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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, January 18, 2007

What's a guy to do: the update, the conclusion

So some of you asked that I give an update when I learned the conclusion to the melodrama that involved a "couple" I knew from back in the day.

In case you don't want to click the link above and read the original post, here's the abbreviated version: 40-year-old man is in love with 37-year-old woman. They function as a couple for five or six years. She gets antsy and wants more of a commitment...but doesn't tell him that. He is content as things are 'cause, he says, he assumes she's happy. She breaks down at a mutual friend's wedding and confides in another mutual friend that she wants more. The second mutual friend didn't get the hint and pass that tip on to The Man. So a few months later The Woman sort of breaks up with him and begins seeing a new guy. The Man finds out and is convinced he blew it, because he just didn't know she wanted anything more formal than what they had.

Most of you commented that they didn't belong together because clearly they had communications issues. But some of you - in answer to my question - said that The Man should not give up. That he should go to The Woman, plead ignorance, explain he didn't know, urge her to consider their long, loving history, drop the new guy and come back for a second chance.

And so that's how I advised him: put it on your sleeve; tell her you screwed up; tell her (if you really mean it) that you want to be with her the rest of y'all's miserable lives; remind her that you two have a long history, and hope that she gives that more consideration than how much fun she's having with her new, younger, man. One more thing: I told him to be prepared to be turned down and to move on with his life quickly, if that happened. My disclaimer is he was going to do all of this anyway. I just advised him to choose his words carefully and to watch his demeanor and tone of voice when delivering the message. Don't wanna come off as loony.

Anyway the update is she rejected his last-ditch effort.

No dice, she said. She wanted to head a new direction.

About a week after she shot him down, The Man learned the cold, hard truth: The Woman had been secretly dating the new guy for several months prior to the big breakup. So it was no skin off her back anyway. Apparently the formality of her break-up with The Man was done so she could let him down easy and not hurt his feelings, she said.

I don't buy it. I think she was hedging her bets. Either way, there is a valuable lesson here: never assume your significant other knows what you're thinking.

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  • That's sad, but your conclusion is a wise one. Who knows? These posts may have saved some relationships.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 4:44 PM  

  • Does a significant other OWE the other person a second chance if they're unmarried? And so what if she were hedging her bets? I assume you'd find bet-hedging equally offensive if the roles were reversed.

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 5:14 PM  

  • I had a feeling this might happen. But at least now he knows. That knowledge won't necessarily make it any easier in the beginning -- it may in fact make it worse -- but I suspect he'll be in a better place in the long run.

    And, yes, communication. It's a cliche for a reason.

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 6:37 PM  

  • Oppps, that should've read "communication is key."

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 6:38 PM  

  • You totally called that one right...she was so hedging her bets!! He's better off without her in that case.

    By Blogger Claudia, at 6:47 PM  

  • Yes, she was definitely hedging her bets. But though it was painful, I'm still glad this guy was up front with her in the end. He clearly needs the practice, and next time, he will use his newfound communication skills on someone who deserves them.

    By Blogger bc, at 7:10 PM  

  • Hammer, if no one else learned anything I sure as hell did.

    And Sarc, don't try to twist my skepticism into a sexist thing. It's not. I'm just saying if she was hedging her bets why not be grown and admit it. Why cop out with the excuse that she started a secret relationship behind his back so as not to hurt his feelings? I'm no professional, but I'm guessing in the end that was more hurtful than a face-to-face "I don't like you anymore." And to answer your question, yes. I'd have the same 'tude if he had been the sneaky one and she had been in the dark.

    ThirdWorst, I agree. He learned a valuable lesson: don't assume anything when it comes to your other half's feelings.

    Claudia, he's better off. And in a way, I think she is too. Who knows? Maybe eventually she'll realize she kicked aside a steady, reliable guy. He isn't glam. But he's rock solid. And the older we get that should count for a little more.

    BC, from the sound of things - and I've heard both their sides - he is all about being "open" about his feelings from now on...after a brief period of mourning and recovery, of course.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 8:11 PM  

  • I'm happily married for 36 years and still sometimes do not know what My Prize, my wife, is thinking. Not asking for clarification is a mistake. Even then I often get an answer that doesn't meet the question. Trust me. She knows she didn't answer my question. Maybe I'm too exacting. It's not really confusing and real love doesn't always have to be perfect.

    By Blogger Mickysolo, at 8:23 PM  

  • And never underestimate the power of a woman to just come out of left field w/ something.

    By Blogger Matt, at 8:51 PM  

  • It doesn't surprise me...
    she probably chose the loser, too.
    I know many women who do that.
    Now thats probably another post.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 9:04 PM  

  • It's posts like this that make me wonder why I'm still single. Relationships sound fun.

    By Blogger mist1, at 10:28 PM  

  • Oh, so, so heartbreaking. Is The Man still single because I PROMISE I won't want to get married.

    I'm an Aries who likes long walks on the beach, candle light dinners and hot, sweaty sex.

    By Blogger 123Valerie, at 12:11 AM  

  • Just another example of how women can be every bit as much 'dogs' as men, they just don't get the press or rep for it. It will be interesting to see how she fares 10 years down the road. I wonder if the 'other guy' knows/knew about your friend all along or if that was secret too. Either way it doesn't sound promising. At some point it HAS to occur to him 'hmmmm she cheated FOR me why wouldn't she cheat ON me.'If he did know and doesn't care, he likely is A)doing the same thing or B)is rather naive in thinking it couldn't happen to him. Karma will sort it all out.


