Savvy City Girl’s Pick for Smart and Hip (and Free) Relationship Advice
It was late Saturday morning when I got the call. I had a nasty cold, had crawled into bed the previous evening and hadn't been out since. I was bored and feeling miserable. I jumped for the phone. It was my girlfriend Kate. She asked how I was, and I whined on about my sore throat, stuffy nose and body aches. She feigned interest. But something was wrong, I could hear it in her voice.
Me: How’s work Kate?
Me: Your mom?
Me: How are you and Jake doing?
A deep breath and it came pouring out.
Kate and Jake had been dating for 6 months, and suddenly without any warning, he pulled away. Warm, loving phone calls were replaced with cold, distant emails. Previously made plans were no longer addressed and any attempt by her to ask what was going on was thwarted by a well-timed brush-off. It didn't make sense and she couldn't for the life of her figure out what went wrong. She had spoken to friend after friend yet no one could give her an answer that made any sense. She told me the whole story start to finish. I could hear her getting more and more swept up in the waves of her emotions with each detail she shared.
Then came, “So what do you think?” Silence. I knew in my heart the most important thing I could do was to remind her that she is an amazing woman, and to forget any man that didn't treat her with the love and respect she deserves. But I knew that wouldn't cut it for Kate. She had "invested" six months of her life with this man and she wanted answers. She wanted to know if it was her. Was it something she did? Would he ever go back to showering her with the affection and attention he had shown her in the beginning of the relationship?
I searched my arsenal and came back with, “just give him some time and give him his space. If he’s capable of being in a real relationship, he’ll be back. If not, you don’t want him anyway.” It’s always worked for me. But that wasn't enough for Kate. She wanted to know why. How could he? She thought he loved her. It was him who kept bringing up their future together. It was him who brought up the M word and introduced her to his family. I didn't have the details and I barely knew him. The worse thing was, I didn't even have the relationship vocabulary to address her concern and bafflement.
I was about to open my mouth again, when I flashed back 3 years to the story of one-time best friends Carolyn and Jenniver. Carolyn had been in a passionate whirlwind romance with a married man that lasted two and a half years. Jenniver would hear the tales of wild nights of lovemaking, trips abroad, expensive gifts and unfulfilled promises. Like any friend, she wanted to see Carolyn happy and at first was supportive of the relationship. But after two years of receiving sobbing midnight phone calls from a devastated Carolyn, Jenniver made a bold move. She sat Carolyn down and firmly, but lovingly told her "face it, he's not ever going to leave his wife." The blinded by love Carolyn proceeded to end her friendship with Jenniver on the spot and soon after began to dish every secret that her former best friend had ever told her to anyone who was willing to listen. Carolyn and Mr. Unavailable continued their relationship for another six months before he came clean and admitted that he would not be leaving his wife. Not now, not ever.
Clearly, when it comes to love and friendship, it's just too risky a subject to tango with, even for this Savvy City Girl.
Being the problem-solving, friend-supporting, information-gobbling Gemini that I am, and being sick and not having the energy to get out of bed, I went to work. I needed some relationship resources and I needed them fast. But where to look?
After Googling all of the phrases that I thought would bring me to some intelligent and applicable sites that could help urban women make sense of inexplicably over-complicated modern relationships, I was inundated with offensive and utterly uniformative websites that promised if you buy this $450 program, purchase that e-book for $79, or sign up for this seminar – a mere $1,300 - you too could attract and keep a man. I wasn't sold. Kate is hot. She's hip and she has a good heart. She had been dating Jake for 6 months, and I was ready to bet that the signs were all there, she just missed them.
Then I Googled something like "emotionally unavailable men" and suddenly the skies opened, a light shown down from above and I clicked on the link to Baggage Reclaim. I started reading the first post about Unavailable Men, drilled down to Understanding Code Red and Code Amber Behavior, and within 20 minutes on the site, I was feeling confident that Kate would find some of the answers she was looking for here.
I emailed Kate the link immediately. I continued reading and started thinking about my own past relationships. Had I stumbled upon this site sooner, I would have had the clarity to skip out of some of those unhealthy relationship before that final nail made it into the same room as the coffin.
What's so great about Baggage Reclaim is founder and writer Natalie’s ability to cut to the chase and arm a woman with the tools and perspective she needs to look at her relationship or dating life with a clear head and good terminology without turning her cynical, making her take all of the blame, letting her deflecting all of the blame, using manipulation, or resorting to man-bashing or woman-bashing.
More-over, Baggage Reclaim offers women a perspective on how maintaining your self-worth is crucial to any relationship. Because once you lose your self-worth, you can kiss the potential of having a healthy relationship good-bye.
Baggage Reclaim was founded by Natalie/NML in 2005, and she continues to “… help thousands of people identify problems, articulate them, and put them in charge of taking action to solve them.” Her style may not be for everyone, especially anyone wanting to stay shrouded in the veils of relationship illusion. But if you are looking for answers, this is the perfect place to start. And yes, Natalie has an e-book Mr. Unavailable & The Fall Back Girl and she offers a variety workshops, however you can walk away armed with enough information to honestly look at your relationships/dating life/love life/etc. just by reading her free informative posts.
Here are a few Baggage Reclaim Post picks for SCG readers: