Carolyn: I did a horrible thing. Friend and I had bad breakups at about the same time, so we decided to have a "least eligible bachelor" contest. The goal was to find a "loser," get him to fall for us and then dump him. I've been seeing my "loser" for six weeks now. And, since I've been acting like a dumb teenager (in classic teen movie fashion), I've actually started to fall for him. He's smart, and funny, and kind, and treats me with more tenderness and respect than any guy I've ever been with. The only "loser" thing about him would be that he's overweight (and maybe that he's involved with me, the real loser here) -- and of course now I don't find his weight unattractive, I think of him as a big teddy bear.
The obvious problem is whether and/or how to come clean with him. I feel he has a right to know and I want our relationship to be built on solid ground. Any advice would be appreciated, and, yeah, I do realize I probably don't deserve such a good guy.
A: Too bad, because I would have enjoyed telling you that. You took so many (hard-earned) shots at yourself that you didn't leave any for me.
Well, not that many: I would like to make a small correction. Likening yourself to a dumb teenager is an insult to dumb teenagers.
What you and your friend did was breathtakingly cruel, and forgivable only with more information. Would you be so hard on yourself now, for example, if this guy didn't turn out to be great? Is cruelty only wrong when the victim is someone you like? Do you still think fat people are "losers" until they prove themselves to you otherwise? Did your friend have her own bout with shame, or did she follow through with the plan? And if she gleefully stomped a guy's heart, what did you say to her then? In what other ways are you ruthless, assuming this can't be the first?
The answers to these aren't for me, which is a good thing, because I'm talking to a screen. They're for you, to help you decide whether you really have been enlightened -- or whether your guilt and/or his kindness are the only reasons you've stayed. Either way, the last thing you want is to compound your cruelty by sharing it with him unabridged. Even if he does laugh it off or at least forgive, I can't see anyone ever forgetting what it's like to hear, "When I needed a loser, you were my No. 1 choice."
At the same time, if the falling for him is real, he deserves to know what you are capable of. We all have evil thoughts, but you pursued them through victim selection. Wow.
Knowing full well you might lose him, tell him what you did in less devastating words: You were tired and embittered, and went out with him because he seemed easy to be with and safe -- and then he wound up showing you that maybe those things were the whole point of being in love. Tell him he helped you grow up.
Your friend may blab -- do you trust her not to? But you'll be better for being out front.
Petty and the heartbreakers
Carolyn: This month I've watched three friends get engaged and had two others discover they are pregnant. Every time, my friends start the, "Oh, I'm sure you'll be next" song. Up until now, I've been able to pretty much laugh them off. I'm in a good relationship of two-plus years, I'm 28, he's 26, serious, but no cohabitating.
Well, yesterday, a friend with whom I'd shared my non-engagement jokes finally got the bended knee. I'm thrilled for her, but I'm baffled by my overwhelming sadness and (ugh) pity for myself. I feel so stupid about how upset I am. My friend calls me every hour with some new marriage tidbit; how petty would I sound if I told her I didn't want to talk about her wedding because I'm seething with jealousy?
A: Extremely. Confessing your jealousy is fine -- talking about it might help. It's the wedding-news blackout that would make you seem pretty lame.
Two reasons. She's your friend, and that means you come through for her full time, not just when she's conveniently as miserable as you are.
And, it's time you came through for you. You'll hardly feel better by plugging your ears and saying NAH NAH NAH whenever you hear the "M" word -- or by finding lonelier friends or by getting your own (barf) "bended knee." Jealousy of others is never about what they have. It's about what you lack: peace with yourself. Not everyone passes a mansion and says, "Wow, I wish I lived there" -- not the ones who are content with the place they call home.
So, other than being assaulted by the "Oh, I'm sure you'll be next" song, which can make a person nostalgic for "The Macarena," what is it about your life that isn't enough? That's what you need to find out.
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