Advice

Miss Information: Platonic or potential trouble? My boyfriend hangs out with his gal pal more than me.

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Miss Information

Have a question? Email erin@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.

Dear Miss Information,

I’ve been dating a great guy for about ten months; we’re both single parents, though we haven’t yet met each other’s kids.  I’ve never had such consistently good sex and I’m developing strong feelings for him. We spend an adequate amount of time together in person — much of it is in bed, but there have been long dates where it hasn’t been all time spent in bed. We also IM regularly. All in all, I’m quite happy.

Here’s my quandary:  he spends a lot of time with a long-time female friend; last week they went out to dinner three times! Once upon a time they tried to date, but apparently the chemistry wasn’t there, so they quit as not to ruin a perfectly good friendship. I have concerns that their friendship may blossom into a full-blown relationship. The way I see it, I have two choices: ride it out and remind myself whatever is meant to be will be, or tell him about my insecurities. I’m really starting to like him a lot and don’t want to get hurt. Any insight you would be greatly appreciated. Anxious in Paradise

Dear Anxious in Paradise,

Freud’s a bit of a tool box (a pink one, filled with extra-large screwdrivers) but he was onto something when he talked about that whole transference deal. The worries you’re having and the questions you’re asking about your guy’s female friend could very well be the same as the issues you’re dealing with yourself.

Why do I say that? A couple of reasons. You’ve been dating this guy for nearly a year, and yet you never once refer to him as your boyfriend. You describe your amount of time together as “adequate,” and while you’re happy that the adult naked time is so good ‘n’ plenty, you also  seem to have some dissatisfaction there.  Instant messaging is good and sex is even better, but neither is the same as going out to dinner. I’m not saying one is better than the other. I’d never want to have to choose between great Italian and great oral. But each represents a different aspect of a relationship, and most people are happiest when the activities are balanced.

I know being a single parent dating another single parent probably makes that less possible. However, to an outside observer, something feels off. In addition to your limited “date-like” time together, neither of you has discussed exclusivity (at least, that’s what it sounds like if you’re worried about he and this other woman “blossoming”) and neither of you has met the other’s children. The whole setup feels very informal. Are you feeling comfortable with that, Anxious in Paradise? Do you want to continue with the non-status-quo? It sounds like you don’t.

Riding it out is easy because it’s non-confrontational, but you are suppressing your feelings and anxieties. Ignoring them won’t make them go away; they’ll just build under the surface, like a volcano or a zit. Talking it out feels riskier. You may ask questions like, “Where do you see this whole thing heading?” and not like the answers. But if I were you, I’d take that gamble. If he’s not serious about you or in love with this other woman (the latter seems highly unlikely) then it’s going to reveal itself regardless of whether or not you say something. Wouldn’t you rather know now, than endure another couple months of torture? If you do decide to speak up, remember that how you express yourself matters. Be open and honest, but kind and non-accusatory. Good luck. I’d love an update when you have one.

Dear Miss Information,

I’ve been seeing my fuck buddy for close to four months. We’re both gay. He knows I’m not ready for a serious relationship. We hook up three or more nights a week, whenever we can find the time: late night, early morning, after class, you name it. He’s asked me if I’ve been with other guys since we started seeing each other and I told him no. He didn’t say anything in return, so I assumed he was doing (or rather, not doing) the same. Recently, I was gossiping with a mutual friend who told me that my fuck buddy’s been hooking up with a guy outside our circle.

I’m not furious, but I am upset. Shouldn’t he have told me when I told him? Right now I’m deciding what to do. I’m sure he’s wondering what the hell’s come over me. We usually talk all the time and now I haven’t said a word to him in several days. The text messages are piling up. I’m afraid if I talk to him I’ll just go medieval and that’ll be the end of it. He’ll write me off as psycho and I’ll never get to screw him again. Needless to say, he’s really good at what he does. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a dilemma. Fucked-With Fuck Buddy

Dear Fucked-With Fuck Buddy,

There are two schools of thought on fuck-buddy disclosure:

The conservative school says that all fuck buddies must be informed of the existence of other fuck buddies. One need not go into specifics regarding favorite positions, what the other person does for a living, or even their first name. All you need to tell your fuck buddy is whether or not protection is being used (and of course the answer here should always be “yes”) and if, at any given time, there might be multiple partners in the mix.

The more liberal school says that fuck buddies don’t need to be explicitly told, and that doing so veers dangerously close to asking permission, which is antithetical to the whole fuck-buddy arrangement. Just have fun, don’t think too hard, and (as I said a whopping paragraph earlier) make sure you’re using the appropriate protection.

Which school you belong to is a personal decision. The problem  is that other people can’t read your mind. There are no “University of Fuck-‘n’-Tell” or “Let’s-Not-Talk-About-It Poly Tech” sweatshirts. As uncomfortable as it is, you have to communicate.

I know that sounds daunting. But the good news is you don’t have to think of it that way. Say it early, and establish it as a casual preliminary: “Just so I know, do you want this to be a fuck-don’t-tell kind of thing, or should we be more specific about seeing other people? Here’s what I think would be best…”

Obviously that convo can’t happen now. The penis is out the bag. It’s a little too late. Since you guys didn’t have any sort of agreement, now’s the time to make one. Tell him that it bothered you that he wasn’t more forthcoming about his outside activities and you had to hear it from a friend. I wouldn’t get hung up on whether or not he lied by omission, or backtracking to the prior conversation. Lay out what you want — whether it’s fuck-buddy celibacy or something less stringent. Some of you might say that’s letting Fuck Buddy off too easily, but remember that Fucked-With doesn’t want to fire this guy. It’s more about negotiating with the talent. Write him an email if you think you won’t be able to keep from getting snippy. Have your most sane friend read it (or, hell, send it to me) as a head check. If you word it right , and Fuck Buddy wants what you want, he’ll understand.