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August 24, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

Please help me. I haven't ended a relationship, it's just in suspended animation; which makes it harder because when you break up you move on and there's some kind of closure. My boyfriend of three years is a military guy and just got transported to the other side of the earth for one year. Before he left he refused to make a commitment and told me it was "highly probable" he'd come back to me. (The issue of remaining monogamous prompted his response, said he didn't know if he could). I made it clear that monogamy is what I expect even from 10,000 miles away. (Hey, if I can do it, so can he, right?) I was prepared to say goodbye when he left.

Anyway, now that he's been gone for 8 weeks, he's like a different person. He e-mails me the most sappy lovesick notes everyday, tells me how much he misses me and how lonely he is. He reassures me he's not interested in being with anyone else because he loves me and doesn't want to lose me. Hey, he even wrote me a letter with tear marks on it because he got emotional writing the thing. What am I to do? Believe the nonchalant man than was noncommital before our separation? Or, believe the emotional wreck that seems to have realized what a good thing he has? I am so confused at this point I'm going crazy. Help!

-- Michele

Dear Michele,

"It's 'highly probable' that I'll come back to you" -- !? That's about as romantic as "a Meal Ready to Eat, a jug of wine, and thou."

But all joking/euphemistic language aside, I do actually commend your military boy's honesty about the monogamy thing-- admitting doubt in advance is better than breaking a promise. And here's what has happened: he's on the other side of the earth from you and home, and any prospects of non-monogamy have failed to materialize. Euphemisms, schmeuphemisms: your military man is homesick and horny.

Which does not mean your relationship is FUBAR (sorry, you'll have to see "Saving Private Ryan." Which, believe it or not, is LESS brutal than "Your Friends and Neighbors." But I digress.). But it is going to take some work and decisions. First of all, it's been only eight weeks. Things will settle down; you'll both get used to it -- or new feelings may arise. If you both can agree that you're committed to working around these obstacles, you may have to sort of write this year off as "this is not how things really are," as a time when you may not have enough data to make permanent decisions (or enough will power to be totally monogamous). Then again, if he's planning on staying in the Services for a good while, you are eventually going to have to figure out how -- and if -- your relationship can go the distance.

Breakup Girl



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