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Parallax - Advice            July 3, 2000



   They're headed for disaster...

Dear Conversely, Ask us a Question!

A dear friend of mine has been dating his girlfriend for over six years. His family and I and most people that know him from earlier days agree that this woman is not right for him. They have been together and apart, had terrible break-ups and precipitated returns, and he doesn't seem to have learned anything from all this. He recently announced he's moving in to her place, and we're worried this is a prelude to marriage. We've all spoken to him about it but he tells us all different stories - he tells us what we want to hear. Is this hopeless or is there a way to help him still?

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Her view:

Dear Worried,

Nope, no way to stop him. He's in love - end of story. The only thing you can do is support him. If this girl is so bad for him, hopefully he'll find out the hard way before marriage. Moving in may be a great way for him to do that. They'll be in a situation that is similar to marriage yet without the commitment - it may just be the perfect venue for him to really test her out. If she is truly that heinous a creature, he will find out.

Be patient though - it will take time. He'll probably live with her for a while before he has his epiphany. And maybe he never will - if he's happy, who cares? You can't tell a person who is right for him and who is wrong. She just is - and you have to work with that.

Feel free to express your opinion. But do it once and be articulate. Don't come in with some rant about how his girlfriend is the spawn of the devil. Tell him you support him completely whatever he decides and you'll be there whatever happens. But tell him you have misgivings and worry about his happiness with this girl. That's totally acceptable from a good friend. Then you have to live with whatever he decides - and no whining - no rudeness to her. He has chosen. Hopefully he sorts out what is best for him and you'll be there to catch him if he needs you.

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His view:

Dear Worried,

It's amazing, but there are so many people like your dear friend out there. Men and women who can't let go, who don't seem to learn from apparent mistakes, who just don't behave the way we want them to.

I think these people should be left alone - especially if there is no significant evidence that they're miserable. It doesn't sound like your friend is sad or terribly preoccupied by his lovely situation.

So what if they move in, what if they get married? It's not going to kill him. He might even prove you and his whole family of doubters wrong. And if he doesn't, the only difference between a separation after marriage and a breakup after six years together is in the perceived social consequences.

I'd like to recommend you airlift him out of the country and exile him in Myanmar, or better yet, exile her. But my guess is he'll just go off and find himself another objectionable woman. I'd like to say you should make one last desperate appeal to him - but that would be more for your benefit than his. Sorry, but my only heartfelt suggestion is to let him be.

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