man, this isn’t really my place to do so, but i had to ask. i have i good guy buddy who i’ve known for a few years now who is pretty obviously and unmistakably miserable. i mean, everyone knows it. really! ask any one of his close friends!
and everyone knows why too. he’s been with his lady for the better part of a decade, and, well, they’re not in love. they’ve had a rent controlled apartment together for years, she paid off his school loans, they have some similar friends, etc etc, but really, is that enough? he never talks about her and she never comes to hang out. most of us (myself included) joked about how she must be imaginary until she happened to be at the same bar one night a couple of months ago!
he told me they stopped having sex years ago, but that he would feel far too guilty to look else where. whenever i’ve tried to talk to him about it, he gets really uncomfortable and tries to skirt around the issue by making jokes or changing the subject.
it’s important to note though that he has never explicitly said that he is unhappy.who knows DW!? maybe i’m wrong. maybe we’re all wrong!
i’d like you’re input on the situation. i know you said a dude wont change, and maybe a life of convenience over passion/sex/love is what he really wants, but i’d like to hold out some hope.
ps – i forgot to say, one of our mutual dude friends tried to console him one day with this advice: “maybe one day you can grow a pair, fuck a bitch, and when your girlfriend finds out, she’ll dump you so you can finally be free and happy”see why help is needed!????
Apropos of nothing, the DW would just like to share that it is currently Hot As Balls in San Francisco. Hot. As. Balls. Asphalt is melting. Ice cream is melting. Dogs are melting. The DW is clutching a glass of water against his forehead and typing in his underpants. Hot. Real hot. And now on to the answer…
Look, you’re not wrong about your friend. Even couples that loathe each other find a way to bone every now and again. Straight dudes in prison turn to boning each other rather than face a life of celibacy. This dude is depressed and trapped and miserable and the DW feels for him. Reduced to the essentials, people who are happy act happy. People in love act like people in love. This dude is acting like he’s going home every night to a stern waterboarding.
So what to do? Well, something has to shake this dude out of his routine. He’s dug so far into a rut he can’t see anything else anymore. He feels like if he breaks up with his girlfriend or moves out or quits his job his whole world will come unglued and he’ll lose control and the universe will reverse Big Bang and kill us all. What he needs to be reminded of is that the consequences of his actions aren’t as far reaching or as important as he thinks. He needs to be brought back into the world where people break up and move out and very few people notice or care. And the DW means ‘few people notice or care’ in the positive sense- as in, there’s no pressure on you, nobody writes a newspaper article about your breakup, the world keeps turning, big whoop.
How to get this guy to see the world anew is the harder question. Your non-depressed dude friend with the 40 Year Old Virgin style advice probably wants to take this dude to Vegas and pump him full of beers and lap dances, but that’s not gonna work. To a depressed person, sh^t like ladies with fake boobs twirling on a pole to “Pour Some Sugar On Me” is just proof that the whole world has gone utterly and irreversably insane.
That said, the impulse of getting him out of town without Harvey the Invisible Girlfriend is a good one. Take the dude away camping or to some Musicapalooza thing or to a baseball game or to the Grand Canyon. Anywhere really. Without his ladyfriend. The DW bets he hasn’t been out of town in a while. Remind him how great the whole big wide world is. Don’t force him to meet new gals or anything, just let him see things he hasn’t seen in a while. Ride down the road and crank some music, eat at a truckstop, buy a kitschy keychain. Laugh.
And the other thing is this- the girlfriend will get along without him way better than he thinks. Like alarmingly better. Like he won’t believe it. He thinks he’s responsible for her, and the responsibility is crushing his soul, but she can take care of herself just fine. She just leans on him because he’s there and it’s their routine and it’s just easier than overcoming inertia for her, too. The DW bets any amount of money that after they finally break up, she, like him, loses ten pounds of depressed flab, finally buys a couple new pairs of jeans, gets a good hair cut, and becomes seventeen times more pleasant and desirable practically overnight. Honestly, he’s doing her a favor, too, by letting her go. Sounds like spin, but the longer they cling to each others misery, the longer they’re preventing themselves and each other from being able to find something good and right and wonderful.
You know how on airplanes they do their little In The Event Of a Horrifying Imminent Death routine with the belts and the oxygen? Well, the first time you hear someone tell you to put the mask on yourself before a child it seems really cruel, right? Takes a second to think through, but eventually you realize the logic is this- sometimes there are situations where you have to help yourself first to be any good for anyone else. Your depressed dude friend needs to apply the mask to his own face,think selfishly for once, and inhale as deeply as possible. He’s suffocating.
Get this dude in the car and ride!