DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’ve appreciate your advice and I’m wondering if you can help me with the issue I’m dealing with currently. I am a straight woman (24), and everyone involved here is 22 years old.
The whole story is long, but the short version is I knowingly slept with a guy who was engaged. I have a acquaintance in my current friend group, H. H had a girlfriend for most of the time I knew him, M. Earlier this year H and I slept together. H and I acknowledged that we both had feelings for each other and told me multiple times I am super important to him and he is very attracted to me. He used the word infatuated with me. He and M had been fighting the last 8-9 months which I didn’t know until about a few days ago but I knew that they weren’t happy with each other at the moment. H has cheated on M back in high school and broke up with her but then got back together. I developed strong feelings after talking ever single day morning and night, learning about each other and having sex multiple times etc yada yada.
After we slept together, H told me that he would not and is not willing to leave M and planned to marry her in which the wedding was In 2 months. I told him I’m just happy having him in my life and because I’ve never had someone put in effort to know me and compliment me I agreed to stay on the side. H made it clear that she, M, should never find out about us. I made it clear that I never wanted him to choose between me and her only that I was happy with him. Over a period of time H and I would have sex multiple times and talk on the phone everyday and text every chance we could get. H went to the grocery store after asking about foods l like and stocked up on food for me. He told me he was only practicing guitar to impress me. But with all the sneaking around I almost started to feel like he wanted to be caught. When M was home he would walk me to my car and we would kiss right in public. While she was downstairs in her bedroom, H and I had sex in another room in the house. A about a week ago, H and I had sex again and M walked in on us. She yelled at him and me and I walked out of the room. Both H and I knew that M had many suspicions about H and I to the point were she told H” I don’t like the way you look and talk to her(me), because you don’t look and talk to me the same way.” M also would make H leave the house with her when I came over to hangout with another friend who lives in the house. ( This house consists of 5 boys which I and them are all friends, M was living in the house with H). The next morning M came by and packed up all her things and moved out. I chose to give H some space as the family and many there knew what went down and I thought I’d wait about a week then reach out to see how he was doing. M very clearly dislikes me. M and I have never been friends, just met once, but I’m part of the friend group her fiancé(H) is in so I see H and the boys all the time.
H then blocked me on social media and through phone/text. When my other friend,N, who lives in the house invited me over to hang as I met H through N, H and I sat and talked to which when I asked him why he blocked me and said “I had to. M told me to block you.” I can understand why she would want that but I asked him if he personally for himself wanted to block me as blocking someone usually means they don’t want anything to do with that person anymore. H said nothing is my fault and he knew exactly what he was doing. He said he told M that he initiated everything and pursued me. But that he and M are trying to figure stuff out and trying to decide whether they want to remain together or not. Therefore he said verbatim “ I am not willing to unblock you until M gives me permission to unblock you or when she is comfortable with me talking to you one on one again”. That hit in a type of way that I still haven’t been able to put my finger on it. It doesn’t make any sense. Why would someone block me, say that they didn’t want to block me but they’re only doing it until they get confirmation from the ex, and if the ex gives them permission to unblock me then they will”. H said that he wants to remain friends and is more than willing to hang out when I come over at the house but he’s not willing to talk to me one on one or hang out one on one until M gives him permission. He keeps saying that he is sorry but that I told him that he always says sorry but never has a reason and that his patterns don’t change. All I get is sorry and he said that that’s all he can give people is a sorry.
I feel stupid about the whole thing, and have have a lot of anxiety when I go over to hang out that I did not have before. Everyone in the friend group has stated that they don’t think anything is my fault because I’ve acknowledged and communicated very clearly that I have romantic feelings towards H & H also knew from the get go and still knows that I have romantic feelings towards him. I don’t think anything is my fault I know the role I played and the only role that I played is I knowingly got involved with someone who was engaged and stayed involved with him because I developed feelings for him and I truly believed that he developed feelings for me and I wanted him. He would constantly say that he developed feelings for me and when we talked he told me that he considered what we had a relationship and when we hung out like dates. I truly believe that he generally cared for me I just think that he is confused and I don’t know and what area of his life and I think that he is codependent and I think that he’s not able to make his own decisions to what he wants. He has said himself that he is a people pleaser so I feel like he has been trying to please M and me at the same time and that’s not realistic.
