Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Am I a Scumbag?”

I started dating “Jane” about two months ago. We met on OKCupid and had a really good first date. Unfortunately, I’ve had to commute for work each week since then, but have seen her every weekend. At the start of January, “Carissa” came onto the work project that I’m traveling for. We had instant chemistry, but I fought it since she’s a coworker (and I was seeing Jane). Fast forward to end of January, and after a long night of drinking with the team, I ended up kissing Carissa in the bar at the end of the night. Things escalated rapidly from there — mostly just physical, but we carpooled to work this past week, which sorta felt like a date. I thought Carissa knew about Jane — it had been public knowledge among my co-workers, but she didn’t know and when she found out, she was understandably upset and asked me to break things off with Jane.

First, am I a scumbag for what I’ve done so far? I haven’t seen Jane since starting to get physical with Carissa, but I’ve been keeping up with communication over text/email, and a couple of phone calls. Second, what should I do from here? My current plan is to break up with Jane for something unrelated and continue seeing Carissa. What do you think? — Scumbag?

Oh, come on; does this really call for an elaborate game plan? If Carissa is the one who is more readily available and the one you’d like to get to know better, than respect her wishes and break up with Jane. You’ve only been seeing Jane for two months, and only on weekends at that, so breaking up with her doesn’t need to be a big deal. Simply tell her you’ve enjoyed getting to know her, but you’ve decided to move on and you wish her well.

As for whether you’re a scumbag or not, well, that depends on whether you established an exclusive relationship with Jane. If so, you’re a cheater and yeah, kinda scumbaggy. If not, I fail to see how you really screwed up. It’s not inappropriate to date two people at the same time, provided the people you’re dating know you aren’t exclusively seeing them. In the future, you should probably get to know someone better before ruling out your other options; that’s a good way not to feel like a scumbag.

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

21 comments… add one
  • bitter gay mark February 17, 2011, 3:39 pm

    Frankly, I don’t understand this RUSH to be exclusive and monogamous when two people have just barely begun dating…. It’s called dating for a reason. I’m not saying you should be running around sleeping with multiple women, but I truly don’t see why so many people want to act like they are married after a few dates… In the end, I simply don’t think the LW knows either of these women well enough for them to expect him to be totally exclusive… For him to think he is a scumbag is almost amusing…

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    • callmehobo February 17, 2011, 3:43 pm

      I think you hit it on the head BGM.

      I think the LW could have been a little clearer about him seeing someone else, but I think the freak out was a little uncalled for.

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    • sarolabelle February 17, 2011, 4:02 pm

      I was not exclusive with my bf until after dating for two months. So I can’t imagine them being exclusive yet.

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    • Wolvie_girl February 17, 2011, 4:19 pm

      Agree 100%! Why start putting all your eggs into one basket until you know it’s a basket that has potential?

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    • princesspetticoat February 17, 2011, 9:10 pm

      I disagree.. I think the reason he feels guilty and is worried about being a scumbag is because he does think it was past the point of casual dating.

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  • Leyahn February 17, 2011, 4:05 pm

    Oh please – two months and a handful of dates does not exclusivity make. So there was no cheating involved when the LW got drunk and groped the co-worker – but that is pretty dumb in and of itself. Drinking, groping, and coworkers just don’t shake or stir well in the long run. Carpooling does not a date make – although it is green and good for the environment which should help dispel some of those toxic fumes the LW leeched after the night of drinking and groping.

    LW just needs to cut to “Jane” loose, really, she will be better off without the LW.
    LW needs to clarify his/her thoughts on the coworker and weigh the pros and cons of becoming involved with a coworker. ‘Cause I see another letter in the future.

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    • Wolvie_girl February 17, 2011, 4:21 pm

      Leyahn, you beat me to the punch! The real question LW should have been asking is “Is it wise to date my co-worker” Um NOOO don’t shit where you eat! Imagine three months from now, you’ve drunkenly groped some new girl, and have been kicked to the curb by Carissa, imagine how much “fun” (read akward and possibly painful) work will be now…is it worth it?

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      • Leyahn February 19, 2011, 12:42 am

        Oh, Wolvie_Girl I just can’t wait for his/her next letter(s) to Wendy.
        I wonder how many co-workers the LW can grope using the “I drank too much at the office party” excuse.

  • cdj0815 February 17, 2011, 4:19 pm

    Have you discussed with either of the women that you are in an exclusive relationship or are you reading more into the each relationship than their is. Sounds like to me the you (LW) are having a good time from the tone of the letter, and really don’t need any advice. I think you already know the answer of what you are going to do about both relationships.

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  • fast eddie February 17, 2011, 4:40 pm

    Been there done that and hated it. If both women are aware of the each other they get competitive and that has some pluses and minuses. I was torn and couldn’t decide but the situation solved itself and I lost both of them which I regret even decades later. They were both wonderful and deserved better. I don’t feel guilty but if I’d made a choice earlier all parties would have been better off.

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    • cdj0815 February 21, 2011, 9:01 am

      Takes a real man to admit this. You are a great guy Fast Eddie.

