Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Can’t Remember If I Cheated!”

Jack and I have been together for almost three and a half years. Our relationship has been consistently so close, passionate, supportive, committed, trusting, open (we tell each other everything) and loving. I have never felt so totally intertwined with anyone else (in a healthy way!). He understands me and I understand him. He is the kindest, most caring, dedicated, fun, exciting, sexy boyfriend, and from early on I surprised myself by telling him I felt I could, and wanted to, spend my life with him. He felt, and feels, the same way! Of course, we argue and have problems sometimes, and my childhood scars (an abusive family) sometimes lead me to act in unhealthy ways, but in this respect I get better every day. (I am in therapy to feel better for myself, but also for us). I am so committed to being the best I can for me–and for him. Therapy is helping my obsession with perfection, but I still have issues with it that affect my relationship. About a year ago, a sort-of friend at college invited me to a group dinner. I had an inkling he was attracted to me, but plenty of girls with boyfriends were going and Jack was fine with it. The dinner was the most drunken affair I’ve ever experienced – I was insanely drunk; I practically had no idea who or where I was. After the dinner we went to a club. The next morning I woke up (feeling abysmal) with a hazy but regretful memory: I had danced inappropriately close with this guy and welcomed his flirting far too much. (I remember half thinking he WAS Jack, in my awful state). But thank God, I thought, I did not do anything TOO stupid, like let him kiss me! I would remember that; I’m sure I would have burst into tears at the time if it had happened.

However, my friend told me the next day that someone said they had seen us, possibly kissing, in the club. When I heard this, I went into panic and confusion and called the guy. He said his memory was very bad, too, but said, “I’m pretty sure we did, but whatever, just tell yourself we didn’t.” I was so devastated and confused. I am awful at trusting myself, even though my memory told me that our lips never actually touched. I am still quite clear about this and would not lie to myself, but I can’t help obsessing over the possibility that we did, in fact, have our lips touch during the inappropriate dancing. Jack knows the entire story, and, aside from initial upset, is decidedly unbothered. He says: “Please don’t worry about it; it doesn’t matter and I trust your memory over his anyway. Either way, it is insignificant. I still trust you completely and this was a just a small mistake, if it happened at all.” He never thinks about it and just wants me to stop worrying.

I have crippling guilt over something I quite possibly NEVER DID! My obsession with perfection won’t let it go. My mind goes into over-drive: “I don’t think I kissed him at all, but what if I did, what would that mean, people say you can’t cheat if you truly love someone, but I truly love him, but maybe this means I’m kidding myself?!” Incidentally, what’s your take on: “If you cheat, it means you don’t love someone.”

Our relationship and our love are indescribably important to me and Jack. I feel like this maybe-possibly-sort-of cheating has tarnished our record of full, happy fidelity and kindness. We don’t even think monogamy is essential to love (although we choose it regardless), but the idea of cheating is so disgusting to both of us when we care so much. How do I reconcile this possible (or imagined) occurrence with that? I’m not a cheater! — Obsessed with Perfection

So… this “maybe-possibly-sort-of cheating” happened a whole year ago, your boyfriend basically shrugged it off and told you not to worry about it, you yourself can’t even remember the incident and suspect it didn’t even happen and yet you can’t let it go? Am I missing something here?

Honestly, if you’re so wracked with guilt over this thing that may or may not have happened a year ago, there’s something else going on. Either you’re lying to yourself about not remembering anything, you’re lying to yourself about being in love with your boyfriend, or you’re …. bored and looking for something — anything! — to create a little drama.

I’m just confused about what the last year of your relationship has been like if you’ve been so consumed with this possible transgression that you’re crippled with guilt. If that’s true — if you’ve truly been crippled — then by definition, you’ve been unable to move forward. And if that’s the case, your relationship has been at a standstill. For a whole year. And yet, you describe it as passionate?

I don’t know what to tell you. It doesn’t add up. This letter doesn’t ring true to me. But regarding your question about whether I believe that “If you cheat, it means you don’t love someone,” the answer is no, I don’t believe that. That sounds like something a 19-year-old kid made up to give herself permission to question a relationship that on paper seems perfect but leaves her feeling less than thrilled. And if you happen to be someone who needs permission to question your relationship — if you need a “record of happy fidelity” to be tarnished in order to analyze what your true feelings are, I’ll leave you with this: perhaps your boyfriend didn’t give you any grief over your “maybe-possibly-sort-of cheating” because he’s been guilty of something similar. Or maybe he’s confident enough in your relationship that he can’t imagine anything ever threatening the bond he shares with you, and nothing would ever make him question your love and commitment to him. Which scenario is scarier?

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

119 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Desiree March 7, 2013, 9:06 am

    There is another possibility here, considering the LW’s constant reference to perfection: OCD or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. The history of an abusive family significantly increases the probability of this being a psychiatric issue. I suggest counseling and possibly cognitive behavioral therapy.

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    • avatar

      Something Random March 7, 2013, 9:44 am

      I agree. It sounds to me like this is an anxiety issue (which is at the root of OCD/perfectionist tendencies). I’m willing to bet if the letter writer wasn’t obsessing over this, it would just be something else. There is no answer to this question of cheating that will be enough for her to move on. I think she is looking for reassurance which will temporarily relieve the anxiety but she will need it again and again until she learns how to manage her anxiety internally. I think she should discuss anxiety-reducing techniques with her therapist.

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      • avatar

        T_explainsitall March 7, 2013, 12:22 pm

        This! I don’t really agree with Wendy’s advice bc I suffer from Anxiety/Panic disorder so I know exactly what the LW is referring to. I don’t think she is compensating for something else, she is genuinely going out of her mind with this. I, too, have experienced ongoing paranoia for certain situations (in many different aspects of my life) where I cannot stop thinking about it & I question myself over & over. My therapist calls it the “worry train,” I’m sure the LW is aware of that term too. I 100% agree she wrote this in for reassurance to calm her anxiety & just as you said, it will only be a temporary fix.
        LW, if you’ve already discussed this with your BF & he is telling you it’s ok, it’s OK!! We are human beings & we are not perfect. We cannot live a life of perfection. For me, telling my bf would’ve done the job & calming me down & getting over it. Not everyone is the same, but you need to be strong & tell yourself to “get off the worry train.”
        I went through a specific anxiety clinic program, I learned a lot of tools & it’s helped me SO MUCH. The best part is, a lot of universities do it so it’s very affordable! I suggest looking into schools in your area & seeing if they have a program like that. For now, just breathe & let it go. LET IT GO!

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    • avatar

      applescruffs March 7, 2013, 9:54 am

      Totally agree. An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) group might be good. Or a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders.

      Which I am! So until you can get into regular therapy, give this a try: The chemical piece of emotions lasts for about 90 seconds. The lingering piece comes from our thoughts about the emotions. You can’t control the chemical part, but you can learn to control, or at least direct, your thoughts. The next time you feel a wave of guilt, anxiety, or whatever, close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and just experience that emotion for 90 seconds. No analyzing, no judgement, just experiencing. Then distract the hell out of yourself. You might also do a quick google search for mindfulness techniques to help with those thoughts after the initial experience of the emotion. I recommend Jon Kabot-Zinn for some easy mindfulness techniques you can learn and do throughout the day. Good luck!

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      • avatar

        applescruffs March 7, 2013, 9:59 am

        Edit – you’re in regular therapy! That’s great! Ask your therapist about thought stopping techniques, and do learn a little more about mindfulness meditation. It’s so helpful for anxiety disorders. So is group therapy – I know it’s scary, but you learn so much about yourself.

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      • avatar

        ktfran March 7, 2013, 10:13 am

        I actually am doubting whether or not the LW is seeing the right therapist or really opening up to her therapist. Because if she has had these debilitating cheating thoughts for more than a year, the therapist should be addressing this.

        LW, either you’re not really talking to your therapist, or your therapist sucks. But I think most of us agree you need to see one, so proceed accordingly. I’m a worrier. It’s not soul crushing. But my mind never shuts off and I worry about the stupidest things. My therapist has helped me direct my thoughts. A good therapist will know what you need and help give you the tools you need to manage life.

