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Valetine's Day: Neurotics in Love

by Dear Jon
February 12, 2008

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Dear Jon,

My roommate and I are single women and best friends and we graduated from college last year. She has confided in me that she is ready to break with her boy-friend (they will have been together for three years this Valentine's Day). The thing is, I kinda like him and I'd go for him and I think he might be interested too (there was this thing with Mistletoe at another friend's Christmas party and we were alone for a moment and I know it sounds corny but it was kind of like a spark between us). I think that being with him would make things totally awkward for my roommate and really weird for everybody. She's my best-friend, but she's going to dump a guy I want to be with. What should I do?

The Roomie

Dear Roomie,

Here's the deal. If your best-friend is going to drop her boyfriend, she has no more right to control his life and no right to control yours. If she is going to feel weird around the two of you, she may need to re-evaluate her living situation. The onus and responsibility in that situation is hers, not yours.

There are 116 well-adjusted people in the entire world who would be able to live with this truth. The rest of us neurotics feel entitled to making everyone else our emotional slaves and who permit ourselves to become emotional slaves to others. This is what is meant by "guilt-tripping" and manipulation and being guilt-tripped and manipulated.

Two Examples of emotional slavery:
1. A group of guys are ready for an evening out and they have settled for the latest Sylvester Stallone sequel, except for the Metrosexual, who was hoping to see a French-language documentary about the Algerian immigrant experience in Paris. This is HIS opportunity to see a movie HIS own girl-friend would find boring to tears. The guys compromise by skipping the movie and going directly to an Irish Pub, and everyone's upset but no one tells the Metro that he's being a jerk because guys are guys and don't talk about their feelings, except the Metro, who dominates the conversation at the Pub describing his frustration with his mother's need to get foot surgery despite her fear of doctors, driving in winter, and leaving the house in general.

So the Metro described above is an emotional slave to his mother, and he is able to enslave a group of guy friends.

2. A woman calls her boyfriend just as Tiger Woods is ready to tee off at the fourteenth green, still one shot in back of Phil Mickelson in the final round. The woman expects her boyfriend to instantly evaluate his priorities and to turn off the television (not just mute it) so that she can talk to him about her tiff with her sister, who wants her to be a bridesmaid but won't let her consult about the dresses. This has been the woman's theme throughout three dates that week. The only new development is that her Mom has sent her an e-mail taking the sister's point-of-view scolding your girl-friend. To the best of your logical thinking, the bride and Mom are right, and your girl-friend is being immature, but you have not had the freedom to say anything like that since you mentioned the possiblity two dates ago, and she burst into tears.

A well-adjusted man will say, "Can you call me back in 90 minutes? I'm on some down-time right now and I won't be as available to you as you want me to be." A neurotic man will mute the t.v. (not turn it off) and try to 1/3 listen to his high-maintenence girl-friend and 2/3 watch Tiger's drive, while monitoring what Mickelson is doing back at the flag on the twelfth hole. A thoroughly whipped emotional slave will turn off the television, groan inwardly, but smile at the receiver and force himself to listen.

A well-adjusted woman would not bother her boyfriend with the same personal "sister's wedding" issue for four contacts in a row, first of all, and second, she would have understood her sister's point-of-view without blowing it up into a fight that had to involve her Mom, and third, she would not bother bringing it all up again while her boyfriend is watching golf.

So a best friend who is a boy-friend's ex and who is an emotional enslaver could try to manipulate a lot of guilt out of the natural awkwardness. There are 499,999 chances in half a million that your roommate is neurotic and that this will surface in these three-way dynamics. The liklihood that you belong to the vast neurotic majority is given in that you are seeking relationship advice through an internet columnist. I have also formed some opinions of the boy-friend based on your information.

The fact is, you want to take up with a guy who seems open to "secret mistletoe moments." The way I understood mistletoe rules, the mistletoe is something both fun and funny for public scenes at Christmas parties. It sounds to me like you thought smooching out your best-friend's boyfriend under the mistletoe with no one to watch and hoot and laugh at you was something good to do. That's not a mistletoe moment so much as it is cheating--at least a cheating-style of flirtation. In all the scenarios I can come up with for your secret kiss, only one is good. I'll list that one first.

1. It was destiny. You were meant to be together. If this is true than he is still a guy you can trust since the issue for him had been "wrong--your best friend" versus "right--you." If you are a neurotic person, this is your desperate hope. If you are one of the 116 well-adjusted people in the world, you have already seen how thin this possibility really is, because of scenario #2:

2. He kissed you because he feels as trapped as your best-friend by the inertia of a dead-end relationship. This might sound okay, but it is not okay. That kiss was almost two months ago now, right? If he had integrity, as in the first scenario, the kiss would have woken him up to his true feelings and he would have had the tough talks with your best friend by now. He has not. Your best friend is the one doing the dumping. That means that he is an uncommunicative lug who becomes untrustworthy when things are not going well.

As far as these scenarios go, it's all downhill from here.

3. He's a playah and he has already seduced you even if nothing really big has happened between you yet.

4. You were the initiator of the kiss with him, which means he is open to being seduced into cheating on his commitments.

Maybe the best thing is to let your best friend given him the deep six, and let him vanish from the life of both of you. Happy Valentine's Day.

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