The Hook Up: Is she playing me?


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I was in a relationship with someone who was married but separated. She turned out to be a drug addict and I decided to leave her. I met her ex-wife at a party and we end up hitting it off. She is smart and we share a lot of the same interests. We became quick friends and eventually that blossomed and she confessed that she liked me and wanted to be in a relationship with me. Of course we had the talk about her ex and she said it wasn’t an issue because she was ready to put her failed marriage behind her.

Everything was going great. Or so I thought. She told me a couple weeks ago that she needed sometime to herself to mourn her failed marriage and maybe we needed some time apart. Well, I received a message from the druggie saying they were back together. I don’t know what to do but it feels like they both played me. I really liked where we were headed and she seemed to be really happy with me. We went to art galleries and the theater, she was just the girl for me. Was I being used? Should I pursue her and try and win her back? The drug addicted ex has beat her and sent her to the hospital before and I don’t want her to fall back into an abusive relationship just because she thinks she loves her. Even if she decides we shouldn’t be together I’m okay with that, I just don’t want her to be hurt or god forbid killed. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.—Used


Dear Used,

Oy. That is some next level L-Word-but-with-more-drugs-and-violence drama.

I suppose it’s possible that your ex(es) are one of those couples who thrive on breaking up and making up and bringing down everyone else who crosses their path of destruction. But I don’t know. They might just be garden-variety fucked up. I wouldn’t fixate on whether you were “used,” either way. I would throw a party for yourself that you got out when you did.

And I would stay out of it at all costs. These gals are not good for you. (They’re not good for each other either, but that’s not something that you have control over, unfortch.) I know how tempting it is to try to “save” someone from a destructive relationship, even if it’s for the sake of altruism and not that you want to get back together, but at the end of the day, people are going to do what they want to do. There’s nothing you can do to stop them, not even if it’s a situation that might potentially involve abuse.

The only thing you can control is yourself and your behaviors.

According to Rob Brezny at Free Will Astrology, filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock had a daily ritual in which he would fling his tea cup and saucer over his shoulder after he drank his tea, where they would shatter on the floor. He did this to remind himself of life’s impermanence, supposedly, but I would argue that he also knew that there is value in destruction.

Some things are un-fixable. As much as you care for this girl and want to see her happy and healthy, she made a choice to go back to her/your ex. You don’t have to be happy about it, but you do need to accept it. She smashed the cup and now the onus is on her to pick up the pieces (or not, as it were).

But even aside from that, do you really want to keep flinging yourself into the stew of this crazy triangle? People who love drama and thrive on it, as it seems these ladies do, are going to keep sucking you back into it if you let them. I would encourage you to get off that ride.

Choose peace of mind. Choose the not-at-all-sexy resolve of your own health and well-being. Let your exes play their games while you bask in the glow of Not Giving A Damn. This isn’t neglect on your part. It’s compassion. It’s self-care. It’s respect.

And it’s fucking hard, but it’s worth it. Learn to love the satisfying crunch of broken glass underfoot, as you look at the mess you did not make, and walk, walk, walk away.


I am a French girl and I am a bi. In my class at university, there is a girl (I don’t know what her sexual orientation is), and I am soooo goddamn attracted to her!

The problem is that I have never dated anyone, I don’t know how to approach her, I have social anxiety and I am so shy, and I don’t really want her to reject me.

And my second problem is if by any chance I can talk to her and tell her how I feel, she might think that I am playing a prank on her because I am a Muslim (and a lot of people think that religion and homosexuality don’t go together) and I am afraid for that reason, as well. Hope you can help.—Bi And Shy


Dear BAS,

Sure thing. Just change everything about your personality and you’ll be set!

I’m kidding. You’re great. You really are—you just don’t know it yet.

I’m going to go ahead and assume you have not talked to this girl, which is actually not even the first step in getting to know her. The first step is for you to work on your confidence and social anxiety so you can approach this girl without having a heart attack. I want you to try this for a week: Make eye contact with everyone you see and come across. Hold their gaze until they look away. Eye contact is one of the easiest ways to establish confidence and make you feel powerful. Not only that, but strong eye contact makes other people perceive you as confident (not to mention trustworthy, warm, and attractive).

While you’re doing that, I want you to start loving the shit out of yourself. By that, I mean I want you to make a list of everything awesome about you and the traits you want your ideal self to have: “I am confident. I am sexy. People love talking to me. I’m charismatic. I’m awesome at science.” Whatever it is. Then I want you to look at this list every day and say these things out loud to yourself. Will you feel a little silly at first? YES. Will it help you gain confidence over time? YES. Because we are who we BELIEVE we are. Science confirms this.

Once you’ve mastered eye contact and are starting to feel super groovy about yourself, I want you to practice approaching attractive women and asking them something completely nonsexual. Ask for the time. Ask what book they’re reading. If you’re in the same class, ask what the homework assignment was. Try to talk to two strangers a day. This will help you feel more comfortable shooting the shit with a new person and to learn that it’s not that intimidating, with enough practice. Stay in the conversation as long as you feel comfortable and then walk away. No pressure.

Once you’re comfortable with THAT, I want you to approach your dream babe, again with something nonsexual. Because you’re in the same class, it shouldn’t be that difficult to come up with something. “How’d you do on the midterm?” “This PARTICULAR TOPIC/ASSIGNMENT was so hard. How’d you do?” “Looks like the guy in the third row is asleep again. Wish I had his stamina.” Etcetera.

Learn who she is a little bit at a time. Get to know her with no other motive than wanting to get to know her. Once you do that, you’ll be on your way to discovering the things you truly want to know, such as, does she give any indication that likes women; what’s her religious background, if any; and most importantly, do you like things about her aside from the fact that she’s pretty? These are all important things that should not be skipped just because you’re “sooooo goddamn attracted to her.”

As for being Muslim, that’s something you can broach when you get to know her a little better. While it’s true that most people don’t associate Islam with cunnilingus, there are plenty of queer Muslims (and queer Catholics and queer Hindus and on and on) in the world. If/when the topic of religion comes up in conversation, then you can get into details about your beliefs and customs. Make it casual and she’ll take it casually.

This may take you a while, but these steps are well within your grasp, should you choose to grasp them.

Will you?

For more help, see How to Ask a Girl Out, How to Talk to Pretty Girls, insecurities of the inexperienced.

Anna is a freelance writer in Oakland. Get overly personal emails and haiku from her at Or Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at [email protected] 

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