DEAR DR. NERDLOVE,
I met this girl when we both started a new job a few months back. We hit it off fast, and by the middle of the 2nd week, we were already hooking up. Since we work together and barely knew anyone, we kept it under wraps (and still haven’t told anyone as far as I know.) But we kept sortadating. She’s a nerd (albeit of a different variety), we had a lot in common personally, and I really enjoyed being around her even when we weren’t naked. At first, she told me she had a “fiancée” in another city, and then a couple weeks in, he freaked out because she mentioned me in passing. Apparently she thought they had an understanding. She told me up front that she wasn’t big on monogamy and I was ok with that. I told her i just wanted her to be honest with me. Then we carpooled to said Another City to visit our own circles of people – turns out they had a fight and she was done with him for good (they had been long distance, he let himself go, wanted her to quit and move their for a nebulous job), she took me home and we had wild hot monkey sex. It was exclusively us since then as far as I know.
Fast forward, we’re still sortadating. Our home circles (her aunt, my siblings) know and have met. We do normal couples shit. But recently, she’s been pushing away on sex. Like hardcore. We used to fool around all. the. time. Even playing around during the monthly sweeps. Now, she talks to me like I’m a creeper We still spend the night together, but I feel like I’m totally friendzoned here. I’ve cared about her since day 3, it’s only gotten stronger (and feels like it is A Thing) but I’m confused and starting to get frustrated.
I don’t do jealous. I do overthink things, however. She’s seemed to program this other coworker into the situation, where she brings him up a lot and spends more time with him than me. I don’t begrudge her friends – we are both new to town and I think it’s good that she has people to hang out with besides me. Hell, I like the guy too. I’m just starting to wonder if she’s already decided I’m boring in bed and is fishing for new fun. It’s feeling like I’m the emotional tampon and the massage guy, but I’m not acceptable fuck material. Thinking it may be a game, I’ve basically backed off. It’s hard to try withdrawing contact because she’s literally right next to me for 10 hours a day, but I’ve stuck to close friend talk. People there have suspicions, but it’s still will they/won’t they shit. She continues to bring up other dudes in passing, or how she got hit on by random creep. Still wants me to come work on her back or help her figure out Work Crisis X. At the same time, she’s previously flat out told me she couldn’t deal with it if I “cheated” on her even though it’s never been an issue for me.
I don’t know how to play this. I’m not going to get myself worked up in a frenzy, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t bother me a lot. There are aphorisms that rap’s taught me about making housewives playing in my head in my worst moments. Sorry it was so TL;DR. Any suggestions?
– No Time For This Jibba Jabba
Oof. I feel for ya. You’re stuck in an unpleasant place with someone who, to be perfectly honest, doesn’t sound like she’s that good of a prospect under the best of circumstances.
Let’s start off with the fact that she had a fiancée. Now I’ve stated before that I approve of ethical non-monogamy – that is, where everybody involved knows what’s happening, has given their consent and actually follows the rules they established. The fact that she claims she thought they had an “understanding” is a giant-ass red flag to me: if you’re going to have an open or semi-open relationship you need to need to make sure without question or confusion that both parties have a full and complete understanding of what’s going on. No theoretical discussions taken as consent. No “OK I guess I might be cool with it but I really hope you don’t do it”. Full understanding or no deal.
The fact that she hadn’t told him about you, that she seemed to be caught off guard by all of his issues… well, that doesn’t speak highly to the level of respect she had for someone she was, in theory, planning to marry.
Next problem: you think you’re exclusive. Again, this is a case where you can’t just assume based on what you think is going on. She’d already told you that she’s not good at monogamy – fair enough, but you can’t just assume that because she’s not sleeping with other people (that you know of) right now that circumstances have changed. As a general rule of thumb: you’re not exclusive unless you’ve actually sat down and had The Exclusivity Talk. I’ve seen too many people get a rude awakening when they find out that the person they thought was their exclusive snugglebunny was busy making squishy noises with someone else… said snugglebunny having not realized that his or her partner had expectations of sexual fidelity. Just because you’re spending most of your time together or your relationship is X weeks/months/years old doesn’t automatically mean you have both pledged to forsake all other warm and welcoming beds.
The fact that she seemed to see your exclusivity as entirely one-sided (i.e. she couldn’t “deal” with your “cheating on her”) is one more giant red flag. It’s one thing if this is what you’ve agreed to in advance. It’s another if she’s making the rules up as she goes along and is just expecting you to go along with it. But the fact that the sex seems to have dried up (or been cut off) and she’s making a point of playing around behind your front is not cool. Under normal circumstances, I’d agree, her spending alone time with male friends isn’t a big deal, but considering her past behavior (cheating on her fiancée, declarations of non-monogamy) and a lack of sex… this isn’t feeling like new-friend energy. It’s feeling like “new dick”.
It sounds to me like she’s having her boyfriend and (not) eating it too. Frankly, it seems as though she’s broken up with you but hasn’t bothered to tell you because… well, she likes the fact that you’re fulfilling her emotional needs. She’s gone and unilaterally changed the nature of your relationship without asking your approval or involvement because why bother risking that whole nasty confrontation and possibly losing out on the attention she’s enjoying?
You may or may not want to talk to her about this and try to see what’s going on, but my spider-sense is telling me that she’s going to frame it as your being unreasonable and/or jealous and make you the bad guy in the situation. I could very well be wrong, but I’ve seen that particular conversation go down more times than I care to count and this feels like it has all the hallmarks.
My advice would be to dump her – not just split up and embrace the nuclear option but make it abundantly clear that you find her behavior unacceptable and this is why you’re breaking up.
And next time, I would strongly advise you to communicate directly and unambiguously about what’s going on – it’s too easy to fall back on assumptions and misunderstandings; being direct and up front can cut down a lot of heartache in the future. Good luck.
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