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Shortcuts: “Why Does He Flirt Right in Front of Me?”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

I am a 44-year-old woman dating a 61-year-old man. My question is: what makes a man flirt with other women right in front of you? My boyfriend does this in a joking way, and, while I don’t think he is actually serious about it, it still does not make me feel very good. We have been dating for about five months. I have never let on that it bothers me. — Tired of the Flirting

Your answer lies in your final sentence, my dear.

I been dating this guy for six months now and I’m very unhappy. I have done a lot for him — even moved to the same city he lives in so we’d be 10 minutes from each other. Still, we only see each other once every 2-3 weeks. He has a demanding job and I know he is busy, but I only ask that we spend time with each other once a week for a couple of hours and he can’t even do that. I’m always there when he needs me, but I get nothing in return. Every time I want to break up he doesn’t want me to, and he says he loves me and promises we will spend time together. We have only had sex four times in six months. I have a high sex drive. I met someone else who has been there for me and made me feel like a woman, so, yes, I cheated. I was vulnerable and lonely, but I don’t feel bad cause I was not in a happy relationship. So am I wrong for cheating? I think it’s best for me to move on from this relationship. — Cheater?

Yes, you were wrong for cheating. Yes, you are right for moving on already. Seriously, if you’ve been with someone for only six months and you’ve been consistently unhappy most of that time, there’s no debating it: MOA.

My husband and I have been married five and a half years, and I still do not have a wedding ring from him. When we got married, we used a silver ring I had and had it re-sized to fit my ring finger. I feel deep resentment right now. When we married, we were low on funds and he promised me that. when he got his degree and his engineering job, he would take care of that. Well, he has been at his engineering job for over a year now. I saw a ring I liked — a small sapphire and 10kt gold, but he said no.

What should I say to him to get my point across? — Tired of Being Ringless

Ask him why he said no and if his answer isn’t sufficient or he doesn’t give you a reasonable alternative that you are happy with, stop doing things that make his life easier and more enjoyable (like, having sex with him, for example) until he steps up and gives you the ring he promised you.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar Sophronisba March 29, 2013, 9:09 am

LOL! Wendy channels Lysistrata for LW #3

avatar ktfran March 29, 2013, 9:12 am

I love shortcuts. They make my Friday mornings at work a little more bearable.

Umm, LW 2. Wtf? You weren’t in a relationship with this guy. I mean, you saw each other once every few weeks. They reason he wants to keep you around is because you make it easy for him to not put in any effort. MOA. MOA. MOA. And next time, break up with someone before you cheat.

LW3, I’m sad your husband was kind of a butt about this ring business. I’m not usually a fan of withholding sex, or anything for that matter. But that’s pretty crappy of your husband. I work in the engineering field and they make good money. I don’t know really what to tell you to do because he sounds kind of like a jerk.


avatar TECH March 29, 2013, 9:13 am

I was a little surprised at the answer to LW #3. Withhold sex to get what you want? Straight up manipulation? The letter doesn’t give us enough details, but I’m willing to bet the husband is just very conservative and practical with money. There has to be a way they can come to a happy medium.

avatar SweetPeaG March 29, 2013, 9:42 am

I was wondering if Wendy was joking on #3. Withholding sex to get what you want is usually a terrible idea. I think she should just sit the husband down and ask him “Why?” and not move until she gets a straight answer. Maybe he has student loans to pay off. Maybe he really is just a thoughtless jerk. But, if my husband pulled something like that with me, I’d need to know WHY.

Jess Jess March 29, 2013, 9:46 am

Right. I took Wendy’s answer as being tongue in cheek.

avatar Anna March 29, 2013, 10:20 am

I was too, but I’m hoping it was said in a joking manner. Withholding sex to get what you want isn’t right IMO either. It’s manipulation. If a guy wrote in saying “I’m so upset that my wife hasn’t bought me a Harley yet. She promised when we got married at some point she would buy me a Harley. The other day, I picked out a nice Road King and she said no.” I doubt the answer given by Wendy or the forum would be “Well, you should probably stop helping with the chores until she buys you exactly what you want.”

avatar BreezyAM March 30, 2013, 6:25 pm

It’s not manipulation. It’s a consequence. Most folks are not interested in having sex with a husband who isn’t being good to them. And if you don’t believe some women need to be told yes it is ok to not be your husband’s personal sex release aid, you haven’t been reading the DW forums.

Fabelle Fabelle March 29, 2013, 9:19 am

LW1, some guys—some PEOPLE—are just flirty by nature. You can tell him it bothers you, & maybe he’ll try to tone it down, but if this is the way he is…be prepared for it to not stop.

