In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:
Anyway, during a significantly rough patch between us, I met another guy. He’s handsome, friendly, and has the job that my boyfriend is yearning to get. Everyone wants me to get to know this new guy because they think I can do way better than my boyfriend, but I feel terribly guilty, although a tiny part of me would like to explore other options. I keep telling myself that it is only “fair” since my current boyfriend has had so many previous relationships to compare me with, whereas he is my first serious one. I have a lot of history with my current boyfriend and I know he loves me, but the image of this successful and motivated man that I fell in love with is far from what I’ve experienced thus far. He lacks motivation, lies about irrelevant stuff, and seems to not really care about anything.
Although I love him and would like to help him, it has come to a point where I find myself not being proud enough to tell people that he’s my boyfriend. So my questions are: I do love him, but should I see this other guy and check out my options to compare?; And if not, what can I do to help him get out of this rut without completely doing all the work for him? — Curious about Other Options
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Callifax May 13, 2011, 7:24 am
1) If you’ve only been with your boyfriend for five months and there’s already been a lot of “bumps in the road” and “rough patches”, that is not a good sign. Relationships are certainly not perfect, but if there have already been major obstacles between the two of you and it’s been less than a year, that might just mean that this isn’t the guy for you.
2) Despite your current boyfriend’s pitfalls (lying, lack of motivation, etc), it’s unfair to compare the two men to each other. How would you feel if someone sat there comparing you to another girl who they might be interested in? (“Well, girl A is pretty and funny, but I think girl B is more sexy…”) The mentality of “stay on the sinking ship until a another one comes along” is a dangerous one, and hurtful one, when it comes to dating. You need to decide what to do with both men INDEPENDENT of each other. Deal with your situation with your boyfriend first, then figure out what to do with the new man. It’s the only way to be fair to both of them.
3) You can’t change people. Your boyfriend is who he is. Don’t expect to ever make him into something he’s not. If he’s not motivated, he’s not motivated. If that’s not what you’re looking for, MOA. If you think you can handle it, then by all means, stay. But in the dating game, don’t ever expect to change someone.
emjay May 13, 2011, 7:42 am
LW you can not change a man/boy/guy or anyone for that matter. And if you are ashamed to be calling him your BF you are not in love with him either. You are only 29 urs old! Cut him loose so he can get his life together (even though he sounds like he has is lacking in motivation.) And explore other options. There is no law saying you must be in a serious relationship. Go out have fun and explore what else is out there. You don’t want to look back 5 or 10 yrs down the line and have regrets because you stuck with a relationship that died out just as it was starting.
emjay May 13, 2011, 7:43 am
Sorry I meant to say 20yrs old. Not 29 yrs.
Laurel May 13, 2011, 1:19 pm
I was going to point that out too! It should always make you stop and reassess if you don’t feel proud and happy to call someone your boyfriend/girlfriend.
Skyblossom May 13, 2011, 7:58 am
It’s only been five months and you already know that you don’t care to continue with this guy. That’s fine, you aren’t required to continue just because you’ve got five months history. Even if he stood by you and supported you it doesn’t mean that he is the right person for you for the long term.
If you stay out of guilt or obligation neither of you will be happy.
Skyblossom May 13, 2011, 9:22 am
Just wanted to add that a first love is almost never the last love. With a first we’re just excited by the fact they exist and then begin to realize all their flaws. We begin to realize we have dealbreakers and we learn to be pickier. Then we move on and meet our second love and probably find that they have flaws too and we learn about even more dealbreakers.
Just keep in mind that although the second guy is more successful that doesn’t mean he has all the qualities you want in a man. It means he is more ambitious or skilled or harder working than the current one but it doesn’t at all mean that he will make a good partner. He may be too busy to have time for you (just read yesterdays letters) or he may not be supportive or he cheats or he may be an exceptional guy and be the perfect one. If career success was all that was needed to create happy relationships then there would be no divorce in Hollywood.
Desiree May 13, 2011, 8:18 am
Hmm. Yet another jumbled letter. I am not judging; I know if I had written letters to Dear Wendy during certain periods of my love life, they would have been even messier than this. Okay, so there are some contradictions here. You say, “I have a lot of history with my current boyfriend,” but you have already stated you’ve only been together 5 months. Did y’all just have the most eventful five months ever? My rule: if the first 6 months are quite bumpy (without a logical exterior source like a dying relative, etc), then bail. Relationships can deepen and become more fulfilling, but if the Honeymoon period makes you want to cut your losses, that is a BAD sign. Furthermore, this line sticks out: “He lacks motivation, lies about irrelevant stuff, and seems to not really care about anything.” That is a MOA sentence. Really. Just do it. And please please please don’t stay in your current relationship while feeling out your next one. It’s a matter of respect and decency. How would you feel if your current boyfriend was saying he loved you while wondering if Girl X would be funner to be with and better in bed? See-not a good feeling. Finally, I wonder if you are interested in people or images of people. I notice that you seem upset that your boyfriend hasn’t lived up to his image, and I also noted that the new guy seems to be more successful professionally. Think long and hard before you pursue people for their images. Every person is nuanced and has vulnerabilities; sharing this is part of a genuine love affair. It’s not wrong to desire to date a person who is professionally successful, but I wonder what your expectations of that are. No one is perfect.
