When Two Good People Can’t Make It Work


This blog post was born like so many others I’ve written…in a bar.

I had just finished having my ass handed to me in trivia when I found myself in conversation with a guy I barely knew. This happens to me a lot. It’s cool. I don’t mind. It’s like a live Dear Sharideth where I walk away wondering what I said and if I just ruined someone’s life. No big.

I’ve gotten in trouble here on AWGTW for not giving women the benefit of the doubt enough when it comes to the crash and burn of relationships. And that’s true. I haven’t. But I do know it’s not always the girl’s fault when things go all Breaking Bad (RIP WW), except for all the times it is.

I kid. I kid.

The primary reason I haven’t spent much time on her side of the trauma is because this has been mostly a blog for dudes. But I want to include both sides this time.

Both good sides.

The guy I talked to after Trivia Apocalypse 2013 was a good guy. He was only 8 days out of a relationship that lasted a year and a half. And according to him, she was a good girl. They were both hurting because the relationship didn’t make it. So what went wrong? Two good people who treated each other well couldn’t make it work? Oy. The world is doomed.

No, it isn’t. And I’ll tell you why.

Sometimes you need more than just decency to make a thing go right. He pursued her. He listened to her. He spent time with her. He invested himself. He recognized her value. He knew she was a good girl, a keeper even, and made a real effort to be all the things a boyfriend should be. He spent a year and a half waiting to fall in love with her.

But it never happened.

He loved her in the way that way you love anyone who has become important to you. But that…thing…that I-can’t-wait-to-be-with-her-again thing, never happened for him. He wanted it to. His previous taste in women was admittedly awful. She had everything that made her an in-it-for-life partner. He wanted that.

He just had to accept that she wasn’t his lifer.

The good news is he now knows what a healthy relationship looks like and won’t settle for less. And they are both free to find all of it with someone else.

Two great things that just don’t go together.

Brushing your teeth? Awesome! Orange juice? Delicious! Drinking OJ right after you brush your teeth? Worst thing to happen in your mouth ever. That’s kind of what it’s like. Sometimes two good people just aren’t a match. The reasons can be as numerous as when awful people are involved.

But it doesn’t make you somehow flawed. Which is the big question that gets agonized over when a good but not right relationship ends. “What is wrong with me that I couldn’t make it work with this amazing person?”


Nothing is wrong with you.

That amazing person wasn’t YOUR amazing person. You both deserve better than being settled for.

Yeah. I’ll say that again.

You both deserve better than being settled for.

Don’t you think? I know I do.

Two good people. One failed relationship. It happens. You just have to do what this guy did and learn from it. It’s a rare gift when you get to walk away from a relationship and have positive feelings and lessons to take with you.

You got close. Real close. Pretty soon, you’re going to nail it.

What say you? Ever been in a good but not right relationship that didn’t make it? What did you learn from it?

P.S. You know what does go with orange juice?



Oh Redbook, You Came So Close to Being Right

Y’all know that sometimes I hop around the internet to see what others are saying about relationship stuff. I read articles by professional therapists, entertainers, whoever the romantically busted are that write for Men’s Health and teenagers trying to give each other advice on Tumblr. God help us, that’s even worse than Men’s Health. Almost. Then, of course, I choose the worst of the worst and have some fun with it here. Occasionally I run into something surprisingly good, so I’ll post that, too.

This is neither. Or both. Whatever.

10 Questions Men Are Too Scared To Ask Women

Nine of the 10 are entertaining and even have moments of insightful. I don’t agree with every word of the other nine but not enough to pitch a fit. Number 8 is downright hilarious. But there was one….

Q:How can a woman hold it together for everyone else but have such a short fuse with her husband?

A: I’m not even going to attempt a sports analogy and instead use what I know best: Elmo. He’s adorable — until you realize that the person behind the cuteness is not a preschooler but a 50-year-old man. What’s mildly irritating in kids is infuriating in adults. I call it Extra Child Syndrome. With four young kids in our house, I need to know that my husband’s got my back. Anything that creates more work, whether it’s un-dyeing the laundry he turned pink or rescheduling that missed appointment, frustrates me. It isn’t fair that a husband bears the brunt of his wife’s frustration, but be flattered: Your wife knows you can handle it, because you are, at the end of the day, the only other grown-up in the house.

So what’s wrong with that, Sharideth? Seems reasonable.



