It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in three sentences or less, 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. Today we discuss moving on, dealing with a catty ex, and defining a relationship.
I’m torn. Should I try and make the long distance relationship happen? Should I fly out to see her as often as I can and spend time and money if she’s not even “committed” to me? Am I being defensive or unreasonable if I ask that she doesn’t spend all her free time with this random guy? Can I trust someone who can’t be away from me for extended periods of time? I love her so much, and I just want her to be as committed to me as she was when we were living together. — Lost My LDR
Your girlfriend has told you she doesn’t want a relationship with you and has even seemed to move on — whether romantically or platonically — with another man. Rather than embarrass yourself by telling her whom she can and can’t spend time with, and investing a lot of money into visiting a woman who isn’t committed to you, invest your energy in finding a woman in the area where you live — someone who is emotionally and physically available to you.
However, I can already see her cattiness being an issue. A big reason they broke up is because of her immaturity. Now she’s started posting inside jokes on his Facebook page or replies to any social media posting I do on his page in ways that make it clear she is trying to prove that she “was there first.” She has told him that she “insists on meeting me” next time I am in town. Again, I’m not threatened by this, but I don’t want to let her publicly get the best of me, and I don’t want to say anything that makes my boyfriend think that I am jealous of her. Any ideas? — Biting My Tongue
The only way she can “publicly get the best of you” is if you let her, and the only way you can let her is by engaging her. Instead, just ignore her and she’ll get bored eventually. As for meeting her, I say go out for a coffee with her and your boyfriend and show her that she may have “been there first,” but you are there now and you’re quite happy and not at all threatened by her.
May is a long way off. Since you’re happy and enjoying where things are — and you aren’t even sure what you want anyway — let things develop between you organically. If, around the holidays you’re still feeling unsure of whether you’re on the same page as far as your future, start discussions about what your boyfriend’s plans are post-graduation and how you fit into them.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.
silver_dragon_girl September 16, 2011, 8:45 am
Uh, #2? Methinks though doth protest too much…
lets_be_honest September 16, 2011, 9:13 am
Been there. I say good for her for trying to be the bigger person, even if its eating at her a little. It’d probably be a lot easier to just tell this girl to back the you-know-what up, so I’m giving her credit for trying to find a way not to do that. LW2-Listen to Wendy, ignore it.
silver_dragon_girl September 16, 2011, 10:07 am
True…maybe if she repeats “I’m not threatened by her at all” enough it’ll become true?
6napkinburger September 16, 2011, 11:20 am
I mean, no one is truly, 100%, absolutely not at all “threatened” by an obnoxious ex. A friendly, totally happy ex, perhaps, but not an annoying one. And it doesn’t mean she’s jealous or insecure; it just means she’s not totally oblivious.
(plus, as a group, we tend to jump to “she’s threatened/she’s just jealous” if they don’t mention it, and then call them out for protesting too much if they do. LW’s are kind of stuck between a rock and hard place with that)
lk September 16, 2011, 12:27 pm
Been there too…LW, when you meet the ex, whatever you do, don’t have a couple beers on an empty stomach, slip on a fraternity floor, hit the concrete, get a concussion, & wake up surrounded by people – including your boyfriend – crying & apparently complaining about the sassy “other” woman………Because I can tell you, that is awkward : /
Lanchik September 16, 2011, 10:22 pm
Is this, by chance, a true story? 😉
silver_dragon_girl September 16, 2011, 12:52 pm
Eff, I spelled “thou” wrong. ARGH.
Kerrycontrary September 16, 2011, 9:10 am
LW2: I had to deal with a similar situation. When I first started dating my boyfriend we had to be around his ex for social situations like tailgates and parties. She would constantly being up “remember when we…” or say things like “you never did that for me, why are you doing it for her” even though she had a boyfriend of a year! So if that’s the sort of stuff that is bothering you, I would be as cordial as possible and perhaps have your bf explain the inside jokes on FB aren’t exactly appropriate. In my situation it room one of my boyfriends friends to say “yeh and remember when you guys broke up” to get the point across. This may just be me being paranoid, but although your bf may be trustworthy and over his ex, she still may not be over him.
