Love: Like a teacup on the Titanic

brokenheartGot this in:

Hello, Sir!

I’ve read through your work, and especially liked your 2+2=5  post. I have a problem that makes me very sad, and I can’t change anything about it, so I followed your advice in that post, asked for peace, and got some! Except it was temporary relief … Maybe I asked wrong?

It’s a girl! Yeah! I’m a 26 year old man worried about a woman! I really don’t know what’s wrong with my head. We knew each other for years and decided to date. Relatively hands-off stuff, too (just in case I was more tempted towards her body instead of “her”). But she decided she has better things to think about and went on her way.

You’ve probably heard of this exact issue a million times and you’ve probably heard everyone say the same thing. Still, I have to say it for myself. John—this really hurts. It doesn’t stop and it doesn’t go away. I was very happy to have her around. Somehow, I’ve linked my self esteem to the acceptance of women. Or just that one, I don’t know. Basically, she’s gone and she isn’t coming back. Can you teach me or tell me how to just be okay with it? You know… like someone who isn’t a pussy? Thanks for reading!

Like someone who isn’t a pussy. I know I should have edited that out; I know it’s essentially derogatory toward women. But sometimes you just … leave the knotholes in the wood.

Anyway, here we go.

Dear Brokenhearted Guy Who Wrote Me This:

You are boned like a fish filet. There’s no cure for a broken heart. You just have to suffer through it.

Wow. Many minutes later, and I can’t think of one thing to add to that. The truth is the truth.

Whoo-hoo! Easiest blog post ever!

Ahh, good times. For me, anyway. But not for you, letter-writer. For you now, life is bound to be just one suckofractoimplosive moment after another. One time, when I had my heart seriously broken, I went deaf for a week. All I could hear was this non-stop roaring static in my head. I was actually deaf. I’d watch people talk, and know they were talking, because they were looking right at me, and moving their lips and hands, and all I could do is dumbly stare at them and wait for them to either give up, start slapping me around, or call for medical help.

God, it was so awful. Especially once I got my hearing back, and had to once again realize that people never say jack worth hearing.

See? I was in high school when that happened to me—and boom, just like that, I’m back in that same frame of mind that … well, in my case, had me wandering the streets in the middle of the night wondering why, if there really was a God, he wasn’t employing a little of that famous mercy of his, and having somebody run me over with a car.

Can you imagine? Your heart is so broken that you take the fact that you’re still alive as evidence that God is either not there, or so derelict in his duties that he may as well not be?

Man.

Love sucks. It’d be better if we were all born robots.

And of course you can imagine a heart so broken you wish you were dead. Everyone can imagine feeling that way. Because everyone has felt that way. Everyone has had their heart broken like a china cup on the Titanic. It’s like taxes. You can’t escape it. It’s the rule of life: crawl, walk, talk, socialize, have love stomp your heart like Tyrannosaurus Rex on a gerbil, grow old, die.

Anyway, friend, sorry you’ve had your heart broken. Try not to drink too much.

Lately some of you have been kind enough to call me the love child of Dear Abby and Dan Savage. But can you imagine Dear Abby going, “Dear lovelorn in Ohio: The main thing is to try not to drink too much. Sincerely  yours, Abby.”

Now Dan would say that. Which is why people love him.

Actually, there is one thing that immediately came to mind when reading this letter. It’s something that I would say to anyone with a broken heart. It’s a truth no one could possibly put better than the ridiculously awesome Alfred Lord Tennyson, who wrote:

‘Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all.

And there it is. The rest is silence. Until your hearing returns, anyway.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • Elizabeth

    WOAH. I’m trying to be ladylike instead of a dominatrix ALL over your blog, but I didn’t know anyone else got deafened by the static.

    • Elizabeth

      Fun fact: I tried to find a synonym for dominatrix. Turns out there isn’t one.

      • Lymis

        Umm… in the BDSM community, they use Domme or the gender neutral Dom, reserving dominatrix pretty much for those who charge for their services.

        • Elizabeth

          You can pay me if you want.

          • Lymis

            Snorkle.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          I once wrote a book of sex advice (which, being sane, I realized I should not try to publish). Part of it was a glossary of sexual terms. My joke there read something like “Dominatrix: A women sent to your home by Domino’s Pizza when they did deliver within thirty minutes, but you’re still refusing to pay.”

          So, yeah. You see why I opted not to publish.

          • Elizabeth

            Now that’s a PDF to upload to Scribd.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Oh, good: I thought people would think I was exaggerating. DEAF. Like I’d been clapped in the head by two two-by-fours.

      As for you dominatrixing up my blog: More, please.

      • Jill

        Someone’s in a sparky mood today…

        (It’s definitely not me, so I’m just glad someone is round here.)

        • Matt

          I’ll join you in the corner of woe, Jill. Leave the frisky young people to themselves.

          And John, does Cat know about your wicked ways?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          I used to have a cat named Sparky. He was sickly, but insanely enthusiastic. He played so non-stop frenetically with a toy I made for him that his heart literally exploded.

          • Jill

            John, you are insanely enthusiastic!

            Did you used to have a cat named Frisky too? A playmate for Mr. Science perhaps?

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

    I read this and thought of the Aerosmith song love hurts:

    Love hurts, love scars, love wounds and marks

    Any heart not tough nor strong enough

    To take a lot of pain, a lot of pain

    Love is like a cloud, it holds a lot of rain,

    love hurts, ooo, love hurts.

    That is one side of love. The side where our hearts are broken, where we just hurt from every pore.

    I know, having had mine broken so badly, that I never thought all the fragments could be found much less put back together. But they were. Yours will too ,letter writer. You’ll find those pieces of that broken heart, and somewhere along the way, someone will help you weld your heart back together, stronger than before.

    • Jill

      Isn’t that Nazareth? (not to nit-pick, sd. I’m just a lyric freak.)

      • Andy

        Yes that’s Nazareth, though that’s a reasonably common misconception; it does sound a little like Aerosmith. And actually doesn’t sound very much like most other Nazareth songs.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      I thought Nazareth too..i am gonna blame the lyric site I use. I always remember the melodies and parts of the words, i just remember the song..I suck at the who did it part.

      • Jill

        Well, a good choice anyway, sd. I think Nazareth might’ve only had one good song in ‘em.

        • Andy

          I disagree completely.

          • Jill

            I guess my music tastes went in a different direction. :)

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            My music taste is an ecletic mishmash of genres. I like most styles, but have my exceptions….southern gospel, music that must be played loud with lots of screaming by the vocalists, and really bad remixes of great older tunes, and the stuff favored these days by tweens.

  • Lymis

    When people ask me how to get over being lovelorn (or dumped), I try to remind them to focus on the fact that the depth of their feeling is a reflection of their capacity to feel it – getting dumped sucks, but who wants to be someone who responds “Well, I hoped we’d spend the rest of our lives together, but, meh. What’s for lunch?”

    I love Marianne Williamson’s take on it: “If the train didn’t stop at your station, it wasn’t your train.” There’s someone else out there.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      I really need to read her books. I started to, once upon a time and was told how horrible her stuff was…it was too “new age” and so not what Christians should read.. and I wasn’t were I am now to state “so?”

      Someone is being added back to my reading f wish list.

      • Jill

        Yeah, it’s cool just how much New Age and New Thought philosophy meshes with Christianity. But I remember exactly what you mean- common ground be damned, it’s not pure! ;)

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

          Oh I’ve gone full rebel, and am reading everything I can lay my hands on, of books or authors I was told was of the devil, and designed to draw people away from the faith. I also gave away all those books on relationships, you find in the standard bible book stores. None of them did me any good anyway, other than making me feel inadequate and frustrated.

          And you are right Jill, I was delighted a few years ago, how much many of the teachings of Buddha or the Dalai Lama lined up with the teachings of Jesus, and have since discovered others from a wide variety of culture and places in history.

    • vj

      ” the depth of their feeling is a reflection of their capacity to feel it”

      That reminds me of a line in Shadowlands (book/movie about the relationship between CS Lewis and Joy Gresham) – when she is dying of bone cancer, he tries to avoid thinking/talking about her death, but she tells him that “the pain then is part of the happiness now” – if they weren’t so wonderfully happy together, it wouldn’t hurt so much when they were apart…

  • LVZ

    That happened to me in college. I turned into a pillar of salt for forty days and forty nights. (That’s a metaphor. I was heartbroken for a long time, which ironically was longer than forty days and forty nights.) The good news is (as Dan would say): it gets better.

    I talked to a therapist years later, and he had this advice for grief.

    First, experience it. Get it over with. Think about her and mourn the breakup. Grief is the opposite emotion to bonding. If you’ve bonded with someone, and the bond is broken, you have to grieve in order to let the bond go.

    Second: after you’ve grieved, move on. Put it behind you and get on with your life.

    • Elizabeth

      Moving on is key. I pair bond so hard it takes three or four years to get over. I don’t recommend it.

      • Jill

        Which explains my ever-present spinsterhood… what was it Anne Elliot said in Persuasion, something like, “I cannot claim for my sex that we love the strongest, or the deepest (truest?), but that we continue to love longest, even when all hope for love is gone.”

        Ok, stop making me melancholy and need to quote Jane Austen! Does me no good!

        • Elizabeth

          Jill, superfox, you have no reason whatsoever to be maudlin. Pride and Prejudice has a happy ending.

          • Allie

            For that matter Persuasion has a happy ending, and Anne was old enough that everyone had pretty much given up on her!

      • Elizabeth

        I mean the emotional attachment. I can’t help it if everything I type sounds dirty.

  • Dani

    Yep, it sucks. Sucked since 1999 for me. But then again I didn’t even try and get over it until the last couple years. What really sucks is having an eidetic memory. Remembering every moment makes it harder to let it go. Hopefully you don’t have that problem.

    And I felt like a pussy too. Got hurt really bad. Didn’t know what to do. Didn’t even know what caused the breakup.

