DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I need advice on whether my girlfriend is cheating on me.
We are in a long distance relationship; she is about 2 hours away and we see each other every other weekend. We’re going on 3 months now. The reason I think she maybe cheating on me is because for awhile she didn’t think it was important to communicate with me throughout the day. She’s gotten better about it after we had a fight, but she’s still acting shady. When she is around me she never wants to drink because she gets crazy, but when she’s not around me she will get drunk with her best friend. When she does go out, she doesn’t tell me and I don’t hear from her at all. The only way I know is when she brags about it the next morning. I’ve asked her why she doesn’t talk to me when she’s out and what she says is that its rude to text in front of other people, but she text in front of me all the time.
She is always talking about her past and it finally got to a point were I told her that I don’t wanna hear it and that it makes me think she is missing something. Whenever I try to talk about my problems with her, she gets defensive and takes everything to the extreme. For instance when I was talking to her about the drinking thing she said “Fine, I won’t drink and hangout with my friends anymore”. I love her and she says she loves me but I don’t know anymore. I just don’t wanna waste time with the wrong person. Everybody I talk to tells me she is, but I don’t know what to believe. Please help!
Totally Really Lost
DEAR TOTALLY REALLY LOST: None of these are signs that she’s cheating on you, TRL. What they are is a whole mess of signs that it’s time for the two of you to break up already, because hot damn you two aren’t working out.
Let’s take this apart a little, shall we? To start with, you’re both doing the long-distance relationship thing wrong. When you’re in a long distance relationship, communication is key. It’s difficult to maintain a romantic connection over a distance; even Skype or FaceTime calls aren’t going to be the same as when you’re in person. But one of the first things you have to do is establish your communication needs; some people prefer to talk once a day, others like an end-of-the-week download with sporadic texting or IMing. Expecting constant contact throughout the day, on the other hand, is going to be pushing things, even for the most “shmoopy” of couples.
Just on a practical level, there are going to be long stretches during the day when it’s just not possible to be texting, IMing or chatting over Facebook. Sometimes you’re just going to not get a prolonged conversation, or even an immediate response. If you’re going to freak out about periods of radio silence over the course of the day, then you’re not ready for a serious relationship. If you can’t handle being out of contact with her, then the issue is no longer about how much you care about one another, it’s about your needing constant reassurance and validation from her. A relationship isn’t a deposition, especially one as brief as yours is. You’re not her parole officer and she’s not required to check in with you before she goes out with her friends, nor is she obligated to constantly be providing you with updates when she’s out having fun.
Now to be fair: talking with her about your needs and working to find a compromise that works for the both of you is a step in the right direction. It’s just too damn bad that everything takes about five dozen backwards after that. I’m going to be honest: neither of you are covering yourselves in glory here. You’re being clingy while she’s coming off as incredibly rude and inconsiderate.
When it comes to understanding people, there’s looking at what they say and looking at what they do. And right now, what your snugglebunny is saying and doing? Two very different things.
Let’s take the drinking issue. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean that you’re welded together at the hip, nor does it mean that you aren’t allowed to go out and party down with your BFF when your significant other is around. But it’s another thing entirely when it’s a Jekyll and Hyde situation; claiming not to like drinking because it makes her get wild, but going out and closing down the clubs when you’re not around is a sign that she’s not being straight with you… especially when she’s bragging (your words) about all the crazy times she had. You know. Those crazy times she told you she doesn’t like having.
Similarly, there’s her telling you that she thinks texting in front of other people is rude and then texting other people in front of you. Even allowing for the fact that this is the excuse she’s giving you for not taking time away from being with her friends to text with you (which is pretty impolite), the fact that she’s doing something that she believes to be rude to you tells you a little about how much she respects you. The way the two of you argue isn’t any better; the passive-aggressive “well fine, I guess I just won’t hang out with my friends any more!” response is just a way of shutting you down without actually addressing the issues at hand.
This isn’t a healthy relationship for either of you. The best thing for both of you is to break up now. Even at the most generous viewing, she’s selfish and rude and you need to do some maturing so that you can get to the point where you don’t need to be in constant contact. Let her go find someone else and spend your time working on yourself so you can find someone who is right for you… and you can be right for her.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I got dumped unexpectedly last night by a woman I’d been seeing for about two months. I liked her quite a bit; I made it clear to her that I liked her, and that I wanted her, and that I was fine with moving at whatever pace was comfortable for her. I wasn’t exactly planning the proposal, but I was definitely at a point where I was thinking there might be some potential for something serious.
When she broke up with me last night she said that she thinks I’m very sweet, and she has a blast when she’s with me, but the romantic spark never appeared for her. I was a little surprised by this–less than a week ago we enjoyed a pretty heavy makeout session that ended only when we agreed with some difficulty that it might be a good idea to slow down. I had originally worried I wasn’t building physical chemistry with her, but once we got to the point that most dates were ending with an hour or so of kissing and cuddling I figured I was in good shape.
So, what I’m wondering is: was there something I should have done differently, or done more of? Is this just a case of two people with a fundamental incompatibility? In short, did I screw this up, or is this just a case of something better discovered sooner than later?
DEAR FEELING CONFUSED: You didn’t do anything wrong, FC. The long and short of it is that you weren’t compatible and that was never going to change.
You wanted something that she just wasn’t going to be able to give; you wanted a relationship and she just wasn’t feeling that with you. You may have had the physical chemistry – she was digging the sloppy make-outs – but the emotions just weren’t there and there wasn’t any sign of that changing. Don’t get me wrong: she definitely liked you. After all, she was going out of her way to give it time to see if things would develop, but (and I hate to devolve to cliche) she just didn’t like you that way. Sexual attraction is great and an important part of relationships, but it’s not enough for a long-term relationship on it’s own.
There comes a point in a relationship when you have to check and see if you’re on the same page… and frankly, you weren’t. You wanted something serious with her and she just wasn’t feeling the same way about you. And so she ended it. And it sucks, I know. God knows I’ve been there. But in the long run… she was doing you a favor.
I realize that it doesn’t feel this way right now. It’s still fresh and raw and you have no real distance or perspective on the matter. It’s actually a testament to her feelings for you that she was willing to break up with you when she did. But by cutting things off early on, she was saving you both from greater pain down the line. Sticking things out would have ultimately meant that she was leading you on and that wouldn’t be fair to either of you; all that she would be doing is postponing the inevitable and ultimately making the pain worse when you eventually realized that the entire time you thought you were building to something serious, she was only sticking around because she was afraid to hurt you. That is the sort of pain that ruins people for a long, long time.
So she was cruel to be kind, breaking things off even though she liked you, liked making out with you and had fun with you. She risked the pain now to save you from worse later on. And that means a lot. She was being a better friend to you than you realized. Take comfort in that and realize that you’ll be in a better position to find someone who is on the same page as you.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)