Shortcuts: “I Told My Girlfriend I Think About Other Women”

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 that being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

Recently, out of anger at someone else, I told my girlfriend of five years that I think about other chicks every time we have sex. I said it to hurt her feelings, because I couldn’t hurt the other person’s feelings. Now my girlfriend won’t have sex with me. As a matter of fact, she won’t even look at me. We still laugh and talk, but I feel like something is different with her now — she’s sort of detached and not the vibrant, smiley, sweet girl she used to be. She is a good girlfriend and I know I don’t deserve her, but I want to fix this because I feel like I’ve lost her. Should I apologize to her? — Regretting The Stupid Thing I Said

Uh… yeah, an apology might be a good start. But, honestly, you should move on. You already said yourself your girlfriend doesn’t deserve you. If you love her, set her free to find someone who DOES deserve her and who won’t use her as an emotional punching bag.

I’m 19 and went to rehab for heroin and met a 25-year-old guy there who graduated from the same high school as I did. We knew a lot of the same people, in addition to having the same drug of choice. When we met, he had just broken up with his girlfriend of five years. He got her pregnant (planned) but then he realized that she was not at all understanding of his disease of addiction. In rehab, we had sex on his last day there. We’re now dating and really committed to each other, and he claims he’s never felt this way about anyone ever before. He wants me to move in with him at his house and help when the baby is over. That means we wouldn’t be sticking out the full time in our recovery houses. I want to be with him and I know I’ll be able to stay sober and he will too, but I don’t know if I’m ready to be a step-mom. What do you think? — Recently Sober

You need to focus on at least a year of sobriety before you even begin to contemplate a serious relationship, let alone a relationship with a newly sober addict who has a baby he wants you to help raise. Focusing on yourself, your health, and staying sober is plenty of responsibility for now. Parenting someone else’s baby is, like, the last thing you need to be thinking about, and anyone who would ask that of you isn’t someone who has your best interest at heart.

My boyfriend and I have only been dating for about a month, but like they say we: We just knew we were meant for each other. I’m wondering how to tell my family that I’m going to be moving in with him in a month. I live in Oklahoma and he lives in Pennsylvania, so that’s going to be another thing I need to figure out how to explain. — Romantic Okie

Have you even met this guy in person? How old are you? Ugh, my head hurts. Ok, you know what? Sure, go move in with this guy in another state who yov’ve been talking online with for a month. That sounds like a brilliant idea! As for how to explain to your family, just tell them what you told me: You’re meant for each other! I mean, that’s a totally convincing and unique argument!


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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.


  1. Sunshine Brite says:

    WTF NO x3.
    LW1: What a vindictive thing to say.
    LW2: Sobriety is going to be a bigger challenge with more ups and downs than anyone ever anticipates. Stick out your time at the recovery house and end this relationship to focus on you and your health for awhile.
    LW3: Have fun with that disaster.

  2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW3 You’ve been dating for a month so you see him with thick, rose tinted glasses. If you want your family to respect you and see you as a responsible adult you won’t move in with him after one month. You’ll give the relationship enough time for the rose to wear off the glasses and for the rainbow glow to subside and then you’ll see if you still like each other. Give yourself at least a year and two would be even better. Give it a chance to fall apart before you move in together. If you’ve found the love of your life your relationship will last and grow even if you don’t move across the country for him at one month and even if you don’t live together immediately.

  3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW1 Anyone who would be emotionally abusive to their girlfriend because they were angry at some third person is too immature to be in an adult relationship. Your relationship is over. She no longer sees you as a nice or kind or loving boyfriend. She will never be able to see you that way again. She’s found that you are a mean and vindictive boyfriend. All that remains is for her to break up with you. It may take a while while she processes her feelings and realizes that she can never see you the same way again. That can take time but it is over. Grow up.

  4. No. Just no.

    LW1: What a terrible thing to say to your girlfriend. Break up with her, because you’re right, she does deserve someone better than you. And then go to therapy to learn how to channel your emotions better.

    LW2: You should be extremely proud of yourself for all the hard work you just went through. Think about what it took to get where you are now, and realize that you shouldn’t do ANYTHING to jeopardize that. Wendy is absolutely right – focus on your sobriety for at least a year. Do NOT move in your boyfriend. Living together is stressful enough when you’re not newly sober, much less both of you. Live in your recovery house. Do NOT help parent someone else’s baby. That is also a huge stressor that you do not need right now. As I said, remind yourself what it took to get where you are, and make sure you’re making choices that support your recovery, not make it more challenging.

    LW3: No, just…what? Echoing Wendy, how old are you? You do NOT move in with someone you’ve only known a month and have probably never met in person. What are you thinking??

  5. Letters like LW3 always annoy me to no end because they hit so close to home for me. LW3, I know what you mean, I met my boyfriend and after two days we knew we were meant for each other! We said “I love you” after a week! He’s the perfect partner for me! We met on a 3 day vacation and then he was going back to the west coast and I was going back the the east coast. And now we’ve been together for 4 years! Guess what, I didn’t move to be with him after two months, because that would have destroyed our relationship.
    My boyfriend and I both want to be the best possible person we can, because I want my boyfriend to be an amazing person and he wants me to be an amazing person too. (Hey, who wants to date a mediocre person?!). If I had moved to the west coast back then, it would have meant dropping out of college. Later on, I could have moved but I would have mean not going to grad school. I could have moved in between schools, but it would have meant being unemployed (I’m canadian, and work visas for the US are impossible to get).
    What I’m trying to say here is that I didn’t move to him, and he didn’t move to me because it would have made us into less amazing people. My boyfriend doesn’t want to date an unemployed college drop-out, and so I didn’t become an unemployed college drop-out. What would it mean to you if you were to move in a month? Do you have the most amazing job lined up in Pennsylvania already? Did you get into Penn State or U Penn and it’s the best possible school for you to attend ? If you move, will you still be as awesome as you are right now, or will you become a financially and emotionally dependent unemployed, uneducated stay-at-home girlfriend? And then how long would it take until you get back on your feet if you were to stay with him? How long would it be if you break up with him? Those are the sorts of questions you should be asking yourself.
    I mean, sure, if a month after meeting my boyfriend I was starting my bachelor at Stanford University, right next to where he lived, I would have moved to be with him right away, and I’m sure I would have not regretted it. Is this how you’re going to do it too ?

  6. LW1- you did say something stupid and for a really mean, unfair reason. You fucked up. Despite what you see in the movies, you can’t “win” someone back. People choose their own terms for staying in a relationship. If you haven’t apologized you should, because decent people try to make amends when they hurt someone for no legitimate reason. I think you want to know if there is anything you can do to influence your girlfriend’s decision to forgive you and stay invested. You can try to be a person who she regards as worthy of trusting emotionally as a start. But really you aren’t owed anything here. Whether she stays with you or leaves you, do consider this a terrible learning experience that you won’t ever repeat.

  7. Unwanted_Truth says:

    LW 1 – I don’t generally like to name call BUT you deserve it. Way to go dumbass. Jesus what an asshole thing to say. Let that girl go. How the fuck would you feel if she said she thinks about a co worker or ex of hers while you two are going at it?
    LW2 and 3…..eyea no, listen to the others and please do not have any children in the near future

  8. LW1: you are right, she deserves much better than you. That’s a horrible thing to have done to someone you supposedly care about. I can’t believe you asked if you should apologize! Of course you should’ve apologized the second that garbage came out of your mouth. You are emotionally abusive. Good for her that she’s not having sex win you. You’ve hurt her irreparably. MOA. And work out your anger issues with a therapist. You don’t take out anger on people you love. Or people.
    LW2: uh uh. Listen to Wendy. You need to focus on your health and wellbeing. Taking care of a baby is super stressful, and to me, it sorta sounds like that’s one reason he’s asking you to move in, to take care of the baby. Focus on yourself, stay in your treatment or housing situation. Good luck to you.
    LW3: sure, a lot of us have “just known” that our partner is right for us. But you still don’t take the next steps immediately. What’s the rush? And yes, a lot of us have thought that a huge mistake was the “one” for us and moved in or moved to another state far too quickly. It’s never a bad thing to be patient and take time to really know someone, and all the aspects of what you are doing. Take time. If its real love, it’s not going anywhere. And I hope this isn’t an online, never met in person situation. In that case, no. You don’t know.

  9. TheGrumpapotamus says:

    Man, 3 for 3 making me glad to be all grown up. I don’t miss the drama of the teens and early twenties at all. Blech…

  10. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

    LW1: You said something specifically to hurt your girlfriend’s feelings because you were angry at someone else… what? What kind of person does that? You are a terrible boyfriend. Your girlfriend is acting weird because she has realized that and is processing her feelings before she breaks up with you (I hope). She’s trying to reconcile the fact that the guy she laughs with and has fun with is the same person who is cruel to her when he’s unhappy. Please get into therapy, learn how to handle your own emotions, and don’t subject anyone else to that.

    LW2: Good for you for being in recovery! That’s fantastic! Stay there. Do not move in with your boyfriend and become a step mom right now. You need to focus on you.