        And remember, life is messy. Nothing is perfect. And if you’re truly afraid of losing that much control, don’t drink to the point of not remembering. In fact, you should probably not have more than a couple drinks while out.

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      • avatar

        applescruffs March 7, 2013, 6:48 pm

        I’m with you on that one, if the therapist isn’t an anxiety specialist she should find one who is. And remember, you get out of therapy what you put into it.

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      • avatar

        T_explainsitall March 7, 2013, 12:36 pm

        I did this too in my exposure therapy! It’s a great tool!

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    • avatar

      oldie March 7, 2013, 10:01 am

      She’s already in therapy, bur this is a prime topic for exploration. That raises the interesting question, is any guy ultimately good enough for a woman who is a compulsive perfectionist?

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      • avatar

        Desiree March 7, 2013, 10:04 am

        Well, nothing is good enough for someone who is a compulsive perfectionist, which is why they often seek therapy: so they can adjust their thought patterns in order to more thoroughly enjoy life! I come from a family with a long history of mental disorder (including OCD), and counseling can work miracles IF the client is eager for change.

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    • avatar

      NC73 March 8, 2013, 11:20 am

      Yeah, I’m kind of bothered over Wendy’s lack of concern for what might be a severe anxiety disorder. I suffer a lot from anxiety and would also be riddled with guilt over something like this. In high school I had a *dream* that I cheated on my then-boyfriend, and was ashamed of myself and stressed out for weeks afterward, so I can see how not knowing whether you actually did something could be fodder for stress for a much longer time. I also completely sympathize with what can happen when you’ve drank so much that you don’t know where you are or who you’re with; I’ve had nights before where I couldn’t remember what I did with certain guys or how I got home, so I can relate to this kind of severe memory loss and lack of inhibition. I see no reason why we shouldn’t take what she’s saying at face value.

      I do think Wendy’s right that the LW should let this go, because there are worse kinds of cheating than a little kissing at a nightclub, and there’s no sense in dwelling over something she’ll probably never know the full answer to. But if she really does have an anxiety problem, then “sense” has nothing to do with it and understanding she needs to let this go won’t be enough to enable her to actually do it. Maybe she needs to seek help (in the form of therapy) in overcoming her anxiety issues so that she can move forward with what could be a healthy relationship with someone who sounds like a great guy. (I am pretty concerned as well with Wendy’s suggestion that maybe he cheated on her too – there’s absolutely no evidence of that, and it’s hardly going to help the anxiety! LW, if you’re reading this, I wouldn’t concern yourself with that.)

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    • avatar

      Rachel @ Reality Chick March 9, 2013, 7:12 am

      Totally agree about CBT, my first thought reading the letter was that the LW has some anxiety. It can cause you to obsess and spiral just like this.

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  • avatar

    muffy March 7, 2013, 9:14 am

    LW I get what you’re saying – I feel like I would obsess too. Once I got upset with my boyfriend at a night out over something insignificant and I apologized later that evening and he forgave me and said it was insignificant but I could not stop obsessing about it. I felt like I was this awful shrew and felt so guilty about it and just wanted to keep apologizing over and over and over even though it was no big deal to him at all. I don’t know what to tell you but I’m in therapy too for this obsession with perfection. We just keep going to therapy I guess. Something my therapist taught me is to make it into a song to the tune of happy birthday so mine would go ” I got mad over nothing, I still obsess about it, I apologized, he was fine, but I’m still obsessing” (if you can imagine it to the tune of happy birthday). It makes it kind of silly. Also working out often has really helped me.

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    • avatar

      muffy March 7, 2013, 9:19 am

      I meant to add that the only thing you can do is to promise yourself not to bring it up anymore with him and keep going to therapy. Continually re-hashing it with your boyfriend will drive him nuts. So just promise to not bring it up anymore and keep going to therapy and discuss this with your therapist.

      I go to CBT therapy and it has been very helpful. The CBT part is especially great because it really makes you see how your thoughts are just thoughts – not facts – but thoughts.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl March 7, 2013, 9:21 am

    Have you talked to your therapist about this? This obsessions seems really unhealthy to me. I mean a full year of guilt/worry/etc over maybe kissing someone when you’ve already been forgiven for it? That’s not a normal reaction, in my opinion. I totally understand why Wendy is saying this doesn’t add up.

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  • katie

    katie March 7, 2013, 9:24 am

    we talked about this a few weeks ago, but the centers in the brain for romantic love, sexual needs, and intimacy are all located in different spots- so, yes, according to science, it IS possible to cheat on someone you love.

    however, i agree with wendy. i dont get it- your first couple sentences are pretty over-the-top OMG WE ARE SOOOO IN LOVE DO YOU SEE THE LOVE WE ARE BETTER PEOPLE WHEN WE ARE AROUND EACH OTHER. and yet, you have all these issues you are working on and huge guilt? i dunno, i feel like those things cant happen at the same time. and thats ok, i mean, you can be working through issues and have an objectively good relationship… but maybe you are also over-stating a tiny bit about how amazing this relationship is…? usually when people feel the need to express absolute perfection and soulmate-ness in their relationships is to compensate for something else that is lacking…

    so i dunno. im confused, like wendy.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest March 7, 2013, 10:06 am

      As I read it, all I was wondering is whether Wendy sometimes get sick of these over the top dramatic declaration letters, especially the ones that start with crap like ‘our relationship is so good it feels like Gods hands are guiding us into a flock of swans we swim with in joy at every moment we are together.’

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow March 7, 2013, 10:36 am

        Haha, but if a LW doesn’t say anything positive about their relationship, we point that out as “evidence” that they’re probably in the wrong relationship.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 7, 2013, 10:40 am

        Oh shush Cats, always coming on just to point out things I want to ignore! 🙂

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow March 7, 2013, 10:58 am

        😛

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      • avatar

        MMcG March 7, 2013, 1:51 pm

        Me too lbh… so many of these letters start out like it’s a romance filled with “perfect” love, and then there’s a BUT and then a list of crazy. This one isn’t exactly like it, but for fuck’s sake people – stop trying to recreate your relationship like it’s a bad beach-worthy romance novel!!!!

        Oh, and I can’t help it — swans don’t swim per se (some waterbirds are good swimmers, but not swans). Their relationship would be so good that they were FLYING in joy among the heavens. Science geek out 😉

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 7, 2013, 1:54 pm

        haha, noted!

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  • avatar

    Lily in NYC March 7, 2013, 9:48 am

    This was exhausting to read! OP, you are just way too wrapped up in yourself and your relationship. I cringed reading such a histrionic account of a possible drunken kiss. The language was way over the top considering the situation. You don’t remember it, the guy doesn’t remember it, your boyfriend doesn’t care. So why do you feel the need to create drama about this? To me it seems like you just want more attention and reassurance, which you achieve by pearl-clutching and beating yourself up incessantly about this non-event.

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    • avatar

      iseeshiny March 7, 2013, 10:28 am

      When I tell stories (and I tell them a lot) sometimes I use things called “quotes” and CAPITALS to give my narrative emphasis. Also, this has the ADDED BENEFIT of making everything I write (even grocery lists) seem SUPER DRAMATIC.

      Exhausting is exactly the word I would use.

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      • avatar

        Lily in NYC March 7, 2013, 10:57 am

        Your grocery lists sound awesome. I can just envision them: Don’t forget you NEED to buy mayonnaise, or you will JUST DIE from having to eat a disgusting dry “sandwich”.

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      • avatar

        iseeshiny March 8, 2013, 3:22 pm

        I’m thinking of having them published.

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  • avatar

    Lindsay March 7, 2013, 9:49 am

    Definitely talk to your therapist about this. They’re good at coming up with strategies for directing your thoughts elsewhere.

