Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Found out your hook-up had a fiance? Boyfriend calling you a “trophy” has you upset?

DEAR NATALIE: Recently, I slept with someone who I had just met. It was stupid, I know, but we both had been drinking and one thing led to another. We were at his workplace when it happened, too. Without getting into too many details (I don’t know who may come across this letter) I found out soon after that he had a fiance. I was really mad. Had I known he was seeing someone, I never would have slept with him. I called him out on this and he didn’t deny it. He didn’t even seem apologetic or worried about it. (And no, they do not have an open relationship). Well, this makes me really furious that he seems like he isn’t remorseful. I know someone that knows his fiance and I am so tempted to tell her what happened in hopes that she will tell his fiance. I don’t want to be petty, but he lied to me and to her. What would you do? -- CHEATING LIAR

DEAR CHEATING LIAR: It sounds like what is really bothering you in this case was your lack of agency about the whole scenario. You didn’t have all of the information that you needed to make a decision and instead felt a little “duped” by this guy. But, when you enter into a casual relationship, you have to be prepared that not everyone is going to be honest with you. That’s the risk you take, unfortunately. But, hey, everyone makes poor choices from time to time, and there’s no reason to beat yourself up over it. This guy is a sleaze and you most likely aren’t the first woman he has cheated on his fiance with. But should you tell her (even if it’s in a roundabout way)? I’m not sure. If I was the fiance, I would definitely want to know if I was being made a fool of behind my back, but not everyone is like that. Some people choose to turn a blind eye for whatever reason, and maybe there are dynamics in their relationship that you aren’t aware of. But, the little devil on my shoulder says that maybe he deserves a taste of his own medicine. I can’t make that decision for you, but I don’t think anyone would fault you if you told this story to her friend. Just be ready for a backlash towards you, as well.

           

           

DEAR NATALIE: My boyfriend has this habit of embarrassing me in front of our mutual group of friends by continually stating that he supports me financially. I have taken time off from working to go back to graduate school full time, and yes, while he is paying the bills right now, I am contributing in a lot of other ways to the household, from cooking, cleaning and taking care of his every little need. He finds it hilarious, though, to call me a “trophy girlfriend” and make fun of me to his friends about how “expensive” it is to live with me and how I don’t do anything. He also gets pretty misogynistic with his comments and what “women should do” for their men. Most of the time I brush it off, but lately it’s really been hurting me. I am not in a position to leave him, nor do I really want to, but I can’t handle the comments. He makes plenty of money, so it’s not like this is a financial hardship for him. What should I do? --NOT A TROPHY

DEAR NOT A TROPHY: How is it 2018 and this is still a thing where people think the only kind of contribution worthy of any kind of praise is financial? Cooking, cleaning, and other forms of caring for someone have always been traditionally seen as “women’s work” and therefore not regarded as “real work.” It’s that 24-hour-7-days-a-week kind of fun that never ends. So, if he doesn’t think what you do is important, stop doing it for a few days and see how he reacts. When his “maid services” stop, he may have to rethink his attitude towards what you contribute in the house. It infuriates me when people hold things over someone’s head like leverage. If he says jump, does he expect you to say, “how high”? Sounds to me like he is on a power trip and needs to be brought down to earth. I know a lot of people may disagree and say, “Well, you are being supported so you should be more supportive,” but I don’t think it is right to degrade or belittle anyone, especially the person you love, and especially while they are trying to do something to better themselves. If he becomes angry or frustrated when you go on “strike,” use this as an opportunity to lay some ground rules and boundaries. You are happy to help around the house while you are in school, but you need to be respected for your contributions, just as you respect him for supporting you financially during this time. Remind him, too, that this is a temporary situation, and your relationship could be, too, if he doesn’t start treating you with dignity and respect. Love is an action word, after all, and he needs to show you a little more of it.