When Hello Means Good-Bye

I was at a function a week ago where a much younger man was flirting with me — he waved and said hi, and I waved back. Then he leaned in to say hello, but I gave him no response and continued to talk with family. My boyfriend, who is very insecure after bad past relationships, can’t get over this. I have promised that, if this should happen again, I will kindly say, “I am flattered by your interest, but I have a boyfriend whom I love, so kindly stop.” I’m sorry I didn’t say that a week ago because I’m paying for it now. What can I do to move forward from this flirting incident? — Sorry About Flirting

Saying hello to someone who says hello to you first isn’t flirting; it’s being polite. The time to tell someone you’re flattered by his interest but you have a boyfriend is when he asks for your phone number or asks you out on a date. The time to tell someone to “kindly stop” is when they’ve done something inappropriate or have continued behaving in a way you’ve already let them know is unwanted. The time to MOA from your boyfriend in NOW because he doesn’t trust you, he’s a control freak, and he’s clearly not ready for a relationship.

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a year and a half and we’re engaged to be married. I have just found a dating app on my finance’s phone that I can see he’s been active on. I confronted him, and he said he was only browsing but nothing else. My trust has gone out the window and I don’t know what to do. I asked him to prove to me that he has not been cheating — I wanted to see credit card statements and etc. Is that wrong? — Browsing or More?

First of all, a credit card statement isn’t going to prove shit when it comes to cheating. Second of all, if you need someone to prove he hasn’t been cheating, then you don’t need to be marrying him. Third of all, he’s cheating. MOA.

I’ve been married for twelve years, and for the last three years the marriage has been dead. I have a boyfriend whom I have been with long distance for one year. I want to experience dating him physically before I decide if I should divorce my husband or not, “not” being only because it’s comfortable and for my kids. What do you think about this? — In a Dead Marriage

I don’t understand your question, but I get enough of the gist to say this: If you’ve never “dated your boyfriend physically,” which I assume to mean you haven’t met in person because you only know each other online, then he isn’t a boyfriend. If your marriage is dead and you can’t or don’t want to resurrect it, get a divorce; you don’t need a boyfriend waiting in the wings to help with that decision. What is most comfortable and best for your kids is being with parents who aren’t miserable with each other and don’t make stupid-ass decisions, like pretending some dude on the internet is a boyfriend and then basing a huge life decision, like getting a divorce, on that “relationship.”

My friend became pregnant and her boyfriend, whom she and I went to high school with years ago, didn’t stick around to be in the baby’s life. While I was out at a bar, I ran into him, and now my friend is mad at me for saying hello to him. She thought I should have ignored him or given him a dirty look, but that’s not me. She made me the godmother of her five-month old baby, and now she has said she never wants to talk to me or see me again. I know she’s bitter, but I feel her action was a little extreme. What should I do? — Godmother No More?

While I normally wouldn’t think saying hello to someone is reason for anyone else to lose their shit (see letter #1 today), I can understand why your friend would feel betrayed by your not only acting friendly toward the guy who abandoned her and their baby (whom you are godmother of), but then apparently relaying the interaction to her later. What were you thinking? I say apologize to your friend for being insensitive, reaffirm for her that you’re on her side and you think that what her boyfriend did is the worst of the worst, and that you’ve got her back through what you know is an incredibly challenging, but hopefully also rewarding, time in her life.


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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. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

    Well dang, if saying hello = flirting then I must be a complete floozy.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      If I say hello to the women I work with am I flirting with all of them too? I think I’m flirting nonstop.

    2. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

      hahaha yeah- “loose with the hellos.” That makes NO sense. I really hope LW1 has some sense and gets the h*ll out of her relationship.
      I always assume ppl writing in about this stuff are young, as when I was late teens/early 20s, I thought the “wounded bird” was in fact, a thing. Employing it myself and also tolerating it in guys. SO. GLAD. I realized how manipulative it is and is really just a way to get the occasional “free pass” on jealous and stupid behavior. We ALL have baggage- but if you continue to carry it around and use it as a weapon in new relationships, then you need to spend some time on your own before getting into another situation.

