Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Ask Polly: A Chilling Cautionary Tale About the Dangers of Getting Involved With Attached People

the futility of living Dear Polly,

Yesterday, I woke up to an email in my inbox with the subject "Uncontested Divorce Papers." I need to sign them and send them back to the lawyer, at which point she'll file them with the courts, and I'll officially be a divorcée. In order to make the process as quick and hassle-free as possible, the reason given for the divorce is "irretrievable breakdown of marriage over a period of at least six months." The problem is, as far as I'm concerned, that's a complete lie. 

I'd been married for fourteen months and twenty days when my husband told me he was in love with one of my close friends and that he didn't want to be married to me anymore. The day before he told me this, he'd sent me flowers at my office. The night before THAT, he'd texted me that he loved me so much. When friends say, "Well, there must have been signs," I ask if flowers and love poems and dates are signs of irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. Then they stop asking. 

I met my husband in graduate school, where we became good friends. Deep down, I knew I had developed feelings for him, but I denied them, because he had a girlfriend. When he moved to New York after graduation, we kept in touch, talking every day for hours on g-chat. When he told me he had feelings for me, as more than a friend, I was ecstatic.  He'd been telling me about problems with his girlfriend for a long time, but they were still together. I told him he needed to break up with her and then we needed to take a break before we could start dating. I assuaged my guilt by believing he didn't love his girlfriend, that she was possessive and boring. I never asked more questions because I was too happy. 

We dated long distance for a year, seeing one another almost every weekend, until I moved to New York to be with him. We adopted a dog and got engaged. After eighteen months of planning together, our wedding was by far the happiest day of my life. Though I'd felt isolated when I first arrived in New York, I eventually made friends of my own at my job (one of whom became the woman who is now my husband's girlfriend), and got closer with his friends. I loved our life together. 

One thing I knew about my husband, though, was that the same boundless ambition and creativity that made me love him was also a destructive force in his life. Nothing he did was ever good enough. My real fear was that nothing I did was ever going to be good enough either, but he assured me this was not the case. It turns out that I was right. Though he gave me no sign that he was unhappy with our relationship, I'd somehow missed the mark. 

It's been three months since he told me he didn't want to be with me anymore, and since then, we've had very little contact. Every time I've tried to reach out for answers or to express any emotion, he hasn't responded. When I asked him why he never gave me a chance, he responded that our "marriage was my chance," though he'd never expressed his unhappiness to give me a chance to try and make things better. 

I've moved back to where I lived before I moved to New York and I'm doing my best to move forward. I'm seeing a therapist. I'm keeping busy. I'm doing yoga and talking to friends and taking care of myself.  We had many mutual friends, many of whom are still his friends, which is another difficult situation. 

My question to you, Polly, is how do I continue to move forward when it feels like I've failed at my marriage, my love, the life I loved? Though rationally, I know it was his actions that destroyed our relationship, it's still difficult to keep from feeling like I messed up somewhere along the way and that no one will ever love me again. I'm torn between anger toward him (and her) and devastation for the huge loss I feel.

And I don't know what's better—that sadness, or the anger? The anger feels better than the sadness but I don't want to become bitter. Is there a middle ground? 

Looking for Balance

Dear LFB,

I know this is going to sound harsh, but bear with me, because it's necessary: You did mess up somewhere along the way. You engaged in an ongoing flirtation with a guy who not only had a girlfriend, but had the bad taste to complain about his girlfriend to you, his attractive female friend. And what were his complaints about his girlfriend? That she was possessive, and boring.

Attention, Every Single Human Reading This: If you're flirting with someone who's currently attached, and they start to badmouth their partner? That is a giant red flag. Even if the partner in question is verifiably not so great, it's fucking weird for a person to hang out and whine to attractive others, rather than simply, say, dumping said malignant partner and THEN bagging on his/her irredeemable ass with vim and vigor (and with other dickish friends with weird lowercase names).

