Ring of fire

Should I move to be closer to someone who could burn me to a crisp?


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Cary Tennis
December 3, 2003 8:48pm (UTC)

Dear Cary,

I am in love with a person who could potentially be one of my greatest joys in life but also could burn me to a crisp.

We met while she was an undergrad at a Midwest college. There is a six-year age difference. She decided to move out West to go to school for her advanced degree. This was four years ago and I have been carrying a torch for her, though I dated (using her as my measuring stick for all the women I went out with since). Every year or so (usually around the time of the holidays) we hook up but soon break it off, mostly because she is so into her career or the timing's off.

Recently, she gave me a call and I flew out to see her. She now is even more stunningly attractive, starting to be very successful in her career, and just "on point" with things. She is extremely sexy, warm, intelligent, and talented and the weekend was a dizzying array of highs and lows and I haven't felt this much in years.

So what's the problem? The schizophrenic highs and lows. She can be very difficult to be with. Mercurial, very passive-aggressive, controlling, demanding and anal retentive in a lot of ways. My friends say that the good doesn't outweigh the bad. I tend to disagree because even her "bad" qualities push me to be more of what I want to be -- aggressive, into my music degree and taking chances.

She says she is seeing other people and some of them are not good for her. She said that with "bad boys" she knows in her core that there is nothing to lose and lust mostly takes over, while with a "good guy" like me she's afraid she'll mess it up. She's afraid that she might not be able to be faithful to me even if we were exclusive (and since she is gone for long stretches of time for her job, that's even more stressful).

I'm thinking of moving to be with her but also because I'm ready for a change. I would have to sacrifice a lot to get there -- a house, a steady job, my family connections. I know that life is full of risks and you have to take some to get where you want to go, but is this potential heartbreaker worth it?

Unfortunately, a "Good Guy"

Dear Good Guy,

Run away! Run away! You are going to get screwed, ground up, spit out, recycled! Run away!

This potential heartbreaker is not worth the risk. It's not even a risk, it's a virtual certainty that she is going to take you into mixed-up, heartbroken, powerless, insane places you haven't even dreamed of. You have no idea what you're dealing with, believe me. She has told you in a thousand ways who she is and what she is going to do. If you throw your life away to be with her you are making a big-time loser move. Don't do it.

But honor your vulnerability to the siren. Honor your helplessness before the sultriness of her seductive song, that thing she does. Find a way to honor her power without letting her capture you. Like Ulysses, who had his men tie him to the mast, you've got to find a way to pass by her without going mad. That's your challenge, my man: to find out, for the first time, just how powerful the siren can be, and just how dangerous to you.

You'll never be a bad boy. But whatever little kernel of the bad boy you've got in you, maybe you can develop it.

Honor what you've got. Get your highs and lows some other way. Get a tattoo. Buy a chain saw. Drive a muscle car. Visit the shooting range. Take out your aggressions. But whatever it is in you that she's got ahold of, cut it off. If you don't, she is going to drag you down to the bottom wrapped in chains and gasping for air, and then she is going to swim to the surface like a happy mermaid who has never even heard your name.

Trust me, buddy. You don't want to go there.

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Want more advice from Cary? Read the Since You Asked Directory


Cary Tennis

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