    LW3: What? No. Just no.

  11. Laura Hope says:

    LW1 You never said you don’t actually think about other women when you’re with her so I’m thinking you probably do. If that’s the case, an apology isn’t enough. I know I wouldn’t want to be with someone who was thinking about someone else… Let her go.

  12. LW1: Did you honestly expect your girlfriend to just ignore what you said? Did you think she’d just go on being sweet and smiley? Would you if you heard something like that? You need to grow up and learn some things, like how to handle anger for one thing, before you will deserve someone like her.

  13. LW1 That is so hurtful and I wouldn’t want to be with you either. An ex said something similar to me and I began to simply think of him as a friend rather than something more … point being, that type of comment can cause a loss of sexual desire or attraction in general. MOA. It’s already over.

  14. LW1:
    Dude, you really had to ASK if you should apologize to a woman you supposedly love after saying such a heinous thing? Even putting aside the absurd notion that you somehow were mad at someone else but couldn’t control it not being directed on your girlfriend, the initial bare minimum thought should’ve been to immediately apologize. Then you’ll have to make a huge effort over time to convince her that you actually didn’t mean it. Good luck with that – I think you should let her go and spend time evaluating yourself.
    First of all, congrats on taking the steps to become fully recovered! That being said, please don’t put yourself in a stressful situation that could trigger a relapse. It’s probably best if you take this time being single and focusing on recovery, but at the very least, don’t move in with this guy and be in a step parenting role yet. If you decide to pursue a relationship, just take it slowly and don’t place it over your (or his) goal of full recovery.
    What do you think is going to happen if you don’t immediately move across the country to move in with a guy you barely know? That he’ll find someone else? If so, then you weren’t meant for each other after all. If you are, then trust that it’ll work out without making drastic and potentially dangerous moves. In the meantime, I suggest you watch several hours of Unsolved Mysteries and see what can happen to women who’ve done what you’re thinking about doing.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      Good point. The one thing I’ve learned when reading about sociopaths was that they are charming. When interviewed, people who had known or interacted with a sociopath would say that the sociopath was the most charming person they had ever known. Then the backstabbing and undermining and using that they did would come as a total surprise.

  15. LW1 – Did you really need to write in to an advice columnist asking if you should apologize to your girlfriend when you were an ass to her because of something someone else did? You’re right, you don’t deserve her. Let her go, and learn form this for your next relationship. And stop taking your frustration out on people who don’t deserve it.

  16. LW1, you really had to ask if you should apologize?!?! Way to make a bad situation worse. When you screw up and hurt someone, decent people apologize! I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt, since this sounds like a long term relationship, but to say something so mean and hurtful and not immediately apologize and explain yourself would be really difficult to come back from.

  17. findingtheearth says:

    LW3: I recently met someone who lives 5 hours away (in Montana, that’s not a huge distance). We are both working on a project together and will be talking on and off for a year. The first time we met, I felt the spark too. However, I have a child and even if I didn’t I would not start worrying about moving to his town. I have built a good life where I live and love my job. Are you really wanting to give that up for a male? Is there something in your life you want to escape and you wrap it up in this decision?

  18. I wonder if LW1 has aspergers or something. It’s weird that he doesn’t understand why she’s upset or what to do. He sounds like an awful person, but maybe he’s really just a little off and doesn’t get it.

    FWIW I work with a bunch of aspy’s and they’re often mean to people while also lacking the empathy and social skills to understand the effects of their behaviour.

  19. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1) Wait… who is this OTHER person whose feelings you wished to hurt instead, but couldn’t in sentence/line two?
    LW2) Who says far too many addicts are delusional, selfish and foolish? Oh, right. That’s me. And once again, at least here, I am apparently correct.
    LW3) The only way to make this work is to get pregnant IMMEDIATELY. Then and only then will you truly know that you are meant for one another. And by that I mean you are both destined to be one another’s greatest mistake. But think of the ROMANCE! Think of the CHAOS! Think of the DRAMA! Oh, wait… Then again — thinking ISN’T exactly your strong suit, is it? Whoops…

  20. LW2, I can’t speak of heroin recovery, but I do know recovery. I know for myself that the way I looked at relationships was a lot like my drug of choice (a distraction to all the uncomfortable feelings). It can be so nice to have someone who understand you and validates you, and I’d dare say lots of addicts are looking for an intense connection with someone who gets us. But this will affect your recovery, you had sex in rehab. Highly doubt that was allowed, but I get it, to be sneaky and get away with something. Please listen to your gut which I know is telling you this might not be a good idea, to move so fast with someone also recovering. And for him to ask you to help raise a child? Seriously? There’s some deep-seated issues you need to address, and they say wait a year because you truly need to go through all the seasons and the holidays and some life events so you can practice other coping mechanisms for future life challenges. 19 is great age to be getting sober! You have sooo much to look forward to, please don’t put yourself in this situation. Also, WWS.

