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How can he drop Nadine without losing her friendship? Digby Ponder seeks out some online advice
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Wednesday 1 May: 21.03.57

Posted in alt.newsgroups.relationships

To whom it may concern. I have a problem. I believe that the relationship that I have with a woman is coming to the end of its natural life. It's nobody's fault: we are simply taking different forks in existence's road. I am sure that a recognition of our need for separateness would be good for both of us.

But although I'm certain that N is subconsciously aware of all this, I don't think that, consciously, she would agree at all. If you like she's in denial - except before there's anything to deny. She will, no doubt, recall that only two weeks ago I agreed that now might perhaps be the right time for children and (mid-coitum) told her how much I cared.

So here's my question. How can I tell her that I think it's over in such a way as to preserve her dignity, maintain our friendship and avoid her dragging my mother (who has always liked N) into it? Advice and experience would be most welcome.

Sig Dig

Thursday 2 May: 22.43.05

Posted in alt.newsgroups.relationships

Many thanks to those of you who have listed serious answers to my plea for help. To Bren's suggestion that I should "do it when she's drunk", all I can say is that we do things differently in Crouch End. Likewise for the list from Berkeley students, including "write an article about it and ask her to proofread it".

I take Andy's point about doing it face-to-face and also about the desirability of telling her in a public place, so as to contain the emotional outburst. Thanks for Tyler's warning that restaurants and cafes are better suited for this than cinemas or opera houses. Tyler, your suggestions make a lot of sense. I agree that it's important to convey the idea that this is the product of much agonising, rather than a spur-of-the-moment thing. How about "I've been doing a lot of thinking"?

I was attracted to Kurt's strategy for making N do the deed herself, by being sulky and disagreeable for a stretch. But this seems like it would take a very long time. And I am not naturally either sulky or disagreeable.

An additional complication is that we share a rented flat and one of us will have to move out, with all the trouble over CD collections and casserole dishes that this will cause. More thoughts?

Sig Dig

Friday 3 May: 20.53.36

Dear Hera. I had no idea that you were connected to the Net, let alone cruising it for references to Digby Ponder and Crouch End. I seem to remember that the last time we spoke about it (at a somewhat frosty dinner party here) you were of the opinion that the Internet was strangling normal human interaction and was a tool of male mystification and oppression.

Of course you may well tell Nadine that I was seeking advice on how to "dump her" (in your inelegant phrase). But before you do you ought to know that I was actually researching for my novel of male crisis, seeking first-hand information on how unreconstructed men deal with the women in their lives. Frankly, there may be more in common between us than you have given me credit for.

Yours, Digby

Friday 3 May: 21.16.43

Dear Hera. Don't worry about it. It's odd how we can walk about for years with a completely erroneous impression of someone and then, pow!, a chance collision and it's time for a reappraisal. Please e-mail me a North London Internet Feminist's Newsletter. I would be interested. And yes, the issue of feminist attitudes to pornography is a matter that intrigues me, so put me down for that as well.

Digby

Friday 3 May: 22.56.00

Dear Hera. Wouldn't she? She has always told me that you hate my guts and were recommending that she should give me the boot. "Insensitive slob" is the description that comes to mind. So I think that balances the "Harpy from Hell". Although I must admit I often did wonder whether there wasn't more to you than that.

Sig Dig

Sunday 5 May: 09.24.48

Dear Hera. I am sitting here in a state of shock. Last night, Nadine took me to the Tarama Delight and over a Stifado told me it was over. Just like that! My disagreeable and sulky behaviour had convinced her that there was no future for us, she said. This morning she moved out, taking all the casserole dishes, but leaving me the CDs. I feel cast off, all confidence gone, dumped. Did you know this was about to happen? Can you help?

Sig Dig (in despair)

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