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Parallax - Advice

October 15, 2001

Other People's Mistakes

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Only some of us learn from other people's mistakes; the rest of us have to be the other people. This week we meet other people who ask, 'What happened? Why did it happen? And why did it happen to me?' One person keeps falling into the same relationship ruts; one is obsessed with the same relationship; and one isn't even sure she had a relationship. Our love judges deliver their verdicts.

Strike three.
He's still playing the game?
 Date: 10/15/01

After the breakup...
...a makeup?
 Date: 10/15/01

He loves me...not?
What's a girl to do?
 Date: 10/15/01

More from last week...

Strike three

Dear Conversely,

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I have recently been dumped from the third major relationship of my life. To date, I haven't picked habitual abandoners. In fact, I tend to pick women who have been abandoned in their pasts. My relationships last an average of two years and they always begin and end in the same way. They start with the woman being amazed that she found 'someone with my capacity for doing good' and saying that she is 'mine forever.' They end with the woman getting very disgruntled with me, but afraid of trying to 'make me change.' I now feel it has been the same quality in me that caused all of these breakups, but none of the women will tell me what it is. I do well when I am alone, but I want a stable relationship and cannot learn how to be a better boyfriend while alone. How can I learn to fix something that I know is wrong with me when I don't know what it is? I don't want to pester them with questions, but the more I wonder, the more obsessed I become. When can I know - to a reasonable extent - that I won't hurt another woman (or myself) this way?

Her view:

Dear Third Strike,

Certainly (as you cite) it is difficult to know exactly what problem you are facing. And given the lack of data, one can only take a clear course to go out and get some more. First, you may want to have a 'post-break-up-development-for-you' conversation. Do the customer feedback survey and try to get a clue as to your issues. I am certain that any girl who dated you for two years would be willing to give you fifteen minutes of her thoughts on why she dumped you...and list your flaws. You may wish to phone a string of past girlfriends to see if you notice any trends.

Whether you have a bit more insight or not, you are facing only one option and that is to find your next suitor. I'm afraid you must move on to the next dysfunctional relationship...and potentially the next dumping. I stress the importance of phoning old girlfriends to discover where your path veered off track because this will, no doubt, provide helpful clues for the next go-around. Just remember - you shall date again, and date again soon.

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His view:

Dear Third Strike,

The key lesson is this: Don't be too good to be true - at least not from the start. These women fall in love with one version of you. Two years later, they find themselves asking where that man got off the train…and why he left them with the less appealing version of you.

In addition to setting their expectations too high, you also place yourself in an untenable position of displaying an unlimited capacity to do good. You probably don't do this on purpose; we all want to show our best sides first. However, with experience, one discovers that sometimes it is better to reveal both sides at the same time. You want women to appreciate your qualities and understand your flaws; you don't want them to think you are perfect from day one.

And yet, I don't think the problem here is all you. You say you've had three major relationships, all with women who had been abandoned in their pasts. Call me skeptical, but I think there's a message up on the board for you…something about three strikes. Next time you're out there, try another kind of lady. Make a conscious effort to avoid the luckless lasses. That way, the next time you are dumped, there could be a nice, tangible reason.

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You Vote! 33% of Women agree with HER VIEW and 67% with HIS VIEW.

30% of Men agree with HER VIEW and 70% with HIS VIEW.

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