who are you in the When Harry Met Sally scenario?

QUESTION FROM A GREEK TRAGEDY READER: I really don’t know why I’m writing, as I somehow feel all the answers I need are in each of the replies you’ve given to your readers already. But, I do need advice, as I am also trying to get over a guy. I really thought he was the one.

He is a bit of a cliche–he went to the East to find himself, to travel the world, etc. etc., (the Eat, Pray, Love – male version) after his divorce, and after he was made redundant in his job. He’s taken on a profession as a yoga teacher. We met while he was traveling, teaching yoga; I was a yoga student.

I guess he was different–he was sort of intelligent but not an intellectual. And since I, too, traveled a lot for my job and he was traveling, we would follow the other to wherever the other was to spend time. We did spend 4 months in one country together. We had our problems, but nothing so big. Suddenly he bails on me after a wonderful time traveling around China. I’m in one country, and he’s in another (he’s in India, of course). He hints at it in an email, but I actually am the one who lays it down and says ” Yes, let’s break up.”

He had been wanting a relationship and then he became non-committal throughout the time we were together, and I was tired of it. And this cowardly hinting was really not my style. It’s been a month and some weeks– but I’m still ruminating over the break up and am very sad about it all. I have bouts of crying still. I did fall in love with the bloke, and now he’s taken up with his best friend of 3 or more years (another yoga teacher); and so quickly, too!

She was the one he called each time we ran into a bump on the road of our relationship. He’s admitted to me that he has had feelings for her in the past, which she brushed away, then. After his divorce she was there to help him out. I suddenly feel like a trick horse–our relationship, a reason for him to call her and ask for advice. But I can’t get over it all still. I really did fall for him hard. I am hurting so much that I want a lobotomy to remove all the memories of us together! I’m wondering how I can get through this. I feel incredibly used and have somehow lost faith in myself ( even if i know I’m successful, attractive and smart despite being on the wrong side of 30). What do I do to get past this?

I want to be over this now and its been very difficult. I’m now in yet another foreign country doing research and I have no close friends here. I feel rather alone and abandoned. My work has taken second place. And I just can’t get over how sad I feel. Anger would have been easier to deal with. I would so appreciate a shake from you and some of your straight up advice.

–Aimless and Confused in Bangkok

straight up advice

You say Bangkok, I say ban-cock. Let’s call the whole thing off.

This is so When Harry Met Sally. In case you haven’t seen the film, the recap goes like this: Harry, a neurotic pessimist, becomes friends with Sally, an optimistic picky eater, when they agree that theirs will be nothing but a platonic friendship. Harry marries a woman who tends to retain water, then divorces her when she cheats on him with a tax attorney named Ira. Meanwhile, Sally falls in love with Joe, then breaks up with him after playing a game of “I Spy” with a little girl who spies “a family.” Sally wants marriage and the carriage. Joe, not so much. Fast forward, and our heroes trail and error their way through relationships, sharing every detail with each other. Until, that is, Sally discovers that Joe is marrying his perky secretary, that he does want a family, just not with Sally! Taking comfort in her friend Harry’s arms, Sally is a mess of tears and leaky mascara, which lead to some sex, which ruins their friendship. They both date others, then Harry pursues the crap out of Sally. Coulda, woulda, shoulda is Sally’s favorite rhyme. He had his chance. We’re done. And they are done, until Harry realizes he wants to spend the rest of his life with Sally and is willing to scream it from the rooftop. Their wedding follows, with a delicious cake, with the sauce on the side. THE END


when harry met sally

Sometimes it helps to look at your own situation from a new perspective, temporarily lifting yourself out of the relationship equation to get a bird’s-eye view of you. This doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships, by the way. Look at families, alliances, friendships and endships.

It’s easy to vilify, to call him a creep for leading you on, but the truth is, he’s as lost as you are. You’re both just feeling your way through this stuff. If your Yogi-boy is Harry, and this other woman has been his Sally the whole time, then it’s clear to see that you simply are not his happy ending. 

Here’s the fantastic news, love. You don’t want to be on the wrong bus when the right one pulls up. By not being in this love triangle tangle, you’re free to create your own happy ending.

I answer: Every time your whiny victim self comes out feeling sad and missing his smell, you give yourself permission to be a tearjerker and play your sadass clit-rock. Love her. Appreciate her for her ability to love openly; comfort her the way you’d console a child. Put a time limit on that shit though. Then take a look at your no-room-for-bullshit self. Imagine her. Seriously, close your eyes and picture her. Is she a big black woman? A Jillian Michaels lookalike? She’s going to kick your ass if you don’t quit feeling sorry for yourself. Get the hell out of the house. Sit in a cafe, realize that life goes on outside of you and your dramas. And love her. Love your inner “We ain’t got time for this shit, now move it or lose it” self. Watch them both duke it out. Get some distance from it. Just watch. And it will suddenly feel less dire.

Keep yourself busy, go outside, cut off all communication with Sir Yogi, and I promise, promise, promise you will be writing in again to tell us how giddy you are about your new life.

 go ahead, ask

If you have questions or need advice on anything from where to eat to how to get over the bastard, just email your question to my advice email address. Am I a doctor? I don’t even play one on TV, but people keep asking, so I might as well air it and share it.



  1. Stop feeling sorry for yourself
    Look forward, not back
    There is something better waiting for you; find it.
    All this negative energy spent questioning the whys helps nothing

    And, Stephanie, I have to admit it, you give great advice.

  2. You need to ignore him if he reaches out, and don’t try to message him or talk to him and don’t let what news you hear about him get to you. Or, as Stephanie says, let it get to you, acknowledge that it’s getting to you, love the girl in you who is that compassionate and lonely, then smack some sense into yourself and respect your other inner self, the one who’s like we are, telling you to move onto much better things. If he ever cared about you, he never would have lead you on like that and treated you the way he did. I know how hard it is though, breakups suck especially when the guy acts like a Summer’s Eve douche. Hang in there.

  3. Where has Meg Ryan gone? Ever since she botoxed herself up all weird, she’s disappeared. She’s like those child actors who are cute in youth, then hit some awkward age spot and disappear.

    BTW, I don’t always agree with Stephanie, but when she gives advice on relationships, I am always all ears and so surprised by her wisdom at such a young age.

  4. Men are interested in one thing. Sex doesn’t count because that’s a no-brainer. The one thing? Women who make us feel good about who we already are. It’s why divorce rates are what they are. Because no wife anywhere is making her husband feel better than a stranger in awe. Sad? True.

  5. Steph – do you know what your Enneagram type is? I’d love to find out.

    Also, I think you need to market inspirational posters in the vein of “Keep Calm”. But yours will, of course, read “We Aint Got Time for This Shit”.

  6. I love the way you think! I don’t always agree, but I so love the way you put things. Thank you for sharing it, Stephanie, truly.

  7. I love THIS: “You don’t want to be on the wrong bus when the right one pulls up. By not being in this love triangle tangle, you’re free to create your own happy ending.”

    Hard to see that now, Aimless, but it’s very true. Mourn your loss, but start the process of moving on. You seem like a really loving and lovable person, so I know you will find happiness soon. Good luck.

  8. This isn’t your fault. This isn’t your fault. This isn’t your fault. You are not broken. You deserve love. And you will find it.

  9. I’m getting off of the wrong bus right now and it’s been a sloooooowwwww stepping off. But as long as I get off. And also, I love “When Harry Met Sally”…one of my favorite movies. Sometimes you forget they’re acting. Billy Crystal equals delicious once he fell in love with Meg Ryan’s character.

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