Once you dump your lame girlfriend or boyfriend, you can feel quite free to bag away. But while you're still attached and/or living with your partner? Bitching and moaning to potential sexytime partners is really poor form. And, if a sexy human you want to sex tells you that their partner is BORING? And possessive? AND THAT'S ALL THEY CAN COME UP WITH? Run away screaming. People who fuck people then tell other people they want to fuck that the people they're currently fucking are super fucking dull? These are bad people.

These are people who just don't like other people. "Jesus, my girlfriend, I swear she breathes in oxygen and breathes out carbon dioxide sometimes," they might as well say. Because when you go to bed with someone and wake up and eat together and go to bed together again and wake up? See, I'm already bored by both of you just writing it down. People get boring. An inescapable fact. PEOPLE. GET. BORING. People of all stripes, from all walks of life, get boring. Boring is not a reason for anything. You say someone you're fucking is boring? The first thing I think is sweet god in heaven YOU my friend are BORING. Stop taking it out on everyone else.

Better yet is POSSESSIVE, as in "My girlfriend, she just gets really possessive, it's a total drag." Gee, that sucks, why does your miserable insecure shrew of a woman have to get all possessive and shit, when she has a guy who's sweet and honest and opens up within minutes about what a jealous little bitch HEY WAIT A MINUTE.

I know you didn't come here for me to bag on you, LFB. I just needed to address the fact that you presented us all with a chilling cautionary tale about the dangers of getting involved with involved people. You're doing many readers a major service just by telling your story, and I mean that in all sincerity.

Those who've read through a lot of the Ask Polly archives may have already noticed that many of the people facing the most hideous and unkind breakups are also the people who were informed by these partners very early on in the relationship that their previous relationships ended when they very suddenly "got bored" with their exes. Or who told them that their exes were totally "boring" and/or "the jealous kind." So. This is a teachable fucking moment.

I just want to add that if you're g-chatting with a guy who already has a girlfriend for hours at a time, that guy is an escapist. He's looking for a fix. There's a fifty percent chance he's using you for a fix without any intention of breaking up with his girlfriend. And there's a fifty percent chance he's setting you up to be a stepping stone out of his current relationship. People in the market for stepping stones typically never leave the market for stepping stones, even after they marry you. They are always on the lookout for an upgrade, no matter what their current circumstances might be. The speed with which they dump you depends entirely on the quality of goods available for perusal while you're together. Saying "You have to break up with her, then be alone for a while, before we can date," and then g-chatting him through the whole process, shouldn't assuage your guilt, because you're making it clear that you're waiting in the wings. Plus, he still has his fix.

And keep in mind: It's all arbitrary, with these bored possessors of the bored and the possessive. Like anxious window shoppers at the mall, they are the most bored and the most possessive of all, twitchily looking for something to possess, something that might render them less dissatisfied, less bored. And like a reverse Midas touch, they instantly render all that they possess bored and possessive. Because they are haunting humans to spend time with. They pretend that they're accepting and loving while inside they're tearing their hair out with boredom. Their demand for companionship dictates that they must play at SEEMING wonderful (Flowers! Adoration!) even as they lay out the next escape route.

So look. Getting dumped by this conspicuous consumer, this deeply afraid and deeply repugnant fuck, it's a beautiful gift. Your ex-friend and coworker is the one who should feel cursed, not you. This guy was a mirage from the very beginning. He was a ghost.

That doesn't change how you feel right now. Right now you're devastated. I'm really sorry that you had to go through this. You feel like you failed at your marriage. But look: You didn't have a marriage. A marriage is two people, working together, telling each other what they need, meeting somewhere in the middle. What you had was someone who pretended, who didn't tell you what he needed. He says "You had your chance. Our marriage was your chance." But he didn't show up, didn't let you know what was going on with him. Hell, he won't even debrief you NOW. Not because he simply refuses to tell you what happened, but because HE HAS NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT HAPPENED. He might as well be a life-sized cardboard cut-out. You might as well have dragged a cardboard cut-out down the aisle.

