Dear Miss Information,
I’ve been in an open relationship for two-plus years. So far things have been great, though my boyfriend knows that, for a while now, I’ve had a baby crush on Ted, a mutual friend of ours. One night at a bar, I called Ted and got him to meet up, and then my boyfriend showed up. While I drunkenly and shamelessly flirted with Ted, my boyfriend maintained composure and hung out with our friends. At the end of the night, I left the bar with Ted and aggressively tried to get him to have sex with me. He obviously felt confused — my boyfriend is a good friend of his. I was very persistent. This is not entirely unheard of from me, but I can only think of about three times I’ve acted that way, ever. (Normally I don’t drink excessively, but I was on break from school and blowing off steam.) It was pretty embarrassing to have been so drunk and so insistent, but the sex was mind-blowing. The next morning we cuddled and kissed and I felt really glowy.
My boyfriend was hurt, but we got past it and he was okay with me continuing a relationship with Ted. For a number of reasons, Ted and I decided not to pursue anything further. But my crush on him has blown out of control and I don’t know how to deal. Ted’s an artist and his art is all over town (including my boyfriend’s bedroom wall!). It evokes a very strong response in me. Our lives are intertwined. He’s a central figure in my friend group, bartends at a bar I frequent, and is in a band with my best friend. I really like him, and I think he really likes me, but everything is so complex and confusing, especially because alcohol is involved about seventy-percent of the time we’re together. I don’t want to have to avoid him when I’m drinking for fear of making an ass of myself. What do I do? I’m obsessing, and I need to chill out. — Sticky Situation in Olympia
Dear Sticky Situation in Olympia,
Chill out? I think you need to do the opposite. I don’t know why you’re not more worried about (a) your drinking habits, and (b) the effect your infatuation with Ted the Sensitive Penis Artist could have on your relationship with your boyfriend.
Let’s talk about the booze first, Sticky Situation. I’m not here to accuse or call anyone an alcoholic. I do think you’re doing some minimizing, though:
• You cite "only" three instances in which you drank to the point of serious embarrassment and now you’re on your fourth.
• You take more risks when you drink. You’re not gobbling Ecstasy or setting shit on fire, but you become less afraid of upsetting your boyfriend and long-term fall out from neighborhood gossips.
• You’re reluctant to change your habits. You want to keep going to the same bar and keep drinking the same amount, despite the consequences. If bad things happened every time you ate mashed potatoes, would you keep on eating mashed potatoes? Why do we get so stubbornly inflexible when we’re faced with cutting down on a favorite mind-altering substance?
Again, I’m not saying you need to quit drinking. I’m sure you’re just having the boozy good times that a lot of kids have in college. I do think you need to be more realistic about your drinking and what’s going to happen when you crack that bottle. Why wouldn’t you avoid Ted while you’re drinking, or avoid drinking while you’re Tedding? Why couldn’t you simply change bars? It’ll suck at first but eventually you’ll find a new one that will be as good as the old.
Okay, on to Ted. Everything you’ve told me suggests this dalliance is a big fat No-No. You like him too much. You see him all the time. He’s friends with your boyfriend and your best friend. Any potential blow-ups would be nuclear. Are you prepared for the fall out? I fear a lonely, nuclear-winter future if that happens.
You and Ted made the right decision. Now stick to it. You want to increase your self-control and dampen your infatuation? Easy: drink less, avoid him. Spend more time with that hot, understanding boyfriend of yours, or find a new side dish. Console yourself with the knowledge that most art-boners (and music-boners, comedy-boners, etc.) wilt once you get to know the person behind them. Admiring someone’s work rarely equates with being compatible.
Dear Miss Information,
I’m a newly out-of-the-closet young gay guy. Something very embarrassing happened the other weekend, and I’m not sure I handled it well. I met a guy (a really hot guy) at a bar. We went back to his place for a one-nighter. We started messing around, and I’d say we were at it for a good couple hours. The most he ever got was halfway hard, so I hinted that it was time to stop — but he pushed for us to continue. Finally, after dropping a million hints, I got up and went home. I was polite and didn’t criticize, but the next morning I got a text. It said ":(" and that was all! I didn’t know what to do, so I ignored it. I don’t think it’s my job to make him feel better. It’s only a one-night stand. Why so much drama? I’m no Lindsay Lohan, but I know this problem will come up again. It happens when you combine sex and bar-hopping. Did I do the right thing? Am I being a jerk? What should I do next time? — New at This
Dear New at This,
It sounds like you made the right move. Here’s a person who doesn’t pick up on emotional and social cues and uses punctuation marks to communicate. Make no mistake, anyone who reads my Facebook knows that I’m not wholesale against emoticons. But there’s a big difference between using an unhappy face in reference to a friend’s "I’m having a tough day!" status update, and using it to re-establish communication after a brutally awkward encounter. Had he included a few words like, "Yikes, that didn’t go so well. I’d love to show you what I’m like when I’m off the sauce," it would have read so much better. A single, solitary emoticon is immature, like a kid scribbling a message in green crayon and getting his little brother to slip it under their parents’ bedroom door. It won’t get you a PS3 from mom and dad, and it won’t get you a relationship, either.
Of course, one of the hazards of being an advice columnist — or anyone who’s not omniscient, come to think of it — is that you only get half of the story. Maybe your "polite" read, to him, as distant and cold. Maybe he has ongoing erection problems and is growing more sensitive with each aborted launch. Had you stuck around to discuss it, perhaps you’d know. Had you spent the night, maybe he wouldn’t have felt so abandoned and dorky. Maybe you could have avoided the two-eggs-and-a-weird-text-message special the following morning.
But should you have spent the night, or at the very least stayed to talk it out? I’d say no. There are some things you can do — and every Good-Time Charlie (what my mom calls fun-loving types, which I much prefer to words like "skank" or "slut") can do — to minimize hurt feelings. They include:
Being direct before. Saying "I know it’s early to say this, but I’m really not into relationships right now" is short, clear, and non-douchey. If you plan on leaving right after the act, tell the person in advance, before they’re naked and vulnerable.
Being direct during. If you do or don’t want to do something, say so. What do you have to feel shy about? Losing the respect of someone you’ve only known for a couple of hours?
Being direct after. Ignoring messages? Uncool. I know it’s hard to rebuff someone, and with a one-night stand it seems especially justifiable to avoid. Use one of the many widely available communication methods for cowards — text, email, etc. — and send him a one-sentence rejection. It’ll be off your plate and you’ll feel better about yourself after.
Readers, do any of you have any more advice for New at This? I’m especially interested in hearing from you gay folk. Are my one-night-stand suggestions too old-fashioned and hetero-centric, or just about right?