Monday, January 02, 2006
      ( 11:52 AM ) Rebecca  
In this week's dating advice column, Cindy navigates the eternally troubled waters of staying friends after a breakup.

Dear Breakup Babe,
Hey there!I've always enjoyed reading your highly entertaining posts :) [Good job kissing up, Cindy!]

So a lot has happened to me this year. I broke up with someone in February of this year, and I went through a rebound phase where I dated sleazy pond scum boy, and went to study abroad in Barcelona where I met the nicest boyfriend ever on the trip. Unfortunately, NBE and I started dating after the trip, and we only dated a semester because he had to graduate from school, to work at his father's company in Florida (I live in Georgia which is just inconveniently far away for us to almost never see one another again).

The problem is, this was a circumstantial separation, so, if he didn't have to leave, we'd still be together. After his graduation, we took a 6 day road trip to Texas and broke it off when we drove back to Georgia and he had to drive home to Florida. Before we broke up, he made me promise to stay his best friend forever.

This is our first week separated. He calls me without fail every night, sometimes two or three times, and we talk long into the night. My friends tell me that he's still hung up over me, because no guy calls every night unless he still thinks he has a chance (which he doesn't).

He still says things like "I miss you terribly" and ends conversations with "love you". I've already emotionally disengaged myself for the most part, I think, I'm ready to be back on the market for next semester, and I think I'm just keeping my 'best friend' promise by continuing to talk to him every night. Is this the right and proper thing to do? Because I certainly didn't talk to my ex bf's on a daily basis after I broke up with them.
Ambivalent Cindy

Dear Cindy,
I would agree with your assessment that NBE is still “hung up” on you. But I would disagree, on the other hand, with your statement that you are “emotionally disengaged.” Girls who are emotionally disengaged do not talk “long into the night” every night – even with their best friends forever! (Heck, I get 10 minutes every other day tops with GalPal #1 and GalPal #2 won't even talk to me on the phone!).

So either you are still hung up on him, or you are enjoying the power you have over him. It all amounts to the same thing: neither of you have “disengaged.”

But what are ya gonna do? When you break up, you grieve, and the first step in grieving is denial. Lots of people never make it through that stage of the grieving process, which is why they get back together (and then break up again). So, to answer your question as to what is the the “right and proper” thing to do here: if what you really want to do is move on, than yes, you need to wean yourself from these long, drawn-out conversations that end in declarations of love.

The bottom line is it’s nearly impossible to transition immediately from a romantic relationship into a close friendship. If a friendship is truly going to rise from the ashes of a relationship, you need to step back and let the embers of romance die out. Otherwise, one person is going to suddenly pull back from this pseudo-relationship when they meet someone else, and the other person is going to get burned.

OK, that was not the world’s most original metaphor. My brain has been dulled by too much fattening food and alcohol. But you get the picture, right Cindy? Talk to NBE about why you think these conversations are counterproductive. The more proactive you are now, the better chance you have of saving your friendship later. Easier said than done, but what isn't?

Good luck,
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This blog was the inspiration for my novel. It helped me get through a horrible breakup and kept me entertained for years. But all good things must come to an end. I will recycle oldies but goodies from the archives here, but will blog about about writing here, and about all kinds of other stuff here.

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