LaRue for the lovelorn

What to do with on-again, off-again relationships

Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2004

Dear LaRue,

I'm in a relationship that is constantly on again, off again. I know he's not good for me, but I just don't know what I should do. The good times are good, but the bad times are really bad. Should I stick it out, or just walk away?

Got a problem with your love life? Ask LaRue for advice at

Please help.



So this week's tale might leave you feeling a little maudlin, but it's for a greater good.

I'm about to share "LaRue's big love" story with you. It's a little sad and still hard to take, but the best and biggest lessons often are.

This particular boy was a slow-moving melancholy. He was "Tangled up in Blue" on an overcast Sunday. He was the pang of lonely that's oddly comforting, like crying at a sad movie. I loved him. He knew I loved him. He also knew he didn't love me, not in the way I needed him to anyway. Sometimes, his company was consolation. And I let him console me.

Crawling inside his world for awhile, to wait for his odd brand of kindness, seemed worth it.

When he didn't let me in, I would plot and wait. Sometimes the right place, wrong time. Sometimes, I'd stay up late, leave work early - whatever I had to do to happen accidentally on purpose into his graces. I'd wait in the corner of a downtown pub, looking black-eyed and lonely until he made his way down the bar and to my bed by closing time. And he always would. All he had to do was look at me, dig his face into my neck and with it, bury my resolve to leave without him.

Oh to end it. To walk away. He'd just look at me and there wasn't a question. I'd go with him. Wherever he wanted me to go. Hell and back, didn't matter. I just wanted to be with him. No matter how hard I played at getting over him, after attempting to let go to let in some light and reason. I let him in instead. He'd kiss my lips, I'd look in his eyes, see that odd familiarity and out went the light. There he'd be, up the hill to home, down to business as he got around the complications of my bra.

Over and over again. The methods changed, the end always the same. He'd go away. Again.

And again I'd wait.

But one time, my heart must have fallen asleep and woke up my brain, or maybe I just got tired.

He came back and I let him go.

I let him go. Those words still break me in half. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, but I HAD to do it. I loved him. Walking away from him didn't make that go away. Walking away didn't make me stop thinking about the smell his breath above my lip or the feel of his beard on my shoulder, breaking my heart.

The pain of the devil I didn't know - the thought of life without him - was more painful than the pain we caused each other together. But still I had to decide that I was worth more whether I wanted to or not. I had to decide, whatever the consequences, to let the light in and try for something better than "a great love - sometimes."

Some time has passed. I don't think of him as often, but he's still there.

Maybe he always will be. I can't say I will ever feel that same way about someone again, but maybe, just maybe, that's a good thing. Because what if the next thing is so much better than anything I could have thought up because what I think up is based only on what I know, based on the snippets of good feeling he gave me. What if the next thing is great - always. It could happen, but it never could if I had stayed.

I'm pretty sure this was a variety of a kind of love, a sort of rough draft of what the work will be.

He told me the last time we said goodbye to each other he would see me again someday, find me by accident on purpose, the way we always did. That someday when we were both old, living in Miami, he'd see me on a beach. He'd recognize me right away. He'd smile at me. And then we'd be together. There will always be a part of me that wonders, maybe hopes a little, that someday he'll find me again. Someday when we've both grown up, when love's not a desperate thing, when the time is right. And that thought's OK to have, I think. Sometimes that thought is comforting. I certainly won't put my life on hold for it. Sometimes, the action of letting go has to come before the feelings do. I make the conscious choice every day to expect something better for myself. There are bigger and better loves to be had, lost and maybe just one to keep.

Every day I make the choice to walk a little further away from him. But just in case: I'll be the one in the pink beach chair, wearing a big hat with tamales, listening to Bob Dylan and smiling right back.

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