I’ve had moments after being around Him where I’ve considered giving up on our friendship/interest altogether, but that would mean me having make a decision on losing/removing someone I cared about and still care about. I would wonder “what if”. I often feel angry, hurt, and rejection and I point it at myself because I’m not accepting something that didn’t go my way. I’ve had rejection before and I’ve had a okay amount of break ups before so I don’t know why I am taking this one so personally. Every break up is hard and losing people and people blocking you is hard and I’ve been able to move on with it within a few days but for some reason this one is sticking with me. Like I feel rejected and betrayed but then I tell myself why am I surprised because he did originally say that he had no plans on leaving her. She had to leave him and yet they’re still considering being together. Which basically just means I have no chance and I am just someone on the side that could distract him from his upcoming marriage. I tell myself that time heals everything so I’ve been trying to over the days distract myself by working out and getting books from the library to read but yet the same words keep replaying in my head “ I will only unblock you if M allows me to unblock you”. Which in a way says to me that he’s saying “I am only willing to be your friend if M chooses not to be with me anymore. If she and I stay together, I am not willing to talk to you again unless I see you in person”. Although time has gotten easier within the week it still plays in my mind how someone could allow someone else to have so much power over them in deciding who they want in their lives. And I’m having a very hard time Being able to frame it in my mindset in a different way where it doesn’t bother me anymore. And I’m having trouble being able to see it from a males perspective who has been in a long-term relationship. But also in a relationship that he has not been fully happy in. Why does someone choose to stay with someone they’re not happy with, when that person really has nothing materialistic or financially wealthy to offer them.
I finally got to the point where this negative energy was taking up so much of my mindset and just my heart was pounding, certain songs would make me think about him, and certain movies I can’t watch at the moment. So I eventually this morning messaged my friend, N, who I met H through, and because they live in the same house and N is not really a part of any of this I decided to tell N that because of the whole situation with H deciding to block me and only wanting to see me over at the house until he gets “permission”, I didn’t think that H deserves to be able to see me. Therefore I would not be willing to hang out with H anymore as H & N and I would normally hang out together most of the time. H and N are also best friends and are like brothers. I told N that I would be willing to hang out with him but for the time being I thought it was just too disrespectful to allow someone to get to have me in their life but also block me at the same time. Basically saying “hey I still care about you and want to be your friend but I’m going to block you and keep you blocked”. I told N that I understand that he didn’t want to be in the middle of it and he has been in the middle of it because H and I are his two best friends so he’s basically watching his two best friends fight. But I chose to do this for myself because I don’t know what else to do to control my situation. I can’t control H’s actions or feelings or anyone else’s so I have to try to control my own. And I feel like I haven’t had control of the situation. I feel like maybe I have attachment issues and I don’t like people leaving or ignoring me. I personally just feel like I wouldn’t be able to come over to the house and see H without some type of resentment towards him due to the fact that he is choosing to block me off of someone else’s demand. I told N this obviously isn’t the most ideal situation but it’s the only thing that I can think of to allow myself to heal. I am not able to heal while still having in person contact with H. I told N that I don’t feel like I will be able to move on in a healthy way if I hang out with him and H every single weekend like usual. N didn’t respond, and still hasn’t responded so I don’t really know what to make of that. H told me that he will reach out to me if he gets the OK to do so. I feel like this is just a way to keep me waiting around. Yet in all this craziness I’m still beating myself up because there’s this a little bit of me hoping that H will choose me. Even though I really don’t think that will happen. I don’t think I have a .05% chance of him choosing me.
And I guess that’s where I could use your help. Moving on in a healthy way. Being able to word anything in a more clear concise and understandable way to get my point across to H. Should I even try to get my point across to H even though I’ve tried many times. Any point of view from a male mindset. Any advice would be appreciated. Because in reality right now either I get over my ego and hang out with both H and N because N( my friend) lives in the same house with H and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Therefore am I putting N in a position where he feels like he has to choose between me and H. Or for the time being should I expect N to respect my decision to not want to personally see H, and if N drops me as a friend it’s for the better. Or just overall how do I go about the situation knowing that either I have to choose to not hang out with one of my friends to not see someone who has disrespected me. Or is there a way that I can hopefully move on, protect my own feelings and heart and emotions and energy, while being able to hang out with N and see H at the same time. In reality if I want to hang out with N, I will probably see H.
The Other Woman
DEAR THE OTHER WOMAN: Hooo boy.
OK, TOW, that was a lot of words to explain a fairly simple situation. But before I get to your question, let me take a moment for a sidebar.
Recently I discovered the animated series Human Resources on Netflix. It’s an animated spin-off of the series Big Mouth, building off the concept of Hormone Monsters and adding creatures for other emotional states, like Shame Wizards, Logic Rocks, Addiction Angels and Love Bugs. One of the highlights of the show is the song “Are You In Love (Or Just An A--hole)?”, about whether banging someone else’s partner is ok or not. The song posits that hey, if you’re in love, it’s all good because all’s fair in love and war. If not… you’re an asshole. The song’s catchy, hilarious… and absolutely f--king wrong. Just because you may be in love with someone (or think you are) that doesn’t give you the right to interfere in someone else’s relationship. Especially not in a way that ultimately just hurts them for no good reason.
That’s what happened. You f--ked the wrong guy. You did so knowing that he had a fiance, that even at the time, he wasn’t going to leave his fiance for you and that this ran the risk of blowing up messily and all over the place.
And oh look, it blew up, messily and all over the place. And now you’re feeling sad because hey, it blew up on you and there’re consequences.
Let’s be real, TOW: despite what your friends said, you absolutely share some of the blame. You knew what the situation was and you knew what the stakes were and what could happen. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely understand what it’s like to be twitterpated or when the sex is so damn good you don’t think about how it’s going to affect other people. But even so, you knew he had a fiancé and he was still planning on marrying her despite everything and you kept on keeping on. And so you f--ked around and you found out… literally.