If any of this didn’t make sense, I apologize. I am about to take the last final of my college career, and am a little tired. : )
fallonthecity May 13, 2011, 12:02 pm
Good luck with your last final!
ReginaRey May 13, 2011, 8:37 am
This line stood out like a flashing neon sign: “the image of this successful and motivated man that I fell in love with is far from what I’ve experienced thus far.” You then proceed to say that he’s unmotivated, lies about irrelavent things, and doesn’t really care about anything.
I think you’re exactly right – you fell in love with an image, or perhaps fell in love with who you WANTED him to be (seems to be a theme here lately), not who this person actually IS – which is unmotivated, apparently a liar, and unconcerned about everything. I also would not discount the fact that “everyone” thinks you could do better – usually if a lot of people are agreeing on something, it’s worth looking in to.
Do I think you should ditch this boyfriend who isn’t what you thought he was and who you have “trust issues” with after only 5 months? Absolutely. Do I think you should automatically jump to date the other dude? Absolutely not. I think perhaps you should take some time to be single before you jump into something with another person.
Are you sure that this other man isn’t another “image” that you’re falling for? Are you sure that you don’t have a bit of “greener pastures” syndrome since you’ve been comparing him to your boyfriend? There’s a good chance he looks great in comparison not because he IS great, but because you’re currently not very enamored of your boyfriend. Be a bit critical – there’s much more to this new dude than “he has a better job than my boyfriend.” Prevent yourself from falling for an image a second time around by learning to evaluate character traits and values – honesty, integrity, trust, respect, etc., and by giving yourself TIME to evaluate before you date someone new.
Rachelgrace53 May 13, 2011, 11:08 am
TOTALLY agree! The “greener pasture” syndrome definitely seems to be in play here. And I especially agree about taking time to be single. I have gone straight from one relationship into another two different times. I can say from experience that both times it was a horrible mistake. Especially since this is the first seriously relationship for the LW, she needs time to get over it and be by herself.
TheOtherMe May 13, 2011, 8:51 am
“…it has come to a point where I find myself not being proud enough to tell people that he’s my boyfriend.”
You have just answered your own letter.
MsMisery May 13, 2011, 9:06 am
That was the part of the letter that stuck out the most to me (aside from all the other parts that stuck out, just slightly less than that part).
Also, LW, while your friends and all the other people who are inspecting your relationship under a microscope may be perfectly legitimate in saying Dude B is a better fit than Dude A, you can’t put that much stock in what other people say and do. You have to start getting a feeling for what seems right for you. Who cares if your boyfriend had 17 relationships before you? You don’t need to catch up- it’s not a race. They obviously didn’t work out, and he’s about to have another that didn’t work out.
SpyGlassez May 13, 2011, 5:32 pm
“You don’t need to catch up- it’s not a race. ” THIS.
AnitaBath May 13, 2011, 9:01 am
I’d give this advice even if your boyfriend were a good catch and you felt the same way, but you’re obviously not feeling the relationship anymore. It’s okay to feel attached to your “first,”but this relationship sounds like it’s already met a ton of problems in a short amount of time. If you want to look at it realistically and objectively, they relationship isn’t going to last anyway. It’ll last for as long as both of you try to cling onto it and drag it out, and you’d be doing both of you a favor if you ended it sooner rather than later.
End the relationship and allow yourself to grow as a person. If that means dating this new guy, then go for it. You’ve most likely learned a lot from your relationship, and you can take it as a learning experience and apply it in life.
LTC039 May 13, 2011, 9:08 am
Another pretty self-explanatory letter… LW, as much as you appreciate what your boyfriend has done for you, you do not OWE it to him to stick around just because of that. People come in to our lives when they are meant to, & they leave when they are meant to. Your boyfriend was there for you at a time you needed someone & that’s great, but if you are feeling like you want to explore other options, that’s ok. You have nothing to feel guilty about, he was there for you because he wanted to be.
Please, under no circumstances should you “explore this new guy” while dating your bf. Be a woman & tell your bf that you think this relationship has run its course (you don’t necessarily have to tell him there’s someone else on your mind.)
In another case, I’d tell you to have a talk with your boyfriend & try work things out, but I think this is not that type of scenario & it’s ok to end things.
Honestly, it’s really only been 5 months, in the grand scheme of life, that’s not such a big deal. I know the trials you’ve encountered have made it seem like a life time but it’s truly not. You’ll be ok. You’re young, you’re JUST starting life! Live it the way *you* want & NEVER stay in a relationship because you feel guilty & that you *owe* your partner something…You do more damage staying in a relationship that you don’t want to be in, than ending it before any real regretful actions occur.
WatersEdge May 13, 2011, 9:13 am
As someone else pointed out already, it’s weird that you think of yourself as “having a lot of history” with a former coworker who you’ve been dating for 5 months. I wouldn’t even say I “have a lot of history” with my husband. My childhood best friend, sure. Maybe a high school boyfriend I dated on and off for years. But not a boyfriend of five months.
