Breaking Up (11/30/05)

Dear Zelda,

I am a middle-aged woman and have been dating a man for several weeks. If I were to make a list of qualities that I desire in a man, he would be perfect. The problem is that I don't feel any "sparks" or attraction to him. We have some interests in common, enjoy each other's company and I would like to have a platonic relationship. He is a romantic and is already thinking of exotic vacations together. I have not done anything to mislead him and have been direct in communicating that I wanted a friendship with him. I don't want to hurt his feelings but I don't see us as a "couple." How should I explain this to him without hurting his feelings or having him feel rejected?

Uncomfortable One

Dear Uncomfortable One,

We all are familiar with the saying “love is blind” but what happens when we find ourselves in that all-too-familiar dilemma of “love is hearing-impaired”?

Everyone knows (or at least should know) there’s an unwritten rule that all relationships have a sort of “trial period” when one begins dating. Now, the trial period, or as I like to call it the “do I or don’t I period” is the time when both parties evaluate the “spark” potential. Don’t underestimate the value of the “spark.” Sparks are the fuel that ignite the fire, and if they aren’t there now, they aren’t likely to show up later. Settle for a relationship without them and you’ll just end up being two sticks rubbin’ each other the wrong way. Sounds painful doesn’t it? No spark… no fire… no good.

Too many relationships today end bitterly because one or both partners allowed the relationship to advance without understanding what was missing. Honesty is still the winner hands-down when it comes to any relationship, romantic or platonic. Unfortunately for some people, NOT saying something is another way of actually “saying something else.” You may honestly be telling him that you want a “friendship” with him, but have you actually told him that you DON’T have romantic feelings for him? Without adding the last part of that sentence, he may be thinking that the “friendship” is just the beginning of a relationship yet to blossom, and that given time, the friendship will become courtship. Situations like this are best met head-on: up-front and personal. Make sure that there is no way he can mistake your feelings for anything other than “friendship.” This is not an easy thing to do, especially because it can be hurtful to the other person. Be strong, be honest, and be sure not to send any mixed signals, even though you want to be nice and not hurt him. Remember, you’ve only been dating a few weeks, and as irresist-a-bull as you are, I’m sure he will survive, and you may even manage to become friends. It will save both of you a lot of heartache in the long run.

It may not feel great to throw water on his fire, but without feeling any heat from you, his flame is sure to fizzle out too. Be strong!

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

I have been in a relationship now with my girlfriend for about a year. In my opinion, everything was going great. She is beautiful, funny, smart and a really good person.

However, I am afraid she doesn't feel the same way about me. She told me she thinks we should take a "break." While she claims to like me, she said she just doesn't really see a future. Should I take this request for a "break" as a sign that this relationship is over? I really like her, but don't want to get hurt by pushing to be with someone who doesn't want to be with me.

Signed,

Broken

Dear Broken,

I hate to be the bearer of bad news...but this “break” isn’t as fun and fabulous as a “spring break,” relaxing and sunny as a “summer break,” or filled with holiday cheer like a “Christmas break. “ This unfortunately can end up being the shorter version of a terr-i-bull permanent vacation known as “break up.”

A break is a time for two people (who have shared their lives for the past, say, 365 days) to take some time and reflect on their time together and what it means to each of them. It’s a breath of fresh air to cleanse your mind and clear your head, and it can help guide one or both of you in the direction of deciding whether it’s worth continuing on to the next level. That being said, to hear that she wants a break AND doesn’t see a future with you, although harsh to hear, is not a thing to be taken lightly. It sounds like this break may be more of the permanent kind, but hard as this is, you should try to respect her honesty about her feelings. I definitely wouldn’t recommend pushing her in the direction of staying together. Although some may see it as romantic, someone who is so clearly ready for a break may view it as bothersome and even desperate, and your friendship, as well as your future relationship potential, could suffer (not to mention your ego). I say leap, and a net will appear. It is never easy when things we have come to love are ending, but remember that you are strong, that you WILL survive, and that there is hope for all of us out there.

There’s an old saying we’ve all heard time and time again that says, “if you love something set it free; if it comes back to you, it is meant to be.” There’s no guarantee that this one is coming back, but setting her free is also the only way to set yourself free. Live your life, become the person she couldn’t stand to live without, and who knows what will happen.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

Last week your website listed "breaking up" as next week's column. This isn't a human breaking-up question, but a canine breaking-up question. My sweet female bitch, Snafoo, just gave birth, four weeks ago, to 5 adorable Doberman puppies. Now I'm in love with all of them and can't bring myself to 'break up' the family. Any advice?

Puppies Plus

Dear Puppies Plus-

Congrats on the new family! It's completely understand-a-bull to have these feelings of separation anxiety, especially when you're staring in the eyes of a precious, precocious puppy. Yet, just like your own family, your puppies will need to spread their...er...paws...and grow.

Probably the best place to start is to gain a little perspective. Although five puppies give you five times the love, it also means a huge job. Five puppies equals five mouths, five potty clean-ups, five to walk, five to take to the vet, five to...I think you get the picture. But if you and your wallet honestly feel up to the task, then KUDOS to you!

If the sound of twenty prancing paws is seeming a bit more overwhelming, don’t distress. I have the perfect puppy progression proposal… keep them close by! (Easy, huh?) You're the one deciding who gets to adopt one of the adore-a-bull offspring, so, if possible, choose families who live in the area. If it’s hard to think of the pups on their own, ask the families if they would be open to play-dates with their puppy’s brothers and sisters. This would let you plan family-type reunions for the pups and their siblings to reunite and reminisce about the "good old days" of tail biting and potty training, who's living where and who's sniffing whom. Together, you can celebrate the holidays or just enjoy a romp in the park. And be sure to remind the love-a-bull pups of that all-important holiday, Mother’s Day!!

Enjoy them while you have them (they grow up so fast). My heart is with you for your final decision. Remember, their new home is only as far as your heart will let them travel. Good Luck!

Zelda