DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: First of all, I would like to thank you for your great dating advice. I’ve been visiting your blog regularly for about six years now; even though dating is pretty much an American phenomenon, your blogposts, podcasts and videos have been useful to the Western European guy that I am.
The question I would like to ask is should I break up with my girlfriend in order to (maybe) have the slightest chance to get with another girl I know?
Let me give you some context and details. My current girlfriend is the only girl I have dated so far. We’ve been together for four years. She’s kind and considerate and she really loves me, up to the point that she would like to start a family with me in a few years. It hasn’t always been that easy. She used to be extremely jealous. We wouldn’t even get out of our apartment together since she would think I would stare at any pretty girl passing by and, consequently, go apes
We also used to have a difficult long distance relationship. After graduating from University, I moved back to my parents’ house in a foreign country to look for work from there. We oftentimes had difficult arguments over the phone and, of course, her jealousy did not fade.
I eventually found a job in my girlfriend’s town and moved back to that area. Something weird happened after that. My girlfriend said she wanted to break up, which we did. But we kind of stayed together anyway. I regularly stayed at her place, which is something that she and I both wanted. It is as if we were addicted to each other’s presence.
After living a few months in this odd but comfortable situation, my girlfriend told me she wanted us to get back together. We talked some things out and resumed our relationship indeed.
Our sex-life has been non-existent for the most part until recently. The good news is we started to have better sex since we officially got back together. Also, my girlfriend is not jealous anymore. We spend good moments together.
That being said, I fell in love with a colleague of mine. In retrospect, I think I fell in love with this young woman just before my girlfriend and I reunited. I don’t know if there’s a thing going on between this colleague and me. She’s genuinely friendly to everyone in general, but I feel like she’s slightly flirty with me. We’ve had great conversations and really opened up to each other until now. She’s utterly smart, eloquent and elegant.
I don’t know what to make of it, but whether she is into me or not is not the most important question. My falling in love with this girl makes me wonder if I should stay with my current girlfriend or just call it quits. Should I break up with my girlfriend in order to have the slightest chance to get with this colleague? Or, more realistically, should I just break up (since our relationship has been too rocky) and be single again for a while even though I don’t want to be alone? Or should i just stay with her ?
Roll The Dice
DEAR ROLL THE DICE: OK, RTD, I want to make sure I understand this: you had some rocky times with your girlfriend. You split up without actually splitting, got back together, reignited your sex-life and solved your girlfriend’s jealousy and trust issues and things are better than ever. Meanwhile, you have a crush on someone you barely know and who hasn’t given you any signs of interest that go beyond wishful-thinking levels of flirting.
So on the one hand you have a relationship that’s better and stronger than before and on the other you’ve got an office crush. And you’re asking if you should ditch your girlfriend for the vaguer-than-vague possibility that this woman might be interested with you.
I’m going to ask this with all due respect: are you out of your goddamn monkey mind?
Look, RTD here’s what’s going on: you had a rough patch with your girlfriend. That happens, especially in a long-distance relationship. You clearly weren’t ready to do the LDR thing because you and your girlfriend had issues with communication and trust. Once you were together in the same city, it was easier for your girlfriend to accept that no, you weren’t cheating on her or looking to dump her for someone else. More importantly: you talked things out, worked on how to actually communicate with one another and solidified your connection with one another. It’s pretty damn clear that the biggest issue was distance; it was sandpapering your girlfriend’s anxieties, which was causing her to lash out at you and everyone was miserable. Take away the distance and suddenly everything works again.
The fact that — as this was going on — you developed a crush on your coworker is entirely understandable. Crushes happen. Over the course of your life, you’ll develop crushes on folks; some of them will be while you’re single, some of them will be while you’re in a relationship. Crushes are signs that you find somebody else attractive and you’re caught up in the novelty of it. That’s it. They’re not a barometer for the health of your relationship or a measure of how much (or how little) you care for your partner. All a crush means is that you’re a mammal with a sex-drive. Monogamy and commitment aren’t magic spells that keep you from ever finding someone else attractive. They’re just a promise to your partner that you won’t date or sleep with somebody else. You will want to sleep with other people — so will pretty much everyone else you ever date — but you’ve chosen not to.
It’s that chosen part that’s important. That’s the part that’s meaningful, not the attraction to someone else.
Here’s the other important part: you don’t know if this girl likes you. Thus far, every indication you’ve given is that, while you are into her, you have no idea how she feels about you. You think she maybe, could be, possibly flirting with you. If you squint. A lot. That’s a pretty good sign that you’re doing a lot of rounding up, here. You’re seeing signs in the tea-leaves that you are hoping to see, not what’s actually there, in no small part because this all came about while you were pissed at your kinda-ex. That’s what we in the advice biz like to call “motivated reasoning”; you were looking for a way out and so you found one… that just happened to be your cute coworker.
Which actually brings me to my next point: in your letter you lay out multiple options where you leave your girlfriend, regardless of whether you leave her to pursue something with your coworker. That’s the sort of thing that makes me wonder: are you asking for my advice about what to do? Or are you asking for my permission to break up with your girlfriend? Because from the way you’ve framed things, it seems like you’ve got one foot out the door and the fact that circumstances improved have caused a delay in your exit plan.
If what you actually want is just permission to break up, even as things are going great… well, you can go ahead and do that. You can break up with your partner at any time, no matter whether things are going amazingly well or not. The only reason you need to break up with someone is that you’ve decided that this is what you want. Other people may think that it’s a dumb idea, but it’s your call if you’ve decided that you want to be single.
And frankly, I’m one of those guys who thinks that’s a really dumb idea. You had a rocky start to your relationship. That happens. What’s more important is that things are going well, now. Ditching a great relationship just because it was rough at the beginning, or you’ve got 3,720 to 1 odds of your co-worker liking you is the definition of absurdity.
If you want to be single, be single. But I think you’re making a mistake to break up like this. To quote the sage: there’re a million fine-looking women in this world; most of them won’t bring you lasagna at work.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org