You seem unhappy with this guy. Like you thought he was a go-getter but it turns out he’s a slacker. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you’re not all about status, but that you like ambitious guys. Lots of people do, especially ambitious girls. I like ambitious guys because they tend to be more outgoing and more secure in themselves (in my experience… not always… please let’s not discuss the validity of this statement), and I respect that they know what they want and they go after it. As you’ve learned, having a good job doesn’t make someone ambitious. So don’t make that mistake again when evaluating a new boyfriend. Look for qualities that you admire. Think about whether you have shared goals and values. Dig a little deeper than just the successful arm candy thing, because that will never make you happy.
And I’d like to agree that there really shouldn’t be significant rough patches in the first 6 months of a relationship. If you can’t work through the basic issues of dating (which as far as I recall extend to “should we have dinner with your friends or mine tonight”), you’re doomed long-term.
TheGirl May 13, 2011, 10:39 am
Yup. Five months does not make for a lot of history. Maybe something super tragic happened, like someone’s death or severe mental illness, but even so, that’s not enough reason for her to feel like she should have to stick with a guy. Especially since she’s only 20!
I love your comment about shared goals and values. I think the LW might be looking for the wrong things and making correlations between those things that aren’t necessarily there. Girl, you need to update your list (and be prepared to leave a few boxes unchecked, for that matter). It should have the motivation behind the guy having a good job, not the job itself. Such as, he’s ambitious and motivated, not ‘he works at this awesome place’. Jobs change, but the reasons people go out and get them do not.
cdobbs May 13, 2011, 9:17 am
it doesn’t sound like you want to be with your current boyfriend…so why not end that relationship and go for someone who might make you happy in the long run?
Fairhaired Child May 14, 2011, 11:56 am
which COULD be the new guy shes looking at, but I doubt it if she’s only thinking in terms of success and job status. Most of my happier relationships have been with guys who just lived in the moment and enjoyed how they spent their life, not boyfriends who are always working and trying to move ahead in life every step of the way.
BoomChakaLaka May 13, 2011, 9:18 am
I feel as though you want us to give you permission to break up with your boyfriend. Every line of your sentence answers your title question. So, as the commenters have done before me, and will do so after me, um, yeah, explore other options!
You should never have to justify leaving someone, IMO. As soon as you have such glaring red flags as being embarrassed to tell people he’s your bf, he lies about irrelevant things and you’re catching feelings for someone else, I think it’s pretty clear what your next step should be.
callmehobo May 13, 2011, 9:22 am
Funny how we get a lot of “permission” letters at DW. If you aren’t feeling it, then that’s really all you need to know
kerrycontrary May 13, 2011, 9:40 am
A while ago, like in the fall on The Frisky, Wendy said the same thing that if you aren’t engaged or married, you don’t have to justify ending a relationship.
candidcandy May 13, 2011, 9:26 am
My question is more for Wendy – why do we have to have all the constant “Your Turn” columns? Everyone already gives their advice under your answer anyway, and it just means I miss out on your advice!
Oh, and letter-writer: MOA.
Wendy May 13, 2011, 10:50 am
Well, I was on vacation for two weeks and just returned home. I thought I did a pretty good job providing at least a little bit of new content for the time I was away, as well as lining up some guests columnists who did a great job (thanks, RR!). Posting will be back to normal starting Monday.
Callifax May 13, 2011, 5:55 pm
You did great, Wendy! I didn’t have withdrawal symptoms or anything. It’ll be nice to have you back, though.
Adaas May 14, 2011, 3:03 am
Not only did you do well in that way, you also explained several times WHY you weren’t answering columns as much during the time you were gone.
Skyblossom May 14, 2011, 5:49 pm
You did a super job and I’m glad that you got to have a vacation with your husband.
spaceboy761 May 13, 2011, 9:34 am
I’m not sure why so many women write in essentially asking for permission to end relationships that clearly aren’t working. You’re an adult; you don’t need permission to do anything that doesn’t involve a state-issued license or tax revenue. You could spend $500 to turn your living room into a Chuck-E-Cheese ball pit if you really felt like it.
Just end it.
kerrycontrary May 13, 2011, 9:39 am
haha love the Chuck-E-Cheese ball pit idea!! I agree that women shouldn’t have to ask permission to end a relationship, but I think sometimes women are just looking for an unbiased opinion that says “yes! you are right, you SHOULD end things.”
spaceboy761 May 13, 2011, 10:00 am
It still creeps me out to see women ask for permission to be happy because it just doesn’t seem like a healthy mindset. There’s no marriage, children, or even a living situation to be considered here, so where does the sense of obligation come from? From the male perspective, it’s absolutely baffling.
TheGirl May 13, 2011, 10:42 am
Its called guilt. Its something mothers have passed down to their female children for generations. Like any superpower, it comes with great responsibility and is most often misused. In this case, it is self-applied.
VioletLover May 16, 2011, 1:21 pm
It might have something to do with the differences between women and men are raised. (Just FYI, speaking in generalities here, nothing specific, and there are always exceptions. 😀 )
My parents spent more time with me talking about how compromise is important, that making sure other people are happy, too, than they did with my brother. I was encouraged to be generous and unselfish, whereas he was told to always shoot for his dreams and to not let other people hold him back.
