(Salon/Zach Trenholm)

Four breakups in two years = one spent chick

I\'m done with men. They make no sense. They can\'t be trusted. Is there any hope for love?

Cary Tennis
September 29, 2011 4:01AM (UTC)

Dear Cary,

I know this is crazy but I honestly feel like I am going to die from a broken heart, an actual fissure, leaking out truth and goodness. The aftershocks from my last four failed attempts are loosening my grip on sanity with every passing day. I have had four serious relationships (not total, just in the last two years). Three of them ended catastrophically, one humanely.


One wanted to get a place together and three weeks after signing the lease started sneaking out of the house to sleep with a co-worker in the middle of the night. One was someone from my meditation center and was very open and passionate with me at first but broke up with me after sex a few months later, saying he just wasn't feeling it and that my sounds during sex sounded like a porn star trying too hard. I was naked while we had this conversation. I had just gotten off of him. The third breakup was decent. The relationship died quietly, in its sleep. The next morning we both knew it was over.

The fourth was last night. It had only been a few months but the connection came fast and easy and without effort. Our souls touched and we both knew it. He told me I was the first girl he saw a future with, that he wanted to take seriously. One time we were walking along the river and birds literally flew around my head like I was Snow White. Birds fly around your head when you get hit too hard with a mallet or an anvil, though, too. First he told me we needed a break, then we were done. He was no longer ready, whatever that fucking means. He was ready two weeks ago, but now he is not.

If you can believe it, I took the first three rather well. I sought the company of dear friends, started to take my meditation practice more seriously, allowed myself to feel sad, then slowly to feel happy again. Last night did it, though. I feel permanent damage, the force of all of them crashing down on me, and the sadness of others who have felt this too. I now understand why people commit suicide. No path I ever saw in this world ever led there until presently.


Sensitivity is not a good trait, it is dangerous, life-threatening.

Although I am just approaching my 30s, I cannot see another five, 10 more years of dating in my life. I cannot. That which has not killed me has not made me stronger. Instead, I am weaker and broken and see a horrible existence of therapy and antidepressants and being a burden on friends and family. I am going limp, can no longer hold it together but feel ashamed to reach out. People have done so much for me already, their patience will soon wear off. They will start to wonder maybe it is me after all. It must be, right?

A dear friend of mine told me I am one of the unluckiest people she has ever met and I know it is not hyperbole. When her boyfriend of four years decided to end things with her last winter I told her that she would be shocked when she realized that there is still love in her heart to give for others, that there is an infinite amount of it stored there in this lifetime. I honestly do not believe that is true any longer and I cruelly took back that advice I gave her. I have no love left to give, none to feel, only hot, dark anger. The last goodness that was left I put into an email that I sent to my most recent ex, a man I truly believe will be the last person I will ever be with. He wrote back right away. If someone I was so compatible with, if something that came so easy didn't work, how could anything else?


I don't have the capacity to begin and end any more relationships yet I honestly cannot imagine a life devoid of romantic love. This is a basic need and cannot be changed or fixed by long walks, meditation practice, a fulfilling job. It can only be met by a man who wants to give that to me and I have no confidence that this life will provide me with that. I certainly have the research to prove it. I am tired of releasing love out into the world only to never see it reflected back. What horrors did I commit in a past life? Now what?

Running on Fumes


Dear Running on Fumes,

One way to answer your question would be to gently dissuade you from the painful beliefs you have expressed, by demonstrating, through careful logic, that these sad, depressing statements are not even remotely true or predictive of the future but are in fact little linguistic machines of death that may result in depression and suicide if left unchecked.

But I'm not going to do that.  I'm just going to ask you to trust me on that and see a cognitive therapist. A few sessions of brief cognitive therapy could give you lasting freedom from these habits of thought that are causing you so much misery.


That's my responsible and heartfelt suggestion. I have firsthand experience with the effectiveness of cognitive therapy and highly recommend it.

But what I really want to say to you, as a person, is much simpler:

Stop doing all these things you are doing and sleep.


Sleep. Don't figure out anything or complain about anything or lust for anything or long for anything or create anything or call anyone on the phone and tell them what you've figured out about your fate in the universe. Don't take any stimulants to help you stay up late and figure this out because your main problem is you are tired and all those things will only tire you out more and the last thing you need to do is tire yourself out more because you are already exhausted and need more than anything to just sleep.

Meditate. Don't go to your meditation class in its meditation building with all the meditators going around meditating their asses off in search of God knows what. Just meditate right where you are. When you're bored with meditating, drink some water. Then go to bed. Sleep a long time. Don't argue with anyone. Take a shower. Dry yourself off. Get dressed. Tweeze your brow. Do what you have to do but nothing else. Rest.

Stop wanting things. If you can't stop wanting things then just don't get them. Let yourself want things but don't get them. Discover the great freedom of not having to have the things your mind wants. Discover what you can live without. You can live without just about every stupid thing there is. That's what the big-time meditators figured out.

Don't pay your mind any mind. If your mind won't rest, just rest your body. If your mind can't make your body run around, maybe it will give up and rest. Maybe your mind will lie down alongside your body and the two of them can rest together like a man and his dog.


If you can only rest by going somewhere far away then go somewhere far away. If you can only rest by taking some vacation then take some vacation.

Take some vacation take some vacation take some vacation.

Take some vacation.

It isn't complicated. It could be complicated. But it's not. You're exhausted and you need rest. Save the complicated thoughts for your cognitive therapy sessions.


All you have to do now is rest.

Rest and recuperate.

It might take a few months.

Also, you might have to change your life. I forgot about that part.

But you don't have to change your life right away. Right away all you need to do is rest.

Also: Know that you are loved. That's the other part. You might not be loved by every skinny man under 30 with a tattoo and a Mets cap but that's not what I mean. You are loved. You are part of a great and compassionate universe and you are loved. No matter whom you sleep with, you sleep every night under a canopy of infinite heavens, and by the grace of unseen forces you can often see the stars in these heavens, and are held to the earth and oxygenated by the air and fed by the world of plants and animals and all these miracles -- the miracle of gravity, of quantum physics, of photosynthesis and respiration and cell division, all these laws and processes, all these mysteries only faintly described by math, all these things are forms of love. We are held together by all this -- all of us, dogs and cats and zebras and you and me. We crazy, arrogant creatures full of illusion and rage and self-pity are held by this stuff in an unshakable embrace; we are in it and of it; we belong to it; its substance is our substance; there is no difference between us and a star.


If I were the sun and I did not love humans, I would burn them out so fast. Wouldn't you? So it must be love. There can be no other explanation.

So relax. Everything is fine. Get some rest.

After a while, things will change.

Creative Getaway

Citizens of the Dream

What? You want more advice?


Cary Tennis

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