lets_be_honest September 16, 2011, 9:15 am
I love that! Remember when you guys broke up. While it’d be so freakin tempting to say that following one of her inside jokes, that’s just the reaction this ex is looking for.
lets_be_honest September 16, 2011, 9:19 am
Am I the only one thinking LW1’s girl will be on Dr. Phil today discussing how she’s not a prostitute, but only taking $ for sex to pay off student loans?
callmehobo September 16, 2011, 9:45 am
It could be something genuine though- I mean, my aunt married someone who was twenty three years her senior, and they were married for almost 30 years, until she passed away last year.
lets_be_honest September 16, 2011, 9:51 am
You’re right, I was mostly kidding. I guess I forgot to add the “amiright” to show that 😉
callmehobo September 16, 2011, 10:01 am
Hahaha sorry! Still working on that DW sarcasm font, I guess!
artsygirl September 16, 2011, 9:19 am
LW1 – she has said she loves you but does not want to have a long distance relationship. She is being pretty transparent here. It sucks but I would say MO.
LW2 – I would possibly have a conversation with your BF. Tell him that you are a little uncomfortable with the inside jokes and the territorial pissing match his ex is attempting to engage you in. Of course you might be reading too much into this situation since the tone of written word is much harder to discern than physical conversations.
LW3 – I completely agree with Wendy. It is not considered needy or pushy to ask your BF what his post grad plans are – rather it is showing that you want to keep this relationship moving. Now don’t work yourself up before speaking with him, you don’t want to screech something insane like “If we are going to have babies, we need to get married in the next five years and given the fact that it takes a year to plan a wedding you need to propose to me NOW!!!!!”
As for the fact that you do not hang out with others, that is perfectly normal. Last night my husband and I made potato soup and then watched a Castle Marathon. Seriously it was nice to just be with each other doing nothing and we are in our mid-20s.
mcminnem September 16, 2011, 1:49 pm
I like the second part of your third point – I’ve been there too. My boyfriend and I have been together for a year and a half, and to be honest, we haven’t met that many of each other’s friends, because we don’t really go out much. We run in different social circles (I’m still in university while he’s out in the workforce) plus on top of that, neither of us are really socialites – I’ve met a handful of his friends from his office, who are all great, and a few of his hometown/university friends, who are harder to get together with but still great. He’s met only a few of my ‘people’ from university, because we’ve had the opportunity, and none of my hometown childhood friends, just because I see them so rarely. And if one of my girlfriends wants to have lunch or coffee and catch up for the first time in a year, that’s personal time, not time for me to be all “oh and I’m dragging my boyfriend along because you haven’t met him yet”.
Most days, we hang out alone, and that’s fine. I think for a while people attribute this to the “couple bubble syndrome”, and expect you to grow out of it, but for people who are less social and ‘going-out-y” in the first place, it’s normal. I think of it as being loners together, as opposed to the loner-hermit-people we were while single. 😛
DebMoore September 16, 2011, 2:42 pm
Some people don’t “grow” out of the couple bubble syndrome……..my husband and I have been together for 11 years and still spend most our free time together just the two of us. We do try sometimes to hang out with others (like a party) but we often end up hanging out just the two of us off somewhere else from others and then go home. We are both homebodies and liked that when we hooked up we could just stay home for a change. Some people are like that, and thats okay!
Budjer September 16, 2011, 9:20 am
LW 1: Dude you are in over your head. It’s obvious from your letter you can’t handle the situation (don’t blame you) and you can’t tell her what to do because that’s lame. It is weird to try and have a long distance relationship when the other person is entertaining a suitor’s interests (across the country!)- platonic friends is completely different and I’m sure you’d agree. Do what Wendy says and save yourself a year of stress-aging.
On a side note…can some women chime in on the allure of maintaing friendships with men that are only in it to try and date you when you are dating or trying to date someone else? I’ve run into that a few times…I just don’t understand how you have a real friendship when one person is pining for the other.