The fact that you're tempted, for even half a second, to view this experience as a personal failing of yours, an indication that no one will ever love you again, is a testament to the poisonous messages women marinate in during their formative years. It's like you were attacked by a shark, and now you're blaming yourself for being made of meat.

So that's the (somewhat contradictory!) message I have for you: You DID fuck up by getting involved with this cardboard cut-out, this emotional vampire, this conspicuous consumer, this blatantly unjust two-timing weasel. I don't usually say this, but I say it for your benefit, for your future path: Your situation is a clear indication that you have bad judgment when it comes to men. But: You DID NOT fuck up by being you. You weren't eminently rejectable and repugnant in those 14 months you were married. You were just a fucking person, and this guy doesn't want a person, he wants the flicker of promise given off by that woman over there, or that one, or that one, or that one. They all seem so EXCITING by comparison to real people.

I'm being brutally honest with you for a reason. Moving on is going to be very difficult if you're confused about what you're moving on from, and you're confused about your culpability. And YOU are confused for a reason. Because you fell into something and ignored all the red flags and rationalized away your own bad behavior and gave the guy lots of empty hoops to jump through to make yourself feel better. You have to look at that stuff, not because you are BAD and you were the first woman in the world to do these things. Almost every woman alive does ALL OF THESE THINGS at one point or another. (Ideally in high school. SORRY KIDS! HIGH SCHOOL IS HARD, I KNOW.) You have to look at this stuff because you need to be in touch with reality.

Did you hear that? You need to be in touch with reality.

Here is reality: You made some big mistakes. But here's the other side of reality: You are a good person. You are not boring. You are kind and supportive and fun. You are not someone who was destined to get ruthlessly dumped by her first husband. You are not summed up by HIS lazy, unfair, unexplained actions.

Reality will be hard for you, because part of it is harsh: You fucked up. You did. You have to keep in mind, everyone fucks up. You just had no idea you'd bumped into a predator. Maybe you'd never met one before. Forgive yourself. But look clearly at the facts, so this won't happen to you again. Don't allow yourself to get swept away, and don't let yourself off the hook. Open your eyes wide and look at what happened. Look at how you sweet-talked YOURSELF into this. Look at how you let your fantasy get in the way of rational decisions. This makes you exactly like every human being alive. Have compassion for yourself, even as you're facing this.

The other side of reality will eventually soothe you: You are still the same appealing, lovable woman you were before this happened. You are no less lovable than you ever were.

Clearly, you need to enlist your therapist's help in moving away from fantasy, into reality. And once you're firmly grounded in reality, you need to ask yourself: "What do I want for myself? What do I want from my life? Who do I want to be?"

What circumstances, in the future, might make you feel strong and wise and resistant to empty temptations from predators? What kind of a woman will you be in five years? Will you be the kind of woman who's g-chatting with some dude with a supposedly boring girlfriend? Will you still be seduced by the promise of a fantasy?

Or will you be happy with who you are, open to love, but realistic and firmly grounded in the here and now? If that sounds boring, then that tells you something. But reality is far sexier and much more romantic than you think. A fantasy can seem shiny and special from a distance, but when you get closer and closer it tends to shrivel up and die. Reality, on the other hand, gets better and better the deeper you go into it. Once you start to see yourself clearly, and admit that you're not a cardboard cut-out of Fantasy Wife, Eminently Lovable, Worthy of Lifelong Adoration, then you can finally start to breathe.

We are all tempted to be shiny. There are so many shiny women out there. We are taught—and eventually we believe, in our hearts—that shininess is the surest route to love. But aiming for shiny is like living in the dark. "Though he gave me no sign that he was unhappy with our relationship," you wrote, "I'd somehow missed the mark." Though he told you nothing, YOU somehow fucked up. Though he was just a mirage, YOU were the sad rejected woman who didn't please him enough. When you aim for shiny, you become nothing but a reflective surface. At your very best, at your peak shininess, he will only see his own reflection in you.