    Thankfully I had friends who knew what it was like and let me whine pretty regularly for a few months. Then I was only allowed to whine once in a while.

    You have more worth than she does in this particular situation. Not egotistically, or judgmentally or spitefully. Don’t let this situation screw your life up like others have (like me).

    Good luck brother. I’m not even giving you platitudes. Just get help that keeps you from thinking about it. And if someone you trust tries to set you up, go with it.

  • Steven W. Hunt

    The girl in the image looks like Sadako Yamamura with her windswept hair like that.

    She too, would rip out one’s heart in a literal sense.

  • Valerie Barlow Horton

    Having suffered from a broken heart, what you say is true. It just takes time.

  • David Sinclair

    Soooo good.

  • John Gragson

    Been there.

  • Allie

    Oh man. I have a heartbreak story too. The first boy I ever seriously dated, the boy I lost my virginity to, moved away, with many promises to call me, have a long-distance relationship, stay together forever. Two weeks pass and nothing, I haven’t heard from him. No number to call, he was supposed to call and give me his new number and address after he arrived.

    Honestly, if I knew a little bit more about brain chemistry, I could probably tell you why this happens to people. But my brain just up and died on me for a while. I was top of my advanced math class in school and the state math contest was coming up. My math teacher always held a qualifying test for the math contest, but it was something of a formality, since the people at the head of the class almost always did best on the qualifying test. Test is passed out, time starts, and… nothing. I look down at the test and it’s written in Urdu. I literally cannot read it. Literally. I mean literally literally. Couldn’t read the instructions, couldn’t read the questions. I wrote my name, sat for about five minutes, trying to make the words make sense, and then burst into tears. Handed the test in blank. I can still remember the shocked look on the math teacher’s face, since I was known as a stoic and unemotional sort, an exceptional test taker who did better under pressure than otherwise, and he was likewise quiet and unemotional, and he looked at me as if I had just done something completely outside his experience, as if flowers had suddenly sprouted from the center of my forehead or something.

    I ended up going to the state contest anyway, because one of our qualifiers got sick at the last minute, and I placed eighth, which was respectable for our school. But that was months later, after I learned that my boyfriend hadn’t called because he was in the hospital due to a serious injury in a car wreck. He hadn’t intentionally abandoned me at all. But while I believed he had dumped me, I was completely disabled. I never will forget that stunning blank sensation of looking down at a sheet of paper and suddenly being unable to read.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Amazing. Man, that is pain.

  • http://www.greggdeselms.com Gregg DesElms

    Here we go, again, with my doubting that the letter’s real. Sorry. I just can’t help it. This guy, at 26, is a little long in the tooth to be both having sexless relationships, and to be taken by surprise by how much losing love hurts. But, what the hell… I’ll bite.

    It wasn’t clear to me if the no-sex thing was his idea, or hers. If the former, then he should not be surprised that she finally got tired of it, and split. If the latter, then he should not be surprised that he was the only one in love, and so she split.

    They clearly weren’t communicating on a truly adult level… which, given the immaturity of the letter, surprises me not. That she could so cavalierly go, and he could be so taken by surprise by at least how he feels about it, if not that she left in the first place, suggests that there wasn’t much true intimacy (which doesn’t necessarily require sex) and concomitant understanding between them on, I’m sorry, just a whole BUNCH o’ levels.

    Something about the tenor of John’s response, though, suggests to me that he, too, suspected it was a fake letter. If not, then I’m a little surprised by how hard John landed on the guy… what with his clearly legitimately broken heart, and all. If the letter is real, then at least the guy really was in love, even if he didn’t have the maturity to adequately convey that to the woman who left him such that she wouldn’t have been so cavalier about so doing unless she was as cold as ice… which, if that’s the case, means the guy dodged a bullet in the end, anyway, even if he hasn’t yet figured it out.

    Or so is my two cents worth…

    …which my ex-wife used to say was pretty much ALL it was worth.

    Gregg L. DesElms

    Napa, California USA

    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    • Elizabeth

      Interesting. I don’t have an issue with a mature, loving, celibate relationship at 26. It pretty much sucks at 39. And I really don’t see how John was hard on him.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      But … for what possible reason would anyone take the time to write me a fake letter? (And … where in the world I was I hard on the guy?)

      • http://www.greggdeselms.com Gregg DesElms

        Maybe I shouldn’t have said “hard on him.” What I really meant was that you were sure having fun at what would, at least a little, seem to be at his expense if it’s really true that he’s hurting that much. But I also know that the kind of fun you were having might have translated better verbally; and so maybe the problem is just that it’s written, and so we’re deprived of all the subtle visual and audible cues which tells us exactly the levity with which the words are intended. I’m sure I’m misinterpreting.

        As for the first question about fake letters, I still believe you were being set-up by conservatives with at least a couple of the past letters; but I know you don’t agree. And that’s cool. Maybe I recognize it because I’ve been set-up exactly that way by people who have juvenile senses of humor which those with sophisticated ones, like yours and hopefully mine, have trouble understanding. When you have those kinds of very unsophisticated enemies, it’s sometimes hard to recognize what they’re doing if you’re actually and adult, with adult sensibilities.