    Aside from that, you must rationally know that a person can cheat and still love someone. And if you ever read this site, you’ll know that it’s a hot topic as to whether kissing someone else is actually cheating. Besides, you don’t even appear to be obsessing over what YOU think it all means — just that some “people” somewhere have once said that you only cheat if you don’t love someone. What people? People say a lot of shit that makes no sense and isn’t true, so don’t tie yourself to that.

    I agree with Wendy, though, that maybe you’re trying to drag up some drama for some other reason. If I did something wrong and my boyfriend wasn’t angry, I’d be THRILLED. Maybe you still feel guilty? Maybe you were hoping he’d get mad at you and you’d get some kind of “closure,” so you’re punishing yourself instead?

    Something else I also noticed was how you blamed your behavior on your upbringing. I know that people can be affected by what happens in their childhood, but I think it’s probably in your best interest not to passively say that your childhood “leads” you to do things. It may have created certain thought processes for you or whatever, but as an adult, only you can lead yourself to do things.

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  • avatar

    Sasa March 7, 2013, 9:51 am

    This letter is intriguing. I think is Wendy is right that something else must be going on, since the event the LW is so distressed about is massively blown out of proportion.

    I don’t know if this applies, but the following came to my mind when reading Wend’s advice: I believe that sometimes our self-image can make us blind to what is actually going on. This LW talks a lot about how she sees herself: as a perfectionist. That may well be true. But the problem is that it can become an obstacle to interpret everything you’re doing through the lens of “I’m a perfectionist”. For example, I stayed in a relationship too long because I believed I was afraid that I was commitment-phobic. I interpreted my unease as commitment-phobia when I really just wanted to leave the relationship. I had created a self-image that, though it contained some truth, effectively blocked me from expressing what I really wanted. I think I had that self-image in part because it was too scary to confront the reality of my situation.

    I also think there’s a tension between the LW’s self-image as a perfectionist and the whole kissing incident. It may be that the incident proved to the LW that she’s not always as in control as she views herself to be, and that rattled her. In fact, the description of this event paints the LW as someone who can really get out of control (I don’t mean this in judgemental way at all, just stating the fact that getting so wasted doesn’t mesh with the perfectionist self-description). The excessive guilt may come from fear that she will get out of control again in the future.

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    • avatar

      Lindsay March 7, 2013, 10:27 am

      You’re so right.I also convinced myself that I’m a commitment-phobe, but it was me dating the wrong guys. But yeah, labeling yourself like that isn’t always a good thing because then it becomes WHO you are instead of just a trait that you may have. Then you expect yourself to act a certain way, and if you do, you chalk it up to just who you are.

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  • avatar

    PFG-SCR March 7, 2013, 9:53 am

    I agree with the other commenters that this seems a bit too obsessive, but given her background in an abusive family and her working on herself via therapy, there’s probably more to her state of mind that gives insight into why she’s so tormented by this. If she’s not brought this up with her therapist, she should because even if she did kiss another guy, it’s NOT that big of a deal. She needs to let it go, because it means nothing besides she was super drunk, and she acted in a way she wouldn’t normally have acted. Again, worst case is she only kissed him in public on a dance floor…it’s not some torrid love affair.

    What I found off-putting about Wendy’s response is her planting a seed that maybe her boyfriend’s reaction was due to something inappropriate that he’s done. Given the LW’s obsession with something she did, that’s probably not going to help the situation whatsoever, and instead, just give the LW something else to obsess about now.

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  • avatar

    oldie March 7, 2013, 9:59 am

    Mostly agree with Wendy. Very strongly disagree with her offhand suggestion that perhaps bf is so accepting, because he has also transgressed. That is a bad thing to say for two reasons. First it just start a whole new cascade of worries in LWs head. Second, there is zero evidence to jump to this conclusion. Can’t the bf just be an understanding guy who know of her perfectionist problem and realizes that she is already beating herself up far more than necessary over a fairly trifing transgression. This is really anti-male. If the guy gets upset and screams at her, then he will carry the label of being verbally abusive. If this makes him a little cool to her for a while, then he’s a sulker who holds a grudge. If he is supportive, and forgiving, then obviously, he must be a cheater with a guilty conscience. Yuck!

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary March 7, 2013, 10:09 am

      I agree that it seems unlikely that the boyfriend cheated as well. He sounds like a rational guy who just realized that stupid things happen when people are drunk and that this “maybe kiss” didn’t even mean anything.

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    • avatar

      Lindsay March 7, 2013, 7:04 pm

      Yeah. I have a friend who is shocked at how not-jealous her boyfriend is. It’s just his personality, though.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest March 7, 2013, 10:00 am

    If you have crippling guilt over this, you should join a drama club to find other outlets.

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  • avatar

    lemongrass March 7, 2013, 10:02 am

    Quit watching reality TV.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest March 7, 2013, 10:08 am

      I’ve been lightly stalking your son. He is seriously cute!

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      • avatar

        kerrycontrary March 7, 2013, 10:12 am

        me too. and he is ADORABLE. Makes my uterus scream “why are you pregnant??? you could have one of these little squishy creatures around 24/7”

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        lets_be_honest March 7, 2013, 10:17 am

        Exactly! That itty bitty perfect little face! That’s it! I need a baby too!

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      • lemongrass

        lemongrass March 7, 2013, 1:04 pm

        Aww thanks! I think he’s perfect too.

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  • avatar

    Suzy March 7, 2013, 10:08 am

    Wendy really is a relatuonship genius. What she said.

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  • avatar

    Sasa March 7, 2013, 10:08 am

    Another thing that stands out is that the LW believes she is acting in unhealthy ways and must work very hard to deserve this relationship, and that the relationship must be perfect itself. LW, everyone makes mistakes and no relationship remains completely untarnished over the years! This incident may have been a mistake, but it doesn’t make you a “cheater”, it just makes you somebody who can get a little bit out of control if completely drunk. You’re not a saint. That’s something that applies to lots of people. Can you accept that you, your partner, and the relationship you have together, are imperfect and that you will struggle at times?

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle March 7, 2013, 10:25 am

    Yeah, this was written a little strangely, but I think people are being pretty harsh. It doesn’t seem like she loves drama—it seems like she can’t get something out of her mind due to past issues, OCD, or some other mood disorder, no?

    LW, no. People cheat on people they love all the time. Whatever you did—doesn’t mean you don’t love your boyfriend, or that you “tarnished” your perfect record. Also, stop thinking like that…that is the line of thought that fucks relationships up. A relationship isn’t a car, where every new scratch & ding lessens the value. There are ALWAYS issues, someone always does something dumb (it doesn’t have to be infidelity, it can be anything) & if the relationship is right, you’ll move past it & grow stronger.

    Your boyfriend has already moved past this. Please give yourself permission to do the same.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow March 7, 2013, 10:59 am

      WFS

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    • avatar

      Addie Pray March 7, 2013, 11:46 am

      I concur.

      This may not be exactly the same but… I can’t remember if I turned the stove off this morning… But I am taking Fabelle’s advice and giving myself permission to move past this. Thanks, F! 😉

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      Iwannatalktosampson March 7, 2013, 12:51 pm

      I completely agree! I have no idea why everyone is being so harsh on this LW.

      Tangent/making this about me time – I freak out about really weird things and can’t let them go and kind of wonder if I have OCD – because I do similar things as the LW and when I read her story that was the first thing I thought of. I would say about 80% of the time I leave my house I have to turn around when I’m about 5 minutes away and go back home to make sure I shut the garage door. I’ve been doing this for about 3 years and I’ve only caught the garage door open 1 time. And honestly I can even logically think about how it’s not a big deal – all my neighbors are nosy as fuck and would see someone trying to break in, I live in a really safe neighborhood, so why do I freak out about a stupid door? Also one time I was 15 minutes away from home and on a tight schedule – I was on the way to meet a friend for mani/pedi and drinks. I flipped out and got the worst panic attack because I had started my dryer before I left (which I do all the time) and couldn’t remember when the last time I cleaned out the lint trap was. I ended up calling Ethan at work (didn’t answer his cell), calling the secretary to track him down and asking him if he could leave work to go check and make sure the house wasn’t burning down and since I’d also locked the front door Sampson wasn’t currently being murdered and I was going to be sued by my HOA for starting the whole place on fire. He was actually really nice about it and didn’t judge me and told me he’d cleaned it out one load of laundry ago (I’m fairly certain he was lying to make me feel better) and that the tube connecting to the outside had been cleaned 3 months ago. I also had to call my mom and 2 other friends to ask them the likelihood of me burning down my house was. Pretty much I can go from “0 to worst case scenario” in 10 seconds flat.