LW 2: Wendy hit it spot on. I commend you for being secure in your relationship with your boy friend. You probably feel between a rock and a hard place because this girl has already set it up so that she is a thorn in your relationship and your bf wants her as a friend so, therefore, you have to accept it. If the disrespect from the ex continues and if your boy friend respects you he will tell his ex to politely back off because he is the one that wants to continue that friendship. If he doesn’t then you have to decide what’s best for you.
LW 3: What Wendy said. I know it is tough to let yourself open up to a person if your wondering what the expiration date is, but situations change so much over time (especially in college) that you should just relax and have fun. When the timing conversation comes up you can make the decision to get more serious and get used to the thought of him being long term.
lets_be_honest September 16, 2011, 9:49 am
To answer your question—girls like the attention. Personally, I think its terrible to do that to the guy though. Stringing him along thinking he has a chance. Its so uncomfortable when you realize that the guy you consider a good friend is in love/like with you though.
dr bro September 16, 2011, 10:02 am
I can say with absolutely no exaggeration that every single girl I’ve ever dated has had some hanger-on dweeb fawning over them, each time it’s a “nice” but awkward guy who confessed his feelings for her and she said no but probably something like “we can still be friends” and he says “okay cool” and proceeds to always hang around her hoping she’ll “come around.”
Frankly it’s the fault of the girl for basically strings these dopes along for fear of “hurting their feelings” or some garbage, as if him wasting a year or more pining after someone he literally has no chance with is better than being “heartbroken” for a week or two, learning a valuable lesson, and moving on with his life.
lets_be_honest September 16, 2011, 10:29 am
I don’t doubt it for a minute. BUT, how many times do we hear of guy’s stringing girls along. So I think its everyone. There will always be someone wanting attention and someone giving it. More often than not, its just not coming from the “right” person. I’ve found myself to be one of those ‘thrill of the chase’ people. Its horrible. If you don’t like me, makes me want you more. If you do like me, turns me off. I’ll be the first to admit how terrible it is.
Slamy September 16, 2011, 12:49 pm
” I’ve found myself to be one of those ‘thrill of the chase’ people. Its horrible. If you don’t like me, makes me want you more. If you do like me, turns me off. I’ll be the first to admit how terrible it is.”
SpaceySteph September 16, 2011, 10:40 am
How is it the fault of a girl? How many steps is this mentality away from saying a victim of sexual assault “had it coming?”
I’m sorry but when a guy asks me out/reveals having feelings and I have say “I’m not interested in you that way” if he hangs around hoping I’ll come around it is ONLY his fault. And no, I’m not going to completely cut a guy out of my life because he at one point admitted to having feelings for me which I did not reciprocate. If he wants, we can still be friends. How is that stringing him along? How is a girl receiving unwanted sexual or romantic attention EVER her fault?
CatsMeow September 16, 2011, 11:24 am
DebMoore September 16, 2011, 7:02 pm
Thank you! I wrote out a whole paragraph trying to say what you said and it just wasn’t right, so I erased it. So thank you for saying what I wanted to say but couldn’t figure out without sounding super full of myself.
Shadowflash1522 September 16, 2011, 11:25 am
How is it the girl’s fault if she said point-blank “I don’t want you.” and he keeps after her anyway?
What are we supposed to do, get a court order? “We can still be friends” is an offer, not an invitation. If you don’t think you can be platonic friends with me then refuse the offer of friendship. No still means no, not maybe-if-you-wait-long-enough. I won’t deny there are some people (male and female) who enjoy stringing people along. I speculate that it’s a desirability thing–they enjoy being wanted, even if the wanting isn’t reciprocated.
Budjer September 16, 2011, 10:03 am
If that’s the case this guy shouldn’t even debate MOAing on this situation.
silver_dragon_girl September 16, 2011, 10:03 am
I’ve had that happen- I’ve told guys, flat-out, that I ONLY want a platonic friendship, and if they can’t handle that we need to not talk. Sometimes it works for a little while, but it seems like eventually the guy always starts to flirt and/or whine about why he’s “too nice” and “girls never like him” and “why won’t you date me?” Ugh. Of course, that’s more symptomatic of a certain type of person than guys in general, but you get the drift.