    By Blogger briliantdonkey, at 12:20 AM  

  • mickysolo, i'm married for a year-and-a-half and just as i suspected would be the case, i have no clue about 90% of the time of what makes my wife tick. and i think i know her pretty well. i guess this relationship thing has a huge learning curve. kudos on 36 years.

    matt, here here!

    pamela, i was actually friends with them both. i suspect, from what balanced versions of this story i've received that you are correct. she probably chose the loser.

    mist1, don't be scurred! ha ha ha ha ha ha - the nuttiness in relationships is a large part of the fun!

    123Valerie, The Man is still single. He's a sci-fi geek, and i mean that in a complimentary way. he's an accomplished graphic designer and co-owns a Web design/development company. he's a hardcore fan of classic rock. and he strongly believes that james t. kirk was a better captain of the enterprise than jean luc picard. and if either of you wants to know more, i want a finder's fee.

    briliant, dogs know no gender. you are right on all counts, i think...about how the parties involved are thinking and how this is likely to turn out.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:52 AM  

  • My friend, David, has a strong aversion (some might say phobia) to Jean Luc Picard, thus I never liked the man in the Star Trek context, so I think we're safe there.

    I LIKE the geeky, quirky ones. They're the most creative in bed, and it balances me.

    Will you settle for 20% and an invite to the "promise" ceremony?

    By Anonymous 123Valerie, at 1:31 AM  

  • She got all upset 'because she wanted more committment & he didn't' & then she's secretly dating someone else???

    I'll never understand (some) women, & I'm a woman myself!

    By Anonymous bronchitikat, at 4:35 AM  

  • the main lesson is:
    1/all women want to get married.
    2/all women want kids.

    some will swear up and down for years that they dont. but they do.

    pity the dope who actually believes the disclaimers. see your pal above.

    im not too clear on what the woman in question is like, but if your pal is a scifi freak whose idea of music is classic rock, well, he better brace for extended bachelorhood, or, at his age, prepare to settle for a middle aged gfriend who has had her kids already.

    By Anonymous dreaming, at 9:47 AM  

  • Hmm. That wasn't very nice to be sneaking around behind his back like that. I've tended to see that people will not break out of a relationship unless they had something else in the back burner. In any case, I believe that what comes around goes around.

    See you at the roll call today.

    By Anonymous dating dummy, at 11:18 AM  

  • James, the sad thing is The Man is going to be ruined for the next woman, who may not even be playing games with him.

    P.S. I liked Picard :P

    By Anonymous Angie, at 11:53 AM  

  • 123Valerie, I'll take 20% and an invitation. Sounds like a good deal.

    Bronchitikat, you get honorary admission to the secret society of confused men - as an advisor, of course. We appreciate your insights!

    C'mon Dreaming, he may not be alone longterm. Lots of women still like classic rock and Star Trek. I swear I'm not trying to be funny. I support this man getting another woman, soon.

    DD, I agree in the whole goes around/comes around thing. I don't wish her ill - 'cause, like I said, I've known them both for years and like them both. But the sneaking was not the way to get out of a relationship. And I'll stop by roll call later.

    Angie, yeah, he's been damaged. But I believe good-hearted people can overcome their damage and give the next "candidate" a clean slate to start with. BTW, I also always thought Picard was a better captain.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 2:40 PM  

  • I don't like the fact that she was hiding her affair with the other guy. Ew. Yuck. Now that had to hurt his feelings more, who is she kidding?

    Hedging bets: some people have to be in a relationship all the time and will settle with whatever they have until they find a new one even if they overlap.

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 4:09 PM  

  • Like I said before, something wasn't coming clean in the buttermilk. I sort of feel bad for the guy, but only because I know he's content to be a jerk. Which means this may happen every time he gets involved with a woman--when he switches game and tells new girl right away how much he likes her, she'll get scared away. He needs to get new honey for sex only and while she's keeping his mind straight on the punany tip, he can search for a new wifey without the ooze of desperation sweating into his rap. This avoids the "damn these some good crakers, the best crackers I ever had--what are these--saltines?" set forth by Eddie Murphy back when he was fall down funny instead of ha-ha funny.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 4:22 PM  

  • I wouldn't be surprised..that if it doesn't work out well with the new guy for her to come back around...she sounds like that type.

    By Blogger Claudia, at 5:54 PM  

  • I'm sure it hurts, but he's better off without her then. No wonder she's been married twice before.

    By Blogger QofD, at 10:36 PM  

  • James, maybe it's me being dense, but I don't see how he screwed up--if she wanted more, she needed to tell him that!

    By Anonymous Rick C, at 1:31 AM  

  • wow, I really, really didn't see that ending coming. I hope he's taking it all ok...

    By Blogger Michael C, at 3:22 AM  

  • oh my god burnett you know how i feel about cheaters!!! i knew there was something off about that girl. i knew there had to be something she was so full of shit her eyes were brown!! holy moly!! see now what she doesn't realize is as she cheated on her man... Karma has her marked. Cheating is just asking for it bigtime.

    wow... hate to be her.

    By Blogger Yasamin, at 9:02 PM  

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