      I guess what I’m getting at is it sounds like this LW suffers from OCD/anxiety, and I might too.

      LW – do you have some deep seeded doubt about your boyfriend that you’re not willing to acknowledge? Are you afraid that he will break up with you and you’re using this scenario as the excuse for why it will happen? Because you should never worry about being alone. Being single is okay. You should live your life so that you’re always okay. Make sure you have friends separate from him and family you can count on and hobbies and goals and a career path laid out. I’m wondering if you’re fixating on this issue so that you don’t have to think about the things that really are freaking you out in life.

      In case there’s a tally I also think you need to give yourself permission to get over this. Whether it happened or not at this point is not relevant – your boyfriend has forgiven you/told you it doesn’t matter or change anything. So free yourself.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 7, 2013, 1:32 pm

        IWTTS I think things similar to your dryer situation often. Triple check doors are locked etc. Freak out I left the curling iron plugged in etc. Its so hard to live with.

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      • avatar

        Eagle Eye March 7, 2013, 7:26 pm

        Yep, actually lost a night of sleep worrying about whether I had adequately cooked through some pork sausages – CONVINCED that I had trichinosis – even though I had seared the outside and then boiled them for like 30min and then cut them into rounds for the soup I was making (and they all looked okay when I was doing that!).

        GAH – its really a waste of time/ energy but SO HARD to get over!

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson March 7, 2013, 7:37 pm

        I’m glad you two are crazies too. And GG – the curling iron thing happened to me today. I had a work lunch meeting so I couldn’t go home and check – but man I wanted to. It kind of ruined the first part of the lunch because I couldn’t get it out of my head. The funny thing too is that it had been an hour by the time I left that I’d used the curling iron and I’m fairly certain there’s one of those automatic timers on it so that it will shut off if it gets too hot or its been too long since you used it. But I still could not quit thinking about it. The act of leaving the house takes me at least 15 minutes to make sure I’m not going to start a fire, kill sampson, leave something unlocked, undone, on that shouldn’t be on, etc.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 8:51 am

        EagleEye I’m like that about my meat too. I cook the crap out of chicken and shrimp. It’s like a real obsession.

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  • lynn

    Lynn March 7, 2013, 10:28 am

    WWS. I probably wouldn’t say that maybe he is “guilty of something similar”… only because I have a feeling that the LW could possibly obsess over that possibility rather than the other possibilities of why he didn’t give her grief.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. March 7, 2013, 10:33 am

    How about not getting so drunk that you can’t remember what you did the night before?

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle March 7, 2013, 10:38 am

      That’s not very helpful. Most people who imbibe have at least one night under their belt where they maybe didn’t eat enough, the drinks kept getting poured, & they went over the limit to the point where their memory was compromised. It’s never a good thing, obviously, but it’s a common mistake.

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      • avatar

        ktfran March 7, 2013, 10:54 am

        I totally agree with you Fabelle. I’ve had more than one of those nights. But for this LW, who obviously doesn’t handle the aftermath of such nights very well, should probably limit her drinking.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 7, 2013, 11:02 am

        You know I don’t know if Kate said it in the best way but it might be a good point for the LW to hear. If you’re feeling guilty about decisions you made (or didn’t make) while drinking, maybe you need to revaluate your drinking. It could have been a one night accident or could be part of a larger pattern.

        I know I’ve had incidents where I’ve felt terribly guilty about a decision I made drunk (yelling at opposing fans at a sports bar like an idiot). It was a one time incident (the yelling), but it was an on going pattern (getting drunk mid-day watching football). The one bad incident made me step back and evaluate my drinking and why I was acting like that.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle March 7, 2013, 11:26 am

        I agree, but I just feel like she already feels bad enough about this—like, bad enough where she’s probably already scared off of drinking & doesn’t need to be reminded? The same way you felt guilty over your behavior at the sports bar, she’s feeling that X 10, I bet (since she’s STILL agonizing over it!).

        Also, the way she’s phrasing it—it doesn’t sound like drinking is much a part of her life at all (“awful state” “most drunken affair I ever experienced “insanely drunk”) so I’m not getting the vibe that this is A Thing with her.

        (Sorry GG, all of this isn’t necessarily at ~your~ comment; I just wanted to delve into it a bit for anyone else who’s expressing the same sentiment Kate did)

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 7, 2013, 11:33 am

        I agree. This is someone who needs help in a little more of a gentle way. But i think the point is good- if something is making you unhappy, evalute it! If it’s a one time mistake, you’re good! If it’s a patern then make changes to get out of that pattern.

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    • lynn

      Lynn March 7, 2013, 12:14 pm

      @ Kate B … Shit happens. When I was in high school and college, life was one big party for me and my friends. I went to a huge university, 95% of my friends were in Greek Life and liked to party and 100% of my boyfriends were in fraternities and loved to party — things got a little crazy. Of course I wasn’t drunk all the time, but there were at least three or four nights that I have a tough time recalling because I had a little too much to drink. Didn’t really do anything I regret, but still drank more than I probably should have.

      These days I’m pretty over whole “party, party, party” deal, but if I were asking for advice and someone said, “How about not getting so drunk that you can’t remember what you did the night before?” I would probably say, “Like you’ve never been there before.”

      Doesn’t sound like girl drinks very often. Give her a break. Sometimes you get a little too drunk and sometimes you don’t really remember things. It happens to the best of us.

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      Iwannatalktosampson March 7, 2013, 12:54 pm

      Um it’s not called blacking out – that’s drink shaming – it’s called time travelling.

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      Iwannatalktosampson March 7, 2013, 12:59 pm

      Also I would like to share some alcohol knowledge I learned in drinking classes I had to take in college. It’s been a while so anyone can feel free to correct me if I’m missing key details. People process alcohol in two main ways. There are the people whose mind will shut down first, and there are people whose physical cognitive (yeah I don’t know the scientific terms for any of this shit) will shut down first. For example I can black out pretty easily. The weird thing is people will be super confused because I wasn’t acting drunk. I wasn’t slurring I wasn’t falling over but I can’t remember any of that shit. I am clearly the person whose brain shuts off first. Whereas I have friends that can be stumbling around wasted and will remember the entire night. So yeah I guess if you’re slurring or blacking out you’re probably drinking too much. But shit happens. She’s clearly been punishing herself for a year – I think she can forgive herself at this point.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle March 7, 2013, 1:35 pm

        That’s interesting—I have a friend like you. He never looks or acts drunk, but half the time, I will get messages from him the next day like, “What happened last night, I can’t remember” or “Hey, there are pictures of us _______ bar, at what point last night did we get there?” & I’m like, REALLY?? It’s a little disconcerting, but arguably better(?) than the alternative. (or worse? I can’t decide)

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        lets_be_honest March 7, 2013, 1:40 pm

        Yea, I’m the same as iwanna. It sucks because you have to be so careful. For me, there seems to be no warning signs (other than obviously having more than 2 drinks). It hasn’t happened to me in forever, but it is a scary thing waking up wondering what went on, just hazy memories.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow March 7, 2013, 1:56 pm

        Yeah, I HATE blacking out. It seems like it happens so randomly. Sometimes I drink a ton and feel fine, and other times I think I’m being good but it sneaks up on me. What’s up with that? I’ve done some embarrassing things, but luckily I’ve never had anything seriously bad happen.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson March 7, 2013, 4:01 pm

        Yeah I don’t get it either – sometimes when I’ll time travel I didn’t drink that much – and the next day I don’t have the usual post 25 years of age hangover – which confirms I didn’t actually drink that much. I guess my point is to people like Fabelle – you could arguably be drunken and have drank more than your friend that doesn’t remember anything. Yes everyone processes alcohol differently and whatnot but I hate that a person forgetting parts of the night is so shamed when other people are probably drunker they just process it differently.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones March 7, 2013, 10:38 am

    If you are going to marry Jack, understand that everyone makes a mistake once in a while and you will have to forgive yourself this time as well as at times need to forgive your partner for (fill in the blank). And for your part, stay away from drugs and alcohol so that you can have your wits about you. Then you are less likely to be caught in this situation. But for now, really, let it go and chalk it up to a learning experience that you will never need to repeat.

