(Side note: why yes, I have been waiting for a chance to use that title…)
Hi Doctor NerdLove,
Let me start by thanking you for all of the advice that you offer on your site: it works. I had improved my behavior from an orbiting creep to someone with confidence and charm. And after reading your articles about building chemistry, I even got a few dates, but it turns out people who are worth dating never make things simple.
I met this girl, I’ll call her Alice, a little while ago and we have only gone on two dates and yet we have been sending some pretty sexual texts to each other. In fact, she feels a little guilty about them and told me not to think of her as a slut. Of course I don’t, and I told her so. I also mentioned that I thought any person can be sexually active with multiple people as long as s/he tells their potential partners first.
This predictably evoked the “well…thing of it is…” response where it turns out, yes Alice is having sex with other people. I told her that it didn’t bother me because I think it doesn’t.
I can’t fault Alice for having sex with multiple people (I’m avoiding the term polygamous because that implies we’re in a relationship and I know we’re not there yet) because I know I would if I could. I also remember from your article about being monogamish that I have to accept the fact that Alice likes variety if I’m going to keep dating her. It would be unreasonable for me to ask her to drop how ever many partners she’s having now because she’s probably more invested in them emotionally since we only just met.
My problem is I know these things but I don’t feel them and I can’t accept them: I always think that I have to compete with Alice’s other partner(s?) and it makes me feel inadequate. How do you process the news that a girl you’re dating is seeing other people and yet feel ok with it?
-Being Slightly Dishonest
Let’s start with the most obvious part: you kinda lied to Alice when you said that the fact that she’s sleeping with other people doesn’t bother you. ‘Cuz it kind of obviously does. Now, you may have meant it in the moment that you said it… but let’s face it, that was more your penis thinking “DO NOT LET POTENTIAL SEXYTIMES GET AWAY” and the penis is notorious for not being able to think more than 30 minutes into the future. It seems pretty obvious that the theory – that you’re cool with a monogamish relationship - isn’t matching up with reality that she’s banging people who are not you.
Here’s the thing: you’ve been on two dates so far. You haven’t had sex yet beyond some hardcore flirting and teasing via text. I realize that you’re in the throes of “Damn, I just met an awesome person!” energy, but you’re getting a wee bit ahead of yourself here. You’re nowhere near a relationship with her, but it seems like you’re starting to act like you are. You’re already projecting yourself into a future where you’re going to have to sit down and have the conversation where you explain that maaaaaybe you were a little premature in the whole “being cool with her sleeping with other folks” part and you’d really rather she didn’t.
This is what we in the dating advice biz call “putting the cart before the horse.”
To start with: do you know what her relationship is with these other guys? Are they just friends with benefits, or is she polyamorous? Is she just playing the field until she decides to settle down with someone or is she one of those folks who knows that she’s just not built for monogamy? These are all questions you may want to have ask before you make any sweeping declarations.
That being said, you’re not really in a position to be making demands here. You’re still getting to see whether or not the two of you are even compatible – you may have sexual chemistry like crazy, but you still need to work out whether or not you have long term – or even short term potential.
And… well, I hate to say this, but it kind of sounds like you don’t.
Here’s the thing: being in a monogamish1 relationship isn’t for everyone. Being in an open relationship – however open you decide to be – means both sides have to be cool with it. And c’mon. You’re not. Let’s be honest here: you’re already getting a bit torn up over the idea of her sleeping with other people. And you’re right: there may come a time when the two of you can have the Defining The Relationship talk where you can say “Hey, I’d really prefer it if you didn’t sleep with other people”…. but you’re not there. So no, you really don’t have any right to ask it of her.
Now, there’s something to keep in mind: you’re not in “competition” with her other friends-with-benefits. If she’s dating you, it’s because she’s into you and thinks you’re sexy and fun. It’s not because you’ve beat the other guys over some imagined finishing line or came in first in a contest they may not have known they were in. And if you can adopt that mindset – enjoying what the two of you have together and not worrying about the others (assuming that everybody’s playing it safe… condoms and regular testing for everybody, no exceptions!) – then you could make it work.
But if you can’t… well, it’s not fair to either of you. It’s not fair to her for you to come into this under false pretenses having expectations that she can’t or won’t meet. And it’s unfair to you to try and bide your time waiting for a moment that may well never come.
It’s a choice you have to make BSD. The price of entry to this relationship is (presumably) the fact that she’s going to be sleeping with other folks. You need to ask yourself honestly – without your cock being involved in the decision making – whether that’s a price you’re willing to pay.