  21. Monkeysmommy says:

    LW1: I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t fuck you anymore either. In fact, I would pack my shit and leave you to the women you dream of. And what BGM said- just who DID you want to hurt?? This is curious…

    LW2: RUN. R. U. N. Fast. This guy is a recovering addict with a baby mama out there. He is also 25 and praying on a teenager (sorry, you are.). Get the fuck out of this mess. I bet his baby mama didn’t understand his addiction- I wouldn’t understand my boyfriend choosing to use his money on drugs and needles instead of diapers either. Good for you for getting clean. Now stay on that path and ditch this loser and his baggage. And no, I’m not calling him a loser because of addiction- it’s the charming way he ditched his girl, the baby, and is trying to hook up with you and mess up your recovery that is painting the picture.

    LW3: are you free of commitments, like kids to care for? Are you over 25? Do you have money or the ability to get a job quickly and support yourself when you move? If the answer to all is yes, then screw it, do whatever you want. If you have kids, no money and no prospects outside of fast food, or you are like 19- shut the fuck up and quit wasting everyone’s time.

    1. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

      I seriously want to know what kind of woman plans to have a baby with a heroin addict (or any kind of addict for that matter) that can NOT be a healthy relationship dynamic.
      That right there tells me that LW 2 is in for a whole lotta baby mama drama if she stays with this guy. Drama that will do nothing for her recovery because she is exceptionally fragile right now.
      Girl, RUN..don’t look back just run.

  22. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

    LW #1- Of course, she’s upset with you & doesn’t want to be intimate. It sucks monkey balls when you emotionally trust someone and they turn around and betray you. Trust is fragile and when it’s been broken, things can never be the same. Whether she forgives you or not, she will never emotionally trust you again so the relationship is essentially dead. Apologize and never do that to anyone ever again!!!!
    LW#2- DO.NOT. move in with him. It’s not even a question of being a step parent, it’s a question of learning to cope with life’s curve balls by not hiding in a drug induced fog. If you had an addiction to heroin then you have some serious stuff to work through so you aren’t running back to it when life gets uncomfortable. Don’t derail your recovery by getting involved with him.
    As an aside, I’m not even sure why the Baby’s mama would even let him be around her new baby until he’s proven (by staying clean for awhile) that he can be trusted. That situation sounds like a lot of drama waiting to unfold.
    LW #3-your whole letter feels like you are trying to use moving in with this guy as a way to assert your adulthood/independence to your family. That’s not the way to do that. The way to show your family that you’re an adult is to be an adult by…getting a job and supporting yourself, and moving into your own place and not asking for financial assistance. Once you got that covered, I guarantee you won’t have to think of ways to tell your family you are an adult.

  23. LW2: dont move in with him, and I would really, really advise you not to keep dating him or anyone for that matter. His life is a mess with a baby from another woman coming soon. And your life is a mess to with trying to stay clean. I get it, I’m an opiate addict (I’ve been clean about 7 years) and my husband is an addict as well. We did not meet that way, and we were already a few years clean each. It’s so incredibly easy to move from one unhealthy thing (heroin) to another (an unhealthy relationship). I struggled for awhile with “transferring” my addiction. You need to be healthy and drug free ON YOUR OWN first. Then you can slowly bring in dating. Also, while my husband and I are both addicts and our relationship is great, it can be really hard dating another addict at times. You both need to be really stable and healthy before even thinking about a relationship, let alone moving in with each other.

  24. dinoceros says:

    LW1: The fact that in the time it took you to write in to Wendy, you still hadn’t apologized is really appalling. In what universe would you not apologize for this? Especially since you know that you were trying to hurt her. Move on and try to become less of a jerk before you date again. I don’t think you can come back from this, because I know that would probably be the end if my boyfriend said that to me, not to mention if he purposely said cruel things to hurt me, no matter whom the anger was directed toward.

    LW2: If sobriety is actually important to you, then don’t jeopardize it for a guy you barely know. You say that you *know* you two won’t relapse that, but you can’t possibly know that. And most recovery programs teach you that, so I’m a little doubtful that you actually listened to what you’ve been taught. Do not date until you have been sober for longer, and specifically do not date someone who also had a drug problem.

    LW3: Do not move. You sound bonkers.

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