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  • landygirl

    landygirl March 7, 2013, 10:50 am

    I felt like I was reading a Harlequin Romance letter, not a letter asking for advice. You write very well, LW, good enough that you probably do it for a living. I agree with Wendy, I don’t see a problem here, only self-created drama.

    You said you had OCD and I think that is what is really the problem, not what may or may not have happened one year ago. You can’t let go because you don’t want to let go. Talk to your therapist.

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  • avatar

    Older and (hopefully) wiser March 7, 2013, 10:50 am

    When I was reading this, I was thinking, could she have been drugged? It’s not easy to get that drunk on a full stomach.

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    • avatar

      Lily in NYC March 7, 2013, 11:06 am

      Ha, my liver from college begs to differ! (thankfully, it’s grown up a lot).

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    • avatar

      bethany March 7, 2013, 11:46 am

      Usually at dinners like that, the drinking starts WAY before the food comes… If you wait to start drinking until after you’ve eaten, the results are usually much different.

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    • lynn

      Lynn March 7, 2013, 12:22 pm

      Doubtful. I’ve been drugged before — that story is a doozy. I wasn’t even drunk, I was nursing one beer and talking to some random guys and I guess that’s when it happened. Story goes… I walked away from the guys when my friends came looking for me, ran from my friends, passed on on the floor of the bar bathroom, friends found me, bar management carried me out. And lots of crazy stuff happened once the girls got me home, they put me to bed, I woke up the next day… do not remember a damn thing. One minute it’s 4 p.m….. next thing I know, it’s 8 a.m.

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      • lynn

        Lynn March 7, 2013, 12:24 pm

        I mean drunken black outs, brown outs, etc… you remember some things (like my comment a few above about having too much fun in college). But here I’m saying, I don’t remember a single thing, I mean anything, and that’s scary. That has never happened to me before, and I don’t wish that to happen to anyone else.

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      • avatar

        bethany March 7, 2013, 12:32 pm

        I got drugged once, too. Similar story- I don’t remember ANYTHING. I was at Penn State, sitting at a table at a restaurant/bar with my friend having a margarita and dinner before a concert, not even doing anything sketchy. Apparently I got out of control and tried to fight a guy (!!!), and got kicked out. Friend and I walked to a bus stop to get on a bus to the concert, passed out cold at the bus stop, hit my head on a wall and had to go to the hospital in an ambulance. The only part of that I remember is laying on the ground, looking up into the face of a cop telling him to “just do what you need to do”, because my friend was in the background saying I was ok and didn’t need to go to the hospital.

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      • lynn

        Lynn March 7, 2013, 12:36 pm

        Omg that’s so scary!! From what I’ve been told… Mine just involved me being difficult to take home, being difficult at home, talking to my stuffed animal and telling my roommates that it was my boyfriend… and of course, getting essentially naked and trying to run out of the house :/

        Yeah — don’t remember any of that, and I’m not someone who likes to start taking her clothes off in front of people either (not even when I’m drunk).

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      • avatar

        kerrycontrary March 7, 2013, 1:12 pm

        Love my alma mater penn state. No I’m kidding Bethenny, that’s horrible! I don’t know anyone who got drugged in college but it happens a lot. I’m glad nothing worse happened.

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      • avatar

        bethany March 7, 2013, 2:08 pm

        Yeah, I’m glad my friend was with me! The funny part about all of it is that we were sitting at our table the whole time, and it was like 5pm! It had to have been a bartender or waiter that did it… so weird.

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      • avatar

        kerrycontrary March 7, 2013, 3:00 pm

        What’s weird to me is that I assume most people would drug someone to assualt/rob/sexually assault them. But I’ve heard a lot of stories of people being drugged and still staying with their friends and just having a screwed up night. So like what is the motive behind these people drugging innocent customers? There are a lot of whack jobs out there.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle March 7, 2013, 1:43 pm

        My friend got drugged in a similar situation—-restaurant/bar, sitting at a table (not even at the bar) & left her drinks to go have a cigarette. One drink in, both her & her friend blacked out.

        And this other time, I swear, me & my friend were at a bar & this guy buys us shots— okay. I take mine as soon as the bartender sets it down because I was already suspicious of the guy. My friend, though, is chatting with him & I SEE him twisting something around in his hand. Like, not looking at it, clearly being sneaky, & still engaging in conversation. I made my face go deadpan, stared him straight in the eyes, & looked pointed from his hand to him to let on that I noticed what he was doing.

        Prettyyy sure he was going to dump something in her drink. OUr two guy friends came up to us, & the original dude bolted—BOLTED. Like, we turned around & he was gone. Shady as fuck.

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  • avatar

    John Rohan March 7, 2013, 11:11 am

    This is one of the rare times I seem to agree with everyone here. When I saw the title, I thought she must have slept with him. But her dilemma is whether they kissed. Kissed? Really? MAYBE when I was 12 years old experiencing my first crush I might have agonized for over something like a kiss up to a year later. But this is an adult. Let it go – who cares, honestly? There are people with real problems in the world.

    The MUCH more important issue is letting yourself get so drunk that you can’t even remember what happened the night before. That’s that part you should feel bad about, and try not to let happen again (or someone might do much more than just kissing you).

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  • avatar

    sarolabelle March 7, 2013, 12:28 pm

    Oh what ever happened to people with real problems? Like the finance’s friend who had no teeth? 😉

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  • avatar

    Leah March 7, 2013, 12:29 pm

    I have to disagree with Wendy, on this one. I don’t think that you have any kind of hidden agenda or that you left anything out. The truth is, what you’re feeling has everything to do with your perfectionism and feelings of shame around not being good enough and NOTHING to do with your relationship.

    Let me tell you something that you might not agree with, but I hope that you seriously consider: people cheat for reasons that have NOTHING to do with the health of their relationship. You can be in a healthy, loving relationship where one person cheats on the other. Why? How? Because cheating can be motivated by all sorts of things, not least of all the excitement and turn-on of being with someone new. Everyone has the capacity to get aroused by someone and, if the situation is right, kiss them or even sleep with them. We all do those things when we’re single! The thing is, that capacity doesn’t just go away because we fall in love with someone. Monogamy means that we chose not to ACT on that capacity, but that takes constant work and saying “no” to people that, if we were single, we would absolutely chose to be physical with. You may have been so drunk and confused that you didn’t say “no” to the part of yourself that wanted to kiss that man you were dancing with. How can that possibly have anything to do with your relationship with your boyfriend? You weren’t thinking about him. You were so intoxicated that you weren’t even CAPABLE of thinking about him and your relationship. You barely knew where you were! Kissing that other man, if it happened, has nothing to do with your primary relationship.

    I think you are having trouble moving on because you’re not accepting a possibility other than you didn’t kiss or that you kissed because you don’t actually love your boyfriend: you may have kissed that other man but you still love your boyfriend, your relationship is fantastic and you’re not a bad person. How can that possibly be when you’re both so against cheating? Well, it means that you made a mistake. I think you need to work through this with your therapist and figure out how to accept that you are a person who makes mistakes, even big ones sometimes. When we make mistakes, we don’t just fail at life and face rejection by the people that love us. We ask for forgiveness, listen to the people that we’ve hurt, and figure out how to not repeat our bad behavior. Now you know that you can’t get drunk in coed situations where your boyfriend isn’t around. What a good rule to live by! You also know that your boyfriend cares enough about you to forgive you and support you and stay with you even though you make mistakes. What you need to work on is being okay with all this. We’re all human and we all screw up. That’s why the love of a significant other is so powerful. They remind us of all the great things about ourselves when we’re busy beating ourselves up.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Wendy March 7, 2013, 12:54 pm

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. I could have given better advice on this one, so I’m glad y’all are picking up my slack.