        In my work against degree/diploma mills, I’ve been ridiculed by millists and their shills in more ways that you can imagine, most of which just make me roll my eyes at the ceiling because it’s just so, so dumb. But that’s the way these types are. They don’t value the same things we value, and so if we, for example, have a change of heart about something, we see it as growth. They see it as hypocrisy. And so will, among themselves, chastise the mind-changer as if s/he had molested a child or something…

        …something at which you and I and your sophisticated readers, here, just furrow our brows trying to figure out where’s the joke.

        I recognize something in the tone of some of these letters you’re receiving lately; something which smacks of the kind of backward, conservative, unsophisticated, red-necked, immature enemies that I have, for so long, endured.

        One would think it wouldn’t matter…

        …that is until someone who’s maybe a little older, and who doesn’t really understand how the Internet works — someone in a hiring position, or in the position to admit one into a program of some kind — happens to read some of that crap and doesn’t know not to believe it. Such as they come from a different era, when pretty much anything in formal print has been somehow vetted by someone; and the crazy stuff only got stapled to telephone poles. Such as they think the Internet is akin to being formally in print, and so, then, somehow vetted. They don’t realize that anyone with thirty bucks a months for a DSL connection, and a computer, can get online and write pretty much anything they want, with impunity, and in nice, fancy, attractive-looking lettering which, in the mind of the older and in-power person, couldn’t possibly be written by a crazy person.

        It’s just a gut feeling, John; and you can dismiss it if you want. But some of the mail you’re getting smacks, to me, of ultra-conservatives trying to get you to write something which they could ridicule. That’s why your piece, today, was so good: because you — or at least your tone — beat ‘em to it. Excellent!

        Look, I could be all wrong about this… but I’m just sayin’ that at the level of me which operates more on instinct than anything else, something about some of these letters just seems… I dunno… not right, somehow. I’m sorry, but I just can’t help it.

        [sigh] Oh, well. Let’s hope I’m wrong. [grin]

        Gregg L. DesElms

        Napa, California USA

        gregg at greggdeselms dot com

        • Elizabeth

          Hi Gregg. I, anyway, only meant that your response was interesting. Cynicism usually is. As you can read, we tease and backtalk each other plenty.

          I’ve been on the Internet and computer literate about since either was possible. You don’t want to know how long I’ve been hanging out at this pool hall of saints and misfits. But if John or any one of us takes a plea for help seriously, is that such a bad thing? Even if it’s fake, is it a waste of time?

          • http://johnshore.com Slick

            “You don’t want to know how long I’ve been hanging out at this pool hall of saints and misfits.”

            Easily the most awesome description of this site ever.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Right? I dug that.

        • Matt

          Gregg: Even if the letter is fake, what cost is it to us? The person who wrote it knows that they’re lying, and that’s on them. In the meantime, other people may get some benefit by seeing John’s response. That’s the real reason for John to make a whole post about it: So that the person’s pain can both be heard on a bigger scale than could be done alone, and help many others in the process.

      • Matt

        John: Nowhere that I can see were you hard on him. I’ve seen you be hard, even harsh when necessary. You didn’t even approach it here. If anything, you were somewhat cavalier (in the offhand way), probably because this is just such a common issue, what more is there to say really?

      • Allie

        Those were my questions. Mainly, what’s the possible motivation of writing such a fake letter? It doesn’t seem to make any sense to fake something so common.

    • anakin mcfly

      um, I’m 24 and have never been in a relationship, sexless or otherwise.

    • anakin mcfly

      like srsly, am I the only person who’s obeying their parents’/religion’s command to be celibate until marriage?

      your statement really, really bothered me, and every time I read stuff like this I start thinking that there’s something seriously wrong with me such that no one has ever expressed a desire to date me, other than random girls I’m not attracted to in the first place because I’m gay. but most of the gay guys I know have had relationships and/or sex, so I can’t blame that. as have most of the trans people I know, so I can’t blame it on that either. and when I post photos online looking for validation, anonymous internet people have declared that I’m hot and they’d totally hit it, so I can’t blame my looks either, and various friends (female and straight male) have said that I’d be a great partner for someone one day. but still… there’s no one. at all.

      this is not helping my already-low self-esteem. :(

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Wait. You’re gay, 24, and because of your parents and/or religious values have chosen to remain celibate until you’re married? But you’d like to date? Is that where you’re at?

        • anakin mcfly

          Yep. My parents know that while a legal marriage may be impossible depending on location and other things, they want there to be some kind of equivalent, like a marriage ceremony of some sort (and I know at least three gay-friendly pastors who would probably be willing to do the honours).