Now, I do understand that there is significant appeal in having someone chase after you. It’s a self-esteem/ego booster, for one thing. However, if you’re not CLEAR from the beginning that you’re not interested, it’s definitely cruel to the guy. But if you TELL him CLEARLY that you’re not interested, and he swears he can handle it and just be friends, well…whose fault is it when someone gets hurt?
6napkinburger September 16, 2011, 11:36 am
But so many girls I know, including me, string him along for a little while, but almost always get with him in the end. So it does kind of pay off for them. (though not always you, if they break your heart 🙁 )
silver_dragon_girl September 16, 2011, 11:47 am
Sorry, I don’t understand what you’re saying here. ?
6napkinburger September 16, 2011, 12:43 pm
I had “best guy friend”, the nice guy, the confidant, the one you spend tons of time with, complaining about your bad dates with jerks, etc, while continuing to date/hookup with jerks. The one who you say will make some woman very happy one day, but not you, if only you were attracted to them, but no, you’re just friends, nothing’s going to happen. That goes on for a little while, sometimes months, sometimes years, (hence the stringing along) but a really high number of my girlfriends are actually now dating that guy, after finally realizing that maybe he could be the great guy for YOU.
In my case, I did that twice, and both times they broke my heart. But my point was that sometimes it works and they do get the girl.
6napkinburger September 16, 2011, 12:53 pm
(my girlfriends are now dating their version of that guy, not “my” guy, because they realized that they want a good, nice guy who clearly understands them and thinks their awesome.
It just didn’t work for me, so now I’m a little bitter about it, hence my off-topic and confusing reference to them breaking my heart. But my main point was (even though I never said this) that we do that because we like the attention and because they are usually great guys who we like hanging out with and feeling love from. And the smart ones realize this and date them.
Morgan September 16, 2011, 1:13 pm
6napkinburger I know exactly what you mean. I had that guy, we did eventually get together, and I was the one who got hurt.
silver_dragon_girl September 16, 2011, 2:33 pm
Ahh, ok, I get it now. Yes, that can happen too, but I would argue that (in “He’s Just Not That Into You” terms) those are the Exception, not the Rule. I think maybe hanging out with a girl “as a friend” when you really like her as “more than a friend” is the male version of…well…when women do the exact same thing.
There was an episode of HIMYM about this.
6napkinburger September 16, 2011, 12:55 pm
(I wasn’t really responding to your statement specifically, just the topic more generally. Sorry, that’s probably an additional reason why it was confusing.)
bagge72 September 16, 2011, 1:00 pm
I definitely get what you are saying, and I think there are two types of this. There is the type that is in your comment where the girls says no, but we can still be friends, and that is what happens the guy excepts that, and they are just friends after that (well until the guy gets a girlfriend, and stops talking to you, because he does still have feelings). Also I see a type where the girl says no thanks, but the guy constantly persues her, and she still hangs out with the guy, takes things from him, and the girl doesn’t put a stop to it. I’ve seen girls say oh so an so is in love with me so he will buy all of my drinks tonight! Well those are the girls that are enabling the guy to keep persuing her. The guy feels like he still has a chance.
PondLily September 16, 2011, 10:10 am
That was something that I did when I was 18, 19 and didn’t know any better or realize how it was affecting the guy I kept talking to after we had broken up…it was nice to keep hearing how much he wanted me back, even when I had no interest in going back out with him. Such is youth and immaturity, and it’s something I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing once I was in my 20s. You broke up. Walk away gracefully.
lk September 16, 2011, 10:38 am
I’ve had a few very long-term friends (of 10+ years) confess feelings & I just cannot bring myself to totally cut them out of my life. I don’t really hang out one-on-one with them anymore & I see them wayyyy less, but I don’t think it’s wrong for me to wait for them to let it go & still be hoping for a good friendship again later on.
Budjer September 16, 2011, 10:40 am
“I don’t really hang out one-on-one with them anymore”
McLovin September 16, 2011, 10:57 am
Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine are the rare exception to all of these examples.
bagge72 September 16, 2011, 1:03 pm
Even they ended up trying to have a FWB though!
McLovin September 16, 2011, 1:46 pm
True. I can see that from Jerrys side, but from Elaines? Not so much.