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  • cmarie February 17, 2011, 5:12 pm

    If you were exclusive with Jane, cheating with the coworker was a pretty jerk move. This is why people need to communicate in relationships, especially in the beginning, when it comes to exclusivity. You might have different ideas about when a relationship becomes monogamous. Carissa was probably upset because no woman wants to be labeled the slutty mistress or the other woman. It’s understandable that she’s have a freak out about that. Break it off with Jane, don’t tell her about Carissa, and make sure you’re on the same page of you and Carissa decided to pursue a relationship. All in all, I agree with Wendy.

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  • rosalee February 17, 2011, 8:16 pm

    The fact that you feel guilty about this is a big sign you are NOT a scumbag.

    The kindest thing to do for Jane is to break it off immediately, and cleanly. Don’t string her along, and don’t drag out the inevitable. And no need to tell her about Carissa.

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  • Heather February 17, 2011, 9:00 pm

    Yeah, this seems pretty straight forward. As long as you were honest with Jane, and didn’t lead her on to believe that the extent your relationship reached wasn’t the fairy tale fluff, then just kindly let her know that its not working out for you. It will probably sting her a little, no doubt about that, but doing it early on is the way to go. If you have found someone that you have better chemistry with then the best idea is to pursue that.

    The only thing I have to say is be wary of work relationships, and I will leave it at that.

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  • PhantomJen February 17, 2011, 9:20 pm

    Yeesh. This whole exclusivity debacle that seems to come up so often is why I’m glad my fiancé and I actually knew each other for a while before we got together. By the time we wanted to start a relationship, we didn’t feel any need to go through some hazy, non-committal “let’s just try each other out” period.

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  • Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com February 18, 2011, 12:21 pm

    I think we all get too caught up in timelines and numbers of dates. I don’t think you can numerically determine the seriousness of a relationship.

    If the LW feels like a scumbag, it probably has to do with the quality and nature of the time he spent with Jane –whether that took place over 1 or 45 dates. Maybe he already met her parents, maybe they planned a trip for this Summer, maybe they spent all night talking about their hopes and dreams. That may be unlikely between 2 people in a 2 month time period but the point is that the length of time alone does not tell us much about the understanding between them.

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  • AKchic February 18, 2011, 12:51 pm

    I am really starting to get irritated with people bandying about the word “dating” and using it interchangeably with “sleeping together”.

    Are you a scumbag? If you are 100% truthful in the letter, from this point of view, no. To the women – they may see it differently. Tell Jane that you had a good time, but you aren’t feeling the right chemistry. If you want to stay friends, tell her so and continue to email each other.

    I would reconsider Carissa though. Yes, you’re apparently hot and heavy now, after a mere few weeks (from what I can tell in the letter, even though it really doesn’t specify), but what happens when it’s over? You two WORK TOGETHER. She has already insisted that you drop a female for her exclusively. I don’t blame her since it’s obvious you are physically intimate and probably doesn’t want to risk STDs, but you are also running the risk of this relationship sinking fast. Fast sinkers tend to be messy breakups. Can your career with your company handle something like that?

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  • LANY February 18, 2011, 5:19 pm

    Great comments above but just wanted to say that I disagree with the co-worker comments… it sounds as though the LW is a consultant of some sort (traveling for work, “team”, etc.) It’s a situation where you work with someone pretty much non stop for 3-4 months and then move on to the next project and team. It’s not like working with a typical co-worker who you see on a regular basis, and my bet is that “Carissa” and the LW don’t even live in the same city. Very different than what most consider a typical “co-worker” relationship.

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  • Woman of Words February 18, 2011, 9:00 pm

    I’m with Carissa. And I don’t really understand the whole timeline/number of dates thing either. I feel after two or three dates one should know whether it’s worth making an effort with someone. Doesn’t mean you necessarily want a long term relationship with them, but it’s preferable to get to know them without the complication of someone else in the picture, for both yourself and them. And I couldn’t think of anything worse than having an intimate relationship with someone while they are intimate with another. To me, it’s just a courtesy rather than a commitment. (I think I’ve just marked myself as a dinosaur…)

    Jane seems nice but it sounds like you want the excitement of Carissa, and you are feeling guilty for it. Do the right thing by Jane and let her go. If things fizzle with Carissa (which they might since it’s a workplace hookup) at least you know you made the most of your opportunities.

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    • Kate February 20, 2011, 6:51 pm

      Well, if you’re a dinosaur, then so am I. To me, the demarkation line between “just dating” and “more serious” is whether we are sleeping together. I woud not even consider sleeping with someone if he was sleeping with someone else. If he wants me, he gets me and no one else. It doesn’t have to lead to marriage, but it is an indication of respect. As to whether the LW is a scumbag, as others have said, it depends on what his relationship with Jane was. If they were sleeping together, to my mind that makes him unavailable. What I find interesting is that Carissa asked the LW to stop seeing Jane. If it were me, I would’ve ended things with him immediately until his status is determined.

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      • Woman of Words February 20, 2011, 7:03 pm



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