  2. That is scary LW1, you can’t say ‘hello’ to people? If it’s a function which could be anything from an art show to a party, why wouldn’t people say hello to one another. I can’t imagine being so insecure that a polite greeting would cause that much anxiety. Definitely time to move on, otherwise what are you going to do tell every man who says hello to you that they need to stop flirting? Quick way to become the people that no longer get invited to functions, I guess that would make your boyfriend happy.

    1. Good point, jf!! This boyfriend is going to isolate her! Whether it’s either or their intentions or not, it doens’t matter. His reaction and hers is pretty much saying any boyfriend unapproved reaction is now off limits

  3. That was my assumption as well. (wink.) But this is a serious issue! M and I were in a restaurant the other day and she was flirting with this guy, telling him what all she wanted and how she liked it and how hot she waned it. As a man, it was hard for me to take! And the way she said it was all slutty too: “Baked lasagna, side salad, ice tea…” She trailed off seductively and gave him a sly smile like she knew he was going to give her just what she asked for…

    1. Was sposed to be a reply to CJ, but oh well… I guess i just can’t flirt like I used to.

    2. M had me at baked lasagna.

      1. Mmmmmm lasagna. I ate lasagna 4 days in a row for 5 meals this week.

    3. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

      Wow, she asked for baked lasagna & iced tea with the side salad?!
      Now, I can understand side salad. That’s just plain old harmless flirting.

      …but baked lasagna & iced tea? You’d better watch her.

      1. And the lasagna he gave her was so big and hot and moist and meaty… damn, lasagna is sexy!

  4. A while back there was some forum post where the LW’s boyfriend was looking at Craigslist casual encounters, my initial reaction was much the same as Wendy’s here, but most everyone jumped in and told me that they’re more like porn and people read them for entertainment. My boyfriend and I actually checked them out together and I have to say- yeah, they’re pretty much crowd sourced porn.

    That being the case, I think LW2 needs to chill out and actually look at the ads. Unless he’s actually contacting these posters then just scrolling through them is pretty harmless.

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Yeah, I’d be inclined to agree if he were just casually cruising, but he has an app for it. That seems very suspect to me and beyond just using the site for entertainment.

    2. The app is just for easier use/viewing… CL is very user UNfriendly on your mobile phone, thus the app. Its no worse to have the app than just browse on the desktop. I agree with Tara though…. Look at the ads, see if he is responding to any, they will be in his emails if he is, along with any responses.

    3. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

      Errrr, I’d say it is worrisome because they are engaged (after what I’d term not-that-long together, but still calls him “boyfriend,” which I suppose is neither here nor there) and she didnt know he did this. I dont know anything about this, but if it is possibly harmless, then why is it some big shameful secret?

      1. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        people often don’t disclose the type of porn they watch for various reasons, shame being one of them and a desire for privacy, or the fact that perhaps what they look at to get turned on, is not something they are actually interested in. my boyfriend doesn’t know the extent of the type of porn I watch, because honestly, I don’t think he would feel comfortable with it if he did. it could be the same with this dude, not saying it is but nothing in his actions seems inherently bad? Like i browse missed connections all the time, and sometimes the strictly platonic and have clicked on the casual encounters (but it mostly just grosses me out so I don’t look there on purpose) and I don’t mention this to my boyfriend. People are entitled to privacy in their relationships, especially when it comes to things like what porn you are in to and how you get yourself off without your partner (as long as that isn’t hurting anyone, or illegal).