          And I guess I’m on board with this mostly for the comfort of tradition and not wanting to give the impression that my sexuality means that I’m throwing out all the conservative values they raised me with. I want to respect that. And I’m genuinely ok with not having sex until I get to that point of commitment. But sex is one thing, and a romantic relationship is another, and I’m desperate for the latter. My brother is four years younger and he’s already had a girlfriend *and* broken up with her, and I can’t help but feel that I’m lagging behind and soon all the good single people will be taken.

          • Matt

            There are (roughly) 7 billion people on this Earth. About 311 million in the US alone, assuming that’s where you are, and there’s no way they’re all married or have partners. Besides, more are being born every day. So there’s plenty of people out there for you to meet.

            You’re also not lagging behind. There’s no race. You do things on your own time, at your own pace.

          • anakin mcfly

            I’m currently working in the US for a few months, but usually living in Singapore (population of 5 million). Only a few hundred thousand are in my age range (large age gaps skeeve me out); only a small percentage of those are gay and out, especially since it’s technically illegal and people don’t announce it;probably only a small percentage of *those* would be willing to date a trans guy; and out of those, I’d still need to find someone whom I like and who likes me in return. :(

            also, my parents want any hypothetical partner to be a Christian, but factoring that in will probably put the numbers in negative; so I’m personally okay to go with anyone who respects my beliefs, and who doesn’t have beliefs that seriously conflict with my own.

          • Matt

            Whew, man! As a fellow trans guy, I can see how difficult that would be for you. And then to live in a country that still has laws against LGBT folks!

            I wish I could fix it all for you. But I can’t, so I’ll just say that I have serious respect for you. You’re walking a path so difficult even I’m cringing over here. And I think you’re doing pretty well, from what I can see. Don’t compare yourself anyone. You’ve got enough to worry about. Stay safe and take care of yourself.

          • anakin mcfly

            Thanks. <3

            My country (Singapore) is actually unexpectedly good with trans people – to the point that straight trans people are allowed to get married if they change their legal gender accordingly, and trans girls can be exempted from National Service, which is compulsory for all male citizens; trans guys can choose whether to do it or not once they've transitioned. But when it comes to gay people, homophobia is still rampant everywhere, because it's still seen as a choice (as opposed to transgenderism as a 'birth defect').

            I'm hoping to migrate at some point, maybe to the US or Australia or somewhere in Europe, but despite its failings I still love my country, and I'm not sure how easy it would be for me to just leave for good.

          • mae

            as an American, I recommend Australia–or at least choosing your location in America carefully.

            Also, as a 28 yr old who’s only been out of a horrible marriage for a year and a half and raising three kids while still going to school–I highly recommend NOT rushing committed longterm relationships.

            good luck to you!!!

          • Elizabeth

            Statistically speaking, all my single people may be taken. The few left may have baggage from previous relationships I don’t want to deal with. I’m OK with it either way. You have your whole life ahead of you. I see great happiness waiting.

      • Matt

        Please don’t worry, anakin. There is nothing wrong with you, seriously or otherwise. Finding a life partner takes a certain amount of luck, which people don’t want to talk about. They like to think that the best people have the best sex, get the best relationships, get married early and stay together forever. This isn’t always so.

        I know that lonelieness can make the time stretch out endlessly in front of you, but this won’t last forever. Maybe it would be useful to take some time to care for yourself. You don’t have to do anything, but maybe it would be useful to take another look at your obeying your parents’/religion’s rules to stay celibate until marriage. If marriage isn’t available to you in your home state, that can seriously limit your life and your ability to connect with others.

        As a human being, you need love. Period. It is necessary for your everyday functioning, it is necessary for your physical and mental health. I don’t want someone else’s rules to get in the way for you being well.

        • anakin mcfly

          Thanks. <3

          Yeah, I guess I wasn't too clear in the original post – by 'marriage' my parents weren't referring to a legal one recognised by law, but just the usual ceremony minus the registration and everything, which is a possibility as long as there are willing ministers to do it (and there are).

          The rules also go both ways though – I don't want to have to compromise this just so that I can find a partner, because I'd be doubtful of how sincere their love is if someone is only willing to date me if we can have sex soon. There's also that ever-present fear of trans fetishisation; whereas if someone is willing to stick with me all the way to the point of marriage, it's unlikely that they're only dating me because they find my body strange and exotic and want to see what sex with a trans guy would be like. And that whole idea just really creeps me out, because it's extremely dehumanising and I don't want to be used in that way. If someone really does love me, presumably they'd be willing to hold on with me. But perhaps I'm being idealistic there. :(

          I think the only part where I'd be willing to compromise the rules is on the marriage requirement, where I'd consider a long-term committed relationship to be about the same thing. But otherwise, I'm not psychologically comfortable with the idea of sex within a few dates / a few months. I also have a lot of insecurities regarding my body, and it's going to take a while, either way, for me to get comfortable enough with someone to willingly be that vulnerable around them, and by then I'd like to be reasonably sure that they won't just run away.

          • Matt

            You’re right. Just one of the many issues you could face is trans fetishization. I’m very lucky in that respect, because my fiancee is a trans woman. She gets it, and I know that she will love me, no matter how my body changes.

