Pearl Jam did a song about it. Countless wedding vows include it.
But many guys infuriatingly decide to do it only after they break up with their girlfriends:


Today’s Toolbag Tuesday is about guys who suddenly get all enlightened after they break up and start making the life changes their girlfriends told them to do for a year.

(Things that if they had done DURING THAT YEAR, for example, may have resulted in them still being together.)

From getting a new job to just getting out of the house, countless men (boys) have infuriated women with their drastic post-breakup life changes.

I mean, it’s like, “I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but I’ve been telling you to get a new job this whole time.” (Kanye’s lesser known speech).

This is what happened to my friend Frannie. She was all kinds of fired up when she found out that her ex-boyfriend, Tom, enrolled in physical therapy school within a month after they broke up.

Frannie had dealt with Tom’s unhappiness as a manager of a restaurant for a year-and-a-half. He was miserable, depressed and making less money than the servers.

After months and months of bitching and moping, Frannie tried to get Tom out of his career funk. She emailed him job listings she thought he’d enjoy. She redid his resume. She gave him advice on how to ask his boss for more money.
She was his little cheerleader.

“Keep in mind that I told him that he should be an EMT or something in the medical field like his dad,” Frannie said. “He said no, it wasn’t his thing.”

After months and months, Tom’s constant bitching without doing became a total turn-off. Frannie had to end it.

“And NOW he’s in school to be a physical therapist!” Frannie said. “I’m SO GLAD he decided to get a new job the second we broke up!”

“Well you kicked his ass into shape,” I said.

“Yeah..into shape for his next girlfriend.”

It wasn’t the first time a guy pulled a 360 post-breakup with Frannie. Before Tom, she dated Rick, who also made dramatic changes when they stopped seeing each other.

“Where do I FIND these people??” she wailed.

Frannie and Rick dated for eight months, and for eight months he bitched about his landscaping job.

He wasn’t a manager or supervisor, no plans to own the company, just a guy who planted flowers and hauled mulch like a high school kid doing community service.

Rick graduated from a very good college and had his teaching degree. He complained to Frannie about how his back hurt, it was hot working conditions and he was broke.
“Well, get another job,” Frannie said.

Rick said he couldn’t do that, that he had some sort of loyalty to the landscaping company and continued to eat Ramen noodles for every meal.

Yet he bitched about his job and his life ALL THE TIME. Frannie sent him emails with job openings, including teaching jobs, but his life didn’t change.

Until Frannie broke up with him, that is. Now, Rick’s a teacher. Shocking.

It’s not just job changes. Other guys I know have improved their lifestyles post-breakup by being more social, outgoing people.

In one of the more extreme cases, a friend of mine said her ex-boyfriend — who had such bad social anxiety and was so uncomfortable around people that he couldn’t even go out to dinner — now drives a pedicab for a living.

“Oh, he’s meeting LOTS of new people now!” my friend said. “Glad he got over that.”

And then there’s Oliver. A workaholic I dated who never wanted to go out during the week, go to smoky bars or hear music.

Among the laundry list of reasons why we needed to break up, the reason, “I want you to go out and do things with me” fell high on my list of problems.

So, of course, when we broke up, his normally untouched Facebook page blew UP with pictures of him and status updates about all the super fun, social things he was doing and bars he was going to…ON A TUESDAY.

Where did he find the time?


He should tell his next girlfriend I said you’re welcome.


5 thoughts on “TOOLBAG TUESDAY

  1. Maybe, if all these guys change their life after they date Frannie, the problem lies with her, not them.

    When a boyfriend is complaining about a job or other life circumstances he's not really complaining about a job or those other life circumstances.

    He's complaining about you. He's complaining about the relationship.

    This isn't the best tactic, to be sure. But, men don't need cheerleaders, which is something most girls don't understand. Men need partners.

    E-mailing jobs, redoing resumes and everything else is belittling. It changes the delicate balance of power. It reinforces the central unspoken complaint — you, the relationship.

    The more that equation changes — the more you become a cheerleader rather than a partner — the more oppressive the relationship can become — the more your presence actually prohibits the change you hope to make.

    Or, you can just call me a tool.


  2. Maggie

    “When a boyfriend is complaining about a job or other life circumstances he's not really complaining about a job or those other life circumstances. He's complaining about you. He's complaining about the relationship”

    …wow and I thought girls were the ones who played games.


  3. You may have missed mypoint. It's not a game. It's projection and it's disassociation. It's not even being done consciously.

    Girls do the same thing (i.e. resume rewrites). What's being said without saying it is: I'm not happy with you. I want something different.

    Few people, irrespective of sex, rarely come out and give anyone a bare-knuckle truth.


  4. Ha! I wanted to start this comment out with a good hearty laugh. Sounds like MM is one of those really smart psycho analysts that went to school to major in Psychology to find out what was wrong with his family and the rest of the world when the problem really lies within himself. But he probably wont get the point of this anyway. heheh


  5. Why laugh? What is actually wrong with my argument? Your comment is nothing more than deflection and a poor attempt to discredit what I wrote, which says much more about you than it does about me.

    And, to be clear, I studied history, never took a psychology class and I am a reporter.

    The reason I can make cold insights into other people is because I'm extremely self-critical and self-analytical once you acknowledge harsh truths about yourself, you can see it in other people, too.

    Allie, I know exactly what is wrong with me. I don't need to take a class to figure it out.

    Does it endear me to people? No. Do I care? No.

    Most people lie about who they are, especially to themselves. Sure, Frannie's boyfriends are tools — that's granted. But, she's looking for tools, which answers her own rhetorical question: “Where do I FIND these people??”


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