      2. I actually think this is a real issue (as opposed to my jokey comment above). M and I have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, but on occasion (cuz in 27 years, it’ll happen here or there) when she has become aware of what I have looked at, she will ask me, “Is THAT what you want?” Well, it was what i wanted to LOOK at at that moment. There are lots of moments where I wouldn’t want to have to answer for what i clicked on. I mean, I also sometimes look at just weird people on youtube (not porn, in other words) too, not that I would want to know them. But personally, i never even “curiosity-browse” anything where I could in principle contact people, because I would just never want her to fear anything. As you guys know, the last time I was with anyone other than her was the middle 80s. But trust is an ongoing work in progress – it has to be earned but also maintained. I’ll always own what i looked at if i get caught, but honestly, who would want to justify to anyone the nasty shit they look at when they think no one will find out?

      3. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I totally agree with you. I just wouldn’t look at it because I wouldn’t want to worry that my husband would someday find out and then wonder if I was using it for porn or actual connections. There’s just no point in introducing that question mark into our trust relationship. Especially when there’s so much other porn out there that I could look at that would clearly not be crossing any lines if he found out.

    4. shakeourtree says:

      I have the app on my phone. I use Craigslist for a lot of different things, and I read the personals all the time. I know that some people use craigslist for porn or for cheating, but I honestly have never once been aroused by anything I’ve seen on Craigslist. I just find it interesting–people talking openly about their fetishes, kinks, likes and dislikes. I’ve also never entertained the idea of meeting someone from CL for sex, but I will concede that safety concerns are probably not as much of a factor for straight men as they are for other populations.
      I think either this particular LW is really insecure, and/or there are other intangible reasons for her suspicions. I can envision a scenario where she just has a gut feeling that he’s cheating or maybe her intuition is telling her something is off, but since that’s not hard evidence, she’s latched onto the CL thing because it supports her suspicions and it’s something definite that she can actually confront him with.

  5. dinoceros says:

    LW1: Saying hello and waving isn’t flirting at all. And if I did that and someone gave me a spiel about how they were dating someone and not interested, I’d think they were bonkers. The fact that your boyfriend thinks you’re not allowed to say hello to another person is really disturbing. You need to dump him fast.
    LW3: If your marriage is dead, then get a divorce. But you can’t just take someone else for a test run before you make that decision. If your marriage is in fact over, then what difference does it make whether this other guy works out? Why would you stay with a dead marriage? Also, jumping from one guy into the arms of another is not a great idea, especially when you have kids who need a stable environment.

  6. Wait just a second here. Before i even get to the last LW, I want to point out, Wendy, that you or anyone else has no idea if “third of all he is cheating”! That’s BS. How do I know? Because I have also been guilty of scrolling through craigslist ad’s out of simple boredom or because I wanted to look at pictures of the women who post on there PERIOD. I was dating and/or in a ltr, and not ONCE did I ever contact anyone on there or cheat. STOP assuming!

    1. Bostonpupgal says:

      And your partner was ok with that? You discussed your boundaries and your individual definitions of cheating and mutually agreed to what was acceptable? Because it sure as hell doesn’t sound like that’s the case for the LW. There is a huge difference between being transparent with your partner about your side activities and finding an app installed on your boyfriend’s phone specifically to cruise and communicate with local people looking for NSA sex. For most people, that indicates cheating, and for many the mere looking in and of itself is cheating. The key is to discuss and agree on boundaries with your partner, it’s one of the absolute most important, integral parts of a relationship and deciding if you are right for each other.

      1. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        to my knowledge there is no specific CL ‘causal encounters’ app– there is a CL app and you could use that to go to the casual encounters section, but just having that on his phone is not an implication. I am seriously on CL all the damn time, I use it to search for apartments, lessons, animals, missed connections (because they are fun), jobs, furniture and free stuff. So him just having the app on his phone doesn’t mean much.

