When You Already Know the Answer

Hey Nedelle,

I think I’m at the end of my rope with my relationship. It’s not making me happy anymore because we fight a lot, and we seem to be deeply incompatible in a few important ways. My girlfriend thinks we should give it one final try, and change some things in both of us to make it work. I’m tempted to try, especially because I still really love her. Should I try again or just head for the hills? Thanks!

Here’s an answer in 3-2-1 form. My hunch is that you’re writing to me because you already know the answer but want to hear it from a third party. You basically said everything in your second sentence, and the first thing you should always listen to is your gut feeling. And that’s saying “skedaddle.” Sorry, boo, breakups are brutal, but it’ll be better for you both in the long run. Good luck!

Song recommendation: I Fall to Pieces by Patsy Cline

Time Is On Your Side, Too!

Nedelle, what do you do when you are in love with someone who is constantly on the road? Basically someone who will never really settle down in one spot for too long.

Good question. I think the trick here is to reject any feelings of abandonment. The person who is at home hasn’t been abandoned in any way, they’re just static and the other is moving! I know it’s jarring to have your sweet domestic life constantly uprooted by one person traveling, but think of all that free time! You can learn a second language, take up sewing and alter all your clothes so they fit perfectly, learn to garden, read the classics you’ve been wanting to read, or go on a trip yourself! Friends. Friends will be very important. I remember a while back asking a woman whose husband was always touring in a band how she dealt with it, and she looked at me like I was crazy. (I didn’t mean it as an insult!) She said, “I love being alone and get a lot done when he’s gone.” How awesome is that? Another anecdote: When I was touring singing for Sufjan Stevens there were a some married men in the band and they said Skyping is really important. To see someone’s face and expressions helps a couple feel closer than a phone call. And finally, there’s the element of “missing” the other that’s so romantic!

Song recommendation: Time Is On My Side by The Rolling Stones

Grammies? Shmammies

I started dating a guy months ago and we have fallen deeply in love! He’s the best lover/companion I could ask for and he proudly proclaims to feel the same about me. He spoke a few times about his ex-girlfriend, who was “the worst thing that ever happened” to him. He was madly in love and she cheated quite a lot. I recently found out who she is—a Grammy-winning musician! I feel like I could never make him hurt over me the way he did for her. Make sense? Help!

I once had a guy tell me about how he thinks of his first girlfriend a lot. First off, what was the intent in telling me that? Secondly, I thought it was pathetic. Stop living in a teenage fantasy, dude. Grow up. I fought off the temptation to call him out on it because the idea was too abstract and absurd to even warrant my attention. (Of course, I’ve flipped out on many other occasions, so that wasn’t intended to sound holier-than-thou.)

The basis of your feeling reminds me of this, in the sense that there is no competition between you and this woman, except in your imagination. It seems rooted in jealousy, too, which is like, the Bermuda Triangle of emotions. You spot it, you say, “Oh, shit,” and before you can do anything about it, you’re sunk. I like this quote about jealousy: “As a jealous [person] I suffer four times over… From being excluded, from being aggressive, from being crazy, and from being common.” Think of it like this: you’re in an awesome, loving relationship, and nothing is really wrong here. I’d encourage you to put this imaginary competition out of your mind, so you can continue to be the great person that your boyfriend fell in love with, and probably loves in a more genuine and lasting way than he loved her. Good luck!

Song recommendation: Jealousy by Queen

The Ever-Present Ex

 Hey Nedelle,

I recently started seeing someone and he told me he was still a little bit hung up on his ex. I think he is worth the fight, though. Should I fight to win him over or run the other way?

Pretend that this guy’s heart is made of cake. If he says that he’s just a little bit hung up on his ex, the truth is she’s probably holding the entire cake (and can still eat it, too). He might be able to cut you a little slice if you’re lucky, but that’s just not enough cake for you! You’re hungry, right? A relationship should start out fun and not end in a fight for the biggest piece (or a food fight). It’s too messy too soon. I suggest you find a different person to love who is willing to love you back unabashedly. Good luck!

Song recommendation: The Boy Is Mine by Brandy & Monica