I’m more likely to stay in an bad/uncomfortable situation and try to make it work out for everyone, even if doing so is stressing me out. My brother? When he’s decided that the situation isn’t worth his time, he ups and outs to go do something that makes him happy.
NOT to say that he’s selfish, ’cause he really isn’t. It just seems that we were given different priorities growing up. I always try to improve the situation for everyone, even if it isn’t ideal for me. He makes sure that his happiness and security come first, as long as he isn’t actively harming someone. He won’t steal, for instance, ‘because that’s “actively” causing harm. But he doesn’t hesitate to end bad relationships because he thinks it’s better for both people involved, even if the other person is hurt by the break up.
callmehobo May 13, 2011, 9:51 am
spaceboy761 May 13, 2011, 9:55 am
Yeah, I totally haven’t priced this out in the past to know that it would cost about $500. Hehe. [loosens collar]
WatersEdge May 13, 2011, 11:27 am
oh my god… I love those ball pits. Sinking down to the bottom and just sitting in them is the most relaxing sensory experience! I REALLY want to buy that…
MissDre May 13, 2011, 11:34 am
That’s just for the balls though, you’d have to pay for the construction of the pit 🙂
spaceboy761 May 13, 2011, 12:56 pm
This is why you should make friends with the engineering majors in college. They’re not exactly the party animals, but they can figure out shit like this in their sleep.
Maracuya May 13, 2011, 1:02 pm
Pfft. I’m an engineering major. Just buy a soft pool thing and put a lot of pillows on the bottom. It’s good enough, and you save on labor.
Maracuya May 13, 2011, 1:07 pm
Or this: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4342071
MissDre May 13, 2011, 1:08 pm
Well there you go. That solves all!
MissDre May 13, 2011, 1:07 pm
I thought about that, but even blow up pools are expensive (if they are big enough to fit more than three kids), plus the air pump if you don’t have one, and if it was actually the size of a ball pit, enough pillows to cover the bottom would be expensive too.
So I think $500 is a fair enough estimate once all is said and done 🙂
spaceboy761 May 13, 2011, 1:22 pm
Your best bet would be to organize the ball pit party on either the first or last day of the academic calendar when most of the dorms are completely empty. Find the friend with the smallest single and talk them into dragging whatever minimal furniture the school provides into the hallway. Then everybody on the floor drags their mattress to the room and cobbles them together to pad the entire floor. Take the furniture out of the hallway and use it to barricade the doorway so that the balls don’t spill out. Then dump in all the balls you can afford. You could probably even get funding from the school if you apply to Student Life and promise to keep it an alcohol-free event (or just spend the money and WOO HOO DRUNK BALL PIT!!!)
Life is so much easier in college because you can destroy things you really don’t own with minimal consequences. Sometimes we would buy lamps and stuff for like $2 in Senior Sales just to throw them out of 5th story windows.
Fairhaired Child May 14, 2011, 12:00 pm
One of my best guy friends wanted to do this when we were in college. He already had it all planned out but then decided his roommate would kill him. so now the plan is set for him to have a house later in life where there is a secret room behind the bookcase (BATMAN STYLE) that leads to a slide that slides down into a ball pit.
kerrycontrary May 13, 2011, 9:37 am
I think that the LW should end things with her current boyfriend, and not because there’s a new guy she’s interested in, but because things clearly aren’t great in the relationship. While your boyfriend may have once looked great on paper, he’s clearly been disappointing thus far. It’s great that he was there for you during a rough time, but that is what your friends and family are for. Your boyfriend needs to be more than that. You are only 20, so I would MOA. If you need to, go on a few dates with this new guy, but you can also date other people! Enjoy being young and single, you only get the chance once.
LeahW. May 13, 2011, 9:47 am
You’re being very intellectual about this decision. Which man is more successful? Who would your friends want you to date? Who would you be more happy to show off? Is it fair to dump a guy who’s helped you through the rough patches? Should someone of your age have lots of boyfriends so they can “compare”? What I don’t hear you asking is very simple and more more relevant: which of these men are you more excited to be with? Just because you love your boyfriend doesn’t mean that he’s the best man for you right now, and it’s completely okay to leave a stable relationship for the promise of someone new if it turns out that’s what you want.
When a relationship is going well and you’re committed to that person, it’s not that you stop being attracted to other people (other people you would HAPPILY DATE if you were single) it’s that you’ve decided not to pursue them. The fact that you’re considering another man might suggest that your relationship hasn’t been going well for a while, but you didn’t have a compelling reason to end it until now.
Another possibility is that, at the young age of 20 when you have the whole world ahead of you, you’re just not ready to throw all your eggs into one basket and be monogamous with anyone. Maybe you WOULD be happier dating around for a while and seeing what’s out there. If you think that may be the case, you have an additional option (other then staying with your boyfriend or breaking up with him and dating the new guy); you can very respectfully tell your boyfriend that you love him and enjoy being with him, but that want to open up the relationship and date other people as well. It may upset him and he may not go for it, but at least you will have been honest about your intentions.
The bottom line is, no matter how many tough times your boyfriend helped you through you’re not obligated to stay with him. You’re only obligated to break up with him in as kind and honest of a way as possible if you’re no longer happy enough with the relationship to ignore all the other fishes in the sea.
