Your friend calls you, upset about her relationship. It’s failing, she tells you. It’s hard not to sympathize, and take her side, after all: “He’s just not paying attention to me.” “He makes me feel unimportant.” “We just don’t want the same things anymore, and we really don’t have anything in common.” You respond: “You deserve someone that pays attention to you!” “You ARE important, he should realize that.” “You shouldn’t settle for what you don’t want, and you should be with someone who can share your interests with you!”
Then, she tells you that she’s met, and is kind of interested in (and may or may not already be seeing) another guy, who makes up for the Boyfriend’s shortcomings. You don’t condone cheating, but she insists she’s been ready to break up and move on for months now.After a long, hypothetical comparison of the Boyfriend and the Other Guy (where you are trying to be on the Boyfriend’s side), she’s even more sure that the Boyfriend needs to become the Ex. This comes to pass, she starts seriously dating the Other Guy (henceforth the Boyfriend 2.0), and everything is happy again….till around two years later.
She calls you again, distraught: “His mom will always take precedent over me.” “He isn’t thoughtful, and doesn’t think about or remember me or anything I say.” “We fight all the time, because we just don’t see eye to eye anymore.” You are sympathetic once again, and then she drops the bomb. “I met Another Guy. He makes me realize what the Boyfriend 2.0 should be doing for me, and doesn’t. After all my relationships, I know who I am and what I want, and what I deserve. And I deserve better than the Boyfriend 2.0.” You gently touch upon the subject, and she reveals that she’s been spending lots of time with Another Guy, texting, calling, flirting…”the Boyfriend 2.0 and I have been fighting so much lately, it’s just not worth it and I’m exhausted.” It’s a vicious cycle, and as an innocent bystander, you can’t break it.
I call them Serial Relationship Killers, and they are everywhere. Your best friend, your dentist, your hair stylist, your manager. They’re usually smart, wonderful women with good educations, their own careers, solid incomes, and horrible track records in relationships. She swears she knows what she wants, and just needs someone to pay attention to her, and to care about her. She meets a guy that seems to fit the description – they start off hot, strong, and passionate – she brings each new beau around, and they are genuinely good guys – but within a year or two, it starts to fizzle. It always seems to be the same problems, or tangents of the same problems – and somehow it is never her fault. How is it that the wrong guy, the same type of guy (regardless of the fact that while some aspects might be similar, they are usually fundamentally different), always picks her – or does she pick them?
What she thinks she wants isn’t really what she wants. She sabotages the relationship and tries to make herself the victim, so she is justified in breaking up with the Boyfriend and dating the Other Guy.
What, you ask, does she really want?
Attention, and excitement, and perhaps even a little drama.
These women all have the same behavior (albeit different problems) in each failed relationship. Once the new relationship becomes familiar, and the butterflies settle, she starts to get bored. She nitpicks things for which she otherwise would have created excuses; demands things that normally would have been ignored; picks fights over small and basic things that explode into screaming matches about the relationship. Once the Boyfriend starts dividing his attention in a more normal fashion (her-job-friends-etc) instead of devoting it all to her, she starts to get hurt that she isn’t the center of the universe anymore. Things get routine and familiar, and instead of putting in effort to spice things up or discuss it with him, she goes out and seeks it elsewhere. It becomes a comparison between the status quo and the new prospects. Lastly, she can’t function without a little drama – in that if she has nothing to complain about, she’s bored and upset. Therefore, she goes out and seeks drama, or creates it, in order to get some excitement in her life. Of course, it’s never her fault either. He is the mean, unappreciative one that doesn’t understand her and changes his mind, because she only wants one simple thing, and why is that so hard?
I know this sounds judgemental and cynical, but let’s think about it for a second: What is exactly the same in EVERY relationship that she has?
And what about the guy? Granted, they might all be similar in looks or a certain “attractive” quality (plus they give her the attention and compliments she is fishing for). But they’re all fundamentally different – or at least they start out that way. But the major similarity the Other Guys have is that they are usually pretty lazy. Because the SRK goes out and seeks attention and appreciation from the Other Guy when the Boyfriend starts to bore her, it’s not hard to capture her interest and her (superficial) heart. After all, she’s pretty much laying it out on the table and asking for it. As she is telling them that while she’s in a relationship, it isn’t going well for the following reasons, and why can’t the Boyfriend be like the Other Guy, he’s seeing an easy relationship with little to no effort. The guys that date SRKs let those girls come to them – there’s no fear or rejection since she’s practically throwing herself at him, and there’s no worry about the Boyfriend, since things are going poorly anyway. The Boyfriend probably knows it’s over and is expecting The Talk sometime soon, so really, the Other Guy isn’t the bad guy here – he is just giving the SRK what (she thinks) she needs and/or wants, and who doesn’t deserve that?
And sometimes, even though at the beginning they may fool themselves into thinking this new relationship will be a success, and they will make her truly happy, they know deep down that she’s the type of woman who will create the problems that will lead to the breakup. But oh well, it was fun while it lasted, didn’t take much effort, and there will always be another SRK just around the corner. As soon as the SRK gets bored again, she’ll find Another Guy, and he will find the next unhappy SRK.
They say (something like) once is chance, twice is coincidence, and three times is a pattern. And if it happens over and over again, it would be a vicious cycle. The only way to break it is to metaphorically lock up the Serial Relationship Killer and put her into solitary confinement (aka be single for a long time), so she realizes what it is she’s been doing and maybe even figures out what she really wants. While this is highly unlikely, it’s not impossible, and perhaps when she does this, she will realize that she’s hurt many perfectly nice guys and fallen for the Other Guy’s tactics. Only then can she break the chain and have a truly meaningful and functioning relationship.
Excuse me, I have a phone call. My friend is having relationship drama.