Blitzen September 16, 2011, 3:58 pm
To answer your question: for the same reason(s) that guys do it.
SGMcG September 16, 2011, 9:43 am
LW#1: Hate to break it to you, but if you separated and then “kind of decided” to get back together, then you’re STILL separated. One “kind of” doesn’t get back together without explicitly saying what that entails. Maybe her visit was a way of saying goodbye to your romantic relationship, because it sure sounds like your girlfriend has MOAed. Maybe you should MOA too and date someone who wants to be with you, no matter what the circumstance.
LW#2: If she is being catty, just don’t drop to her level of pettiness and keep biting your tongue. Let your boyfriend be reminded of the reasons why they’re no longer together through her immaturity and let your behavior remind him why he’s with you. Go for the coffee recommended by Wendy, and when she exhibites her cattiness and leaves, make sure you and your boyfriend have a private laugh afterward.
LW#3: Don’t worry about how the upcoming graduation will affect your relationship. A bigger concern is passing all your classes so you can get to graduation in the first place. If your relationship can survive a season of long distance AND two individual busy college schedules, you may have something. Yet ask when you feel it’s comfortable – don’t force the conversation to take place because it should be expected.
Ally September 16, 2011, 9:04 am
LW2: I take it that since your boyfriend still socialises with his ex that they are friends and that your boyfriend is mature enough to be able to maintain a friendship after a break up. Sounds like a plus point to me. I say meet her when you have the opportunity, maybe she’s just curious about you. He likes her as a friend, he obviously likes you since you are best friends as well as in a relationship and you like him too, so there’s a chance that you two ladies will like each other as well! My boyfriend is close friends with an ex (they do have a child together so I know it’s a little different) and I was quite insecure and worried at the thought of meeting her, but turns out that she’s an awesome person. I have gained a great friendship from the situation. What’s the worst that can happen? If she turns out to be a problem then just be polite and don’t let her get to you as Wendy says.
LTC039 September 16, 2011, 9:40 am
LW2: It sucks starting a relationship w/ a person who’s got cray-cray ex problems. Most be people wouldn’t put up w/ it but, since you really care ab this guy, I comend you for being the bigger person. Ignore ignore ignore. Do NOT allow her to get the best of you, however if she does something out of line (w/e that may be to you) your bf needs to put her in her place right away.
LW1: MOA. You seem like a nice guy, so forget this girl & focus on finding a better match for you. LDR’s suck & if you’re w/ the wrong person, they can take a huge toll on you (I’ve experienced that). It’s not worth it in this case. You’re better off alone.
LW3: Just go w/ it. As Wendy said, let things develop on their own…You’ve got 8 months until May, a lot can happen in that time frame.
mgm September 16, 2011, 11:09 am
LW3: Don’t rain on someone’s graduating by making it about you.
It is selfish.
If you can’t handle the oh-so-terrible stress and anxiety, break up right now.
callmehobo September 16, 2011, 11:25 am
Don’t you have a bridge to guard?
lets_be_honest September 16, 2011, 11:30 am
I just love when people chime in with such helpful, thought-provoking and on-point advice. Ugh.
CatsMeow September 16, 2011, 11:32 am
Morgan September 16, 2011, 1:21 pm
God LW, how dare you make your relationship about you.
On a serious note, over the course of this year, he’ll start talking about his plans for next year. He’ll start applying for jobs, or grad school, and there will be a lot of conversations in which your role in those plans will be a totally natural topic. And when those moments do come, don’t be afraid to bring it up if he doesn’t.
Slamy September 16, 2011, 12:52 pm
IcedVentiRedEyeGuy - in Chitown bay-bay! September 16, 2011, 2:42 pm
Green mutha-fucking thumb!
caffeinatrix September 16, 2011, 2:07 pm
LW1: Time to move on. Even if nothing is going on with the older guy, she’s already said she’s not interested in a LDR with you. It doesn’t mean you guys don’t love each other or that what you shared wasn’t meaningful, but it does mean you need to accept that it’s over. I think your’s and LW3’s advice probably overlaps a little, so read what I wrote to her too.
