Monday, January 7, 2019

The Case of the Rejected Girlfriend

Another astute comment by Carolyn Hax… Giving credit where credit is due, Hax deftly explains the facts of life to a woman who is having trouble getting over a simple relationship problem. When she was dating a certain man he insisted that he did not want to marry… ever. And then, after six years of dating, they broke up. He promptly found another woman and changed his mind about the marital institution. He is now engaged to be married.

Needless to say, the first woman is sorely aggrieved. She has offered to meet with her. She wants to know whether she should sit down with him and express her feelings.

Here is the letter, taken from an online discussion:

I'm finding myself in one of those surreal stories in which I invested years (six of them) in a relationship with someone who insisted he did not believe in marriage and finally ended things with me so he didn't deprive me of what I wanted, only to wind up engaged to someone else about 10 seconds later. I found out through the grapevine — small town — and he contacted me shortly after that, knowing I would have heard, to ask if I wanted to meet up and talk over the circumstances behind his engagement.

Do I? Yes, I am burning with curiosity about how someone who found something negative to say about every marriage on earth is now willingly entering one of his own. But I am also afraid of how it will feel to hear itemized every reason I don't measure up to Future Mrs. Ex.

Do I take him up on this offer, or let it lie?

A quick note before moving on to Hax. Why was this woman, who aptly dubs herself “Sad” staying with a guy for six years… when he had told her, very clearly, that he did not want to marry?

To be fair, once she made her intentions clear, he should have walked out on the relationship. He was allowing her to imagine that he might change his mind. I trust that she simply did not believe him.

Anyway, Hax responds that he was probably just trying to be polite. He did not say that he did not want to marry her, because that would have been rude and very personal. So he finessed the situation in a way that would be face saving… for her.

Hax advises against the meet-up… correctly so. When it’s over it’s over. There is no use belaboring the issue. And besides, what could he possibly say that would make her feel better.

People who don’t want to do something find ways not to. When they think they should want to do it, or even wish they wanted to, they often start to rationalize. So, a person in a relationship with someone he doesn’t want to marry often will rationalize a bunch of reasons that Marriage: The Institution! is wrong for him.

It sounds kinder, too, to say to someone you love. “Marriage isn’t for me” — soft — vs. “You aren’t for me,” ouch. (Yes, we can love people we don’t want to marry.)

Then, whaddaya know, he meets someone he does want to marry. And only then sees all the prior reasons as merely conjured up to explain what he couldn’t otherwise explain, because he never really understood it himself.

She adds:

It’s not even about you, really, or whether you “measure up.” It’s not about worthiness at all. It’s about fit. And you two, for whatever reason, didn’t fit.

You don’t need lunch to say this goodbye.

Hax is also engaging in her own face-saving, the no fault kind. We should admire her tact.

In truth, we do not know why he did not want to marry her. Since they both come from the same small community, there was probably not any cultural clash. And yet, perhaps she was a nag. Perhaps she kept coming back to the marriage question, implying that she did not believe him. Or else, perhaps she did not want to adopt the role of wife. It happens. More than a few of today’s liberated women want desperately to get married but do not want to be wives.

Still, that is pure speculation. At the least, he thought she was great fun, but not marriage material. That would have made her mistress material, courtesan material… but not marriage material. It is surely better not to share such information with a young woman. 

I continue to believe that he should not have strung her along for six years… unless of course she persisted... and imagined that he would change his mind.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A woman who hears "I will never marry" should understand she is rejected as wife material. Even if she also opposes marriage, being rejected as wife material is not a good portent and she should exit and move on.