LW2: “I met someone else who has been there for me and made me feel like a woman, so, yes, I cheated.” I can’t describe how much I love this sentence. You, um, definitely have some kind of way with words.

But anyway, can this even be described as cheating? The relationship doesn’t seem to have even been there. Of course, you should have broken it off (he didn’t want to? Too bad!) before you slept with someone else, I guess. Just break it off ASAP, okay?

LW3: This is just weird. And er, I don’t know if Wendy was joking about witholding sex, but I wouldn’t take that advice because it’s a pretty skeevy tactic. Just communicate—why didn’t he want to buy you the ring? Did he not like it? Is he not ever planning to get a ring? Remind him of what you agreed upon & emphasize how much this means to you. I can’t tell from this letter whether or not you’ve done that.

avatar kerrycontrary March 29, 2013, 9:22 am

I bet LW2’s “boyfriend” is actually married. Or seeing someone else.

avatar ktfran March 29, 2013, 9:28 am

I picture him with a harem. He has his different go to gals to meet different needs.

Jess Jess March 29, 2013, 9:50 am

Yeah I am with you on #3. Did she leave out most of the details of that conversation or was it really that brief? I mean, in my house, the exchange would go like this:
Me: I found a ring I want –you know the one you promised me 6 years ago?
Him: No.
Me: Wait, why not?
Him: No.
Me: Why? And when? And how much can we spend on it? Let me remind you of the promise you made and list the reasons why this is unfair.

People have wildly different expectations about communication I guess. I just never understand people who ask Wendy what their spouse is thinking because they haven’t asked themselves.

avatar mainer March 29, 2013, 9:19 am

LW1: It’s because he’s 61 and doesn’t give a shit anymore.
LW2: Stop acting like a puppy.
LW3: Joint bank account? Buy the ring yourself.

bagge72 bagge72 March 29, 2013, 9:28 am

I agree with all of these especially number 3 haha.

avatar Amanda March 29, 2013, 10:35 am

Yep, LW3 should just buy a ring already.

avatar GatorGirl March 29, 2013, 11:12 am

Personally, I think she is upset because he broke a promise. I don’t think it’s really just about the physical gift, more that he promised to do X and didn’t fulfill it. So buying a ring for herself isn’t going to make her feel any better…since he still will have broken a promise.

avatar kerrycontrary March 29, 2013, 9:22 am

About LW3 answer…Yeh I would not withhold sex. Not giving sex as a form of punishment is manipulative and bordering on emotionally abusive (i.e. similar to giving someone the silent treatment as a form of punishment). First I would try sitting down with your husband again and explaining how important it is to you that you have a ring. Establish a budget for this ring and then save up for it. Are you on an allowance? Do you work? If you can save some of your “fun money” go out and buy a ring yourself.

But honestly, I don’t think you should feel “deep resentment” over a ring. That’s a little extreme. Are you sure the resentment isn’t about something else?

avatar GatorGirl March 29, 2013, 9:31 am

Maybe the resentment is really over the broken promise, and the missing ring is just a physical symbol that the husband isn’t holding up his promise.

I don’t think her buying herself a ring is going to make this resolved.

avatar Sheryl March 29, 2013, 10:21 am

Yeah, I totally disagree with Wendy’s advice on withholding sex or doing nice things.

If you cannot talk through problems and learn to compromise, you should try couples counseling.

Using sex (or lack of) as a weapon will escalate (because really, where do you stop?) and lead to more problems and potentially, divorce.

If everything else in your marriage is great, then maybe spending money on a new ring when you already have a ‘perfectly good one’ (in your husband’s eyes) is a waste — and he thinks that money would be better used for savings or a family vacation. Also, why not save up your money and buy your own ring?! If your husband is demonstrating his love in other ways, just let this one go.

However, If there are other issues in your marriage (like, he doesn’t really do anything nice for you, or withholds any money for you to spend on ‘nice things’ while he goes to buy a new drumset), and the ring is just a symbol, well, again, I suggest counseling, or else this marriage is doomed already.

Lindsay Lindsay March 29, 2013, 10:54 am

I totally thought of the drum-set LW, too! That’s why I was so torn on this one.

bagge72 bagge72 March 29, 2013, 9:28 am

LW1 he’s a guy, and he has probably always been that way so if you don’t tell him that it bothers you then how is he going to know? I also bet if you look back it’s probably how he got you too.

Don’t worry LW2 he was probably cheating on you too. In this next relationship don’t move to a whole nother city to be with somebody in the first couple of months of a relationship, oh and don’t cheat.

