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When Laughter Dies on the Lips

Welcome to The Baffler’s agony corner, YOUR SORRY ASS, where Amber A’Lee Frost dispenses bossy, judgmental advice on how to live your life fairly, kindly, and with good humor. Send us your rants and pleas, please: [email protected].

Dear Your Sorry Ass,

After a string of heartbreaks and disappointments, I met the tall, handsome, educated, polite, stable, has-shit-together, into-me, into-commitment guy that I always wanted—and always lamented didn’t exist. And of course, I couldn’t be more lukewarm about him. I thought that if I met someone like him everything would fall into place, but as we are approaching our fourth month of dating, the excitement is wearing off, and I find myself withdrawing more and more.

I’m frustrated and angry at myself, and I wonder if I’m so “damaged” that I don’t even know how to fucking fall for the right guy. Maybe if he was a piece of shit with commitment issues and an ex he’s still “just friends with” I’d be into him? Maybe I deserve to be unhappy, in relationships that lead nowhere but to further disillusionment.

I feel like an asshole for the thoughts I have, but while I’m with this man who holds my hand and looks into my eyes adoringly, I notice that his laughter sounds stupid to me, that it makes me cringe when he hugs me when we’re asleep, the way his right eyelid folds, and that his ass is too flat. And he doesn’t really make me laugh; our sense of humor is different. The last asshole I was with made me laugh a lot, and he had a bubble butt. It’s very confusing when the wrong person does the right things.

So yeah, this guy is head over heels over me, and all I can muster is a half-hearted “meh.” My friends think he’s great, and when I told my sister about my doubts, she said I’ll die alone because I’m incapable of being with and loving a good man. I understand that a decent person would break up with him and let him find some well-adjusted, happy, normal gal who would give him back the love he deserves, but I’m trying to be the adult I should be, now that I’m in my late 20s, and give it a chance before I end it.

I’ll admit I’m not the healthiest person emotionally. I grew up with a lot of emotional abuse, sometimes physical too, and I’m aware of its legacy by the impact it’s had on my very non-stellar relationships to date. I’ve been trying really hard to leave that behind me and to be normal, but now that I’m given a chance to do so, I feel that I’m sabotaging it.

I’m not delusional and I know that I won’t fall nauseously in love immediately with the right person and live happily ever after until we die from dopamine poisoning of the brain. I know that you have to learn how to love the right person, and you need to work at having a good relationship. So what can I do to fall for him? Or to slowly learn to be in love with him?  How can I convince my heart (and my vagina) to get on board with my brain?


Why Am I Not Into Him?


Dear Not Into Him,

It is true that I am a staunch advocate for the periodic examination and assessment of one’s own relationship history, romantic and otherwise. If you find that social discord is a recurrent theme in your life—one that causes you regular anguish or distress, I will always recommend seeking out a professional to help you talk through your problems, as you’ll often find simply saying your thoughts and feelings aloud to a specialist can illuminate the issue, and send you well on your way to correcting it. Why, I myself benefitted greatly from six months with a soft-spoken, incisive Lebanese cognitive behavioral something—or rather, whose highly convenient office in Central Park West provided the perfect opportunity for a nice post-head-shrink lunch followed by a walk through the park.

All this said, nothing you’re really describing here sounds like a problem with you.

Reader, you just don’t like this guy, and that is ok.

Despite rampant rumors of a shortage, the world is actually full of nice, tall, handsome guys who are ready, willing, and able to adore an adorable person—as I’m sure you are. There are certainly reproductive reasons to feel the crunch (and if that is the case, may I suggest considering methods of child acquisition that don’t require a partner, just in case). But you have your whole life to find a person to be with. You may not want to wait that long, of course, but trying to force it with this poor guy won’t make it happen any faster.

You will not be able to rewire him or you to fit together, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you or him—or with the way you interact with men. Sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there. And despite what your (hopefully well-meaning but frankly a bit bitchy) sister may say, your instinct to break up with this man is one you should follow; there is nothing mature about prolonging it. You’re irritated with him after only four months? Imagine the resentment you’ll feel in four more!

The good news is that four months isn’t actually that long of a relationship. If your flat-assed beau is as stable and handsome as you say he is, he will bounce back just fine. The main thing here is to be forthright and sympathetic: you think he is a wonderful person, but you don’t see a future with him. You can explain further that you’re very different people, taking care to employ whatever euphemisms strike you as both honest and gentle—a difficult balance, I admit, but I know you can do it. And for heaven’s sake, Not Into Him, don’t waste a moment more of your or his time with this doomed attempt at romantic alchemy!

Honey, he doesn’t make you laugh? I mean, what else even is there?