DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a 22 year old college student, and I’m in something of a conundrum. See, about a month back I finally mustered up the courage to talk to my semester-long crush in one of my classes. First we bantered a little in class, then we had long talks around campus, then we were out on a lunch date, and the next thing I knew we were having steamy rooftop makeout time. Since then, we’ve been spending tons of time together: 4 days a week, easy, and for many hours at a time. We get along like a house on fire, as you might say; we enjoy each other’s company and the sex is great.
If it sounds good, that’s because it has been, but here’s the catch: she has a boyfriend. She was cheating on him with a guy who apparently became extremely needy and got the brush before I met her, but her boyfriend has been with her for years now. Their relationship is, by her admission, in dire straits. She talks about seeing him like it’s an undesirable obligation, and says that when she has sex with him she’s either thinking about me or watching the clock. She’s been totally transparent about this with me from the start.
I was wary of this arrangement from the get-go, too, and I tried my best not to get emotionally invested in her. Unfortunately, a month of near constant contact has left me seeing this girl as someone who I want to get serious with, and the way she acts when she’s with me is giving me the same impression of her. We hold hands and kiss in public, we do stuff together (apart from sex), she’s met my parents… At this point, I just want to dispense with the secrecy and become a couple in name as well as action.
So I bit the bullet and asked her to dump him. She seemed amenable to the idea, but worried that he was depressed and relied on her to keep himself afloat and that she wasn’t really sure how to dump him, especially after such a long time. She agreed to think about it, in any case. My questions, then, are these: how strongly should I feel comfortable pushing her to dump her boyfriend, since she seems to be with him more out of inertia than actual love? And if she says yes and goes through with it, how do I build trust with someone who can so brazenly cheat, even when she’s been totally honest in all our interactions?
Thanks a bunch,
DEAR REPLACEMENT GOLDFISH: Before you go all in on your snugglebunny RG, I think you may want to take a few minutes and seriously think about your relationship with her. Right now, you’re in a secretive relationship with someone who has been repeatedly cheating on her boyfriend of many years – first with the dude before you and now with you. And these are the people you know of. All the while, she’s continuing to still be with her boyfriend, whom she professes she doesn’t like all that much.
Now to be sure, my views on monogamy are nuanced at best (and – in fairness – not necessarily always popular either) and I don’t think that cheating is the worst thing that could happen in a relationship. Sometimes it’s the least bad option in an awful situation. Sometimes, especially towards the end of a relationship in a downward spiral, it’s a person’s way of slamming their hand down on the self-destruct switch. I also don’t necessarily think that “once a cheater, always a cheater” is true or even necessarily fair.
But with all that being said: I think you’re heading into a bad situation. Thus far, she’s telling you that she’s afraid to hurt him by breaking up with him, but she’s been screwing other people behind his back (so we’re lead to believe) and she’s currently very publicly cheating on him with you. I’m a big believer in “deeds, not words,” and while her mouth is saying one thing, her actions are saying another entirely. Even if everything she’s saying is the god’s honest truth… that’s an awful thing to do to somebody. Especially if she’s already afraid to dump her boyfriend for fear that he might hurt himself.
So let’s just say that right now I’m not really that inclined to see her in the most favorable light right now.
But hey, I’ll be charitable and assume that she’s being sincere and honest with you about her and her boyfriend. Breaking up with someone you’ve been in a long-term relationship with can be difficult, even when you know it’s what needs to be done. But even if she’s being honest with you about all of this and isn’t just stringing you along like the latest in a line of side-pieces… her behavior suggests somebody who is either very self-centered or doesn’t stop to think about the unnecessary pain she’s causing to others. That, in and of itself, is a pretty strong sign that she is not someone you should be in a relationship with in the first place. She may be wonderful in all these other ways, but if she’s that blithely unaware of the consequences of her actions, then the odds are good that she’s going to hurt you in a similar manner, even if she doesn’t mean to.