A lot of a man’s validation and security comes from the support and encouragement of his wife. If he is the only one getting the ass end of her on a daily basis, that’s going to getting frustrating. And hurtful. And demeaning. And beat down. He can take it? Sure. But only in small doses.

Why would a woman reserve the worst of herself for her husband? Blergh. Just the thought of it makes me feel all greasy and yuck inside. Can you imagine the response from her if all she got from him was complaints about things she does? Woo boy. Moaning. Wailing. Gnashing of teeth. Unlimited text messages and calls to her friend would be tested.

Our spouses are suppose to see us at our worst and love us anyway. But we are not suppose to be willfully thrusting the worst of ourselves at them. He/she should be our main focus of all that is good and right and sexy. I know that isn’t going to be 100% of the time. It can’t be. We’re people and people are flawed and will behave badly. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. But we do have to try. We vowed to love, honor and cherish. There was no “only when we feel like it” at the end of that.

I do understand getting frustrated with your spouse, legitimately or otherwise. It happens. Kids are life-sucking leeches. Adorable, but exhausting. As a mom, I know there is very little to give at the end of the day. Bosses can be subhuman. Any number of things can drain away our happy place and make it all too easy to lash out at the person closest to us.

But kindness is not hard either.

Pasting a genuine, albeit weary, smile on your face when you have had a crappy day and letting your beloved know that he left his power supply for his recording console in the middle of the floor and you tripped on it when you were carrying disgusting teenage boy laundry down to the basement so could he please move it or maybe take it to the studio is fine. Bitching about it the second he walks through the door is not.

What? That example could happen to anyone.

And I totally bitched.

The point is, I know my husband is never trying to make my day harder. And I should never treat him like he is. How unfun is that? For both of us.

So Redbook, you did well. Mostly. But no. We don’t reserve all our bad attitude for our spouses. Just…no.

Who gets to see the worst of you most often?

ending a long term relationship

don’t even ask me to put a number what makes a long term relationship, because it would be useless.  some people count it in years and some people feel like a few months is f.o.r.e.v.e.r.  so no.  i won’t give you a time frame.

what i will give you is a definition.

long term relationship: noun.  verb.  adjective.  being in a romantic alliance with some you think is super neat for so long, your lives are intertwined and some of your personal belongings probably reside at each other’s houses.

when it ends, undoing that intertwining can be less like untying a knot and more like an episode of Dexter.  only i really hope you don’t keep a blood sample in your air duct.

long term relationships can often mean long term break ups.  or what i like to call “dating purgatory”.  it’s that state of limbo where you feel like you’ve invested so much in the relationship that a clean break is impossible and possibly even unwise.

you’d be wrong.  twice.

here’s a fun little factoid for you.  the odd’s of both of you being on the same page about “a break” is so small, you’d need to be Ryan Seacrest to see it.  almost always one of you is hoping that the relationship will miraculously repair itself by spending less time together.

geez sharideth, when you put it that way, it sounds nutso.

right.  it is.

the other person though…brace yourselves…is just too much of a coward to come out and say that he/she (but probably he) wants to move on.  he/she (but probably he) will drag out the inevitable, because owning up to having just wasted invested so much time in one person and then realizing it’s not really what he/she (but probably he) wanted is scary and he/she (but probably he) is a) spineless, b) wants to minimize the other person’s pain by dragging out that pain for another several months or c) doesn’t believe either of those things are true, but they totally are and the sooner you get your head around them, the better.

i’ve already written about how to break up with someone a few times, but the main points can be found here:

there’s nothing worse than a bad break up

and here

how to survive a break up

but there are a couple of things i want to add to those.

1.  get your stuff back – do not leave your copy of Skyrim at her house just as an excuse to see her again.  have her box up your crap and give it all back in one go around

2.  do not “what if” yourself to death – sleep…good.  committed to an institution…bad.  let it go.  don’t dwell on “wasted time”, think about “lessons learned”.  breathe in the free air and don’t shackle yourself to history.