            If you do meet someone, it might be useful to bring it up as soon as possible. You don’t need to out yourself as trans, but just say something like, “I have a lot of insecurities about my body, and I would like to talk about those with you.” If they’re willing to listen at all, that’s a very good sign. You’re not idealistic in wanting someone to treat you like a person, and not as a sexual novelty. It’s one of those basic human needs again.

          • anakin mcfly

            I’m reluctant to bring it up too soon, because I’d want them to get to know me as me, treating me like any other guy, rather than have their preconceived notions of trans people influence the way they see me. But I’m also afraid that the longer it gets and the better things seem to be going, the less I would want to risk it all with a disclosure, knowing that it might very well lead to a rejection (or even just them feeling betrayed), and how that tension might affect the relationship.

          • Matt

            That’s why you don’t need to say you’re trans at first. Every single person has insecurities about their body. I don’t care if they’re straight, cisgender, and a full-time model. Having sex with someone is naturally going to bring all of this to the forefront. So it’s a conversation that, ideally, every couple should have.

            Sure, I’m trans, but I also just don’t like how short I am. Something like that is a good stepping stone to telling a partner how you feel in regards to your body. It’s less about what you say, than how they respond. If they shut down, or dismiss your fears, that’s a red flag.

            Disclosing your transness itself is something that, unfortunately, no one can tell you when the right time is. It’s up to you, because it’s your business. If they reject you just for that, yes that will be hugely painful. But it will speak volumes about them, and not a single word about you. Same goes for feelings of betrayal. You’re disclosing an ultimately harmless part of your history, not cheating on them. People’s feelings do matter, but they’re also responsible for them, and the feelings you’re talking about come from deep-seated transphobia.

          • Jill

            This, exactly.

            And some of us like short. Just sayin.

          • http://www.notjustablonde.com Not Just A Blonde

            “But it will speak volumes about them, and not a single word about you. ”

            Matt, well said.

      • Elizabeth

        For all intents and purposes, I’m what they call a second-generation virgin. It’s not because of religion. I believe God gave us sex as one of his most powerful gifts. It’s definitely not because of my parents. Dad’s on his fourth wife. Mom volunteered at Planned Parenthood and taught juvenile delinquents and pregnant teenagers deemed too risky for regular high school. For me, it’s about reclaiming control and healing. As I wrote somewhere else once, I don’t measure my self-worth by where a man puts his penis.

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you. You might just have to be brave and make the first move.

        • anakin mcfly

          Thanks. Yeah, it’s also partly about self-control for me.

          Part of the frustration is that I don’t even have anyone to make the first move *to*, such that all the bravery in the world wouldn’t help (not that I have much to begin with). About 90% of my friends are female, and of my male friends, they’re either straight, gay and taken, my parents’ age, or my grandparents’ age. I know a very small handful of single gay guys my age, most of whom have a lot of personal baggage that I really don’t want to get involved in (history of abuse, various addictions, etc, or are just not very nice people) because I have problems enough coping with my own issues.

          and I guess that even in my loneliness, I don’t want to have to settle for someone whom I’m not attracted to or don’t really enjoy being around in the first place, just because they’re the only options.

      • DR

        There’s absolutely 0 percent wrong with you wantig to be celibate before you are married. Sometimes, our struggles with intimacy and the fear of intimacy can hide behind that decision and that’s something to consider but it doesn’t have to mean that! Only you know. I know dozens of people who waited until they were married (including gay men and wen who wanted to be in love) and it wasa marvelous thing for all of them. Don’t let other peoples’ views of what sex and intimacy means for them color what it means for you. It’s very personal. Xoxo

    • n.

      i was celibate until getting married in early 30s. and what CAN anybody say about heartbreak?! it happens [true]. eventually you will feel different things [true]. worse would be: to invent reasons for what happened, or to set him an artificial timeline by which he had to get over it.

    • DR

      I have to be honest, there’s a consistent level of declaration in your comments that bothers me. There are a million good reasons why a 26 year old from a Christian home hasn’t had sex yet, straight or otherwise, and it doesn’t have to translate into anything dysfunctional. It’s so personal, I’m struggling with your decision to draw such shaming lines around it.

      • DR

        That was meant for Gregg, not for you anakin.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          fwiw, I really appreciate the whole above exchange.

  • Dear Abby and Dan Savage?

    I’ve always seen you as more of the divine lovechild of Carolyn Hax and John the Baptist, babysat extensively by your quirky and inappropriate uncle Dan Savage.

    • Elizabeth

      Man, I would kill to be the lovechild of John the Baptist.

      • Elizabeth

        Wait. We all get Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist, right? Biblical humor is hard.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      What a kind (and funny!) thing to say. Thanks for it.

  • chewa11

    Yes, I suppose it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. Unless the loss of that love has so disoriented you that you question whether you actually loved in the first place. Maybe you mistook need (for validation, for affection, etc) for love. Maybe you know nothing about love. Maybe there’s something wrong with you and you never will know love because what you think is love may actually be neediness. What is love? ‘Baby, don’t hurt me’.

