In regard to a recent column ["Good-bye Girl (I Mean It—Go!)," Feb. 9]: I think you are doing yourself and your readers a disservice by allowing yourself and the letter writer off the hook. [I said that otherwise-sane women sometimes go mental because they're with men who make them nuts.—DG]
Not only does your theory about a woman turning psycho because the guy she was dating wasn't good enough to dump her not really ring true, but the more obvious assumption is that she (and you) is drawn to guys like this. No, you aren't psycho, but you do have a pattern that continually draws you to men who are bad for you.
I won't go into a rant about how women don't like nice guys and always go for the bad boys. I do fine finding the women who do appreciate a good guy. They do exist, and I am sure on your best, most confident days, you are attracted to guys who are good for you and treat you with love and respect. But when your pattern kicks in . . .
To put a little twist on your theory, many women have never gone psycho with a guy, so is it the guys or you?
I don't mean this in a mean way at all. We are all working on getting rid of the patterns and past distress that drive us to habits that are unhealthy for us.
In a nutshell: You're wrong. I don't know about the woman who wrote in, wondering why some men made her cuckoo while with others she behaved like a normal person, but I've been through years of therapy and am quite aware of my myriad shortcomings.
However, I'm also not sold on the whole idea that there's something inherently wrong with me simply because I've had some bad relationships. I've dated for a long time; the odds are good I'd come across a jackass or 10.
The over-30 dater faces a very unfriendly world. Kids are supposed to be the crazy ones, but when someone gets to be over, say, 35 or so, whether they've been living on their own for years or have just escaped a hellish marriage (or other torturous LTR), there is a certain amount of idiosyncratic baggage (i.e., nuttiness) that you're going to have to deal with. Simply said, the older you get, the more damaged humans you stumble across.
Most women don't blithely tumble into relationships with obviously abusive mental cases. (I know men like to think this, but it's not true.) The type of man (or woman) who inflicts the most damage on others is the one who waits awhile to reveal their psychoses, neuroses, and/or various other DSM IV diagnoses. These are the types that suck you in gradually, making you believe that you're really onto someone. Someone good; someone you can see co-purchasing a puppy with. Then, once you're hooked, that's when they sucker punch you. (Sometimes literally.)
The other scenario being that sometimes you simply get two normally swell people together and come up with a completely toxic combination that turns even more combustible upon breakup. It's that simple. Everyone knows a couple like that. Alone, they're lovely; together, they do nothing but bicker and make everyone around them wish they were elsewhere. Surely you're familiar with this scenario.
Another thing that happens as you get older is that life's little disappointments can take on more weight (much like your aging ass). A minor tragedy that might've been cured by a weekend-long Schlitz-and-chips binge in your 20s can take six months of therapy to deal with in your 30s or 40s. A couple decades of dating can really exhaust a girl!
Bully for you that you have such a stable, well-adjusted romantic life (though only tempting-fate fools would brag about it or think themselves superior). Believe it or not, I'm actually in a pretty great relationship at the moment as well. However, I've been through enough bullshit to realize that this has more to do with luck and timing than any breaking of patterns or psychobabble nonsense. Finding love sometimes seems impossible, but if you keep putting yourself out there, occasionally you get lucky.
Unlucky in love? Write Dategirl at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.