DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m having trouble dealing with the various impulses between my relationship, my career, my balls and my mind.
For a timeline: I’ve been dating this girl for 7 months now. Due to some family divorce and job relocation circumstances, we’re basically living together now and have signed a year lease.
One on one, she’s very fun to be around. We’re both flirty and weird with each other, are very experimental in bed and love doing adventurous things together. When I’m with her alone, it feels like nothing else matters; we’re literally like children together most nights. Her character and personality are admirable: she’s made me aware of my own shortcomings, has taught me the value of constructing a shared narrative with someone I trust and her optimism is contagious. However there are two triggering situations which make me rethink my dating situation:
Firstly, I constantly see pictures of other girls and feel like I’m settling. I will admit there are definitely angles and clothing and lifestyle changes which she works to her advantage, but sometimes it really doesn’t feel like enough. She’s acutely aware of me feeling this way, as I’m bad at hiding emotions, and blames my feelings on the whole ‘Tinder generation’ if there always being something better. She may have a point, but to what degree should I suppress this urge?
Second, to add fuel to the ego fire, I recently got a big job promotion and will be in sales. It’s a difficult enough job as it is, where I’ll have to be focused and sophisticated with my social interactions, but it also gives me a huge ego boost. I feel that the money, status and opportunities I’ll be presented with will be continue feeding the beast within me that desperately wants all the spoils life has to offer, which would contradict a monogamous relationship. I’m 24, and while I’ve screwed many girls already, I’ve become such a higher quality individual and feel I deserve more.
Can you help me understand if this is something many guys feel? If so, how long will it be before I can’t take it anymore? In the meantime, what can I do to keep myself satisfied with her?
Thanks a lot for reading,
Settling Down or Settling For?
DEAR SETTLING DOWN OR SETTLING FOR: Alright SDSF, I’m gonna be blunt: it sounds to me like you’re looking for a reason to dump her without feeling bad about it. And if that’s the case, then yes, you should break up with her. For her sake, not yours.
I mean Christ dude, you’re already hurting her. The fact that you’ve been conveying the message of “You’re great but I think I could do better” is a pretty awful thing to do to somebody you care for, even if she’s blaming it on “the Tinder generation” and not your having an eye out for the newer, hotter model.
So straight talk: yes, you’re settling. It doesn’t matter who you date, whether it’s your current girlfriend or some unspeakably hot Instagram model: you’re always going to be settling. This is because nobody gets everything that they want in a relationship. There are always going to things that you are going to have to let go of to be in a relationship with somebody. It may be accepting that the person you’re dating isn’t as sexually adventurous as you’d like and so there won’t be any threesomes or sex clubs in your future together. It may be that they’re not a bikini model and instead are a lovely but-not-unearthly-gorgeous person. It may be that they’re unspeakably beautiful but aren’t ambitious or don’t have much intellectual curiosity or won’t do monogamy. There are always going to be tradeoffs when you commit to a relationship with someone; you have to recognize that what you do get is so amazing that it more than makes up for the fact that you’re not getting those other things.
Now going by that metric, it sounds like your girlfriend more than meets that standard. You describe all the ways that things are great… except for the fact that she doesn’t quite stroke your ego as arm candy. And look my dude, I’m not gonna say that you’re obligated to date her or anyone to prove that you’re not shallow, but if the problem you’re having is that you’re worried she’s not hot enough to impress your friends then that’s a you problem, not a her problem.
The other thing is that you’re doing something I’ve seen a lot of guys do in your position: you’re throwing away happiness you do have for the potential of getting something better – something that’s not guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination. You’ve gotten the promotion and salary bump but that doesn’t automatically translate to “and now I have access to hotter women.” You’re going to be the same person you are now, with the same social skills. If the only difference is that you’ll be talking to people who’re more impressed by money or status… well, great, but you’ll mostly be attracting people who are into money or status. And speaking strictly for myself, if someone’s only interested in a version of me that’s exactly the same but with larger digits in my bank balance, that’s someone I’d rather not be dating.
In fact, many times the same guys who’ve been in your position and put aside their current relationships in order to “trade up” (as it were) have come to regret it; even if they date someone who’s physically hotter or more ego-polishing, they still recognize that it doesn’t make up for what they lost in the process.
But hey, if you think you deserve more, then that’s your call chief. But I can tell you now that that aspect of things is going to make it impossible for you to “keep yourself satisfied with her.” If you want to stay with her, then what you need to do is start actually appreciating what you have, how she makes you feel and what she brings to this relationship and worrying less about the proverbial two in the bush. The more you can focus on what you enjoy about your relationship with her and the more grateful you can be for what you have, the more satisfied you’ll be.
But if you’re always saying “you’re great, but I think I could do better,” then all you’re doing is condemning your relationship and her emotions to a death by a thousand cuts. At which point, you’d be better off just breaking her heart now instead of slowly bleeding it dry over time; at least that way she’ll have a chance to get over you quicker and with less unnecessary pain.
And it’s like the sage once said:there’s a million fine looking women in the world, dude. But they don’t all bring you lasagna at work. Most of ’em just cheat on you.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I wrote to you back in April before about how my and my husband’s sex-life had cratered after the birth of our child. In case you’re interested, I thought I’d let you know that your advice was so helpful. We had our Awkward Conversation and I learned that almost losing me and our child had really done a number on him, and he was still working through that. We’ve talked to a counselor a little.
As part of that process, he admitted that he’s been in near constant mouth pain since shortly after the baby was born. He has now gotten some major dental work done (wisdom teeth removed, cavities filled, and gum disease treated) and not being in constant pain has definitely also helped.
Things still aren’t perfect, but they are a whole lot better. Thank you.
Doing Better In Seattle
DEAR DOING BETTER IN SEATTLE: Hey, thanks for letting us know how you’ve been doing, DBIS! Glad to hear things have improved, especially since it means that your husband is no longer dealing with serious constant pain! Congratulations on the work the two of you have put in and having the courage to talk things out, and I hope things continue to improve for you both!
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)