Lovelorn Frat Boy

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Question

I have a girlfriend, but I'm still in love with somebody. My question is, how could I tell my girlfriend that I'm in love with somebody else, and how could I tell her that we can just be friends?

Answer

Honey, there's no substitute for just saying the words you have written in your e-mail to me. But first ask yourself why you have wound up going out with this poor girl when you are in love with somebody else? Is it really possible for you to be with the woman you love? If this is an unrequited love affair, it may be time for you to get closure and move on. Sometimes we can torture ourselves with an idealized version of a love that we lost, and put ourselves into a permanent detour that shuts us off from new opportunities for love and pleasure. No one is quite as wonderful a lover as the one that we have experienced only in our imaginations.

Then ask yourself what you have told your current girlfriend about her status in your life. Have you told her that you love her when that isn't true? If so, you owe her a huge apology. What do you want from her? Is it possible that you can make yourself more comfortable with her by saying, "I don't think I'm ready for a serious relationship right now. I like dating you, and I want to keep on seeing you, but I don't want to create any false expectations."? This gives her the choice to say, "Yes, I'm not ready for anything serious either," or, "We probably shouldn't see each other any more because I really want a commitment if I'm going to date somebody steadily."

But please don't tell her "we can just be friends." Nobody wants to be friends with the person who has just broken up with them. She's going to feel hurt and rejected, and she will need some time to get over losing her hopes or dreams for the future of a relationship with you (assuming that she has such hopes or dreams; she may be hoping you don't get too attached to her!).

Also, you can't break up with somebody via telephone or the Internet. That's incredibly rude. See her in person, face-to-face, find your cojones (that's "balls" to you), and say, "I'm sorry, _____ [insert her name], but I've realized that we should stop seeing one another. I'm in love with someone else, and I can't be emotionally available to you right now." Then sit back, shut up, and let her be pissed or sad or in denial. Just don't let her talk you into "trying again" if you are sure you don't want to be with her in the long run. Once she's expressed her reaction to what you have to say, it's okay for you to exit by telling her, "I feel bad about hurting you, but I don't have anything new to say about this. I appreciate all the time you've spent with me, but I need to leave now."

Good luck, Dear Reader. Having this conversation may make you quite nervous, but you will feel better if you confront your anxiety and just get it over with. It's normal to feel afraid when you have to tell somebody something they don't want to hear. But anxiety is a signal that you need to do something about this sooner rather than later.