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    • avatar

      Something Random March 7, 2013, 1:08 pm

      Your advice is generally so awesome and I think you were spot on when you asked if you “were missing something?” I think this would be a difficult letter to answer without a background in anxiety disorders.

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      • avatar

        Leah March 7, 2013, 1:39 pm

        Totally agree!

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet March 7, 2013, 2:05 pm

    As someone who enjoys her share of alcohol, I would say that if you’re really obsessing about whether you did this or whether this will happen again, the easy solution is to not get drunk without your boyfriend around again. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drink, but maybe stop taking shots or drinking beyond a certain point? Because it sounds like that is the ONLY reason anything might have happened between you and that guy. You cannot think clearly after binge drinking, especially if you reached the point of greying out. Don’t beat yourself up about kissing the dude, blame it on the a-a-a-alcohol and make better decisions next time.

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  • KKZ

    KKZ March 7, 2013, 5:20 pm

    You’re asking yourself “What if our lips did touch? WHAT WOULD THAT MEAN?”

    STOP. Stop right there. You’ve been reading too many magazines, or watching too much Sex and the City, or otherwise filling your mind with fluffy crap. It does not MEAN anything. You were drunk and disoriented and dancing and you made physical contact with someone and you can’t even remember to what extent. How could that possibly MEAN anything, if there was no intention behind it?

    Cheating on someone with eyes wide open – that means something.

    Accidentally-maybe-kinda-sorta-drunkenly-kissing a dance partner means NOTHING (except, maybe, that you should think twice about drinking that heavily in the future).

    It does not make you a cheater. It does not make you a slut. It does not make you a lesser person. It does not make you a criminal. It does not taint you for life. There is nothing tattooed on your forehead saying “I once maybe-kissed a guy who was not my boyfriend because I was drunk.”

    You were yourself before the maybe-kiss. You are still the same person after the maybe-kiss. Really. (Besides, do you think you’re the only woman who has ever made this mistake? Pffft.)

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark March 7, 2013, 5:32 pm

    Um, maybe don’t drink to the point of black out? I mean — really? Almost nobody commented on this… This was the most over the top hysterical letter I have ever read. I kept expected some big reveal, like a gang rape by a mob of chimpanzees, but no. It was just a drunken kiss that nobody involved even remembers, much less cares about. Talk about needlessly absurd, self-created drama. All of it beyond pointless… As other’s have said, this was simply an exhausting read.

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  • avatar

    Lark March 8, 2013, 12:14 am

    I don’t mean to sound harsh, but you clearly have some obsessive tendencies and that is something you need to hash out with your therapist more often. As people said, you may or may not have shared a drunken kiss with a guy who was not your boyfriend. It’s not the end of the world, you just made a dumb choice. I’d be more worried about the fact that you got so drunk that you could barely remember anything. Anyway, let it go. Are you really going to let your solid 3 year relationship be ended by one dumb, drunken moment when your boyfriend (the aggrieved party) is over it?

    And as Wendy said, that quote about cheating and love is ridiculous and sounds like something said in some awful teen TV show. People cheat for all sorts of different reasons. Sometimes it’s a pattern; sometimes it’s a one time thing or a brief thing; sometimes they’re just being assholes and have no remorse; and sometimes they are very remorseful and realize how badly they’ve fucked up. Making a blanket statement that anyone who cheats does not love their partner is a very black and white way of looking at the world.

    Anyway, to be frank…the fact that you possibly kissed a guy while drunk is maybe a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10 of cheating. All this drama and hysteria just seems so unnecessary. I’d understand it if you had slept with the guy, but you don’t even know if you kissed him! We all make mistakes or bad choices, put this away and use it as a learning experience.

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  • avatar

    LW March 8, 2013, 1:29 pm

    Hi everybody, its the letter´s writer.

    I want to say THANK YOU to all the commenters. If the comments had not existed, and I was left with Wendy´s response, I would be pretty unhappy! You got it right commenters, I was looking for reassurance for my anxiety.

    No Wendy, I haven´t thought about it every second of the day for a year. It is just when it enters my mind it can really affect me. I am sure I have anxiety issues but they are undiagnosed. My boyfriend has absolutely never cheated on me, and I´m quite shocked at the offhand suggested that he might have. We have GENUINE openness with each other.

    And suggesting I might not love him because I´m so worried about this? I think that´s verging on cruel! I know you have no obligation to give kind advice but between suggesting I just want some good drama (when I was clearly upset by it), that I might not in fact love my boyfriend (when I make it clear I do, and also make my selfquestioning and anxiety issues clear) and saying that he might have cheated, I think this reply was quite horrible!

    Did you know that some people with anxiety issues actually agnoize about whether they even LOVE their partner when they absolutely do? That´s a real problem, which I´m glad I haven´t experienced. And if you had told someone who was writing to you about that ´Oh you might not love them at all´, the results would have been so damaging. Maybe a discussion needs to be opened about the importance of a consideration of mental health in Wendy´s answers.

    Also, in reference to the many positive words about the relationship. I said all those things because they are true but also because I´ve seen the number of times Wendy says someone probably doesnt love their partner if they DON´T say those kinds of things. My anxiety didn´t need a ´You don´t care about him, MOA!´. We are not perfect at all. My anxiety itself can cause us problems. And that means I don´t love him or its all a lie and I´m bored? Wow.

    If I didn´t love my boyfriend Wendy, I wouldn´t care and would be happily kissing other boys in clubs.

    Thank you so much for the comments below. They have helped me a lot.

    Wendy, I would really appreciate a response if you want to reconsider some of the things you said…

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy March 8, 2013, 2:10 pm

      Sure, I can respond.
      First of all, I’m sorry you were unhappy with my advice. I will admit, this wasn’t my best column. And you’re right that I do need to be more careful about giving replies that may trigger someone who may have mental health issues (although it would be difficult, if not impossible, for me to judge whether each and every person who writes to me suffers from a mental health issue or not).

      In my defense I would hope that adults who write to me — and you are an adult — do so with the understanding they may receive advice they don’t like. I offer a platform for advice-seekers to not only get feedback from me, but from potentially hundreds of people — people who, quite often, have perspective to share that is helpful and validating. I offer this at no cost to an advice-seeker. But there is a trade, and that trade is that in exchange for what could be valuable feedback — and you say yourself you found a lot of value in the comments shared by readers — the LW opens herself/himself to potentially tough criticism and advice s/he doesn’t like. That’s what happened here. You didn’t like my advice, I get that, but what do you think I owe you for giving you advice you didn’t like? At best, an apology. So, I’m sorry.

      You say that I suggested that you don’t love your boyfriend, which isn’t quite the case, and if it came across that way, then I’m sorry for that too. What I intended to imply is that perhaps you are at a crossroads in your relationship and looking for a reason to escape it. I believe you can love someone very, very much but also feel somewhat suffocated in a relationship, particularly if you’re young and particularly if you’re young and have been with the same person for a number of years. If this doesn’t describe you, then great, congratulations. But my job as an advice columnist is to present some possible scenarios that may “click” for a LW and that’s what I tried to do here. Again, I realize this wasn’t my best effort and I’m sorry if you feel shafted here. But, as I said, I offer no guarantees that a LW will love my advice. And I don’t charge anything for it, so, you know, there you go. Your complaints remind me a little of people who get on Facebook and complain whenever there’s a new layout they don’t like. Hey, IT’S A FREE SERVICE. Don’t like it? Don’t use it.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray March 8, 2013, 2:23 pm

        I meant to comment about this yesterday but got busy then I kind of forgot: Wendy, I think the commenters and you yourself yesterday (and now this LW!) were way too hard on you! Your advise was good. And, ok, sure, maybe you didn’t first automatically assume this LW had some certified diagnosed emotional or mental disorder that would cause her to agonize over insignificant matters… but if you did you would be doing her a disservice. Because what you did do was point out the fact that LW *was* dramatizing the situation, that the drunk-maybe-kiss did not means he was a bad person or not in love, but that her fixating on it meant there was something more there…. that’s all you said!…. and look, now LW is realizing there is something more there: an undiagnozed anxiety issues! Now she can get some help! Win-win!