Actions have consequences, and in this case, those consequences mean that you’re not gonna be seeing H any more. If H and his BFF are joined at the hip, then that means you’re not gonna be seeing the BFF either.
The thing is: I’m not sure why you’re confused about the outcome. H’s blocked you at M’s request because he’s trying to make the relationship work with M. Seeing as she quite literally caught you in the act, I can’t say I’m surprised that she’s made cutting you out a condition of the two of them trying to patch things up. I am kind of surprised that H did so – more on that in a second – but he’s told you the score. He cheated on M. He broke her trust. If he wants to stay with her, then part of making things up to her means that he has to prove that he’s worthy of her trust again. That means, amongst other things, not deliberately putting himself in temptation’s way… which, in turn, means that he needs to end his relationship with you.
That’s all fairly straight forward. They may well not be a good couple and M may not be a good match for him. This may be a doomed attempt to save a relationship that can’t be saved. But seeing as H and M are grown-ass adults, if that’s a mistake, it’s a mistake they both have the right to make, and your feelings or opinions don’t really matter. You’re certainly welcome to have thoughts, feelings and opinions on the matter, but relationships aren’t a democracy. You don’t get a vote or a veto over someone else’s relationship. Even a relationship that you intruded upon.
Now here’s the thing: H doesn’t really sound like a prize himself, if I’m being honest. The whole “oh my relationship with my wife is SO rocky, I just don’t know what to do…” is a song that’s literally older than steam. It’s the mating call of cheating douchebags everywhere. In fact, it’s such a cliche that I remain amazed that people still buy it. But clearly they do because it just keeps. Happening. But hey, people make dumb decisions around sex and infatuation – myself very much included – so I get that. But H basically gave all the signals that something was rotten in Denmark. I mean, “I’m banging you but I’m still not going to leave my fiancé” is another cliche that’s old as the hills. As many women before you have learned: if he was going to leave, he would’ve done so. He didn’t because he was never going to. Hell, H had no reason to leave; he was getting to get married and have you as his side-piece. You didn’t so much as make his being in a relationship with you conditional on breaking up with his fiancé.
And look, I know he said he was developing feelings for you. Maybe he was, or maybe he was rounding the “having sex with a new person” glow up to love, or maybe he was confused about what he was feeling. But based on what he was doing? I think he was saying whatever s--t he needed to in order to keep you around. I mean, when presented with the choice of you or M, he very clearly chose M, and did so in a way that squeezed you out. That seems pretty indicative of where his feelings ultimately lay.
Now, under other circumstances, I’d say that his actions speak to a deeper truth. The fact that the two of you were taking greater and greater risks – such as f--king while M was in the house – suggests that he was looking to get caught.If things had played out differently, I’d say that he was trying to slam his fist on the “relationship self-destruct” button as hard as he could in order to get out of the relationship. But when given the chance to end it after all… he didn’t. So maybe he just got off on the risk of it all. Maybe transgressing like this, so openly, gave him a charge. Or maybe getting caught made him reprioritize and he realized that he had something worth keeping with M. Or, hell, maybe he ultimately decided that not ending things with M was the path of least resistance.
Ultimately? The reasons don’t matter as much as the actions do, and the actions were that he blatantly cheated with you, got caught and dumped you. So, all in all? Not a great guy, and honestly, I’m not entirely sure why you’d want someone who treated you that disrespectfully, who treated his fiancé that disrespectfully and doesn’t seem to have it in him to apologize to you for having done this. If he cared for you as more than a side piece, I’d say that he owes you an apology, to say the least, for behaving the way he did, for stringing you along and leaving you out to dry in the aftermath.
Now, it certainly seems like H is getting off lightly, which sucks since he’s committed his own sins during all of this. But that, unfortunately, is life; it ain’t fair, the just often get punished and the unjust often go unscathed. But that’s out of your hands; the only person who you can control is you. And so the only thing you can do is deal with the consequences of the choices you made. This may well mean that you can’t see N, if the only way you ever get to see him is at their shared home. It means that H is off limits and likely will be for quite some time. So my advice? Wipe your hands of the whole mess and move on. Give yourself time to mourn the loss of this relationship, rage a little about how unfairly H treated you, how much this all sucks and then let it go. After you’ve mourned the loss of the relationship, take some time and do some soul searching about the choices you made – again, I stress, you knew he was engaged – and why you made them. The more you can understand the why, the more you can grow so that you don’t make those same choices again.
It’s a s--tty, high-drama situation that is in no small part of your own making. But you’re young, and drama and s--tty decisions are the prerogative of the young. You were infatuated and love makes fools of us all. While that doesn’t make things right, it makes things understandable. However, part of the point of making those mistakes and being foolish is to grow past those mistakes, learn from them and – hopefully – be better people on the other side.
And, seriously: next time, realize you deserve better than someone who’s not just keeping you as his side-piece, but who’s treating you and his partner so disrespectfully. You deserve better than that, so don’t settle for that.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com