    • Elizabeth

      Assuming you’re not just being mean, you should check out 7 Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships, and How to Defeat Each One of Them. It addresses, in great detail, how to rescue yourself from any destructive relationship: spouses, lovers, parents. It’s universal. Because it sounds an awful lot like you’re projecting.

      • Hannah Grace

        Oh hon, I’m not sure she’s being mean. Are you British? I use ‘you’ to mean ‘one’ in the UK (ie, “When you go to the store, it’s nice to get potatoes” vs. “When one goes to the store, it’s nice to get potatoes”) and I’ve accidentally come across as mean just because I assumed others would understand I was talking about myself in particular, or people in general. They, of course, thought I was talking specifically about them!

        • Elizabeth

          I studied at Oxford but I’m 100% American. I’m not sure he/she is being mean, hence the “Assuming you’re not” clause at the beginning. Suggesting to someone heartbroken if one is sure it was really love not neediness and that one doesn’t know love at all is pretty insensitive, though. Even if it were true, it shan’t help. Therefore, I will defer to the letter writer’s opinion and John’s good judgment.

        • Elizabeth

          Don’t take that harshly, Hannah. I just love a chance to use my British accent.

      • chewa11

        Projecting? As in, accusing another person of having traits that you yourself have but refuse to see? I’m not really sure how that applies to me thinking that I haven’t loved/been (romantically) loved.

        Interesting that you suggested a book about abusive relationship. This heartbreak I’m referring to happened 4 years ago. I haven’t thought of him for about a year. Then, 2 weeks ago, while I am being interviewed for a volunteer position for a crisis helpline, the interviewer asks me about my experience with grief. I describe my breakup and its aftermath, and then she goes on to describe emotional abuse, and how it’s not always angry outbursts. Everything that comes out of her mouth is spot on to the relationship and its after effects. I come out of that interview feeling disoriented and raw. I felt homeless. I was shocked at how deeply sad I was. It was as if it had happened yesterday. I thought I was over him. I had talked about my breakup before, but I never had this reaction.

        I’m 28. I have had one serious relationship, 1 (surprisingly heart wrenching) fling, and even a few hook ups since the big break up. I find myself kind of giving up on love for me. It’s stupid, cuz I’m relatively young. But I don’t see myself allowing myself to be loved by a man any time soon. And it’s a shame.

        • Elizabeth

          I hear you. That sounds a lot like PTSD. You really might want to check out John’s book.

  • David S

    suckofractoimplosive SO belonged in the title. Best. Word. Ever.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      You know, that’s a weird thing. I LOVE that word, which I’m totally sure is real or will be soon if there’s a God. But I’ve been doing this long enough to know that sometimes it’s the TITLE of a post that’s keeping anyone from reading it–which means (alas) is keeping people on Facebook from sharing it, which (afreakinlas) is pretty much the only way my stuff ever gets out there at all, since what else do I have?

      When a piece has basically failed, and I can see/guess it’s because of its title, I know I have to change the title; in this particular case, I learned/remembered that people don’t want to put anything featuring the word “Suck” on their FB page. So I changed the title of the piece, reposted it on my FB page, deleted the old link with the old title, and whoosh: suddenly it’s being read and shared.

      It’s a strange game I play here, with a lot of rules I’d prefer didn’t exist. “Give people a title they like better or waste your time,” is one of them. (As is the ever-grueling, “No subtitles allowed.”) But in the end, it’s good. Individually, people tend to be hyper-reactive morons. But in matters such as this, what we all more or less agree on turns out to be something that amounts to wisdom. The constant, brutal feedback-loop of blogging has made me a much better writer than I’d have ever been without it.

      • Dani

        The awesomeness of suckofracktoimplosive is what brought me to the post originally. The new title sounds inappropriate, but that might just be my inappropriate brain doing that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          See? Brutal. (And also remindful of the one rule that never changes: You can’t please everyone. Though what you’ve said does make sense, Dani!)

          • Jill

            Blog warrior.

          • Matt

            Personally, when I saw “suckofracktoimplosive,” you could hear the gears in my brain grinding over all those vowels smashed together. But it’s still an awesome word, and I like the new title too.

      • David S

        God, groupthink is such a bummer. But I have confidence the fickle public will never be able to squelch your brilliant lexicological gifts.

        Best!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Har! Thanks. (And, no, I’m saying sometimes groupthink is GOOD. If I’ve done a title that’s failed, I can always see, later, why, and it’s always for a good reason: it always makes sense that people weren’t sharing it. In this case, it was a double whammy keeping people away: the “suck,” and, more importantly, I think, the fact that the original title didn’t at ALL let anyone know what the post was about. The FIRST thing the old title did was confuse people–and the surest way to keep people away is confuse them. So I changed the title. One of MY rules is, “Only change a title once.” Otherwise you go crazy. Except I’m about to break that rule, cuz I actually agree with Dani above…!)

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Okay, that’s the right title for this piece. Thanks for the help, you guys!