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark March 8, 2013, 2:30 pm

        Agreed. The advice was spot on. The response of many on here was laughable at best. Reading through them I was like WTF? Yay! Lets coddle and cuddle the crazy so they don’t ever feel badly about themselves… Never mind that doing so will ultimately only steadfastly assure that they never ever get better. Brilliant strategy there, ladies. Brilliant.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray March 8, 2013, 3:20 pm

        Agreed, agreed. Wendy, you have AP’s and BGM’s seal of approval with that your advice to this LW. What more could anyone want?! Ha.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy March 8, 2013, 2:28 pm

        I’d also like to add that I did email this particular LW and suggest she speak to her therapist about her anxiety issues. LW, you say in your response here that while you do believe you have an anxiety disorder, it is not diagnosed. You’re in therapy already, so please discuss this with your therapist. If you suspect you have a disorder that needs to be treated, the best way to do just that is to seek help from the certified professional who is already familiar with you and your history.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 2:21 pm

      LW, I just wanted to comment on one line “It is just when it enters my mind it can really affect me.”

      This is normal. My fiance cheated (no sex) on me over 3 years ago. We’ve moved past it, we’re getting married, we’ve grown and changed since the incident happened. It might come up in conversation twice a year now, less and less as time goes by. But everytime it does come up, all of his guilt and self hatred rise to the service as if it had happened the day before. He is still completely devistated by the incident, much more so than I am. Your reaction is normal and your relationship can move past this. I’ve forgiven him, but we don’t forget the incident.

      (But I do encourage you to work on your anxiety. I myself have pretty sever anxiety and it can be a bitch.)

      Best wishes!

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  • avatar

    LW March 8, 2013, 2:24 pm

    Sorry, a couple more things!

    I totally accept your admission that you could have given better advice Wendy. Its okay. But would you find time to write a second, more considered reply maybe? I usually really like the advice you give people!

    Also, I’d be really interested to hear you expand on why you jumped to the idea that this anxiety was maybe a reflection that I might not love Jack. Yet cheating itself, you say, has nothing to do with love. Also, what do you mean when you say “being in love” and when you suggest that people might not be? I think that’s a really interesting cultural question that we shy away from. Of course we all have our own subjectivities, our own feelings and ideas about love. But what do YOU mean when you suggest that someone might be be “in love”? I think its actually an important clarification as its such a personal experience, to love someone. I’m very interested to hear why you say it and what you mean when you do. From my perspective, love means I have a deep, deep care about Jack and his growth and wellbeing and happiness. It means I long for a life with him. It means I love being with him and miss him whem I’m not. And it means I’m committed and willing and happy to work through problems. What about you Wendy?

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    • avatar

      Addie Pray March 8, 2013, 2:32 pm

      Who cares what it means to not be in love. Why she “jumped” to the idea that your anxiety was maybe a reflection of that? I think she jumped to many possible ideas… because your fixation on this MADE NO SENSE! She was suggesting possible paths for you to consider – it doesn’t mean each one is it! Only you can know… and it sounds like what you’re saying it the reason is not because of your love for your boyfriend but the undiagnosed issues you think you have with anxiety…. so talk to your therapist about that.

      I’m so annoyed right now.

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      • avatar

        Caris March 9, 2013, 11:53 am

        “Who cares what it means to not be in love.” This.

        I’m so confused. Why did you even write to Wendy ?

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy March 8, 2013, 2:33 pm

      I DIDN’T SAY THAT YOU DON’T LOVE JACK. I said there was a possibility that you are lying to yourself about being IN LOVE with him. And even that was just a possibility. I don’t know you, I don’t know your relationship. I presented a few possibilities. If one clicks for you, explore it. If it doesn’t, ignore it and move on.

      Beyond that, I can’t follow the rest of your comment and don’t know what you’re asking, sorry. If you want to try to re-frame it or something maybe, go for it.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom March 8, 2013, 3:04 pm

        I see absolutely nothing wrong with the advice.

        I think the LW is showing their personal problem with over analyzing everything when they complain about it and pick the advice to bits.

        LW – I hope that you learn and accept that if someone doesn’t fully understand what you meant that you probably didn’t communicate clearly enough. Especially considering that Wendy doesn’t know you or your boyfriend you are expecting her to fully understand your situation when the very same thing in another relationship could mean entirely different things and happen for different reasons. Wendy hears from people in all sorts of situations and so she gives advice across a range of different scenarios.

        Instead of obsessing on the past why not use it as a lesson for how to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future. Maybe you decide to not go out with a guy who may have a sexual or romantic interest in you. Maybe you decide to not drink so much, regardless of how much the other people in the group are drinking. You can choose to obsess on this one incident for the rest of your life if you want, you can obsess about it to the point where it destroys your relationship or you can choose to learn a lesson and go on living your life in a better, more healthy, more positive way. You need to know and accept that we all make mistakes and we learn from our own mistakes better than we learn from the mistakes of others. So you can choose to take your mistake and grow and be glad it wasn’t such a big mistake that your boyfriend moved on or you can let this mistake define you and your relationship indefinitely.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark March 8, 2013, 2:34 pm

      Eh, if you really truly love somebody you don’t spend a year or so of your life obsessing about how one drunken kiss that may or may not have even happened might mean that you don’t truly love them… Just a thought.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark March 8, 2013, 2:26 pm

    If you don’t want somebody to call you out on sounding like you are looking for reasons to quit your boyfriend — maybe next time pen a letter where you don’t sound so much like you are looking for reasons to quit your boyfriend — now there’s a thought. Oh, and try not drinking to the point of black out. You know what? Happy, well balanced people rarely drink to the point of black out.

    PS — Why do people with anxiety issues constantly want to be reassured that their anxiety is normal? Do you want to forever remain plagued and riddled with such over the top absurd anxiety? Because, frankly, nothing about your letter or your anxiety is normal at all. Far from it. And if obsessing relentlessly over a kiss that nobody gives a flying fuck about isn’t deliberately self creating drama… well, then I don’t know what is.

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    • avatar

      Eagle Eye March 8, 2013, 2:47 pm

      Eh, I’ll bite, I have anxiety and panic attacks, which I have gotten help for on/off as my schedule and wallet have allowed.

      Anxiety is not normal, my responses to some stimuli are not normal nor are they healthy and through therapy, my own self-knowledge and keeping myself honest I work to both acknowledge and minimize the crazy, because it is crazy. However, anxiety is also something that is also really isolating, it’s all in your head, so knowing that you’re not alone minimizes some of the anxiety about my anxiety and lets me get to the heart of the issue faster.

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      • avatar

        Eagle Eye March 8, 2013, 2:49 pm

        Although, that said, I agree with Wendy and most of the other responses, the LW’s reaction is not normal, she needs to get help and learn how to manager her issues better.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 2:54 pm

      Mark, you’ve clearly never suffered a panic attack or true DSM anxiety. There is nothing “normal” or “rational” about the way a person with anxiety ot panic attacks thinks or processes things (when in compairison to a person who does not suffer from either). I can be sitting in my own home watching a tv show and have a full on panic attack with no trigger, no rational reason, nothing to explain why I would have a sudden and extreme emotional and physical reaction. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is “characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry about everyday things that is disproportionate to the actual source of worry.” Basically you’re incapable of being rational! And it fucking sucks!