And one last word to the wise. If you do re-enter the dating pool, I’d encourage you to get to know men and decide whether you’re interested based on how you feel when you’re with them and not something external like their job or what your friends think. You might go astray but as you said, your current boyfriend looked great on paper but didn’t turn out to be as ambitious as you thought based on his resume. Opening your eyes to all the different men, some with jobs that you’d never have bragged about to your friends, is one of the great things about dating a lot of people. After all, you’re only 20! This is supposed to be fun!
LeahW. May 13, 2011, 9:51 am
Woah, didn’t mean to write a whole opus!
Budjer May 13, 2011, 9:58 am
I agree with your advice to focus on the individual and not their “resume”. I’d just like to expand on it based on that tiny feeling she should be exploring her options.
I would not go on to date the other guy if you decide to break it off with your current guy. You don’t have to be in a relationship with someone to date them. I would listen to that inner voice more and do what it says…explore your options…date a few guys casually before getting into another relationship.
Getting to know more people in a casual manner will help you get the feeling for what YOU ultimately want in a man / relationship and it will also allow you the experience to see through the losers that put on a good front – there seem to be a lot of them based on the recent DW letters. Not to mention its much easier to call things off if you aren’t feeling it when you haven’t taken that leap into a relationship.
sarolabelle May 13, 2011, 8:57 am
LW – I think you are confused about what love is. Love is NOT wanting to break up with your boyfriend to explore other options. Love is never wanting to leave your boyfriend’s side. Wanting to be there and invested in this relationship. Not liking everything about him but choosing to love him dispite those things. You don’t love your boyfriend! It’s only been 5 months. If you are not happy for whatever reason then move on.
leilani May 13, 2011, 10:15 am
I’m kind of confused by your letter. You seem to be really focused on the relative success of the two men, but don’t really illustrate why your current boyfriend isn’t as accomplished as you would like. He certainly doesn’t seem like a deadbeat, so I don’t fully understand why that is factoring into the decision. Why don’t your friends feel like he is good enough? Why are you ashamed to call him your boyfriend? I wonder if there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface in the relation to the trust issues that you guys are experiencing.
BecBoo84 May 13, 2011, 10:46 am
Just to reiterate: You don’t have a “a lot of history” with this dude, it’s only been five months!
Quakergirl May 13, 2011, 11:22 am
Maybe the reason she feels that way is because so many trying things have come up in the past five months, but LW, that’s not a good sign!
TJ May 13, 2011, 10:52 am
“No matter what I do/All I think about is you/Even when I’m with my boo/You know I’m crazy over you”
spaceboy761 May 13, 2011, 11:13 am
One of my old bosses actually had this as his ringtone for about four seconds until the rest of us (Wall Street trading desk with 27 men and 0 women) heard it. He never really lived that down.
ReginaRey May 13, 2011, 11:26 am
This leads me to ask…do your Wall Street coworkers know that you have a love of commenting on a (majorly female) relationship advice site? I hope you’re not keeping us under the radar! haha
ReginaRey May 13, 2011, 11:27 am
…Then again, my boss doesn’t exactly know I do this while working either! 🙂
spaceboy761 May 13, 2011, 11:31 am
This was a while ago. My current job features a disgustingly PC environment where I can’t even say “Oh, come on” at my computer when it fails to compile the code I want without drawing stares. On the plus side, I can freely walk about the office without the fear of wedgies or snowball attacks.
TJ May 13, 2011, 3:02 pm
Who keeps hating on my comments? Is it because you don’t agree with song choice or because you don’t like them period? I’m just trying to mix it up…sheesh!
Elle May 13, 2011, 3:21 pm
@TJ. I don’t like it either when people thumb a comment down, and don’t say why they disagree with the said comment. If they don’t respect you enough to let you know why they disagree with you, then I don’t think you should waste a single brain cell thinking about them.
Someone illuminate me – what song is that? Thanks 🙂
Jshizzle May 13, 2011, 8:06 pm
It’s Kelly Rowland feat. Nelly “My Boo”
SGMcG May 13, 2011, 11:00 am
When reading your letter, I’m reminded of the “Front Porch or Porch Swing Test.” LW, your relationship is currently undergoing it – BIG TIME. Relationships and dating are not that easy to figure out but sometimes things can be broken down into the smallest components and I find that this test makes it easier to focus on your heart’s desires without influencing distractions.
Here’s the test: Can you picture you and your boyfriend sitting at the front porch, hand in hand, growing old together 5, 10, or 20 years from now? If there’s anything preventing you from picturing that scenario, evaluate those roadblocks. Are those things indications of not knowing the person well enough? (As is the case with your boyfriend – 5 months is not that long a time for a committed relationship.) Is the roadblock a red flag for you that your boyfriend is demonstrating? (Trust issues are a red flag for me.) If they don’t pass the test and the roadblocks preventing a passing test are personal red flags, it stands to reason that you should MOA.
Since I don’t know what are your personal red flags LW, I’m not suggesting that you should immediately MOA from your boyfriend. However, you should really evaluate how you feel and re-read your letter. Personally, I think you should be proud enough to tell people the circumstances of what your relationship is to another individual. I’m very proud to be a wife to my husband – if this is a stance you want for yourself, then you need to first be proud of being that person’s girlfriend. It currently does not sound like that you are.
