Exes, etiquette, and losing a spark

Dear Mr. Blue,

I can’t get over my ex. We dated a few years ago and when we broke up, even though it was mutual, I was devastated. At 22 years old, it was my first time being in love, and my first time being heartbroken. The relationship itself had been turbulent: he was a night owl and an alcoholic while I found solace in routine and generally healthy habits—except for the part where I would drop everything to be with him, at any time. Still, we found common ground in our worldviews, artistic sensibilities, and appreciation for the finer things in life, such as good food and luxurious hours spent in bed. He was very sweet and attentive when he wasn’t arguing with me about how long to stay at the bar. We started dating again about a year later, magnetically drawn to one another once again despite my better instincts, but I eventually dumped him over our conflicting lifestyles.

When I’m with him I can’t stop obsessing over the doomed nature of our relationship, and yet when we’re apart I find myself wondering if I missed out on The One, since I’ve never felt as intensely about anyone else. How can I move on?

-Obsessed

Dear Obsessed,

When you say “alcoholic,” a deep dark bell tolls, and the word “turbulent” can mean so many things. People use “alcoholic” in a dozen different shades but you know what you mean, and if you’re saying that he was out of control at times, bound on a destructive path, then there’s no place for you here. The drowning man has to be rescued by others. Dive into routine, a life that doesn’t include him, and fall back on your true friends. Breaking up can be devastating but staying with a destructive person can be worse. Move on by assigning yourself good tasks, setting new goals, filling up your days with what your better instincts lead you toward. Enjoy being alone in crowds. Walk two miles a day. Confide in your confidantes. Don’t respond to his emails and don’t answer his calls.

 

Dear Mr. Blue,

An etiquette question for you: I am a musician and I was recently asked to play a show by a fellow jazz group. They have been asking me for a few years to come to their shows, and I never do (I don’t go out much besides when I’m playing), but I figured I could at least play this one show with them.

They started a group text message to organize load-in, etc., and asked me in a roundabout way if I could bring my equipment (trap kit and bass amplifier) for all three acts to share. Generally, I believe that the show organizer should be the one to offer their own equipment if there will be any back-lining going on. I feel that I’m already doing a favor by playing the show in the first place–probably for little to no pay–and now I’m expected to provide my gear not only for myself but also for other people (some of them complete strangers) to use on stage? Was that indeed a rude request by the other musician, or am I wrong to feel taken for granted?

-Slightly Slighted

Dear Slightly,

“Slightly” is the operative word here. You agreed to play the gig so go ahead and do it, with your gear, and have a good time, and if you still feel bad about the deal afterwards, then resolve not to do favors in the future. Or decide to become a writer like me. No writer asks to borrow the laptop of another writer or to come over and print on his printer. It just doesn’t happen. Sometimes pencils are borrowed and not returned, sometimes people ask to steal some of your paper, but nothing big.

 

Dear Mr. Blue,

I’ve been dating this guy for two years and I no longer feel the “spark.” I can’t think of a particular reason why, either. We don’t even hang out very much—probably twice a week—but lately even that feels like a chore. We are exclusive and committed and do things like house-sit for each other when one of us is out of town, show up at each other’s work functions, cook meals together…but there’s something missing in the romance department. I’m 30 years old and he’s 32, and neither of us is thinking about marriage. But neither of us is unhappy enough to leave this stalled relationship.

Whenever I bring up my waning desire to my friends, they make me feel guilty by reminding me that he’s “such a good guy.” And I don’t usually date good guys, so I’m loath to give this one up. But does being with a “good guy” have to mean being bored?

-Guilty Conscience

Dear Guilty,

Romances ebb and flow, temperatures rise and fall, and maybe you need to test this one by not being so committed. Take a break. Stop thinking about what’s missing and go out and find people you enjoy being with. Don’t sit down and have a discussion about what’s wrong — that can be a miserable swamp —- better to take a break and give him a chance to think about it. It shouldn’t feel like a chore to see the guy twice a week. Bad sign. Don’t let your friends push you around. Don’t let him bore you. Find people you love to be with.

 


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