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark March 8, 2013, 3:09 pm

        I have had a guy obsess over me — and trust me — he wasn’t in love with me at all — but rather the concept of me. There is a HUGE difference. Obsession and love are actually RARELY interlinked.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 3:13 pm

        She is obsessing over an event that happened in her relationship- not the individual (or the idea of the individual). Very different.

        Feeling guilt and remorse for something you did that could have really hurt your partner is, in my opinion, a really rational response. Now possibly having anxiety complicates the situation but I still don’t think this is that crazy. (As you can see in my post above, my fiance and I have a similar incident in our relationship and it is still very difficult when it does get brought up.)

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark March 8, 2013, 3:25 pm

        An event NOBODY cares about. It’s NOT healthy. Anxiety order or not — it’s not healthy. Nor is it good for the relationship. And it didn’t hurt her partner, apparently. But you know what is hurting her partner? Her inexplicably holding onto this forever…

        The fact that somebody who shares her same anxiety problems doesn’t find her behavior at all unusual doesn’t do much to convince me. Frankly, it fails on an epic level. Hey, two guys that routinely beat their wives would probably not think that either’s behavior was crazy — and yet, it clearly would be… Of course the only person here the LW is beating up over this is herself. But that doesn’t make it any less messed up or any more “normal.” I’m sorry, it just doesn’t. Actually, it makes it more tragic. Go get yourself a new therapist, LW, as the one you have is clearly NOT getting to the root of your problems if they fail to diagnose the most obvious anxiety disorder ever apparently…

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 3:29 pm

        My post from yesterday
        “Have you talked to your therapist about this? This obsessions seems really unhealthy to me. I mean a full year of guilt/worry/etc over maybe kissing someone when you’ve already been forgiven for it? That’s not a normal reaction, in my opinion. I totally understand why Wendy is saying this doesn’t add up.”

        Clearly I’m giving a free pass.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom March 8, 2013, 3:15 pm

        But why should Wendy jump to the conclusion that a letter writer is mentally ill or suffering from anxiety? I guess a year of obsessing over a almost nonevent maybe is a clue but you can’t really treat every dramatic letter writer as if they are mentally ill.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 8, 2013, 3:24 pm

        I don’t think Wendy should assume anything. Mark specifically asked “Why do people with anxiety issues constantly want to be reassured that their anxiety is normal?” and I was just responding to that without regrad for this LW. I have anxiety, diagnosed and previously treated with medication. It’s a hard thing to deal with, and very hard to understand if you’ve never experianced it.

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  • avatar

    iseeshiny March 8, 2013, 2:52 pm

    I just realized what your writing style reminded me of, LW. Stephenie Meyer. The adverbs, the hyperbole, the lists… Girl, put down the Twilight books. Okay constructively, also pop a Xanax and get some cognitive behavior therapy for your anxiety. Manage your anxiety and everything gets easier. But I am completely serious that Twilight does not teach you what a healthy relationship looks like.

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    • avatar

      MissDre March 8, 2013, 3:30 pm

      Bella and Edward have got to be the most FUCKED UP couple ever. She is so co-dependent, and he is so controlling…. it’s scary.

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  • avatar

    LW March 8, 2013, 3:00 pm

    Thanks for the response Wendy. The question was kind of general, asking to clarify what you mean when you suggest someone might not be IN love. I think its a very personal feeling and to suggest someone might, maybe not in fact feel it suggests you have a definition for what it actually means to be in love which might apply. So it was just a general point, and your answer could be a whole essay! Its a point of interest, but I also think its important! We talk about being in love so much, so I think when you suggest someone might be or might not be in love, it would be interesting to know your definition of that suggestion? That’s why I gave my definition, to definine what I mean when I say I love him.

    @bittergaymark: if I truly loved him I wouldn’t obsess? If I didn’t love him I wouldn’t obsess at all. My anxiety holds onto what I love and care about the most.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy March 8, 2013, 3:10 pm

      I don’t have a definition for “IN love,” I have a feeling for it. And what my feeling for it is doesn’t really matter. What matters is what YOU feel it is, and if you feel like you’re in love with your boyfriend, that’s all you need to know.

      Again, I can tell you want to work through various thoughts and feelings, which is great. But I do think at this point, you’re really better off focusing on YOUR thoughts and feelings (not mine or anyone else’s) and you should be doing it with a a trained therapist — YOUR therapist — who can guide you through the process of sorting shit out.

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh March 8, 2013, 3:29 pm

      I think you should really reread your last sentence and maybe talk about it with your therapist. Because, being in love doesn’t mean obsessing. Your anxiety is causing you to obsess, not whether or not you are in love with your boyfriend. And no answer that anyone, including Wendy, gives is going to make you stop obsessing. It’s just going to give you more things to over analyze. You need to talk to a therapist and learn ways to stop the cycle of thoughts that leads to this obsessing. And honestly I think coming back to this thread and asking Wendy more questions is probably one of the worst things you can do for yourself right now. I would suggest trying to get an emergency appointment with your therapist so you can get the tools you need to help with your anxiety. And maybe in the mean time try and find things that stop you from your obsessive thoughts.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo March 8, 2013, 5:56 pm

    I’d honestly like to see a six-month follow-up to this. It kind of galls me that Wendy has felt sufficiently backed into a corner on this that she has apologized repeatedly. Wendy, I actually think your advice was pretty good. If you felt strongly about the LW having an anxiety disorder, this could have been expressed more directly in your response, but otherwise, i have yet to see anything from the LW that doesn’t look at least potentially like “protesting too much.” LW, I have yet to see anything that doesn’t permit me to wonder, as Wendy did, whether there is something in you that is questioning your relationship, or whether your anxiety is a threat to what you claim is a stellar relationship.

    In lots of cases, Wendy is asked to make broad conclusions from a tiny amount of information. In this case, there was lots of information but that didn’t make your question any clearer. If you were truly only asking how to deal with anxiety, I’m not sure what could be said in a few sentences. The answer would likely be medication plus therapy. As well, anxiety or not, it’s still your responsibility to remain sober enough to be in control of your actions, and to take responsibility when you are drunk enough to make a mistake.

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  • iwannatalktosampson

    iwannatalktosampson March 8, 2013, 6:07 pm

    Oh my gosh LW I missed your shit show of replies. Now I feel bad for being so nice to you. This is what happens when you coddle!

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  • avatar

    just a thought about love March 8, 2013, 10:15 pm

    I think that the LW’s comment about the meaning of love is important. I’d like to politely question whether its enough to say being in love is a feeling we can’t define. I think discussing love and what it means to us is important. Its so easy (and meaningless) to say maybe someone is or isn’t in love with someone else, without some expansion on what you mean. Because we all might see it differently! I believe love is a feeling AND a choice. We feel immense care and dedication and peace with this person and then CHOOSE to stay through love even at times when problems hit (if its healthy to do so). We choose to stay even though our in love feelings might not be present for a short period. Because we want and truly love this person. For instance, when you say that a 19yo might be in love but not feel entirely “thrilled”, that CAN be normal – we can’t feel thrilled all the time (while we should expect to me content/happy/thrilled most of the time! Of course on the other hand, we can not feel love and choose not to love, which is equally positive if its right.

    Wendy, I am a philosophy graduate student and am writing my thesis about modern ideas about romantic love. As a result I’ve read almost all there is on the topic! Its a fascinating topic. Love is so personal and so real yet also our ideas are so shaped by external factors. (Like the LW’s concern about what cheating’means’ for love, when inherently it doesn’t have to mean anything). For general reading about ideas about defining the essence of love (if you’re interested, Wendy or anyone else!) : All About Love (bell hooks), The Road Less Travelled (Peck), The Art of Loving (Fromm)… And so many more! They’re really fascinating books are all promote such positive attitudes about love as a feeling, choice and idea. 🙂

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest March 11, 2013, 3:00 pm

      Good God, give it up already. I mean, give it up already!

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      • avatar

        iseeshiny March 11, 2013, 3:18 pm

        She left Twilight off her list…

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