TheOtherMe May 13, 2011, 11:04 am
Oh, I just love this test !
SSBoo May 13, 2011, 11:30 am
I first heard of this test on “How I Met Your Mother” and I gotta say, it’s the best!! I use it whenever my bf and I have an argument.
Liv May 13, 2011, 11:03 am
Do it! Now is the time in your life to explore any options you want! Don’t get tied down, just experience life and have fun!
convexed May 13, 2011, 11:03 am
Hmm, the LW is only 20, and she is comparing the educational/career pedigrees of two men, each doing relatively well, a bit older than her. This may be unpopular advice, but I suggest that one way to avoid valuing people primarily for their ‘image’ or status is to date people your own age, in your own stage of life.
It’s unlikely at 20 that the LW has completed her BA or entered her career field with a high-level job. In that sense, there is a limit to how well the LW can judge someone’s apparent motivation or success. It’s hard to really ‘get’ mid-20’s professional, post-college life until you get there to navigate it yourself. It’s very easy to make simplistic judgments based on only the most obvious indicators of success (salary, prestigious company, degree, etc) that don’t necessarily reflect the character, depth, and potential of the man himself–ultimately, you have to sleep in bed at night with a human, not an image, and it’s better that way.
I would posit: what’s wrong with dating a guy who’s 20? Please don’t tell me that no twenty year old men are interesting, kind, fun, smart, or going places. I think this LW is a little bit young, a little bit too eager to launch herself into a mid-20’s relationship with a mid-20’s professional. Not only does that not sound very fun, but it doesn’t sound like the LW is quite ready to date in that field. Unless you can fully see a person (or kind of person) for who they are beyond the visible, the image, you are not qualified to date in that bracket.
spaceboy761 May 13, 2011, 11:20 am
Either that or she wants a baby five minutes ago.
WatersEdge May 13, 2011, 11:29 am
yikes, I hope not. I did think that chickie’s going for the Mrs. Degree though!
Maracuya May 13, 2011, 11:45 am
Haha, that’s what I thought too. I mean…title or salary is not the only indicator of being successful. It’s hard to understand what makes her boyfriend unambitious or lazy…he’s working two jobs, isn’t he? Sounds like she just wants someone that her friends will ooh and aah at when she say, “Oh, my boyfriend works at such-and-such firm.” Hell, at 25 you’re still developing your skills anyway so it’s not clear yet who will be successful in the long run. Bottom line: You’re not hiring him. You’re dating him.
Maracuya May 13, 2011, 11:53 am
Although I don’t see the big deal about a 20 year old dating a 25 year old. That’s not much of an age difference, and it doesn’t sound like it has to be boring or not fun. But I do think the red flag to me is that there’s so much emphasis on professional success versus other qualities.
convexed May 13, 2011, 8:27 pm
No, you’re right, there’s nothing essentially off with that age difference–but I do think that if you’re gonna be a young person who serially dates somewhat older people, you really need to have your emotional shit together and a clear, mature head on your young shoulders. It’s only 5 years, but the difference in milestones and learning experiences in your early twenties is bigger than say, between a 40 yr old and a 45 yr old.
It was the nature of her question and her method of thinking through it that made me think this particular young person is a little out of her element and does not seem to register it. Maybe she was told to date aspirationally—older, richer, more established. But there’s nothing wrong at all with being 20, fully and happily, with other 20 year olds! You’ll have time to deal with mid-twenties anxieties when you get there. Why add them to your life before you need to?
spaceboy761 May 13, 2011, 1:01 pm
All that she wants is another baby
She’s gone tomorrow, boy
All that she wants is another baby
Great, now that song is going to be in my head until August.
fallonthecity May 13, 2011, 2:02 pm
That’s exactly what I thought!
niki May 13, 2011, 11:32 am
I agree with you. This LW seems overly concerned with the status of the men she’s dating. I don’t think she necessarily needs to start dating 20 yr olds, but she does need to understand that having a high-powered career in your mid-20’s doesn’t mean that person will be a good partner. Some people take longer to decide what it is they want to do with their lives. Some peoples’ life circumstances make it impossible to go straigt from high school to a university and a bachelor’s degree/master’s degree, what have you. LW would do well to take a step back and re-evaluate her priorities. Also, she should look at the people who are telling her that she can “do better”. Perhaps she has this mentality about the ambitious career man because this is how she was raised.
At any rate, I think she needs to break up with her boyfriend, for both their sakes, and spend some time being single before jumping into another relationship.
Sheyna May 13, 2011, 11:45 am
Run away and never look back. The second you want to stick around to help someone…please just go.
It’s a recipe for disaster. Better to leave now than be resentful a year from now, or worse several years from now.
Quakergirl May 13, 2011, 11:50 am
LW, do both yourself and your boyfriend a favor and end things now. I don’t get the feeling that you love him at all. It seems, rather, that you love the idea of him– the degree, the job, the fact that he’s older, etc., and you’re seeking that out in the new guy.