The most beautiful, loving, poetic souls in the world know that the most beautiful, lovable people in the world are the ones who are a little tarnished, a little scratched. If you want true love in your life, you will stop trying to be a brilliant silver chalice, and you'll aim to be a misshapen pewter cup instead. Something ordinary, that you can pick up and feel and rub between your hands. Something regular and dented and scratched.

This tragic turn in your life gouged a big scratch across you. Own that scratch, the anger and the sadness there. Tell the truth about what it did to you. Because it was a gift, this premature exit from a fantasy world. It was your passage to a better life, lived among real people with heart and substance, where tarnished things are good enough, where you are good enough. You are good enough. You are good enough, right now. You are good enough. You are.


Heather Havrilesky (aka Polly Esther) was The Awl's existential advice columnist. She's also a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and is the author of the memoir Disaster Preparedness (Riverhead 2011). She blogs here about scratchy pants, personality disorders, and aged cheeses.

Time to face reality: The bad news is, Ask Polly is moving to New York Magazine's The Cut. The good news is, you can read the very first Ask Polly column for The Cut right nowish.

Photo by Mario Sainz Martínez

27 Comments / Post A Comment

930920959@twitter (#272,050)

Based on the comments on your nymag articles I think you're flying a little far over the heads of their readers. Good luck tho.

HeatherH (#241,099)

@930920959@twitter Thank you! The Awl definitely has some of the smartest readers around. I didn't know a good comments section could even exist before I came here. But do me a favor and comment over at The Cut, too. Otherwise I'll feel as lonely as that penguin in the photo. Either way, though, thanks for reading.

garlicmustardweed (#264,986)

I was a lot like LW's (ex)husband in high school. I went from boyfriend to boyfriend (to sometimes girlfriend), dumping each along the way without giving them any indication of what went wrong. And, as Polly so astutely noted, it was because THERE WASN'T ANYTHING WRONG, either with the person I was dating or with the relationship. So if anyone asked me why I dumped so-and-so, I would have given some lame excuse, sounding a bit like your (ex)husband: "it wasn't going to work out. I got bored." Anyway, so maybe my own therapeutic discovery about myself and why this kind of flitting, narcissistic behavior happened can help you: I was empty. I was needy. I was searching for someone *else* to fill a big self-esteem void in my life. I craved attention to give me a sense of worth when I otherwise had none. I learned how to be charming (roses, dates, attentiveness) but never let myself really care about the other person. In other words, I was a charming piece of shit. I was a phoney. Your (ex)husband is all of those things too. Don't feel bad for getting suckered in. Pity him. Pity his quest for outside affirmation when what he really needs is to fix himself. He will keep on in his random dumping-seeking-dumping-seeking cycle, hurting people like you along the way, until he fills those voids for himself. I'm so ashamed of who I used to be, and how I used people, PLEASE DON'T THINK ITS YOUR FAULT.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@garlicmustardweed I am not doubting your self-assessment when I caution other people who might think they are bad people for practicing serial monogamy to not be too harsh on themselves. Finding someone who clicks with your sexuality and compliments your own personality to allow for a long-term relationship is difficult and sometimes it's confusing as to why things don't work out. "I wasn't happy", or, "We weren't a good fit" is good enough reason and doesn't make you empty. Not everything needs to be worked out. I'm not belittling your real issues that you listed, just making the point that monogamy is hard and, yes, we should all be trying our best not to hurt others and ourselves along the way. Explain your reasons for breaking up as un-harsh as possible.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

I guess one big difference is when people are cheating. Even if it's just talking/emotional stuff in transition, that's not serial monogamy, that's dishonesty and/or betrayal.

garlicmustardweed (#264,986)

@whizz_dumb Agree. This is pretty much what I was going to write in the post I then decided to delete. There is a difference between serial commitments not working out, and a person (like I was, or like I think this husband is) that are looking for the next-thing-to-fill-their-void while IN a relationship. I would have never even considered myself a serial monogamist because monogamy implies commitment and fidelity.

Antilamentation (#272,956)

Bad news: You picked a rum 'un.

