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How can I get over my jealousy about my boyfriend's friendships with other women?
By Cait Robinson
Have a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be edited for length, content, and clarity.
Dear Miss Information,
My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost two years now, and we have a son together. The thing is, I can't seem to get over my jealousy issues. He has a lot of girls as friends, and it irritates me when he touches them (meaning a hug or a hand on their shoulder). I've tried to let it go, but I hate it.
He's accused me of being self-absorbed, but I'm not. I have no self-confidence, and I try to think good thoughts about myself, but I can't. I hate my body. When he's with other girls, all I can think is, "Why is he with me?" We talked one time and he told me that my jealousy issue is pushing him away. I've been trying to get over this, but I just can't seem to. I love him to death and I don't want to lose him. The more I keep trying to get ahold of my problems, the more it seems I can't.
— Miss Confused
Dear Miss Confused,
I like the overuse of "miss"; it makes this correspondence feel hyper-formal. Miss Confused, will you be at the barn raising later? I hear that John Smith has his eye on you. Bring your finest bonnet. Fondly, Miss Information.
You rightly identified that this is a confidence issue in you, and I give you a lot of credit for recognizing that. I know, I know, "confidence" is a nebulous and elusive beast — and, like you said, the harder you grasp at it, the harder it is to obtain. I'm curious about your boyfriend's role in this, though. Based on your letter, I suspect he may not be as empathetic with you as he could be. You could probably use reassurance ("I love you; you're the mother of my son") rather than criticism ("your jealousy bugs me"). Tell him how to support you, and you may find that the relationship gets stronger.
To improve your confidence, start by prioritizing yourself. Your comment that you hate your body is a good place to start. Many women turn general discontent inward and take it out on their bodies (i.e. "if only I were prettier, if only I were a size 2…"). It's bullshit, but it happens. Taking control of your health and reconnecting with your body could help reverse that. Carve out time to go to a yoga class, jog, lift weights — whatever you enjoy. That will have the double effect of boosting your mood and giving you time to yourself.
Make time to see friends and family and cultivate relationships with people other than your boyfriend. Even befriending other young mothers would be a great idea: sign up for a "mommy and me" class, chat with moms with strollers at the park, or find a mothers group at your church or community center. You may find that your insecurities are more common than you think. Having strong female relationships is key — the antidote to jealousy of other girls may, paradoxically, lie in befriending other girls.
Find other sources of validation in your life and you'll see your confidence grow. And, of course, keep an eye on your relationship as a whole. If your boyfriend is not supportive of your desire to change, then you may want to reconsider your dynamic.
Dear Miss Information,
I met this guy on a vacation about six months ago. We live in different cities, a six-hour drive apart. He came to visit me twice in two months and I visited twice also. We have sex each time we meet. But he says we are not a couple. It bothers me, because we have sex, then he goes back to his city, and I'm not sure what he does there.
I'm getting attached, and it scares me. But I know he cares: he bought me a birthday present, which is boyfriend behavior. But he still won't give me what I want. I don't want him to engage in any sexual behavior with anyone else. What should I do?
— Long Distanced
Dear Long Distanced,
If you want him to stay exclusive, talk to him. And if he says no, then stop sleeping with him. It seems like sex is the flash point here, and if you're not comfortable with non-monogamy, don't put yourself in a position where you need to put up with it.
Dear Miss Information,
I am a twenty-six-year-old woman. I really love giving oral sex, which wasn't a problem when I had a boyfriend.
I've been single for two years now and it's a pleasure that I was really missing. So about five months ago, I started approaching students at a university, about twelve miles from where I live, in my car. I pretend to ask for directions and then I offer them oral sex. I've had a few refuse, but most get in my car with me and I drive to a secluded spot where I then perform oral sex on them and swallow. I only approach them if they're alone, and afterwards I drop them back where I picked them up. I usually do this once or twice a week.
My closest friend, who found out I was doing this a couple of weeks ago, thinks I should find a sex buddy, but I've come to like the variety. I did get myself checked for STDs about a month and a half ago, and the results were okay. But is there a safer way to enjoy this without committing to just one guy?
— Orally Fixated
Dear Orally Fixated,
I sense a distinct residue of Penthouse Forum on this letter, mostly in how fast it went from zero to "trenchcoat." What kind of car do you drive? A Ford E-Series? But sure, Fixated, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Because there is a chance that you are, indeed, a girl who loves giving head, rather than a college boy with an eternal spring of hope.
Let me just say that tricking partners into sex is uncool, not to mention risky. No matter which side you're on, "Hey, pretty-pretty, get in my van" is an unacceptable opening line. If you just love giving blowjobs, there are a million healthier outlets than cruising campuses. You should find no shortage of willing (and non-tricked!) partners.
The assumption that it's either "long-term relationship" or "anonymous sex under false pretenses" is reductive. There's a whole spectrum of other options. Your friend who suggested that you find a friend-with-benefits is on the right track. It's safer because you know and can talk to the person, yet strings-free enough that you could maintain a couple of those situations if you want. You can also do this the old-fashioned way: go to a bar, chat up a cute stranger, exchange numbers. In short, vet him. You're certainly not confined to monogamy, but you need to know who you're dealing with.
The biggest problem here is the hyper-anonymous, unprotected sex. (Plus the trickery. We've discussed the trickery, right?) You can still hook up with tons of guys, but if you know who they are, you can stay in touch if something goes wrong. If you're going to have anonymous sex, you need to use protection. If you insist on not using protection, you need to be more careful about your partners.