          • David S

            Just remember, groupthink led to both the Challenger disaster and acid-wash jeans…Love the new title!

  • Rachel B. Demented

    “Pussy” is a pejorative term for a man to call himself or another man because that likens him to a woman. I know it’s a thing a lot of people say but that is all the more reason to want to correct it immediately. Who knows? Maybe if he thought better of women on the subconscious level, he would have more luck with his female lover.

    • Elizabeth

      Excellent choice in user names. Pussy, along with all the other nicknames for female genitalia, is only an insult if *you* as a reader think women aren’t as good as men. Better luck next time.

      • Dani

        Kind of like how it’s cool and fun to call men bitch.

        And it all has to do with the context. It is derogatory, but it is a step in self-acceptance, like me being transgendered. Calling another person “pussy” is bad. But it can help heal if you are damaged.

        Plus he may have been called that by other people.

        A few semi-feminist Christian woman I know agree with me also.

        Some women I know even call their man a bitch. It’s become more about being whiny and childish.

        He also may feel the same about women (and everyone) as I have and thinks he’s not a very good person.

        • Elizabeth

          I was thinking along the lines of empowering the term like queer for LGBT, but that’s a really interesting perspective. For the record, the only man I call bitch is my best friend from college, and I assure you he is one. The one that rhymes with hunt is usually the one that makes women go ballistic for some reason. I can’t help but think it’s a socially-conditioned self-hatred. Sad.

  • Hugh matheson

    Ok, you’re not really going to do this are you? Dear Abby is really dangerous territory. Write the guy back, but we don’t need to know. I bet you are going to get thousands of these pretty quick, and they will start to get very weird.

    Danger, danger, Will Robinson. Turn the tap off firmly.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      No, I mean, it’s cool. I’ve been doing this for a long time: Dear John.

  • Christie L.

    Letter-writer,

    Oh, the stories of heartbreak we all could share! It happens to most of the population. I am sympathetic to your pain. I hope you recover from it fairly quickly.

    My story has to do with dating a Mormon boy, being engaged (in that first love whirlwind kind of way that I took COMPLETELY seriously) at age 15, and having the relationship ripped to shreds by the boy’s father due to the father snooping through his son’s backpack and finding a letter I had written to his son about how I imagined our future would be. (We had it all planned out. Happily ever after and all that jazz!)

    I, the un-religioned whore, got to experience one of the worst humiliation/shaming incidents I could think of for a teenage girl. It left me with PTSD and I reeled for almost a decade. It completely derailed me. I almost failed high school (after being in the top 5% of the class).

    I finally started to get better with lots of therapy and I’m doing better than before, but I don’t know that I’ll ever be fully recovered. My life changed so fast and so drastically, but I guess it’s okay because I do generally like myself these days. Part of how it changed me is definitely for the better.

    You can be okay, too. With time and healing. One thing that has helped me when things get overwhelming is distraction. Get involved with things outside yourself: Go volunteer with an organization you support, take an interesting class, or devote some time to a healthy hobby.

    Take it easy and be gentle with yourself. It’s not being a “pussy” to do that. It’s healthy.

    Christie in CA

  • http://practicingresurrection.wordpress.com Bill

    Alfred Lord who? Wasn’t that the Eurythmics?

    • http://johnshore.com Slick

      Wow! What planet are you from? Everyone knows he was the Beatles first agent.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        I hate you both.

  • Tami

    “Love can never be made safe. It is the opposite of safe. The moment you try to make it safe, it ceases to be love. I realize this is a bummer, but think about it. Love is predicated on receptivity, on opening up again and again and again to your beloved, each time afresh. To do this, you have to let go of insisting that he or she conform to your standards for what a lover should look like, do, be, or say, and instead allow him or her to simply be him or herself. Then you take it from there. To do otherwise, to continually choose who you wish this person was over who he or she actually is, is, well, it’s not love. I don’t know what it is.” -Susan Piver

    Being open is the key to love and heartbreak. “Feel the feelings. Drop the story.” is great advice from Pema Chodron. It basically means turning toward what you’re feeling, experience it fully with a totally open heart, but without the obsessive thinking associated with blame; Blaming yourself (shoulda, coulda, woulda, I’m a loser), blaming the other person (she’s a loser, I hate her, she did this or that). You don’t have to try to explain the feelings, or understand them or even the cause of them. Just try to be completely open to what you are feeling without associating any “story” with it. We often make things bigger than they actually are by creating these stories, like a tiny lil snowball rolling down a hill and ending us up under a big pile of snow at the bottom.

    When I first heard this idea, I thought, “no I don’t do that! This REALLY IS terrible because blah blah blah,” until I tried it. If you can learn to recognize and refrain when you start this blaming or story building, you begin to feel much more at ease even if it still hurts. Hurt is not confusing. It is simple, and if you let yourself accept it, it will burn away. I find that it applies to all area of life, from “road rage” to a co-worker you think isn’t pulling their weight, you can stop the snow ball before it starts and feel much better for it.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X