I don’t think that entering a relationship with someone that started via infidelity means you can’t or shouldn’t trust them. Nuance exists, circumstances differ and not all infidelities are equal. But in your specific case, FG? I think it’s a bad, bad, HOLY CRAP NO bad idea no matter how you slice it. Either she’s a serial cheater, someone who isn’t good at monogamous relationships or she doesn’t think about how what she does affects other people. None of those are signs that continuing to date her is a good idea.
My advice? Save yourself the future heartache and pain that you’re currently setting yourself up for. Stop pressuring her to dump her boyfriend, dump her yourself, and find someone who isn’t coming with this much ethically questionable baggage. You can do much better than this.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I have found myself stuck in a couple problems.
You see, I have a boyfriend, weve been together for about two years and he’s really, really sweet. We love each other a lot. There’s, however, one major issue: I’m asexual and he’s not. I ended up giving in to his desires because he was either too desperate or I pitied him for having an ace girlfriend like me. But I can’t really enjoy it, at all. I find myself panicking inside and praying for him to finish soon (and just so you know, I don’t really think he’s bad at it. I’ve tried masturbating before and the sensation is the about the same). We never really fought about it, and I tend to keep this issue to myself.
Given that, there is yet another problem. A bigger one, though it might sound stupid.
There’s this person I met on the internet four years ago (I’m pretty sure this person is a girl, so I’ll refer this person as a she to make things easier). She hides herself behind the image and name of a male fictional character. We’ve met online one day, started chatting and then we became friends. Although she really never told me anything about her “true identity”, I started searching for her in the web with some info she might “accidentally” have spilled (mostly her artworks). So I found some of her profiles in social networks, and I have some pretty solid evidence that those profiles belong to the person behind that character. And the more I found out about her, the more it piqued my interest. It’s really creepy what I’ve done, but I couldn’t help myself. So I kept silent about any info I’ve found about her. Anyways, there was a point where she started studying really hard for her masters, so for about a year and a half, we didn’t chat as often, but we never forgot each other, and kept sending messages every now and then.
About three months ago she was finally free from her masters and she came to me to let me know she was available again. One day about those three months ago I experienced an emotional crisis due to family issues. I was feeling really, really, really lame and cried a lot. I was desperate to talk to someone, but my boyfriend wouldn’t respond and my best friend was busy, studying for her exams. Then, like in a miracle that girl messaged me, and I responded right away, and I let out all of what I was going through. From that day on, we came back to chatting more than ever. And when I came to it, we were flirting each other.
At first, we both took that as a joke, but then I found myself getting really emotional about her, so let’s say I have slipped some hints about my feelings for her. Then she said “Don’t fall for me, we’re so far apart and I’m not fond distance relationships”, and I just played it off, saying “Nah, don’t worry”. And we kept chatting and “flirting” like always, and I couldn’t really erase my romantic feelings about her. So I kept those feelings for myself. But… as time passed we got closer and closer and closer… and flirtier… And I’ve always kept playing along. Until a couple days she said to me “I might as well fall for you, y’know. You better take responsibility if this ever happens”.
I squealed. My heart was beating like crazy.
My reply? I laughed and said “guilty as charged”.
And now she’s been talking about actual plans on meeting me in real life.
If you ever ask me, while all this stuff happened, my relationship with my boyfriend was just normal. And I didn’t really forget about him. And… she never really asked if I had a boyfriend… and I never really mentioned it.
And here’s my dilemma: I love both of them. Deeply. I don’t want to ruin my relationship with my boyfriend because of someone I’ve never met IRL before (plus never told me about their real name or face), but I also don’t want to give up on that girl. So I find myself unable to make a choice. And if ever comes a situation where I need to tell them the truth, I don’t want to hurt any of them, or damage our relationships.
It sounds really crazy, but… this was the best way I could explain this. Can you perhaps share me some advice?
One Crooked Lovebird.
DEAR ONE CROOKED LOVEBIRD: Hoo boy. This is gonna be a rough one.
