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Auntie Sam, Why Are Women So Complicated?

Dear Auntie Sam-

I’ve been a mess for the past couple weeks. I came to HBS from Germany, at about the same time a woman named Julia from my group of friends there also moved to Boston. Both of us coincidentally committed to return to Europe for a ski trip to Zermatt with our old friends, but since that time, Julia and I have become, well, kind of an item. We both flew independently into Germany, and agreed to play it cool in front of our old friends. There were two Bier-laden busses taking all of us to Switzerland, and we decided to ride separately. On the bus ride down she hangs on this guy whom she was dating before she met me, but when we get to the first rest stop she comes and finds me and starts hanging on me and being all sweet. Now I knew she and her old beau had some lingering issues, but I sorta got upset. We all go out that night when we get there and I tell her where we’re going, but I end up not going there and she goes there to find me and gets upset. I get home from the bar around 2 and go to bed. Around 2:30 a drunk Julia walks into the room whispering for me and crawls into bed with me. She’s all upset asking where I’ve been and saying she was upset she couldn’t find me. I’m still ticked about the old boyfriend thing and she’s telling me she broke up with him, he’s messed up, blah, blah. I bite, and let her stay. My Canadian roommate is still sleeping 2 feet from us. Just so happens my old co-worker had lost his bags the night before and comes into the room at 6:30 to find Julia in there. He, being a big mouth, lets his roommate, who happens to be the old boyfriend, know where she slept. I’m sure the news gets all over the group within fifteen minutes at breakfast. It ends up the three of us guys ski together with a few others. So the old boyfriend and I talk and he lets me know he’s no longer in the picture, he can see how she feels, and I pretty much give him the same thing. I don’t need to deal with this crap. So, after skiing, at the buses, Julia comes over to talk and I tell her she’s been giving me these mixed signals and I can’t deal with it anymore. I can no longer hang out with her. On her bus, she has a mini nervous breakdown on the way back to the hotel. This, after everyone she had been skiing with was making fun of her because all she talked about all day was me. End up that night going out with her and a few others anyway. I get drunk and cut into her a lot harder this time and continue to go with the ultimatum. She goes on about how fucked up she is and it’s not fair to ask her to make a decision because she’s so messed up, etc. End up skiing with her and the old beau along with about 15 other people the next day. I try to ignore her, but don’t want to be mean, because I was really hurting about my decision not to see her anymore. So we end up on a ski lift together, and she asks me to forgive her, yaddah yaddah yaddah. I still can’t see myself doing it, so I don’t give her a straight answer. Once again, that night, we end up together in the same bar and I even play darts with her. We all end up leaving at 1, and get split up with a majority of the people going to one bar, and a few of us, sans Julia, going back to a room and continuing to drink until about 4:30. I stumble back to bed then and go to sleep. Next morning everyone lets me know that Julia had had a major nervous breakdown last night and was frantically trying to find me. I guess she called the Canadian about 4 times after 2 AM and made four phone calls to another friend on his cell phone. In addition, she kept going to my room and coming in to check every 10 minutes. I guess she eventually passed out at about 4. Next day on the bus ride home back to Germany, she gets on my bus and sits in the back. I sit up front and don’t really talk to her. At the rest stop she continues to tell me she misses me and can’t sleep or eat, blah, blah, blah. I tell her to please don’t do that to me. We finally get home and I’m ready to leave and she comes over to talk again. I tell her we have nothing to talk about, but I know we really do. But she starts crying and she talks me into going with her to talk. I do and she tells me about more issues she has and why she can’t have a relationship, but she wants to be around me all the time and she can’t help but to be affectionate towards me. I finally crumble and tell her we can hang out and she asks me to sleep there and I do. Here’s the dilemma: I still like this woman and think she’ll eventually get through these issues. However, I know myself, and I think the only reason I like her so much is because we haven’t had sex. (She’s not having sex until she gets married, another huge issue.) What should I do? I’m miserable when I’m not around her and things are awesome when we’re together and she is outwardly normal except for the whole relationship thing.

Hopelessly Smoked

Dear Hopelessly Smoked,

The tone of your letter seems to suggest that you are quite entertained by this woman’s embrace of you in light of her periodically reassuring you that her behavior is merely a result of her psychological state. Moreover you claim that your sustained interest in her is On Account Of Not Having Been Intimately Involved With You rather than Despite the Fact that She Has Rejected You Sexually. You clearly seem to think that you have the upper hand and the ability to stop seeing her at will. Might I suggest that the interactions with her you have described to date seem to suggest Anything But?
As the Americans say, This Woman Seems To Have Got Your Number. She is proving thoroughly adept at Wrapping You Around Her Little Finger only because you seem to bite so wonderfully predictably.
There are two views you can take of this situation: that either she views keeping you interested As A Game, which she is playing a lot better than you at the moment, or that you do in fact, like her For the Right Reasons rather than merely because you view sexual conquest as an end game. I can assure you that she is taking the former view and that she has got you thoroughly beat at the game thus far.
Thank god for men such as yourself–they provide such a wonderful ego boost to women such as Julia. I applaud you on writing this letter despite the tongues that will most certainly begin wagging here at HBS on reading this letter. From what I hear, there weren’t too many people skiing in Zermatt.

Yours,
Auntie Sam

Send in your problems to Auntie Sam at harbus@hbs.edu

March 26, 2001
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