Dear Dan: Without snooping, I came across texts between my wife “Mary” and a guy “Jeremy” of a very sexual nature. While I would be OK if she were doing this and I knew about it, this has been going on since before we met. (We’ve been together 10 years.) She says she has never met him in person (despite communicating with him for more than a decade!) and this was the only thing she was doing that she thought would have been out of bounds. Again, if I had known, it would have been fine. I’m not OK with her being with other guys, but I know harmless flirting can be a release. Still, I have issues with anxiety and depression, and this is definitely triggering me. I do not want to snoop and I want to trust her, but I am having a hard time with both. Prior to this, it never occurred to me that Mary would do anything that had a whiff of dishonesty about it. But her having kept this from me for as long as I have known her has made me question that. I don’t want to keep bringing this up to her, but I am struggling with it. What do you think I should do?
—Upset In The Midwest
Dear UITM: I think you should get over it, UITM.
Easier said than done, I realize, particularly with the twin burdens of anxiety and depression. But if you would have been fine with this had you known — if there was no reason for Mary to hide this LTR-of-sorts from you — the best way to prove that to her is by giving it your retroactive blessing.
You’re right, UITM: Mary shouldn’t have hidden this from you. But she assumed — incorrectly, as it turned out — you would have a problem with those texts. It was a reasonable assumption on her part, since swapping flirty texts with a stranger is regarded as “out of bounds” by most. While this makes Mary’s failure to disclose look a little worse, we live in a culture that defines absolutely everything as cheating — don’t get me started on the idiocy that is “micro-infidelities” and the idiots pushing that toxic concept — and as a consequence, people not only lack perspective (oh, to live in a world where everyone regarded harmless flirtation as no big deal!) but also the language to honesty discuss our need for a little harmless erotic affirmation from someone who isn’t obligated to find us attractive, i.e., not a spouse or partner.
Put yourself in Mary’s shoes for a moment. When should she have told you about Jeremy? What would you have done if on the third or fourth date, she looked up from her menu and said, “I’ve been swapping flirty texts with this guy for, oh, the last several years. I have no interest in him in real life, we’ve actually never even met in person, but I enjoy his texts and would like to keep swapping texts with him. I hope that’s not a problem.” You would have dumped her on the spot, right? She didn’t want to stop, she didn’t know how to talk about it, she hesitated, and… a decade went by.
If there’s nothing else — if no other shoes drop — give this your retroactive blessing.
Dear Dan: I have an unusual situation. I met a girl I am crazy about. She didn’t really have any interest in me except for the occasional drink; she just wanted to be friends. A few months later, I saw her at a bar. We drank a bit more than we could handle and slept together, and I thought we would start dating. A few weeks went by, and she always had an excuse as to why we couldn’t hang out. Then one night, she texted to say she wanted to see me, but I could tell she was tipsy. We went out for a few more drinks and then slept together again. A week later, the same thing happened. When I contact her during the day, she never seems interested. But I run over like a starved dog when she calls at night. (Sadly, due to stress and overwork, I usually can’t get hard when I go over. That’s become a big issue.) She’s very attractive, and I’m surprised she has any interest in me at all, but it’s only when she’s drunk. Besides her looks, I’m attracted by her personality and intelligence. I don’t know what attracts her to me except maybe I’m her booty call, but recently I have been terrible at it. The last time we hooked up, she told me she’s quitting drinking. Maybe she won’t contact me anymore. My question: Is it worth pursuing this if I get my ED situation fixed? Or should I just move on and if she does contact me one night, I just say, “Sorry, not interested”? It’s obvious she’s using me. But we actually have good conversations despite us both being drunk and it kinda seems like a date of some sort. What do you think?
— Summoned With A Text
Dear SWAT: She’s interested in you for only one thing (sex) and at only one time (when she’s drunk, horny, and out of other options)… and she can summon you with a single drunken late-night text. It’s actually not an unusual situation, SWAT — millions of people have received similar summonses. So long as the summoned person doesn’t want anything more than sex from the person issuing the summons, Yahtzee: Everybody gets laid, nobody gets hurt. But if the person being summoned wants more — if the summonee has unrequited feelings for the summoner — the summoned person is going to get hurt. Because what the summoner is essentially saying is this: “I want sex; I don’t want you.” Even if the sex is good, the rejection that comes bundled in that summons stings and the hurt grows over time.
So, yeah, stop answering that drunk girl’s summonses. Let her know you want more than sex, and if she’s not interested in something more, you’re not interested in her. As for those erectile issues, SWAT, try having sex sober, earlier in the evening, and with someone who doesn’t regard your dick as a consolation prize. I bet they clear right up.
Dear Dan: I am a transgender man, and my girlfriend is a transgender woman, and we have hit a plateau. Intimate time is rare, communication is minimal, and although I care for her deeply, I do not like her as a person and no longer want to get married. I have considered asking if we could open up the relationship, but I doubt that is the solution. How does one end a long-term relationship?
—Help Relationship Transition
Dear HRT: Whatever you do, HRT, please — please — don’t ask to open up your relationship when what you really want is out. A lot of people who want out do this, and it’s why so many people believe all requests to open a relationship are a sign the relationship is doomed. People who want out but ask for open inevitably get out in the end. People who want open and ask for open and get it tend to stay. But since most couples in open relationships aren’t public about it (most are more comfortable being perceived as monogamous), people hear about the insincere requests that preceded a breakup and conclude all requests are insincere.
Anyway, HRT, how does one end a long-term relationship? One uses one’s words. If “I love you” are the three magic words, then “I’m leaving you” are the three tragic words. Seeing as intimacy is rare and communication is minimal, it shouldn’t come as a shock to your soon-to-be-ex fiancée.
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