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Nice Guy?

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 2/12/2003

About two weeks ago I broke up with a woman I'd been seeing for several months. It's not that I didn't like her; it just seemed like we weren't getting any closer and that the relationship wasn't going anywhere. She was surprised--which surprised me--and pretty upset about it, but we talked and she conceded that it was for the best. At the end of the conversation, she kissed me, thanked me for being honest, and wished me well, and I haven't seen her since. Now, it will be her birthday in another week and I already bought her a present. It's only an out-of-print CD that I know she wants, but it seems a waste for me not to give it to her. It would feel so stingy not to. And I feel like a shit for hurting her. But part of me thinks I shouldn't. What do you think? What should I do with the CD if I don't give it to her?

Not Such a Bad Guy

Dear NSABG
You may not be a bad guy, honey, but your timing sucks. I don't believe in pity dating, but if you liked her enough to care about buying her something she especially wanted, couldn't you have waited until after her birthday to drop the breakup bomb on her? It's too late to fix that, but do you honestly think giving her a birthday gift now would make her feel better?

It might make you feel less like a shit-heel, but it's a terrible idea. Even if you didn't think the relationship was going anywhere, she obviously did. While her heart isn't broken forever, her feelings and her pride have taken a beating and she needs time and a safe place to nurse her wounds. Even if she honestly agrees that breaking up was for the best, it wasn't her idea and it's not so easy to turn off romantic feelings just because they're no longer appreciated. If she's like most of us, one of the tricks she's using to accomplish that is to focus on your most irritating habits and annoying qualities in order to convince herself she's better off without you. It would be really shitty of you to interrupt this vital process by intruding into her life just long enough to show off what a sweet, thoughtful guy you really are.

Breaking up is one of those rotten things we all have to go through. Some of us are lucky enough to make friends of our exes eventually. If you think that might happen with you, hang on to the CD and give it to her later. Otherwise, what you do with it is completely irrelevant.

A couple of weeks ago I asked out a girl I met at my local bar. I've seen her there a few times over the last couple of months and finally got up the courage to ask her for a date. She's very pretty, and every time I would see her across the room, she would be laughing, but not too loudly, and she was never drunk. She just appeared to be a free-spirited, independent young woman who liked to have a good time, so I was really pleased when I struck up a conversation with her and she agreed to go out with me. We had a lovely dinner, shared a bottle of wine, and a sweet kiss good night. I really liked her and didn't want to hurt my chances with her by pushing for more.

I called her the next day, and we made a date for the following Friday night. That's when I realized she wasn't the free spirit I thought she was. She told me she had looked me up on the Internet. I have a small yet profitable Web design company. I'd been vague about my job, saying only that I was a graphic artist. Then she started grilling me about how I got started, who my clients are, what kind of fees I charge. I hate talking about my work! That's what I go out to escape from! I still like her, but I hate thinking she's been spying on me.

Violated

Dear V:
Calm down. Your paranoia is making you confuse interest with invasion. Of course she looked you up--that's what any smart woman does with a new man she's dating. A quick Internet search can sometimes tell a gal if her new guy is on the level or if he has a wife and several kids that he hasn't had time to mention. Instead of being upset, be flattered--if she hadn't liked you, she wouldn't have bothered. Since what's on the Internet is available to anyone, and particularly since she told you what she'd done, her spending a few minutes with Google is hardly the same as having you followed night and day by some modern-day Philip Marlowe.

Look, for centuries women have been told that the way to a man's heart is getting him to yak about himself. If you don't want to talk about your job, that's fair, but don't blame her if you can't think of a graceful way to change the subject. Conversation is both parties' responsibility. Of course, if all she wants to know is how much money you make, she's just a bore, but she'd be the same bore with or without Internet access.

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