LW3 you need to get more upset with him about things like this if they actually mean something to you, and you need to tell him, because if you don’t that his how you build up resentment, and a divorce.

avatar Amanda March 29, 2013, 10:38 am


avatar GatorGirl March 29, 2013, 9:30 am

I don’t get why LW2 is even writing into Wendy. I mean “it’s been six months and I am unhappy” “sex 4 times in six weeks” and “I cheated”…WTF is the question??

bagge72 bagge72 March 29, 2013, 9:33 am

Right! Maybe she just need to get it off of her chest, and to get some reassurance from people. She’s probably afraid to even talk about with her friends.

avatar GatorGirl March 29, 2013, 9:39 am

And seriously, who moves anywhere for someone who makes them unhappy and doesn’t have sex with them and doesn’t have time to hang out and they have known for less than 6 months! What?

avatar SweetPeaG March 29, 2013, 9:45 am

People with seriously low self-esteem.

Fabelle Fabelle March 29, 2013, 9:48 am

Oh yeah, I forgot about that part. WHY the hell did she move to be near him when she wasn’t happy & was barely even seeing him??

bagge72 bagge72 March 29, 2013, 10:03 am

The same people who give up on a marriage after less then a year because they “lost the spark”. They are the people that know they are already miserable, but for some reason proceed with things that don’t make sense, or rush into things with out thinking about them.

I would also like to try a new place for lunch today, but haven’t figured out where I want to go, because I love the places I usually eat at! Not that it has to do with this, but I figure if Addie can do it so can I!

avatar Christy March 29, 2013, 10:38 am

4 times in six MONTHS. MONTHS. That’s an occasional hookup, not a relationship, barring EXTREME extenuating circumstances.

avatar MMcG March 29, 2013, 11:20 am

It’s not even enough to be occasional… it’s like they accidentally were in the same place 4 times and she took her clothes off. Was there any effort involved at all!?! So sad LW2… aim higher and MOY!

avatar sarolabelle March 29, 2013, 9:34 am

If you are in a marriage for 5 years I would think you would communicate better. Talk about the ring, budget for it. Set aside some money every month (both of you) for it. Then when you get the money go pay cash for it! It’s that simple. You can save for the ring yourself. It just needs to be a priority.

avatar GertietheDino March 29, 2013, 10:05 am

Buy your own damn ring LW3. Seriously – who holds onto that for 5 years?

iwannatalktosampson Iwannatalktosampson March 29, 2013, 10:36 am

Seriously. I’m assuming they have joint bank accounts. His success is her success. If she wants a ring go buy it. I’m hoping she’s not waiting for some big romantic gesture. Those make me barfy.

avatar trixy minx March 29, 2013, 10:12 am

Oh its Friday morning. Totally forgot what day it was. I love these short cuts.

Lindsay Lindsay March 29, 2013, 10:26 am

I’m not sure how I feel about #3. The LW really should have asked why. He’s not your dad, you’re free to turn his answer into a discussion instead of sulking in your room. In terms of money, if he’s only been at this engineering job for a year, I can see why he might want to spend the money on other things, if you guys have been low on funds for a while. I honestly didn’t realize that people got sapphires and stuff on wedding rings (unless you’re talking about an engagement ring), whatever happened to plain ol’ bands?

On the other hand, I can see how this would be disappointing that he made this promise and then changed his mind (or never intended on following through). But if he’s a good husband otherwise, then is it really that big a deal? What else is his doing?

avatar SpaceySteph March 29, 2013, 10:45 am

I have little diamonds all up on my wedding band. I originally said plain to save money, but my husband was like “you’re going to wear it forever, don’t you want something with more sparkle?”
And you know what? I do like the sparkle.

If her taste is a little more bling, she should pick one she wants regardless of what is traditional. That said I agree about there maybe being other things higher on the priority list to spend the extra money on. Maybe some long-time-coming car repairs, home repairs, etc. It’s important for them to talk about their financial situation and set purchase goals together. The ring should be in there if its important to her, but it probably isn’t the top of their list.

Lindsay Lindsay March 29, 2013, 10:52 am

Ohhh, OK. I guess I don’t pay much attention to wedding rings. (Maybe one day…haha?) I think it is nice to be able to have one that’s unique to what you personally like, especially like you said, if you’re wearing it forever.

iwannatalktosampson Iwannatalktosampson March 29, 2013, 10:35 am

If you hang out every 3 weeks when you live 10 minutes from each other you have a fuck buddy, not a boyfriend. You only hang out when he wants to. Sounds like a fuck buddy. Although even the sex is had sparingly so that makes for a pretty shitty fuck buddy. Move on. (And cheating is still cheating just because you feel like you deserved to cheat.)

avatar lemongrass March 29, 2013, 10:46 am

How can you be married for 5.5 years and not know how to get your husband to realize you are serious about something?

avatar j2 March 29, 2013, 10:59 am

Facepalm Friday.