Good news: He outed himself to you as a rum 'um after only slightly more than a year of marriage, rather than wasting decades of your life with his emotional fuckwittage, and (for instance) cheating on you when you had kids together, or when you were faced with a serious illness, or whatever.

Bad news: You picked a rum 'un.

Good news: There are people out there who aren't emotionally empty, but who are seeking a real, loving relationship. With your (hopefully) new found, hard won knowledge and understanding of yourself, you'll be in a far better place to set out having relationships with those folks.

I've been married and divorced myself. It's useful to give yourself time to grieve and heal, but please don't convince yourself that the ending of your marriage makes you some kind of comprehensive failure who will never find love again. It is possible for a marriage to fail without making you a failure for life. And out of the two of you in that marriage, at least you were giving him all you could of yourself emotionally, right?

You just need to find other, better people to do that with. There's no reason that can't happen for you in time. Unless your convince yourself that you are somehow a huge failure and shut down those possibilities. So again, don't do that. Grieve. Get support from friends who are able to support you. Learn what you need to learn from this about yourself. And then when you're ready, move on.

HelloTheFuture (#259,085)

Just so y'all know — there's a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT Ask Polly on The Cut today. It's like getting a special bonus dose of Polly! :)

not a professional (#244,325)

Here I am commenting again before reading the whole response. I just want to say SEE!!! I'm right!!! Lots of people these days think it's fine and dandy to have this kind of friendship and they pay no attention at all to boundaries. You don't get to be the kind of friend who talks every single day to a man who has a girlfriend or wife. You just DO NOT GET TO BE that friend. Frankly if you want to be in that situation you should talk to a therapist about your sibling rivalry issues.

paddlepickle (#8,731)

@not a professional Eh, no reason to take this to a 'men and women can't be close friends' place. You can't be talking-every-day friends to a guy in a relationship if one or both of you wants to be more than friends– the thing is, you never DON'T know when that's happening and people love to be in denial about it. But sometimes romance just is not on the table and that's fine– I have a good male friend who I probably talk to every other day if not every day, we've been non-romantic friends since well before he met his fiance, I love her too and I'm gonna be one of her bridesmaids. Considering Polly's other letter this week is about how hard it is to make friends as an adult, let's not make unnecessary rules that make that harder.

garlicmustardweed (#264,986)

@not a professional I am intrigued by the 'sibling rivalry' comment … please explain.

woodenhobbyhorse (#22,371)

@not a professional You might want to work your way down the post to where Polly talks about having compassion.

Guy sounds like a dick. End of story.

Erica Garza (#287,098)

Holy shit, this is such a perfect response. Just wanted to commend LFB for her vulnerability and thank Heather for the compassion and no-bullshit answer.

92628285@twitter (#287,101)

Oh, this one hit clooooose to home.

I got divorced a little over two years ago (in a situation that has some similarities to LW's), and I was definitely Sad/Angry/Sad/Angry/More Sad, and I did NOT believe people who said it would get better. I was CONVINCED that I would just slowly resign myself to my sad/angry/empty/not as good life.

I was wrong.

Keep taking care of yourself, LW, and the waves of sad/angry will get less frequent (so slowly that you may not even notice at first).

Hang in there, and know that we (me and the rest of the mistake marriages club) are all waiting for you on the other side of this.

Things are going to be so much better, but it's okay if you don't believe me right now. One day, you won't have to *believe* it because you'll know that it's true.

