Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

My Girlfriend Has A Boyfriend and I Don’t Know What To Do.

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: Really appreciate the good work you’ve been doing ever since I first came across your site. I’ve recently found myself in a bind and I’m hoping you could maybe bring out the chair leg of truth…?

First off, I’m a 22 year old cis male living away from home. In the last three years, I’ve moved abroad and changed cities twice. While it has been a worthwhile experience, most of my relationships have been rendered short term. As a result, I’ve been in a drought, if you know what I mean. However, I met this girl, let’s call her True, like two years ago. It was a cold approach, and when I asked for her number, she said she would rather take mine. I thought that was a soft no, and she would not contact me but, lo and behold, she did. We started talking.

She made it clear after a while that she was in an open relationship but/and she was open to fooling around. I agreed, partially because I already liked her and well, I was kinda desperate. We met and had a make out session(which was really good) and slowed down on the talking for a while.

We recently reconnected and she said she wanted to meet up. She invited me to an event, which later turned out to be at her boyfriend’s house. As it turned out, the boyfriend had also invited the girl he fools around with. I didn’t know how to feel about that but True and I ended up fooling around like some teenagers again. And it was fucking awesome.

Here’s the thing. I’m not sitting around waiting for them to break up (I think they plan to get married) but this arrangement is taking an unnecessary strain on me. I definitely like True and I know she likes me but I really don’t know what’s the endgame here. I’ve struck out with my last few approaches and as a result, I’m unfortunate developing an unfortunate case of Oneitis.

I’ve considered blocking her and ghosting but it seems a bit extreme. I really don’t know where to go from here, because I know there’s an end coming, I’d just like it to be on my own terms to the extent that that’s possible.

Any wise words of wisdom…?

Thanks in advance.

Stuck In The Middle

DEAR STUCK IN THE MIDDLE: There’s not really an endgame here, SITM. You and True may get along like a house on fire, have amazing chemistry and astounding make-out sessions… but at the end of the day, you and True just aren’t right for one another. She may be an amazing person, but she’s a person with a boyfriend, and it’s pretty clear that the whole “open relationship” thing isn’t gonna work for you.

Now maybe it wouldn’t be as difficult if they did their open relationship differently. Some couples (and throuples and polypods) have no problem with everyone knowing everyone else; it’s just a case of “hey we’re all a big friendly social circle and also some of us fuck”. Others prefer to date discreetly or keep their various relationships separate. In the case of True and her boyfriend, they’re the former. Maybe it’d be easier or less stressful if it were the latter. But even if you were seeing her and never having to meet or hang out with her boyfriend, he’s still gonna be in the picture. Even if they’re polyamorous and she can have romantic relationships alongside her relationship with her boyfriend… well, she’s still gonna have her boyfriend.

If you can handle that then hey, there’s nothing wrong with this being a relationship that doesn’t have a long-term future. As I often say, not every love story needs to be an epic poem. Some love stories are meant to be a short story. Some are meant to be a dirty limerick. You can let things be and take this ride to its natural conclusion… if that’s something you’re ok with.

But if you what you’re looking for is monogamy and exclusivity, or the potential for long-term commitment and something casual doesn’t work for you, then the best thing you can do is call it and free yourself to find someone who’s in line with what you need. But I think blocking and ghosting is the wrong approach here. It would be one thing if she were cruel or inconsiderate, or there were some reason you didn’t dare break up with her in person. But it sounds to me like she’s a lovely person who’s been straightforward and honest with you; her only flaw is that she just just doesn’t mesh with you in the ways that you need. I think in this case, you owe her the respect of telling her “Hey, you’re great, but this isn’t right for me.”

Good luck.

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: It’s Navigating Muddy Waters, from last year (“Am I Leading On My Ex?” 04/11/19)

Thank you and the community for your advice! They’ve given me strength to deal with my line stepping ex.

I went ‘no contact’ with him but we sometimes see each other at friends’ birthdays. While he’s not hinting at sex with me anymore, he’s offended when he deems me too flirty with common friends. 14 months have passed since I broke up with him, yet still he lies in wait for every smile I throw anyone — this time to be offended rather than hopeful for sex. It’s a lost cause really.

Your advice and the readers’ comments help me not feel guilty about it but rather annoyed with this guy, so: thanks!!!

Clear Sailing Now

DEAR CLEAR SAILING NOW: Hey, awesome! I’m glad to hear you’ve taken some positive steps and enforced your boundaries with your ex.

Thanks for writing in and letting us know how things are going.

Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (; or to his email,