CurlyQue CurlyQue March 29, 2013, 11:06 am

For LW3 i was thinking maybe he’d already bought her a wedding ring, and just hadn’t given it to her yet…but maybe that’s too naively positive.

gatecrashergirl gatecrashergirl March 29, 2013, 11:09 am

Ha. I was thinking the same thing but posted at the same time as you.

gatecrashergirl gatecrashergirl March 29, 2013, 11:08 am

I was hoping that LW3’s husband said no only to go back and buy it to surprise her.

avatar Lucy March 29, 2013, 11:53 am

I feel like #2 is a fake letter written by BGM. In the space of six months, she’s moved to be closer to him, but they only see each other every 2-3 weeks? I can’t make the math work on that. On the off chance it’s a real letter, dude is obviously married.

LW3 – You’re married. Buy your own damn ring, and when he comes home that night, say “Look at this beautiful ring you bought me! Thank you so much, sweetie!” So much more acceptable than sulking and withholding sex.

katie katie March 29, 2013, 12:17 pm

LW1- people flirt. that is just the way it is. people are not mindreaders, though. so if you want this guy to understand that you dont like something, you need to actually tell them about it. you say yourself though that it is done in a joking manner, so then im confused. so hes not actually flirting, hes joking with other (assuming) women and your … what? jealous? confused as to why people would joke-flirt? i think you need to lighten up a bit first, and then learn how to communicate. but really, he probably wont change this. its just a part of him. and a LOT of people joke flirt. its really not a big deal at all.

LW2- im calling fake just because of “made me feel like a woman”.

LW3- first off, im confused about what you are mad about because you *have* a ring. i am also confused as to why you had a ring that didnt fit your finger- you had to get your own ring resized? i dont get that… but, anyway, surely you understand that after being poor for 5 years, a ring doesnt take priority? i can think of 400 other things that it would be better to spend money on after finally getting a good job then a ring, sorry. so be realistic. but, also, he should keep his promise. so then i have to wonder…. do you know anything about your joint finances? and yes, they are joint, because you are married and have been for 5 years. so where is the money going? where is it being spent? if you dont know, find out. you need to be a financial team. maybe if you understood your households finances you would understand why a ring isnt a good idea right now, and then you both could formulate a plan to buy one in the future… but mostly, i wouldnt focus on it so much. there have been many many women ever since the invention of the ring for marriage that didnt have one. its ok. it doesnt make your marriage any less valid or good. a ring is nice, sure, and i can understand why you want it, but there are way, way more important things in life..

Caris Caris March 29, 2013, 2:44 pm

I have to wonder…did she feel like a man before? :s

KKZ KKZ March 29, 2013, 12:20 pm

NO NO NO Wendy! Withholding sex to get something you want is BAD behavior, for a woman or a man. I know you probably meant it tongue-in-cheek, but this kind of stuff gives women a bad name.

(Sorry if others pointed it out, haven’t read the comments yet, my eyes just bugged out of my head to see Wendy suggest that, even snarkily.)

KKZ KKZ March 29, 2013, 12:29 pm

Ha, well, I’m late to that party obviously… but very gratifying to see you all here saying withholding sex is bad juju. Not that I’m surprised, this community if any would be on board with that. But I’ve known women who think it’s a legit tactic. And I’ve known men who have a serious chip on their shoulder about women doing this as a habit. (Sitcom wives who pull this trick as part of an episode plot are NOT helping the cause.)

Again, pretty sure Wendy was joking, but that’s because I know Wendy (well, I know her writing persona) and have been here long enough to read between the lines. I’m just thinking of an innocent bystander, especially a man, reading a line like that and throwing his hands up in the air saying “I knew it! I knew it was all a conspiracy, that you women actually support this and advise each other to do it.” Ya know?

avatar BreezyAM March 30, 2013, 9:59 pm

why the fuck should people of any gender be putting out with people who are ignoring major important things that are important to them?

bittergaymark bittergaymark March 30, 2013, 10:11 pm

Exactly! Especially when there is a piece of jewelry involved for pete’s sake — one that both promotes the destruction of the earth AND oppression in South Africa…