3.  don’t mope – find something constructive to do with your time.  be too busy to be pathetic.  all that stuff you haven’t gotten around to?  get around to it.

okay?  okay.

i’ve said it before but i’m really into quoting myself so…

your relationship died.  you didn’t.

funny thing about time, it keeps moving forward no matter how long you keep looking back.

ever had a long term relationship end?  how did you handle it?

breaking up with someone you work with

know what’s awesome?

breaking up with someone you have to look at and talk to 8 hours a day!

and by awesome, i mean if your office is Tokyo, Godzilla is about to get all bi-polar up in your cubicle.

regardless of what Match.com says, most people meet the person they date/marry in the workplace or school.  so it makes sense there’s a real chance someone is going to end a relationship there, too.


and if you think i’m going to throw unicorn glitter on this and magically make it not suck with some super clever list that has been blessed by God and dipped in wisdom flavored chocolate, your aptitude for hyperbole and nonsense should take Olympic gold.

unicorns, glitter, God, chocolate and the Olympics in one sentence.  boom.  other writers can just give up now, because Pullitzer just spontaneously combusted.

oh, right.  the list.  it will be helpful, probably, but it won’t make this situation not completely blow.  in a perfect world, you will both be rational and decide how to handle each other before the next work day dawns and stick to it like grown ups. 

but if not…

surviving a workplace break up:

1.  just you:  you can only be responsible for your own behavior.  do not try to control what the other person does, no matter how nutso.  that will only make it worse.

2.  no gossip:  don’t bring your drama to the office.  reasonable co-workers will hate it and not think well of you.  others will eat it up and contribute to dragging this crap out until everyone wants stab you.  and feel free to tell those who try to get you to spill the details to butt the hell out.  it’s none of their business.  the flip side of that is to shut those douches down when they try to tell you what your ex is saying about you.  refuse to hear it.

3.  no avoidance:  if you try to avoid your ex in the workplace, the awkward level is going to hit defcon 5.  politeness sounds terrible, but it’s really your best option.  be respectful and kind without being patronizing.  i totally get that the line is finer than baby hair, but you’re going to have to walk it, my dear.

4.  no flirting:  i know.  you are now a free agent.  but there’s no need to rub that in your ex’s face by being tacky.  because it would be tacky.  not to mention unprofessional and jerkish.

5.  let it go:  if you were the one dumped and are wanting to get back together, you’re going to have to move on.  definitely do not bring it up during work, but also no calls, no emails, no texts.  you are going to have move forward as though you’re fine with the ending and eventually, my darling who doesn’t believe me right now, you will be.

moral of the story:  be an adult.  grab your maturity by the short hairs and hang on.  your desire to do the wrong thing is going to rival the Temptation of Christ, but you’ll manage.

have you ever been in an office break up?

what did i miss?  other things you should do or not do?

dear sharideth: I’m getting past it.

Dear Sharideth

My ex-girlfriend and I broke up about four weeks ago after a year long relationship. It was a pretty awesome time and I am glad it happened, but I am still struggling with the bruise of it all. I’ve enjoyed the “How To Get Over Her” post a lot. I must keep rereading it.

I received the death-kneel of breakups I feel. The “these are your faults” and I am trying to get a grasp on it. This may be futile, but if it helps anyone, including myself, out, then this email was worth it.

Short history:

I just turned 30.  She’s 24.

That may be part of the issue in it of itself.

For the majority of our relationship, we lived together. I moved to be with her after we met. Because I could do better financially somewhere else, however, I moved again and she followed shortly after. We were slammed into a pretty tiny place together (it was going to be temporary). Just myself, her, and my cat. That’s issue one. My cat, who I had for a few years, can be a bit of a terror and disruptive at night. To combat it, we shut the door at night, I bought a noise machine to drown out some of the meows. Eventually, because she was still getting disturbed at night, I got a kennel to keep my furry orange friend in at night. However, she felt that because I wouldn’t give away my cat for her that I wasn’t willing to do anything for her. I never imagined that she would have asked it in the first place.

Secondly, my bad habits. I tend to get a little depressive from time to time. I am not 100 percent satisfied with my profession at the moment. And to compensate, I would drink a few adult beverages in the evenings. Sometimes a little more, sometimes less. It is something I am far from proud of, but it was what it was. Two days before she broke up with me, she said she needed to see changes. Cut back the alcohol, work on the depression. Mind you, she had mentioned this before, and I definitely wasn’t making a lot of progress, albeit some. So I worked on it, well, for two whole days. Then she called it quits.

I know I am leaving out immense details, but I don’t want to bury you in it. I am not that pathetic, at least I hope not.