LW2: Don’t let her get to you. Wendy’s advice is spot-on- she can only get to you if you let her. She’ll likely get bored eventually if you and your boyfriend just ignore her- if she escalates to truly crazy/desperate ex-girlfriend moves, talk to your boyfriend about it, and then it will be up to him to clearly define his boundaries with her.
LW3: I was just like you in college. I hated being in hazily-defined relationships, which really sucked because that was all I ever had then! The thing is, you need to know what you want and be comfortable with asking for it (I never was, which was part of the reason I got hurt so often and so badly). I’d guess that it makes you a little uncomfortable to not know exactly how serious you two are, but keep in mind that your relationship doesn’t define you. Think about what you want, and don’t rush things. Take opportunities to develop yourself independently, outside of your relationship. In the meantime, let your relationship develop organically. Wendy’s right, May is a long way off, and there’ll be plenty of chances between now and then for the relationship to change.
AndreaMarie September 16, 2011, 2:25 pm
LW1- Your ex has moved on. She’s probably acclimating to her spot on the West Coast and creating a life for herself and unfortunatley, doesn’t seem like she’s super motivated to factor you into it. Like Wendy said, best to find someone phsycially and emotionally available.
*** And to answer a question above in regards to entertaining a man you’re not interested in…easy. The woman is getting her attention and compainionship needs met while waiting for someone she’s interested in to come along. Not nice but many women do it.***
LW2- I say, don’t even stoop to her catty level. Not even worth bringing it up to her, you’ll be giving ehr what she wants, a rise out of you. She wants to still feel relevant in his life and by his new GF having “beef” with her, she can feel she’s still important. Let her continue to be catty and immature, it will only highlight to your BF why he broke up with her in the first place.
LW3- Just give it some time. Alot can change between now and May. Especially in college when your “adult lives” are starting. If things are stil going well in 6 months then its probably the time to talk about post-graduation plans.
katie September 16, 2011, 11:04 pm
LW1, i was in your spot once. it was after i graduated high school, and i was leaving for college across the country, and my boyfriend was staying home. i wanted to end it- i cant deal with that kind of distance.. so uncertain and long. he wouldn’t, and i stayed with him and tried to make it work just because he wanted to. needless to say, it didnt end well. i was trying to force something that wasn’t there, that couldn’t be there through all that distance. so, dont try to force this relationship. your girlfriend is sending you much clearer signals then i was sending to my boyfriend (be happy about that part), so MOA, and find someone who will be there for you.
SoyaSauce September 16, 2011, 11:45 pm
LW#1: This situation seems similar to mine (almost word for word!).
My ex boyfriend moved to the east coast for grad school this fall and I’m still on the west coast. He didn’t want to do long distance because it was too hard and I was really sad. He was my best friend! It was hard for me to accept, but I had to be realistic. We’re both students so we don’t really have the money (~$400) or time (6 hour flights each way!) to see each other and more importantly, I don’t know where I am going to be next year. It would be great if somehow we ended up closer, but how likely is that? It was best to set each other free. No doubt I love him and miss him, but we can’t chain each other to this small possibility.
We’re still friends, talking from time to time, and neither of us are looking for a relationship, but if he were to start dating now, he would owe me nothing – not even an explanation. I know that it will suck and I will be jealous, but I have no right to interfere. My advice is that it doesn’t matter whether she is hanging out with her friend or dating, you both have different lives now and I think it would be good for you to reassess your priorities and focus on grad school and your career. You can’t control love so let it do its own thing.
P.S. I have a few older male friends, albeit not 30 years older, that I consider them my big brothers. They’re successful, they’re smart, they’re wise, but I’m not interested in them romantically. I guess I don’t appreciate people assuming that she’s some kind of gold digger. We all have friends from different walks of life, so why can’t we have friends of different ages?
LW 3 September 17, 2011, 12:10 am
Thank you all for your advice! Some of my friends were telling me what me and my guy have wasn’t normal and when enough people tell you that you start to think it’s true. So this definitely put me at east to just enjoy myself. I’ll be sure to send an update to Wendy in a few months when that conversation happens on it’s own!