First things first: stop having sex with your boyfriend, OCL. While I do believe in making arrangements when couples have mismatched libidos, there’s “providing your partner with a handjob/dirty talk/oral/what-have-you because you love them and want to make them happy” and then there’s “doing things that make you freak out and want to curl up and cry in the shower”. Forcing yourself to have sex which is clearly something you can’t stand is only going to make you miserable. That’s not fair to you and, I suspect if he knew how it was making you feel, it’d freak him out too. You and he need to have a long talk about all things sexual and asexual in your relationship because this is a bad scene. He deserves to know how you feel, you deserve to have the sex – or lack-thereof – that you want and if you want this relationship to continue, you’re going to have to find a very different compromise.
So that’s your first task. Stop having sex with him and have a long and honest talk with him and find some other way of making things work when sex with you is off the table, period the end. And if he can’t handle that… well, I know you love him, but that’s a sign that this relationship isn’t going to work.
Second things second… well, brace yourself because I’m going to be blunt and you’re not going to like this. And while I know there’s going to be an instinctual push to say that I don’t know what I’m talking about, I want to assure you: I have been dealing with people online for longer than you’ve been alive. I have seen and experienced just about every form of online relationship it is possible to have, romantic and platonic, both good and bad. So believe me, this is coming from personal, bitter and hard-won experience when I tell you this:
You’re not in love with this other person.
You are in love with the idea of them. They are not a person to you right now, they are a fantasy. You have a lot of assumptions and maybes built around things that may or may not be the person in question. You have literally no idea who they really are. You don’t know their real name, what they look like or even their gender. You don’t know if this person even exists in the first place. You know nothing (Jon Snow…). It is extremely easy to keep and maintain a fake persona online, even for years. You don’t know that the evidence they “accidentally” shared was accidental or even theirs in the first place. There are plenty of folks who know all the tricks to create the impression of “oops, I didn’t mean to do that” in order to send people looking in the way they want.
And now the two of you are talking about meeting up? Um… no. Not just no but hell no. This is waving more red flags than a Chinese military parade.
Straight talk: even if this person is 100% who you think they are, that doesn’t mean that starting a relationship with them is a good idea. The fact that she hasn’t seen fit to share with you even little things like their name is a bad sign. Moreover, just because you click online doesn’t mean that you’re going to click in person. It’s great to say that you know somebody’s soul or their true self, but relationships have a physical component too, and that can’t be judged except in person. Even if you’re asexual, there are still issues ranging from “do you like how they smell” to “do you like how they feel when you cuddle together on the couch” that affect compatibility and attraction. You literally cannot judge these except in person and I have seen more online “relationships” than I can count founder on the rocks of things not working in person.
But again: that assumes that your online cuddlebug exists. Quite frankly, from everything you’ve told me, I’m going to say “no, no they don’t,” and if they do, they’re demonstrably not who you think.
So my second piece advice is that you need to take several steps back from your online friend until you have some very solid evidence that a) they exist and b) who they actually are. This means more than just names and pictures; those are absurdly easy to come by. I mean Skype chats where you can see them and test them by having a friend call them while you’re chatting with them as well as an extensively well documented online presence of long standing.
And even then, I’d be pretty damn skeptical. I’d certainly not say you’re in the clear to declare your everlasting love for them. They’re going to have to do a lot of work to prove that they’re legit before I’d say that meeting up platonically in a very public place with many people you know in close proximity is a reasonable idea
Don’t let yourself get caught up and hurt because of a fantasy.
I know I’ve just dumped a lot of harshness on you, OCL, and I know it sucks. Believe me, I wish I could give you happier, easier to digest advice. But right now, you’re in a bad, if not potentially dangerous place and you need to make a lot of changes to make it right. Take some time to work on the relationship you currently have before you worry about the one that you wish you had. Your online friend needs to take a distant place in your priorities until they can prove themselves to you beyond any doubts.
Trust me: I have been there, I have done that and I have a lovely line of t-shirts you can peruse from the experience.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)