The Living Dead

Never-ending grieving and a forever single mentality.

Q: About a month ago, I met a guy at an event. He was cute, funny, and smart, and we're about the same age. He asked for my number. I gave it to him and then we embarked on a passionate, two-week romance -- you know, where you talk until 3 a.m. and find excuses to get together or talk almost every day? But, I noticed that he mentioned his deceased wife all the time. It's like his whole life revolves around her -- friends, work, everything. Well, at the end of our sixth date, he says, "I can't do this. I'm really sorry. You're gorgeous, sexy and brilliant, but I'm not really over her." I agreed to be friends and haven't heard from him in two weeks.

Thing is, his wife died 10 years ago, and I think he's using her as a convenient way to avoid risking himself in a new relationship. Do I just walk away and be glad I didn't get more involved, or do I sit him down and tell him what I think he's doing? I don't want to seem pushy, but on the other hand, there was definitely something good between us and it might be worth it to have that talk. -- Respecting the Dead

A: Sorry to hear about it, and I’m even sorrier for you that this guy can’t seem to see what a good, living thing he seems to have right in front of him.

I’m all for leaving everything on the table before marching onward, head high, with your solo self. But I don’t think a live talk is the way to go. There’s always the risk of stirring up more what-ifs, not to mention hormones, from seeing someone in person, making it that much harder to move on. Plus, since this guy is so attached to the memory of his late wife, he’ll probably take any well-intentioned input as a perceived insult. Since he’s so nostalgic, why not write a letter? Just getting your feelings on paper might be cathartic enough; you may not even need to mail it.

Also consider that he could actually be addicted to grief. A UCLA study showed that a significant minority of people have difficulty adapting to the loss of a loved one, perhaps because their brains are wired to activate their reward centers upon a reminder of the loss. Hmm.

At any rate, your next course of action is exactly what you wrote: Walk away and be glad you didn’t get more involved. Yes, respecting, and remembering, the dead is a good thing, but not when it comes only at the cost of the living.

Q: As I approach my mid-thirties I'm used to buying unimaginative wedding registry gifts and disposable baby shower crap. I understand that people get married and have kids, and that’s great. But can someone explain to me why? Why on earth would I want to give up my vacations of European trysts and motorsport destinations for marriage and children? I understand maybe rescuing a cat or a dog from the pound -- they’re housebroken and cute. But a baby? They cry, crap their pants and vomit on themselves. You can’t even hold a conversation with them. Marriage? I’ll take my brief relationships and one-night stands over a post-partum vagina all day long. And don’t tell me to grow up. I’m an educated guy with cultivated tastes in art, wine, cuisine, politics and world events. I just can’t understand why in the hell every single guy I know falls into the trap of marriage and children and then bitches about it privately every chance we get together. Is there something I don’t know? – Happily Unwed

A: A few things, perhaps.

1) I can’t speak for your friends, but there are plenty of people out there who actually like being married. I’m just a few months into it, but so far it’s pretty awesome.

2) Most of those crying, crapping, vomiting babies – you were one – eventually grow into cool little people, then adults, whom you can have conversations, not to mention an incredible life experience, with. I know it can get tiresome for non-parents hearing parents spew all that bile about kids giving you a whole new perspective and how it’s different when they’re your own and how they’re at once your greatest joy and biggest pain in the ass, blah blah blah. But they’re speaking from experience – i.e., something else you don’t know.

3) At least a post-partum vagina is still functional, as opposed to an aging, pre-Viagra penis.

4) Sometimes the people who are the most content are the least vocal.


  1. Interesting response to the Happily Unwed guy. I was actually a little surprised and thought you would take the route of: “marriage and childres may be for some, but for those it isn’t that’s okay too.” For those whining married men, I personally think they whine because it’s probably something they’ve been programmed to do because saying otherwise would make them look whipped to their testerone buddies.

    Comment by J — July 7, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

  2. Bachelor isn’t a bachelor? When did this happen? You’re one of them! Next thing we know you’ll be knocked up and telling us how special it is.
    I’m with Happily Unwed, down with marriage and down with kids.

    Comment by B. Loaf — July 8, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment