Dear Carolyn: I have been dating a man for two years, and we are treading lightly upon the subject of marriage. This is my issue: He’s not much of a smiler, if there is such a word. For example, I give him a gift, he opens it, claims he likes it but no smile.
His serious/brooding intellectual side is one of the things I love most about him because he’s just so brilliant and different from anyone I’ve ever dated before, but this whole not-smiling thing really bothers me. In my mind contradictory clichés are running rampant: “An annoyance that bothers you now will drive you bananas after you’re married,” countered by, “Nobody’s perfect” …
Should I chalk this up to an idiosyncrasy that I should learn to love? I’m eons away from perfect and I’m sure he’s got his own beefs with me. — Grin and Bear It?
An annoyance that bothers you now will drive you bananas after you’re married.
As long as we’re playing cliché poker, I’ll raise you: If you have to talk yourself into liking him, then perhaps that’s telling you something. Sure, nobody’s perfect, but someone can be perfect for you, in that his flaws don’t cut appreciably into the joy of being with him.
The ace of clichés, though, is one you threw down unawares. He’s “serious/brooding,” “intellectual,” “so brilliant,” “different from anyone I’ve ever dated before”? Let me guess, he’s a musician … no, philosopher … no wait! Both — aspiring singer-songwriter.
When you’re in love, you get married. When you’re impressed, you get an autograph. Live as an equal and save yourself the regret.
Dear Carolyn: I’m 18, and a few months ago I broke up with my girlfriend of the past few years. It was both of our first intense relationships and it was great. I broke up with her not because anything was wrong, but because I had a crush on a girl I work with and so was afraid (cliché time) to commit. My ex didn’t take it kindly, and we haven’t spoken for a few months now. I’m now dating that other girl, and she’s fabulous, but I can’t stop thinking about my ex-girlfriend — all the time — and getting really sad. Is this just normal post-relationship stuff, or something I should do something about? — Andrew
C.) Normal post-relationship stuff that you should do something about.
It’s my column. I can hedge if I want to.
You ended a first, great, intense, multi-year relationship badly. Of course you’re going to dwell on it, consciously or sub-, whether you want her back or not. You hurt someone you care about.
So call her to apologize. Don’t ask for anything — not for her forgiveness, not to be “friends,” not to get back together (the urge to explore rarely dies at 18) — because she doesn’t owe you anything, especially not a release from your conscience. You are calling only to give. Tell her you wish you’d ended things in a way that did justice to the great thing you shared. Tell her you’re sad you screwed up.
You might learn the unpleasant way that she needs more than “a few months” to care how sorry you are. But for that particular ill, you just take solace in knowing you tried.
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