Also, this…a million times this:

lolly (#287,191)

God damn. My ex-boyfriend, a couple of weeks after moving to a new city with me and telling me how he wanted to be the father of my children and all that jazz, abruptly dumped me when he got home from a trip for an ex-girlfriend. It made NO SENSE to me, because two nights before he was in love with me and there was nothing wrong, and then suddenly he was moving away. And I blamed myself for it, scrutinized every inch of our relationship, trying to figure out where I didn't measure up, where a girl he hadn't seen or hung out with regularly in 5+ years could have eclipsed me. He assured me I'd done nothing wrong; of course I didn't believe him, until maybe now. Reading this was incredibly cathartic for me. Thank you for helping me consider that I am not entirely to blame if someone hits the eject button and flees to something shiny because they are afraid or empty or unable to face the real. And to LW, good luck. It may never make any more sense to you, but I hope you heal and grow.

glasstwizzlestix (#242,762)

Wow, cheers, Polly/Heather. Sad to see you leave The Awl, of course, but I've so loved reading you here, and will continue to love reading you at The Cut. All the best.

mezatron1000 (#287,339)

Oh my God I am just realising as I read this that this is exactly what happened to me! Two years ago he dumped me suddenly after saying literally every cliche lie that women are taught to see is bullshit. I have never got over it and I didn't know why. Yay for personal growth!

Cait (#278,250)

I find myself wanting to sing, "it's been seven hours and fifteen days / since you took your love away."

Honestly, I have nothing to add. Except I feel for the LW, a younger version of myself having been there. Tough love like Heather's has it's place. If the wiser women in our world aren't going to tell us the truth sometimes we don't stand much of a chance to become the strong grown ass ladyselves we deserve to be.

But more importantly, "conspicuous consumer," damn. Spot on. Heather Havrilesky – the Thornstein Veblen of advice columns. The Awl will miss you.

rickfox (#281,036)

Besides this guy being a narcissistic stain, I think it's worth pointing out that you didn't just choose him, he chose you. Something about you, and the way you interacted with him, told him that you would put up with his bullshit. Something told him you would wait for him to break up with the previous version, something told him you would move across the country, and something told him you would believe the flowers and I love you's. He likely wasn't doing it consciously – narcissists are very good at rationalization. But con artists don't choose a mark randomly – they go after people with the right combination of credulity and greed that makes a scam work.

You need to figure out why he wanted you to begin with, and act on it. If you dust yourself off with "I'm a great person who just needs to pay more attention to red flags", nothing will change and you will continue to find yourself surrounded by red flag waving men. Even if you're a great person.

It's not just about romantic relationships. The douchebag left you for one of your new work friends, apparently not much of a friend at all. Time to reevaluate how you make and maintain all kinds of relationships.

I know this sounds like victim blaming, but I really don't mean it that way. You pointed out that some of the qualities that attracted you to him wound up being related to why he dumped you. Well, the reverse is true too.

JW Mason (#10,308)

"As I see it, at least, with regard to man, a love affair, a love for any definite woman—is something in the nature of a widening of the experience. With each new woman that a man is attracted to there appears to come a broadening of the outlook, or, if you like, an acquiring of new territory. A turn of the eyebrow, a tone of the voice, a queer characteristic gesture—all these things, and it is these things that cause to arise the passion of love—all these things are like so many objects on the horizon of the landscape that tempt a man to walk beyond the horizon, to explore. He wants to get, as it were, behind those eyebrows with the peculiar turn, as if he desired to see the world with the eyes that they overshadow. … Of the question of the sex-instinct I know very little and I do not think that it counts for very much in a really great passion…. It is a thing, with all its accidents, that must be taken for granted, as, in a novel, or a biography, you take it for granted that the characters have their meals with some regularity.

"The real fierceness of desire, the real heat of a passion long continued and withering up the soul of a man is the craving for identity with the woman that he loves. … We are all so afraid, we are all so alone, we all so need from the outside the assurance of our own worthiness to exist. So, for a time, if such a passion come to fruition, the man will get what he wants. He will get the moral support, the encouragement, the relief from the sense of loneliness, the assurance of his own worth. But these things pass away; inevitably they pass away as the shadows pass across sundials. It is sad, but it is so. The pages of the book will become familiar; the beautiful corner of the road will have been turned too many times. …

"And yet I do believe that for every man there comes at last … a time of life when the woman who then sets her seal upon his imagination has set her seal for good. He will travel over no more horizons; he will never again set the knapsack over his shoulders; he will retire from those scenes. He will have gone out of the business."

– Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier

pmk (#287,712)

Ok, so, this is maybe a silly question, but, couldn't the husband's behavior be that of someone who is merely human, and not also an asshole?

I had a hardline stance on this for a long time. But after being in a relationship much longer than I should have and experiencing how very hard it is to leave something (even when it's SO CLEAR it is not working), I've softened my stance. It can be tremendously hard to leave, to hurt someone you care about but do not want to be with anymore, and some people need a little extra help to do that. Maybe it's weakness, I don't know, but I don't think it's always predatory or awful. I think sometimes it's just sad.

Am I deluding myself or is this also a reasonable conclusion to draw (if not about this "the marriage was your chance" jerk, but about other people in similar situations)?

Anarcissie (#3,748)

Boredom comes from within. So if someone tells you another whole human being is 'boring', you know where they're at and what they do. Best get away.

Talking about getting away, I am sorry you're going to NYMag which, let's face it, is kind of a dumb venue. I didn't say boring! But, as number at Twitter said, you're going to be over their heads a lot of the time. I suppose it could be an interesting problem.

travelloophole (#287,786)

It's a good idea to remember when starting any relationship to look at all sides of what you are entering into. Chances are good that he or she will eventually treat you as they do their partner/parent/children/etc. We may feel like to the exception to their bad behavior … and at first we probably are. That will change.

Ieronimus (#288,058)

I disagree with much of what Polly has written.

1) According to Polly, it's a red flag for someone to express their dissatisfaction with their relationship to an attractive friend. It's "weird" and "bad form" supposedly.

To my mind, the looks of the friend are irrelevant if the intention is merely to vent and get a fresh perspective. Relationships are sometimes difficult and complicated, it's not as simple as "if you're not 100% happy in a relationship, get out of it". So talking to your friends about problems in your relationship is a way to help deal with the issues. I think this is perfectly normal, it's not weird or bad form to my mind. Focusing on the attractiveness of the other person is to wrongly assume motive ie. 'you're only venting to attractive people because you secretly want them to know you're available'. You don't know that was this man's intentions at the time, and so it's wrong to indirectly accuse him of this. As soon as he did express his feelings that he wanted to be with LFB, which might have developed slowly and at a later stage, he broke up with his girlfriend to be with LFB.

If LFB had said "He wasn't communicating his dissatisfaction to his girlfriend at the time he was communicating it to me", that however is a red flag in my opinion, as it shows an inability to be open and honest with a partner about a serious issue. However, we don't know if that's the case.

2) Not everyone inevitably becomes boring. I have friends I've known for many years who never bore me, and I enjoy being in their company on a regular basis. Unfortunately, people change (or don't change with you) and can become boring, and it's a valid reason to dump a partner. If a friend or partner tells you they now find you boring, it could be for plenty of valid reasons. This guy isn't automatically an asshole for finding his girlfriend boring because we don't know why he came to feel that way. Maybe she stopped making an effort to talk to him, maybe she stopped socialising as much, we don't know.

3) His girlfriend might very well have been excessively possessive. We don't know the details. Just because this guy chose to vent to a female friend doesn't justify the gf's alleged possessiveness, as polly implies.

It's possible that he loved his previous gf but that they started to hit a rocky patch. He found a real friend in LFB, and confided in her regularly, and it helped him. He fell for LFB as time went on, and he eventually left his gf. Given this, I find your demonisation of this guy off-putting and unfair considering you know very little of the details. by extension, I don't believe it's fair to accuse LFB of any wrongdoing either.

As for the way this guy broke up with LFB, no indication of unhappiness and no real explanation — He might be unwilling or incapable of the level of communication LFB desires, which is why, as I stated above, the big question that never got asked or discussed was "Did this guy ever express his dissatisfaction to the woman of his previous relationship while he was discussing it with LFB?" The answer might very well be no if the present is any indication of the past.

I can't tell you why this guy fell out of love with LFB or why he's refused to discuss the specifics with her, and so I'm going to refrain from filling in the blanks with unfounded speculation.

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