Q: I'm 29, and I have been in two "real" relationships; however, I seem to follow a pattern when it comes to dating. It seems like the only men that are interested or that I am interested in are unavailable. Married or in a long-term relationship, I've dated them all. I swear I want a committed relationship, and I'm very quick to assume it's the men that don't want one. But I'm starting to wonder: Am I the one with commitment issues?
A: I wouldn't say you're the only one with commitment issues. After all, the guys are cheating on their partners by dating you. But, yes, you do have commitment issues.
You know it. And you know what the problem is: You are not dating available guys because some part of you is afraid of a real relationship and all the vulnerability that requires. It's self-defeating, but you know that too. And you need to stop sabotaging yourself if you're going to build something real.
I get it: It can be hot to be the other one. And the lure of an illicit affair is often that you get this rush of passion—this thrill—that can feel exciting, almost as if it's actually love. But it's usually just an empty high. There's nothing brave about cheating with an unavailable guy, because you're only risking getting caught. Because you're not risking a real relationship and because you know there's no chance of your relationship going anywhere, you're not being bold. He might be risking something of value, but you're not. Emotionally, you're playing it safe. That's why the turn-on inevitably turns off.
So, yes, stop dating married guys. Take a real risk on a relationship that might actually go somewhere. If you really want a committed relationship, stop playing it safe by taking superficial risks. You've got to be bold enough to open yourself up to someone who can break your heart: They're the only ones who can really make you happy.
Q: My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year, and recently things have started to go downhill. Enter my best guy friend who I've been friends with for two years. He recently admitted that he had feelings for me and would rather be with me than his current girlfriend, which is awesome because I've always had feelings for him, like really strong feelings. Everyone around me is telling me to see where things go with my best friend, but I feel like maybe we're just both in a rough patch at the same time and it would be a mistake. What should I do?
A: Think of this like you're Tarzan. Sure, we all want to see the next vine before we let go of the one we're swinging from. But if you try to grab both at the same time, you'll fall. Or get stuck in between.
So think of this as a two-step dilemma. You need to separate the matter of your boyfriend from the question of your guy friend. First step: Decide if you want to be with your boyfriend. This might seem like it's all caught up in the idea of your flirtatious guy friend, but it shouldn't be. Don't use this specific guy as your reason. You shouldn't just be leaving your boyfriend just because you're turned on by someone else. And you shouldn't stay just because there's no other option. Forget about the friend for a minute and decide on the merits of your relationship with your boyfriend alone: Do you think you could be happier with someone else? If so, break up with him.
It's better to make the decision yourself, make a clean break, and feel good about it. Self-sabotaging the relationship by starting an affair—or a heavy flirtation—may seem like the easy way out, but actually it's not. Not only does it cloud the issue with your current boyfriend, it would make the beginning of your relationship with the new guy messier than it needs to be. Sure, lots of us have made this mistake. People leave a relationship for someone else all the time. But that's just unnecessary hassle. Honestly dealing with the issue is healthier than cheating.
Once you make that first decision (break up with your boyfriend or not), step two is easy: Decide whether you want to be with this friend or someone else. With a clear conscience, that decision should be a whole lot simpler.
Besides, you can't count on this other guy. He's got a girlfriend of his own. He's no sure thing, because he might not leave her, no matter what he says. But that's not your problem yet. Do the two-step: Make a decision about your boyfriend first. Then think about this other guy. And if you do decide to start something up with him, tell him that you're not fooling around until he ends things with his girlfriend. You don't need—or deserve—that hassle.
Q: My husband and I have been married for a little over a year. About nine months after we married, I deployed to the Middle East. After two months, I found out he had an email/fake Facebook and had joined 30+ dating and hookup sites 10 days after I had left. He claimed he never met anyone on the sites, even though he messaged upward of 50 girls asking them to come over and have wine in our hot tub. I am still deployed, but we have said we don't plan on making any decisions until I get home about our future. However, I keep finding him caught in lies such as going out to the club with his friends or ex flings that have texted him, etc. He claims he wants our marriage to work, but [even] faced with the chance of divorce, he's still lying and sneaking around. Is there even a point in trying to believe he will change?
A: There are exceptions to every rule. And I try not to give ironclad advice here, whether that's "definitely dump him" or "definitely marry him" because each one of us is complicated, and a relationship multiples that complexity times two. And we all know a couple that made things work when every clue signaled an obvious breakup and everyone thought they were doomed.
But. Come on…
You're serving your country overseas and putting your life on the line. You are clearly someone who cares about honor and a code of behavior. Meanwhile, he's inviting dozens of women to get drunk innyour hot tub. That is such bullshit.
And it's worse because he's still lying to you. You nail what's most wrong about this perfectly: "He claims he wants our marriage to work, but [even] faced with the chance of divorce and he's still lying and sneaking around." That's honestly all you need to say. You cannot trust this guy.
He knows it hurts you. He knows he's putting your marriage at risk. But he won't stop disrespecting you, and it's just a little more than one year into your marriage. I've got to think this is only going to get worse.
You loved this guy enough to marry him, so you could look hard at what's motivating this disrespectful, awful behavior—but it won't excuse the behavior itself. I don't see how you move forward with him. And, honestly, since he's the one who abused your trust, it's up to him to move heaven and earth to convince you to stay with him. I don't know how he could regain your trust. But that's not for me to say—or for you to fix— anyway. This is on him.