Advice

Miss Information: How can I stop myself from cheating on a great boyfriend?

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Miss Info

Dear Miss Information,

A little while ago, I met a guy through the personals on this website. We hit it off on the first date. Soon after, I found out that he’s the Creative Director at a major multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporation. I’m unemployed; I’m in major grad school debt; I’m disorganized, and my house is (always) a disaster.

Tomorrow he’s coming to pick me up for a date. I’m not going to let him inside to see my mess. At some point, though, he’s going to find out that I’m a total disaster. So my question is — how can I get him to either not find out, or not care? — Ashamedly Disorganized Disaster

Dear Ashamedly Disorganized Disaster,

Wait a minute, you’re unemployed?! In this economy? How dare you. There’s a word for people like you. It’s called "just about half of everyone I know." And what’s this about having debt? It better not be a penny higher than the $43,874 everybody else owes. I can’t believe you squandered it on something as frivolous as grad school. (Personally, I would have bought a pet monkey and hired this guy as my personal chauffeur.)

You’re a bit of a slob. What exactly are we talking about? Quirky free spirit with a bathtub ring, or casting call for Hoarders? If it’s the latter, then put the dating on hold and get some help. Therapy’s the best solution, but if you’re cash-poor you can look into cleaning services and professional organizers. Some websites have barter sections where you can trade your grad school expertise for cleaning help. My guess? You’re cleaner than you think you are. Gather some outside opinions before you go making assumptions.

While we’re on the subject, why does all this equate with you being "a total disaster" of a person? Just because someone appears to have their shit together doesn’t mean anything at all. My day job is in advertising and you know what I hear when I hear "Creative Director"? Someone who works too much, travels too much, has given up all the dreams they once had as a young art student and is stressed out of their fucking gourd. They’re in a creative job but don’t get to be creative because of pesky things like clients and lawyers. Thus, they smother their feelings with artisanal tequila, reruns of Mad Men, and expensive Japanese sneakers. (No offense, boss.)

Most people are okay with flaws. They’re less okay with liars. I think it’s good a move not to invite him in to see your filth but you also don’t have to give him any more information than is required. "I’m doing some work on it, it’s pretty torn up right now," should hold you for a few more dates.

In the meantime, actually do some work, on your house and yourself. Unemployment isn’t a dealbreaker if you’re actively trying to get a job. Neither is debt, if you’re not spending like a ninny. You’d be surprised what warmth, charm, and good manners can do for overcoming perceived flaws. The prize doesn’t go to the person that’s best on paper but the person that’s best in person.

Readers, have you ever met a person that didn’t meet any of your dating criteria and is now your one-and-only? What about a person that seemed like Mr./Ms. Perfect who turned out to be a big disappointment?

Dear Miss Information,

I have a boyfriend I care deeply about. I also have non-stop lust for a guy I know. He’s not sexier, hotter, in better shape, or in any way superior to my boyfriend. However, I can’t help but want him ALL THE TIME. I’m trying so hard not to cheat because I know this guy wants me too. How can I get over him?! Help! — Pheromones Gone Wrong

Dear Pheromones Gone Wrong,

Let’s start by taking some of the danger, excitement, and adventure out of it. Everyone in long-term monogamous relationships gets crushes. Everyone. This is not a case of two would-be lovers versus The World. It might feel like that, but his penis and your vagina are in no way original.

No doubt you feel a lot of guilt, which can be good. I know what you’re thinking — "Guilt is good, whaaa?" But it all depends on how you process it. When those bad feelings hit, you can say, "This is just my brain and body telling me that whatever I’m doing probably isn’t right for me," or you can say, "Might as well screw that person, because I am and will always be a complete fuck-up." The idea isn’t to reward yourself for acting shady, more to keep reminding yourself of who you are and, more importantly, who you want to continue to be. Resisting temptation requires self-confidence. The ability to say "no" when someone is showing interest because you know there are already two other people who think you’re hot-as-balls: you, and your partner.

It’s also the ability to act in your own self-interest. You know that scene in Office Space where the cheesy guys from middle management tell employees to ask themselves before making any and all decisions, "Is this good for the company?" It’s funny because it’s so asinine and simplistic, but substitute "the relationship" for "the company" and what’s muddled becomes crystal clear. Check it out:

Q: Should I maintain a friendship with Hot Guy?

A: Is it good for the relationship?

Q: Should I respond to Hot Guy’s late-night texts?

A: Is it good for the relationship?

Q: Should I go out of my way to be around Hot Guy when my boyfriend is absent and Jack Daniels and Jose Cuervo are the only other people around?

A: Is it good for the relationship?

At the same time you’re getting that under control, you should also be thinking about the underlying causes. Cheating is rarely about the person you cheat with. There are a zillion hot people out there, and you yourself already said he’s in no way as great as your boyfriend. Are you bored? Lonely? Anxious? Spending too much time with your boyfriend? Channel that crush energy into figuring it out. Be rude to Hot Guy if you have to. Whatever it takes to neutralize his influence. You don’t owe an explanation to someone who’s flirting with a taken person. One must act quickly and decisively when in survival mode.

Readers, have you ever come thisclose to cheating? How did you avoid it? Do you think it’s a good idea to share your near miss with the person you’re seeing or are they better off not knowing?

Photography: Inatsuka
Hair & Makeup: Nevio Ragazzini