But you can’t just check off boxes and assume things will work out, because if anything is clear from your letter it’s that this relationship isn’t working out. Let’s look at the facts here: he has numerous major character flaws that bother you, you don’t trust him (or perhaps he doesn’t trust you– it wasn’t clear from the letter), you’re looking around for other guys even though you claim you love him, you two have already had what you describe as “HUGE bumps in the road” and “a significantly rough patch” after only *five months* together, and ***you’re embarrassed to admit that you’re dating him.*** If you honestly believe this constitutes a functioning relationship, you would probably benefit from some therapy. I’d look into that before re-entering the dating field.
And when you do jump back in, think beyond the “prince charming checklist” that so many women seem to have and look for a guy that’s a good match *for you*– someone who shares your goals, values, and worldview; with whom you have shared interests; who loves, respects, and supports you; and who you can’t wait to introduce all your friends and family to. Start with those boxes on the checklist, and you’ll probably end up with a much happier and healthier relationship.
HmC May 13, 2011, 11:50 am
You shouldn’t be *seriously* comparison shopping while in a relationship. Your urge to do so, along with the fact that you are so young and the fact that your current boyfriend is your first boyfriend ever, convince me that you should probably not be in your current relationship.
Dating someone is not the same thing as marrying them. Dating is trying someone on for size, seeing if they fit. After a decent amount of time together, you have learned that your current boyfriend “lacks motivation, lies about irrelevant stuff, and seems to not really care about anything”. These appear to be dealbreakers for you (as they would be for many people), which means he is not a fit for you. As you’ll learn with experience, loving someone is not in itself enough of a reason to be with them in a relationship.
Sometimes the prospect of a better option is the kick in the pants people need to end a failing relationship. But I caution you, from my own experience, to not break up with your current boyfriend on the assumption that this next guy will live up to all your expectations. People often don’t. And men, sad to say, are often good at telling you what you want to hear.
It’s possible this new guy likes you and is the person you think he might be. But it’s possible he won’t return your feelings and isn’t quite who you think he is, just as your boyfriend now revealed himself to be a bit different than you were expecting. If you dump one guy expecting some Knight in Shining Armor to jump in and rescue you, well, there are many ways for that situation to go wrong for you. You’ll probably be extra resentful if things don’t work out, if you feel like you dumped someone else for him.
Break up because it’s the right thing to do and you’re not a match- not because you feel like you know there is someone else waiting to catch you. If, after some time to process your break-up, new guy is still buzzing around and showing you through his actions that he is interested, you can consider hanging out with him. Don’t rush it.
Quakergirl May 13, 2011, 11:56 am
“As you’ll learn with experience, loving someone is not in itself enough of a reason to be with them in a relationship.” I feel like we should just give teenage girls a bumper sticker or keychain or something that says this when they start dating, so that maybe if they see it enough they’ll actually believe it and act on it when they get into their 20s and want a serious relationship. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen friends be in horrible relationships with guys that were so, so wrong for them and justify it because, well, we love each other and that should be enough. But alas, love is necessary, but not sufficient, for a successful relationship.
SpyGlassez May 13, 2011, 5:40 pm
Likewise, the IDEA of loving someone is not in itself reason to rustle up a relationship. I can’t count the number of times my sister (about the age of this LW, actually) has decided she wanted to be in love with someone, and so convinced herself that she was, and then moved on to the next “in love” high. She isn’t a bad person – nor is this LW – but it is a mark of immaturity.
Giancarla May 13, 2011, 12:10 pm
I’ve seen a lot of commenters say that they’re not going to judge…But I will.
You’re not in-love with your boyfriend. Why do I say that? Because if you were, the other man wouldn’t even be a contender and your eyes/mind/heart wouldn’t be wandering around and seriously consider being in a relationship with someone else.
That being said, cut your boyfriend loose. It’s irrelevant that he’s had other relationships before you and you’ve had less but you have other factors that you listed that bother you about him. If ambition and drive are important to you (even at a young age of 20), then MOA. Keep in mind though that sucess in business/career won’t guarantee you happiness in terms of a partner. In fact, if the other guy is so successful in his career then it means he’s devoting a lot of his time to that and less likely to devote time to YOU.
Love’s never easy but good luck to you. The fact that you’re asking for advice means you’re thinking things through and not making rash decisions and I commend you for that.
Sistine May 13, 2011, 12:31 pm
It’s okay if you want to date around, or as you put it “explore other options.” What’s not okay is stringing your current boyfriend along while you seek out this other man. The fact that your current boyfriend has had other experiences besides you and you’ve only been with him isn’t a justification for you to cheat. All relationships are different and it’s unfair to try and compare them with each other. If you aren’t into your boyfriend anymore, break up with him. There’s nothing wrong with ending a relationship if you aren’t satisfied with it.
Bostonian Thinker May 13, 2011, 2:12 pm
Several thoughts come to mind as I read this. First, it is perfectly legitimate to want, at age 20, to be free to explore what kind of person you want to be with and free to end any relationship that you do not wish to be in, but you do need to own up to it and not make some lame excuse that because you have dated less than “firness’ dictates that you should be with other people. Also, you have not even wirtten that this other man has even expressed interest in you. If we dumped our current relationship every time we saw a very attractive new person, there woudl be no long term relationships.