Anyhow, the following week, she spent two nights over. Things felt very intense. But by the end of the week, we were having some drinks (I may have had more than one) I was expressing my emotions and how much I care/love her. she said I was being dramatic and we parted ways. I threw the Hail Mary of emails a week or so later, but received no response. After a week, we ran into one another after one of my soccer games. We chatted, etc, and as she left she asked for a hug goodbye. And that’s it.

I’m hurting. But I am getting into your and your readers advice. And just trying to let go. I’ve cut back on all my drinking. Started making art and music again, and am in the planning phase of getting a better career. I’m a designer, so I have to revamp the whole portfolio nonsense.

So, thank you for having a place I can read and satiate the better feelings.


Cat Man

dear Cat Man,

first, you are more than welcome.  seriously.  glad you’re here.

second, i don’t have anything to add to what you’ve already said.

who am i kidding?  of course i do.

i am really glad for the changes you’re making.  they are all very positive and exactly what i would recommend.  i only hope you are making them solely for yourself and not for anyone else.  they will have a lot more staying power if the motivation for them is internal instead of external.

so there’s that.

the only other thing i would say is that it sounds like you guys moved way too fast in the beginning.  there’s about a billion reasons why i do not recommend living together, but in this case it sounds like it happened maybe more out of convenience because of the moving around, than out of wisdom and a readiness for that kind arrangement.  something to seriously think about next time.

also, i could write a whole blog about how pets can wreck a relationship, but i don’t think you’re there yet.

thanks again for writing.  better luck next time, yeah?

oh so sincerely,


any other thoughts for Cat Man?

Facebook relationship status break down

any idea how hard i didn’t have to look to find this gem among the bajillion that are out there?

Mark Zuckerberg should have shot on sight put a stop to whoever thought up the Facebook relationship status.  that person is clearly a sociopath who eats his or her (probably her) young.

but sharideth, her that person’s intentions were pure! she they just wanted people to be able to keep their friends in the loop!


it’s innately evil and i’m going to tell you why.

excuse: i can let everyone know in one shot what’s going on, that way i don’t have to answer all the same questions over and over.

reality: i am offering an open invitation to my family, my friends, 19 probable adult film stars, a legion of crappy bands and that one guy i haven’t seen since the 6th grade to participate in my love life.  that way, when my status changes, they can fly into a wall posting frenzy and i will blow up like a tick on all the attention.

here’s the Facebook relationship status breakdown:

1.  single

  • excuse: i want you to think i’m super duper awesome with my singleness.
  • reality: i just want every other person i’m Facebook friends with, who could be potential date material, to know i’m available.

2. in a relationship

  • excuse: i want my snuggle puppy to know i’m proud of our relationship.
  • reality: i want everyone who i’ve ever dated or wanted to date to know they missed out.  especially that one ex who i’m not really over.

3. it’s complicated

  • excuse: i want people to think i’m complex and willing to work on the hard stuff.
  • reality: i am either being jerked around, doing the jerking or too yellow bellied to make a decision.

4. engaged

  • reality: OMG! I’M GETTING MARRIED! with a touch of smug.

5. in an open relationship

  • yes, that’s really on the list.
  • WTF?

6. married

  • excuse: i’m married.
  • reality: i’m married with a touch of “and you’re not”.

7. separated

  • excuse: things in my marriage are rocky and i’m being pathetically and publicly morbid about it.
  • reality: things in my marriage are rocky and i’m being pathetically and publicly morbid about it.

8. divorced

  • excuse: i’m divorced and proud of it?
  • reality: i’m divorced and am either rubbing it my ex’s face that it’s final or more bitter than burnt espresso roast.

even the best of relationship statuses can and do change.  the only one that can possibly be justified is the “married” status.  i’m even guilty of this one.  but the truth is, marriages end, too, then you’re still stuck explaining to everyone on your friends list.

any time you change your relationship status, and some of you are relationship status addicts and abusers, you invite more problems by making everyone a part of it.  you want people to stay out of it, but you have openly embraced their participation by broadcasting every change you make, dummy.

delete it.  you can make your relationship status disappear with the punch of a button.  when people ask you about it, tell them to butt the frack out.

stop attention whoring.

yeah, i said it.

any relationship status stories?

if you could add anything to status list, what would it be?

who’s going to delete their relationship status today?  who already has?

how not to get dumped



*disclaimer* there is no way i can guarantee you won’t ever get dumped.  you probably will.  what i can offer is ways to minimize the carnage.

