Saturday, 28 May 2011

Auntie Seraphic & Maybe This Time

I get an awful lot of emails, mostly from young women. They ask for my opinion, and I give it. I suspect my replies may come somewhat of a shock, since successful female social life is based on softening opinions or just murmuring pleasantries. I know that some correspondents take my advice, for a few write back to tell me. Most don't, possibly because they are furious.

In my M.Div. program, we were taught not to give advice but to ask searching questions that would bring people to their own answers. This is not so easy on the internet. Thus--blunt opinion. Caveat emptor.

It's not easy to keep a cheerful, even tone at times. If you were in the room listening as I read a new email, you often would hear something like, "Uh huh. Uh huh. Fair enough. Fair en--WHAT?! OHHHH NOOOOOO!" And sometimes you would see me bounce up and down like a monkey on speed, so horrified am I at what is going on.

I try to keep the horror out of my replies, but I was really upset when I wrote this one. And yet I know our dreams, no matter how unlikely or dangerous, are very precious to us. Tell me in the combox if you think I'm too harsh on this one.

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

Having thrown myself at [a man], I've now been courted, taken for granted, and dumped by him [X times].

I've thought from the second time I ever spoke to him, [Y] years ago, that I wanted to marry him, and in spite of all the stuff that's happened over the last [Z] years, I know that I still love him and still want to marry him.

A lot has changed in the last year: he's made some drastic life changes and become a lot happier and calmer; and I have changed my habits and developed rather more self-restraint than I had before.

I do not chase him now. I'm fairly careful not to appear to have any emotional investment in him. I'm not being nasty or cold, just not adoring him like I used to do. My confidence has returned and I'm back to being the person he falls for - happy and fun.

So here's the thing: he's lately started acting interested in me again. I know him quite well; I can tell. My question is, if he starts pursuing me again, which I think he will, how do I test him and try to make sure he's not taking me for granted, without being - well, a bitch?

How do I make him really work for [my attention] without being nasty or shutting him down and killing my chances? I don't want to go through that hell of dating someone who's not really sure if he wants me or not again. At the same time, I don't want to say "Don't ask me out unless you've got a ring ready" because I wouldn't want to accept a proposal without our dating for at least a while first, considering our history and his lack of staying power. Help!

Maybe This Time

Dear Maybe This Time,

I'm confused as to why you want to give yourself body and soul to a guy who has dumped you [X times].

You do realize what marriage means, right? It means washing a man's underwear and scrubbing the toilet because he never gets around to it and fighting over who trod what into the carpet. It means tons of menial work that isn't menial because you truly love each other and he got down on his knees to beg you to take him, his underwear, the dirty toilet and the carpet on. It means [doing wifely things] when you don't really feel like it because it's a nice wifely thing to do.

It means trotting out the history of your relationship when people ask how you met, and so far your story is not heart-warming stuff: "I knew from the second time we met that he was the man for me, and even though he treated me atrociously over [Y] years, dumping me [X times], I've hung in there."

I do not know this guy at all, but he has a history, so since he has already courted and dumped you [X times], I would not be surprised if he decided to court and dump you AGAIN. After all, there's no point in you being happy and confident now, is there?

Sorry to be so blunt, but you're fixated on a guy who sounds like a creep, and your first fear is seeming like "a bitch" and "ruining [your] chances." Chances of what? Wondering for the rest of your life if he'll be out the door because you're not always happy and fun enough?

If I were you I wouldn't give him the time of day, let alone any encouragement. In fact, that is all my conscience will permit me to say. Well, one last thing: the longer you are stuck on Mr. Wrong, the more impossible it will be for you to meet Mr. Right.

I don't want to end on such a negative note, so I'm glad you've managed to get your equilibrium back and at least to look like you're no longer fixated on him. If you don't take my advice and forget him, at least do your best to make him work for [your attention]. This may not bring the results you long for, but at least you will keep your dignity and maybe even earn his respect, if not his love.

