DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I have been dating this guy for the past 1 year, and I really think he is the one. But he had this theatre production to manage intensely for a week, and he fell in love with one of his colleagues. However, he maintains the fact that when he realized he fell in love with her, he never acted upon it and chose to stay with me. He says that for him, it is not considered cheating and that he did nothing wrong.
Yet, we have completely different ideals. I don’t believe in how one person can be in love with two people at the same time, whereas he says his heart is big enough for it. Isn’t falling in love with another person while being attached cheating? Doesn’t it mean that I am not enough for him? But he keeps saying that he has never compared the two of us, and I am enough for him. So why did he fall in love with her? He says that he cannot control how his heart feels but it sounds so wrong.
I love him so much, but if I stay with him, I will be compromising my biggest ideal, which is to love one only.
What do I do? I don’t want to leave him, but I don’t know if I should be compromising on what i believe very deeply.
Sick At Heart
DEAR SICK AT HEART: A couple of things, SAH. First and foremost: I think your boyfriend needs to dial things back a little. What you describe sounds way more like a crush or infatuation than love. Not that this makes it any easier on you, granted, but a week is pretty damn fast to suddenly decide you’re in love with someone. Something tells me that he’s feeling that crush and rounding up… like, a lot. And, honestly? your boyfriend would’ve been better off keeping that to himself.
I think his dumping this on you introduced a lot of unnecessary anxiety and drama into your relationship – drama that could’ve been avoided if he’d kept his mouth shut about it. Because, straight talk: if nothing happened, then there’s really nothing to report. Relationships aren’t court depositions; you don’t need to tell your partner literally everything. You have a right to NOT know things and the fact that your boyfriend was infatuated with someone for a hot minute is one of them.
But let’s talk about things from your end, SAH. You are someone who’s solidly monogamous and that’s awesome. But one of the things that people tend to get wrong about monogamy is what it entails. Monogamy just means that you have agreed to not date or sleep with someone else. It doesn’t say a thing about not wanting to.
Because here’s the thing: asking whether this means you aren’t enough for him is asking the wrong question. No one person can be all things to their partner; we as a species are built for wanting variety. He’s going to find himself attracted to other people, just as you are going to find yourself attracted to other people on occasion as well. There will be a point where you realize that you’ve got a crush or some heart flutters or pants-feelings for someone else too.
This is perfectly normal and natural and happens all the time. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love him enough or he doesn’t love you enough. It doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with your relationship or that you’re not doing enough to make things work. All those random crushes tell you is that you’re both humans and humans – like bonobos and dolphins – like bangin’.
Now if we move from the groin to the heart… well, that’s where things are complicated too. Now, obviously, people are capable of loving more than one person at a time; families and friendships are predicated on this after all. But in terms of romantic love? Yeah, there’re folks out there who have romantic connections with more than one person. Some folks have a lot of love to give or a lot of room for other partners in their lives. This doesn’t mean they love any one of them any less. That’s just how they work, romantically. This is neither good nor bad; it’s just how they are. There are a lot of books out there on non-monogamous relationships and polyamory if you want to learn more about how it works, but the short version is: there are plenty of people out there who have mutually fulfilling romantic relationships with more than one person at the same time. The style and shape of the relationship can vary (rather drastically at times) but the core remains the same as what you have with your boyfriend. Just with a larger cast is all.
But let’s get to the meat of your situation, SAH. Remember when I said that “Am I enough for him” was the wrong question? Here’s the right one:
“Am I satisfied with this relationship?”
It’s not about whether he might be attracted to other people – he is, because he’s human, just like you – but whether he is happy and satisfied being with you and making a monogamous commitment to you? He said some stupid things, yes, but do you trust that he’s telling you the truth? Do you believe him – not just accept that he said it but honestly believe him – when he says he cut things out before anything untoward happened? Do you believe him when he tells you that he’s happy being with you and only you, regardless of random, meaningless crushes?
If you do, then the biggest problem is that he could stand to not say every thought that flits through his head. Because, for real, that sort of thing is not a great indicator of maturity or emotional intelligence and he needs to work at that.
If you don’t, or he demonstrates that he’s saying one thing to make you happy but doing another entirely? Then it’s time to reconsider whether it’s time to find someone else.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: A few days ago, I made a joke tinder account with friends, with a fake age, job, etc., but all the pictures were my own. Turns out, I really hit it off with a guy and he was still interested after I told him my real information. The thing is, he’s 23 and I’m 17.
Is there any hope for a relationship?
DEAR CONFLICTED: Let me make this easy for you: No.
I’ve had people pull the “SURPRISE, I WAS COMPLETELY MISLEADING YOU! ” card on me before and y’know what? That’s a big buzz-off-deal-breaker right from the jump.
The fact that this guy of yours is still interested, regardless? That’s a red flag and some serious side-eye from me.
But the fact that he found out that you’re still a minor and he’s still interested? That’s a not just no but HELL no.
Sure, you’re ALMOST 18. But almost isn’t the same thing as is, and I have some very strong questions for a grown-ass man who’s ok with the whole “not actually legal” part.
But let’s pretend that I’ve hit my head and for some reason I’ve decided to sign off on a guy in his 20s who wants to date a teenager. Even if that wasn’t a military-parade-in-Tiananmen-Square number of red flags, the fact that a six year difference when he’s 23 and you’re 17 is way the hell more significant than if you were 26 and he were 32. You’re in very different places in life, and that alone is going to put some major roadblocks to a successful relationship.
But the fact that there’s that much of an age difference AND he’s still interested after the whole “you’ve been punked” reveal AND learning that you’re underage?
Sorry, Conflicted, this is setting off my Spidey-sense something fierce.
Do yourself a favor. Cut things off with this guy, stick to dudes who’re closer to your age and stay off Tinder until you aren’t having to lie about your age on there.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)