This is the first time I’ve ever written in somewhere for advice, so here goes.
I’ve been spending time with a girl for a few months, doing things like going to lunch, watching TV shows, going to art galleries, that sort of thing. We’ve gotten increasingly flirty and conversations have been more sexual lately (including making vaginas out of the ginger at a sushi place – hilarious). I’ve developed a *gigantic* crush on her, but I hadn’t been thinking of it as “dating” because she was in a relationship during this. And here’s where things get fun.
Her boyfriend moved to a another state a few weeks ago, and she’s told me a little bit about how they’re having problems and are now “taking a break”. She’s not really sure what their status is, and I’m not really sure how to talk to her about him or am very comfortable doing it. I’ve made it clear that I like her and want to date her, so I’m super biased in those conversations and stick to mostly asking questions. She’s said that I’m more fun to talk to than her boyfriend and hold a conversation a lot better. Also, since he’s left, we’ve gotten snuggly and hand-holdy while watching shows and talking on my couch. I’ve resisted kissing her a million times because it would probably complicate things massively.
Finally, she’s leaving for grad school next spring, and 1) wants to focus on school, 2) is worried about the implied expiration date, and 3) doesn’t want to get into a “just” a rebound. We’re both pretty into each other–and have both said as much–so I’m kinda stuck. I’d probably be more easily able to deal with a “let’s just be friends” situation (and maybe this *is* that, but I don’t recognize this particular strain). This “I like you and you like me but environmental conditions aren’t right” thing is much more vexing.
One last wrinkle. I’m fighting against a bit of a Oneitis thing here. I know that’s not the right attitude, but it’s rare for me to mesh with someone as well as I have with her. We’ve got a lot of the same hobbies and outlook, we make each other laugh a lot, and she’s smart as a whip and funny as hell. And this could be a perception/outlook thing on my part and pretending I’m more of a snowflake than I am, but it’s exceedingly hard for me to meet people I’m compatible with. I’m an atheist in Mormon Country, so I think there is a real limitation here. It’s not too big of an exaggeration to say that I’ve already met nearly all the girls I’d be able to date (or would be willing to date me). It’s kind of a local/temporal limitation, because I’ll probably move to a “real” city when I graduate, but in the meantime there’s not much potential in my immediate dating pool.
So I’d appreciate any insight or analysis you could offer, beyond “murder her boyfriend and make it look like a mob hit.”
-The Other Guy
Yup, you’re in a real pickle. Problem is, the one you’re in may not be the one you think you’re in.
You’ve got a girl you like. She has a boyfriend, but they’re “having problems”, your relationship is getting more emotionally intimate if not physically intimate… and while she knows how you feel about her, she’s hesitant to do anything definitive about it because of reasons.
Seems to me like you’ve got one of two potential situations here: either she’s into you but has some reservations and is waiting for you to make a damn move already, or you’re her Substitute Platonic Boyfriend.
The Platonic Boyfriend Substitute is an uncommon, emotionally dishonest version of The Friend Zone where a person (it’s not always a woman doing it to a man, folks) uses somebody else to fulfill their emotional needs – especially when they’re in a long-distance relationship or they’re having “issues” with their significant other. The Platonic Boyfriend Substitute2 is there to provide all of the emotional benefits of a boyfriend – conversation, emotional support, companionship – without the complicated physical aspects of a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. There may be some physical contact (snuggling, hand holding, cuddling) but it’s all strictly G-rated. And when the poor soul being used as a substitute wants to move things to the next level – being a real boyfriend, f’rex – well, they can’t because, y’know, reasons. After all, why ruin a perfectly good thing when she knows she’s moving on to greener pastures?
Now I will be perfectly honest: I could be wrong. I could be misreading the situation and she really is into you but is legitimately worried about getting into a relationship so soon, especially one with an implied expiration date. Hell: she could very well just think there’s nothing weird about snuggling, flirting and holding hands with a platonic friend.
There’s really only one way to know for sure though. Stop resisting and kiss her. If it’s real, then you should enjoy what the two of you have before she leaves – and really, if it’s meant to be, then the two of you can try making the long distance thing work too.
If I’m right though…
Well, it’ll suck, yes. It’ll hurt. But you will recover from it and you’re moving on to a place where you’ll fit in better as well. Grit your teeth and work on prepping yourself to land on your feet when you hit the big city after graduation.