      2. Having the app on your phone is just for ease of viewing, its not an app for cheating per se.

      3. Uh YEA my partner knows this, and boundaries were discussed waaaaay back in the beginning of our relationship. I would just go and look at all these ad’s behind her back, that’s the shitty part and that’s where it could seem like you’re actually doing something wrong other than looking. Sometimes we both look together. To be honest, it’s quite entertaining when you come across an ad with a picture of someone you actually have met or know , from say, work. Or an old ex etc. I also don’t mind the fake cop traps with all the half naked women. My partner also likes looking at dudes, and yes we both watch porn so…I don’t know. That statement just really bothered me, because nobody knows if any cheating was going on. oh and , the people who feel so insecure or that are batshit crazy enough to suggest that “mere looking in and of itself is cheating” should all join hands and jump off a bridge together, that’s just loony. I have the c/l app also, but mostly is used for cars and other stuff, not just the personals section. You can’t just get a separate c/l app for the purpose alone.

      4. *wouldn’t* just go…..

      5. RedRoverRedRover says:

        But I think the big difference here is that your partner knew that’s what you were doing. If I found out my husband was cruising casual encounters, I’d be disturbed. Because how can I know if he’s doing it as porn or if he’s actually looking for someone?
        I don’t think you need to disclose to your partner all the porn sites that you visit. But I do think if you’re using something that is used to connect with other people for sexual purposes, you need to make it clear what your boundary is on that site and make sure that your SO is comfortable with that.

    2. dinoceros says:

      Even if you aren’t cheating, you have to realize that a possible consequence is that someone is going to suspect you of cheating. That’s like Googling “how to murder someone” and then being horrified that someone thinks you’re planning a murder.

      1. They can think or expect that all they want, if they don’t believe that I am not cheating then see ya. Being that you’re open and trustworthy is key, the only thing this dude did that was wrong was not disclosing what he was doing before hand . To the person running this site , who gives the advice, it’s bullshit to just straight up accuse the guy of cheating without any kind of proof or common sense. Thats what my comment was about. Was the lw thinking he might be cheating? Sure. But to just be like “he IS cheating MOA ” is fucking ridiculous without knowing the truth.

  7. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW3 What you are saying is that you would like to have a physical affair with the guy that you are already involved with online. There is a word for that, cheating. You are asking if it is a good idea to cheat. The answer is NO. It is never a good idea to cheat. If your marriage is dead you get a divorce but you don’t cheat your way out of the marriage. You don’t cheat until you find the right guy to jump to next. You don’t line up the replacement before you leave.

    A thing to keep in mind is that relationships that begin as affairs hardly ever work. The statistics run from somewhere between 1% to 3%. The way that you’ve begun this relationship has already doomed it. Think about this, the one thing that he really knows about you is that when you aren’t happy in your relationship you search online for a replacement guy. How do you think that would work in a real, serious relationship? He would know that he couldn’t trust you on a computer.

    If you’ve been in a long distance relationship how would you get closer? Would he have to move to be near you while you cheated on your husband? Would you go live with the boyfriend? Would you drag your kids along while trying out the relationship? Would you leave them with their dad?

    If you want another relationship you need to divorce your husband, get your life in order and then think about dating. You need to enter the relationship as a single woman.

  8. LW1’s boyfriend is scary. He freaked out because the LW said hello to someone? And then gaslighted her into thinking it was her fault for not rejecting his “advances.”
    I am an engineer, I say hello to like 20 guys a day. I even *gasp* shake some of their hands I guess I’m just a slut.

    1. My husband is very secure with me working at my job, because we don’t have any men in the office. Although I just interviewed a guy for a new position, so that may change. And then I suppose I’ll have to quit and find another man-free office to work in.

  9. HELLO!
    Just flirted with everyone perusing the comments simultaneously. Damn, I’m good.

    1. I am flattered by your interest, but I have a husband whom I love, so kindly stop.

  10. Frankly, I don’t think the last LW did anything wrong by saying hello to the ex-beau. Where she made the mistake, IMHO, is telling her friend about it. While I do agree that you need to re-assure her that you’re on her side, I would also tell her that you’re not going to stop being who you are by saying hi to someone you know (even if he did her wrong).

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