Two Straws May 13, 2011, 3:56 pm
You need to move on – and not to “Bachelor #2”. When eyes start wandering and you start making connections with someone else, it’s not because this other person is so wonderful (which they might be, but it shouldn’t matter if you’re committed) it’s because you are missing something in your relationship that you think you can get from someone else.
That, right there, is reason to walk away from your relationship.
Not being proud of calling someone your own, not wanting to shout from the rooftops that this is the man you love….that’s reason for OMG WHY AREN’T YOU WALKING AWAY YET?!!?
It’s not that simple, I’m aware.
You mention in your first paragraph that your current boyfriend has been “a lot of firsts” to you. I don’t know what all that entails but I’m assuming somewhere along the lines of first love? first serious relationship? first sexual experiences? first man to meet your parents? all of the above?
Those are all tied to very powerful emotions – emotions which aren’t going to ever go away completely. But most of us don’t spend the rest of our lives holding onto that first as a life partner. Why? Because your first is someone who is there to teach you something so that you are better for the second, or the 4th or the 10th. Otherwise we’d just call them the “onlys”.
You have clearly learned some lessons from this relationship already: there are bumps in the road, men aren’t always who they portray, trust is important in relationships, etc. So now take a few steps on your own and learn from those lessons.
As for the other guy…. if you’re getting out of a relationship like this – regardless of how short it was – you need at least a few months to process. Do yourself, and him, a favor and don’t pursue this right away. A few months down the road, if you’re still in touch and you still think you like him, I say go for it. But don’t jump into something right away.
Good luck, LW!
Kat May 13, 2011, 5:15 pm
It kind of sounds like the man you fell in love with (motivated, experienced, etc) isn’t the man you’re actually with. If you want to explore your options, you’re in the peak age to do it! Get out there and find a guy who’s actually what you’re looking for
Jshizzle May 13, 2011, 5:19 pm
Dear gal who wrote this…
5 months in and you’ve decided he’s not the picture of success you once imagined him as? Dump him for lying to you and having no motivation, sure, not because some other good looking guy has the job your boyfriend yearns to have. 25 year olds in this economy don’t exactly have the world at their fingertips, unless they get lucky, it’s a slow struggle and a lot a sacrifice to become “successful”.
On another note you’re 20 years old, and you will understand this in about 4 or 5 years, but would you appreciate a 15 year old telling you some other woman is way more successful and motivated than you, but that you’re doing pretty good for a 20 year old?
caitie_didn't May 13, 2011, 5:32 pm
I dunno, maybe because it’s friday the 13th and work was crazy today, maybe it’s because my allergies are driving me absolutely bonkers and I can’t go outside even though it’s beautiful, but this LW really got on my nerves.
1). it’s not okay to string someone along while you’re comparison shopping for a better partner. It’s a viciously cruel and manipulative thing to do to somebody. It’s okay to recognize that you don’t love somebody, or that they are not what you initially thought they were, or to want time to be single (especially at 20!) but it is never, ever, okay to hang on to them until the next “sure thing” comes along. LW, if the shoe was on the other foot, you’d be calling your boyfriend every foul name in the book, and you’d probably be justified in doing so.
2). It seems to me that the LW is all about appearances, or perhaps gold-digging a bit because the “good qualities” she lists for guy #2 are incredibly shallow. She seems to want a guy who makes x money and has y type of job and works at z company and who will impress her friends and family. I’ll be the first to admit that I date ambitious, intelligent guys because I’m an ambitious, intelligent gal and I find both ambition and intelligence (not always correlated with education, I should add) attractive. BUT, seriously LW- you’re in college, you have lots of time to date young professionals and you need to recognize that a good partner is not a list of employable skills and yearly salary- it’s personality, character, common interests, physical chemistry and a million other things.
Fairhaired Child May 14, 2011, 12:11 pm
I skimmed most of the responses but here are my feelings. Most college relationships last anywhere from 3-6 months (oh look at that.. its almost the length of a semester and a holiday break such as christmas or part of summer). College especially is a time to get to know other people, to experiment in what you expect in others, to see what you expect for yourself and to just ENJOY life.
Almost all of my relationships in college were about 5-6 months long. And each time i dated someone new, my mom would (jokingly) say “oh well you’ll tire of him after about 4 months.” And while that irritated the crap out of me – she was right. Its all about exploring and testing your ‘limits”, you find out what your deal breakers are, what you value more in each relationship, and what to AVOID LIKE CRAZY in the future. You can have great relationships that fall apart mutually, you can have really rocky relationships that just suck and there’s a huge blow up, or you can have a relationship that you feel like you are “going to marry him” and then suddenly you hit a deal breaker. But, the thing is you learn from all of them and grow from them.
I think she needs to try to be single for a while again to figure out what kind of person she is and to figure out what qualities she wants in a guy BESIDES success and money (don’t we all dream of that?). Money does not make someone fall in love (unless they buy me a pony.. then maybe its love) – enjoy them for them, because in this economy there is no real sense of “job security” any more for people in their 20s. My bf didn’t have a job for 3 months of our relationship and I was the sole provider and took care of BOTH of us on my salary, but we did it, and I dont resent him because I was WILLING to carry both of our weight because I believed in his abilities to get a new job and because I loved him. I didn’t do it because we had been “through so much” and felt like I HAD to,but because I wanted to.