? Also, why do people who are still in high school take dating as though it's marriage? Is it bad to want to date off-and-on instead of "going steady"? In other words, is it me or is it him, my boyfriend, who isn't getting how this works?)
Thank you so much for your time and thoughts!
A Girl With No Way Out
A: Dear Floozy-
Just kidding, but how could I resist? Who doesn't love the word "floozy", so retro hoe bag. Ok, no you're not a 50s call girl. How could you be? You have yet to answer the call. What you are is co-dependent as evidenced by statements such as, "I've tried to break up with him, a situation arose which caused him to need my support even more." Symptoms of codependence are (I love wikipedia.com):
controlling behavior, distrust, perfectionism, avoidance of feelings, problems with intimacy, excessive caretaking, hypervigilance (hello, Tramp!) or physical illness related to stress. Codependence is often accompanied by depression, as the codependent person succumbs to feelings of frustration or sadness over his or her inability to improve the situation (that's you Loose-y goose-y!).
You owe your %&*$#'d up friend nothing more than compassion.
- Compassion is (I love dictionary.com):
- a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
- Please note there is no call-to-action here, nothing to do/nothing to see, just feel. Perhaps a quick heads up to a parent and/or guidance counselor about the boy's unsteady state and your work is done.
- Compassion is not :
- putting out because you feel like you owe it to him
- staying with someone because you feel guilty (guilt is your co-dependent problem)
- an excuse to be dissatisfied, uncomfortable or spineless or indulge jealous, paranoid, dramatic and unstable behavior
Why are your needs are any less important than the needs of your drama-king friend? Why can't you stand up for yourself? Why have you chosen to put up with these shenanigans (and yes, dear, as hard as it is to see or admit, you have chosen to be a part of the craziness)? I think it makes you feel needed and important even though you complain and write in to strangers about it.
So! Understanding the motivation for your behavior is easy, changing that behavior is hard because changing your behavior results in feeling uncomfortable, as you have already mentioned. And people don't like to be uncomfortable. People so don't like feeling uncomfortable that they will go so far as to stay in situations they desperately want to be out of in order to avoid feeling uncomfortable. Need proof? Look in the mirror, sister.
The Short Answer: " How can I let my current boyfriend down gently without causing all kinds of turmoil within our group of friends?" Oh, right you asked a question. Answer: you can't. You can't dump him (or anyone) sans turmoil. Dumping sucks and that's why. It's the potential upside (to getting involved) that keeps people coming back.
One other thing, I think it feels safer for you to be with kooky boy who desperately needs you than to venture out and see if you can make anything happen with NewGuy. Because what if NewGuy rejects you/it doesn't work out OR what if NewGuy is emotionally healthy and doesn't need you in the same psycho way as your ABC after-school special friend? Then you're alone and potentially sad whereas now you're just frustrated which, for some reason, is an easier state to be in. Unconsciously (and now less unconsciously) you think: best to be needed and safe with CoocooForCoconuts than out there swinging in the breeze and experiencing life.
But you'd be wrong so get out there and swing, Sister Flooze, swing!