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December 22, 1997   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Predicament of the Week
In which Breakup Girl addresses the situation that has, this week, brought her the most (a) amusement, (b) relief that it is happening to someone else, and/or (c) proof that she could not possibly be making this stuff up.

Dear Breakup Girl,

I went out with a guy for five years until last April, during which he simultaneously broke up with me and I moved to a new city where I knew nobody. My problem is that for the last eight months I have been hopelessly single. This has not really bothered me too much as I was rediscovering the joys of being single.

However, I am now definitely over him (finally) and looking to get on with the romance thing. This is proving to be extremely difficult. I still don't know that many people here and all my friends here are couples. On New Year's Eve we are all going out to dinner together. I am the only one without a partner (and I don't even know enough males casually to take one with me as a friend).

The problem is that the dinner is a medieval one where you have to feed each other. What am I going to do? I really don't want to be lumped with some other single loser at another table just so we can make up this couple thing. This is the first time that my singleness is really bothering me and I don't know what to do. I know eight months is a long time to be single, but I first had to meet friends before I could start looking for a lover. It was a really difficult time as I really had nobody to turn to. I spent many a night alone at home watching TV. Now I have met some really great people, but I don't know how to cope with the single thing, the dreaded "S" word. I want to go to this dinner with my friends, but at the same time I know it could get awkward. What should I do?

-- Desperately Single

Dear Desperately Single,

If it makes you feel any better, going to one of those medieval eateries even with a partner is one of Breakup Girl's worst nightmares. It might seem like a couples thing, but trust me, a raucous pageant of goose drumsticks, beer wenches, and live jousting is not exactly what gives Breakup Girl the warm snugglies. The main reason people wind up feeding each other may be that they don't really want to eat the food themselves.

But I will grant you that when friends become couples, the lobe of their brain that contains memory of what it's like to be single becomes inactive. They forget what it's like to be the only person in the room who starts her sentences with "I" instead of "We" and doesn't answer to "Muffin" or "Pooky." Or - to give them a much ampler benefit of the doubt - couple-friends invite single friends along precisely because they don't want them to feel left out, because they don't want to patronize them by assuming that they don't want to come along.

Therefore, I suggest that you pick a particularly trusted friend among the dinner crowd and ask him or her to to invite a couple of other stag buddies along. Not necessarily to fix you up; just to take the pressure off. But don't assume that other third wheels would be "single losers," because, uh, you're single, and you're not a loser.

I mean that! As you establish yourself as a single woman in a new city, you're doing all the right things: seeking out friends before lovers, being a good sport...but drawing lines where you need to. Your love life is sure to have a renaissance long before you reach middle age.

Breakup Girl



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