see, there are only two ways to get the heave ho.




justly means you deserved it.  you said, did, were something or someone who needed dumping.  a friend of mine is deep in the midst of self-flagellation for being a blind a-hole.  probably lost the one girl who’s ever really loved him.  how?  took her for granted.  figured she’d hang around no matter how little emotional stability he gave her.

he was wrong.

and now he knows it.  to his credit, he takes full responsibility for it.  let’s all hope he’s learned something with some staying power.

unjustly means you got dumped by someone you probably should have dumped first.  or maybe should have never dated to begin with.  you didn’t do anything wrong, probably even did most things right, you just happen to be doing them for someone who was never going to appreciate it properly. 

her loss.  not yours.

if you fall in the “justly” category, there’s really only way for you stop being a tool or doing tool-like things.  your happiness has to become directly related to hers.  you have to look outside yourself and think of her (and others in general) as more important than yourself.  you will never find a relationship of any quality until you do.

if you fall in the “unjustly” category, spend the first couple of minutes being grateful you dodged a bullet.  this will give you some perspective and probably soothe the ache the dumper left behind.  then get back out there and find someone who is freaking worthy of you.

for specifics on why people get dumped, spend some time at That’s Why I Dumped You.  from the hilarious to the insightful, it’s all there.  and if you recognized yourself in 1 or 2 or 187 of them, maybe it’ll give you something to think about.

what’s the lamest dumping excuse ever used on you or that you’ve heard of?

drawing battle lines

relationships end.

yes.  i have on my Captain Obvious unitard.

what doesn’t end is the people who broke up.  whether or not your relationship to them ends, is completely up to you. 

taking sides in a break up happens all the time.  but it shouldn’t.  you heard me.  all too often, people will only get one side of the story, decide the other person is a douche bag and cut them off.  not cool.

2 stories…

1.  a friend of mine told me he was thinking about breaking up with his girlfriend.  a girl i met through him and like.  i told him, “that’s fine, if that’s what you think needs to happen.  you just need to understand that Craig and i will still be her friend.  we don’t break up with friends.”  this is a conversation i’ve had several times over the years.

2.  another friend was getting a divorce.  his now ex-wife ran all over town telling everyone about his sin.  he never spoke a word against her.  he let everyone believe it was one-sided because nobody bothered to ask him if what she was saying was true.  they judged and walked away.  craig and i were his only friends for months.  took over a year for anyone to talk to him about what happened.  fortunately for them, he’s a forgiving sort.

when friends break up:

  • get both sides of the story.  think about it.  how many times have you seen a relationship end over issues that were completely one-sided (excluding abuse)?  right.  almost never.  my friend in #2, did he cheat?  yep.  did his wife physically abuse him?  yes.  did his wife tell him he would never be good enough no matter what he did?  yes.  did she tell him that most of the time she really wished he would never come home?  yes.  stay above the mud slinging, but be willing to hear both sides.  ask.
  • re-evaluate what loyalty means.  my friend in #1, did i know his girlfriend as long as i’d known him?  no.  do i care just as much for her now as i do him?  yes.  i will not choose to end a friend over a matter as trivial as time.  anyone who’s known me for me more than 5 minutes should be aware of this.  if i’m asked to choose, i will.  and it won’t be the person who asked me to choose.  ever.
  • don’t be a receptacle for emotional vomit.  you may find yourself in that horribly awkward position of being caught in the middle because both sides are talking to you.  you’re going to have to lay the groundwork for that.  there are rules.  1.  no bashing the other person.  2.  you are only available to talk about how to help your friend heal or about his or her role in the break up.  3.  you do not allow wallowing.
  • be honest.  if one of your friends screwed up, say so.  if he/she acknowledges it, there is hope.  help him/her find their way back to decency.  if he/she gets defensive or tries to justify his/her bad behavior, call him/her out on it.  if he/she continues to be a jerk, take a step back but be willing step forward again when the time comes to offer some real help.

this is some deep crap to navigate sometimes.  it’s not fun.  just do your best to stay objective and do not cut off either friendship without just cause.  try to avoid inflicting more pain and drama into the situation and just be a friend.

have you ever found yourself on both sides of a break up?  how did you handle it?

have you ever judged one side without knowing their story?  (for the record, i have.  i sucked.)

have you ever lost friends over a break up?