Grace and peace,

Bottom line: Girls, stop imagining you've met the man you're going to marry when he hasn't given you any solid evidence that he might want to marry you.


Rosemary said...

Seraphic: I think it's a good thing that you were blunt. Sometimes we need to hear the truth in a straightforward way. Since this relationship seems to be so demoralizing for the lady, perhaps she'd be better off ending the relationship? I speak from experience when I say that things don't tend to get any better the second time around.

dark but fair said...

Veritas vos liberabit! No, Seraphic, I don't think you were disproportionate in any way in writing this. You are right, and this needs to be said. There are so many women who even if they are not far gone enough to let a guy dump them (X) times, still have this idea that they need to drastically alter themselves or put up with soooooo much gunk in order to "earn" the honor of being with a guy too cowardly to really woo and win a lady. It makes me sad and gets me mad. I am very grateful for your blog, if only for the reason that it helps reassure me that I am not crazy in wanting more for my girldfriends and myself. Thank you.

Eowyn said...

I don't think you were too harsh. You said very, very good things. This was probably a scary e-mail for her to receive though, because over time she's probably become very conditioned to think about him and dream about him and center at least some of her decisions around him...and even if she can't depend on him, she can depend on what he says and does, the familiarity of knowing him so well, the occasional inside joke, shared history, etc. If she actually, really truly takes him out of her life and stops defaulting to him in her mind and in her heart and in her dreams, it will leave a giant void, and that's terrifying. I'm nearly certain that the most terrifying thing about receiving your e-mail was that she knows it's true. Question for you ladies: How do you get past the terrifying void?

Kate P said...

"How do you get past the terrifying void?" A day at a time. Sometimes, at first, an hour at a time. With the grace of God.

That's the broad answer. I don't believe there's one answer for everyone.

Rosemary said...

Getting past the terrifying void? Sadly, I would say when the alternative is no longer tenable. When you finally decide that you've had enough of being treated poorly, and just can't do it anymore. It would be better for MTT if she would decide to go ahead and make the break before it gets any worse for her. The longer she waits, the harder it will be!

MarieTherese said...

Yay! I think that was a great e-mail. I rather hope it was a friend of mine who wrote it, although I doubt it. It's hard to see your friends caught up in the drama of a guy who dates/dumps/dates/dumps them. :(

Domestic Diva said...

I got past my own terrifying void when a) I realized that life without him would be temporarily sad, but not as bad as life with him, and b) I moved out of town and started a whole new life. Point b is quite drastic, I admit, but it was a very unhealthy relationship. The opportunity to start over presented itself, and once I realized point a, following through with point b made the breakup stick and gave me something new to think about during the grieving process.

Fritha said...

I think that was very good advice, and the sentence "the longer you are stuck on Mr. Wrong, the more impossible it will be for you to meet Mr. Right" is probably applicable to a lot of people, me included.

As to how to get past the "terrifying void", meeting new people, spending time with other friends, not making him the first person you invite somewhere, prayer, prayer and more prayer. It's not easy, but making the effort to spend time with a variety of people is probably the best thing to do.

Naive said...

Too harsh? You must be joking.
This girl is in terminal danger, so you must be direct.
The guy is senseless and unsensitive ego-tripper, real emotional vampire. Run dear sister, run away from him asap!

Julis said...

Blogger was being dumb before so I will add my two cents now:

When I was stuck in a cycle like this I started paying more attention to the advice about "impure thoughts". I don't generally have much trouble in that department in the sexual fantasy way, but an active imagination that sweeps in with fairytale outcomes for a situation that, rationally, you know is bad, is sort of similar. Thoughts that you don't *really* want. There is all kinds of solid advice out there about dealing with impure thoughts and that might help, at least as a start, and then whenever you find yourself thinking "but this time...!" "but suppose I ran into him there and I was wearing that dress and then he'd think...!" you can start to break the spell.