Your Turn: “He Doesn’t Believe He Can Be Faithful To Me”

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:

I’m 27 and I’ve been dating my 34-year-old boyfriend for three and a half years, living together for two. We get along fantastically, still love being around each other, have great sex, and have shared interests in terms of our future. I’m in no rush to get married, but I figured that we were comfortably moving in that direction. Unfortunately, I shouldn’t have assumed. He says he can’t imagine life without me, but a year ago, he started expressing doubts not in our relationship, but in marriage and the idea of committing to one person forever.

In a few months we were set to move to a new apartment and I don’t know if I can move again with him if he can’t tell me that we’re pretty well on our way to getting married. His main fear is that he isn’t convinced he’d be able to remain faithful. He promises me that he’s never cheated on me to date (I completely believe him), but he said that “guys are different about sex,” and that he doesn’t know if he’ll always be able to turn it down if a woman makes it clear that she’s willing. I have trouble understanding this dilemma because even if “guys are different,” if he’s been able to resist to date, why wouldn’t he be able to in the future?

I love him with all of my heart, but should I cut my losses now, as painful as that is, instead of spending another year waiting for him to come around? — Tired of Waiting


  1. ReginaRey says:

    Yes. You should absolutely cut your losses. Why would you spend another moment of your life “waiting for him to come around” when he’s made it abundantly clear that he probably won’t be able to stay faithful to you, and doesn’t really have the DESIRE to stay faithful to you, for that matter.

    Open marriages exist. I don’t think I’d be able to do it, personally, but I’m sure there are people out there who enjoy that kind of marriage and lifestyle. But clearly an open marriage isn’t for YOU. You want to marry someone who has no trouble committing to you forever, and who WANTS to be faithful to you for the rest of your lives.

    Do you truly want to marry him, and then wonder what he’s doing every time he goes out without you? Do you want to spend the rest of your life being a nervous wreck, and hoping that he stays faithful to you, instead of KNOWING that he’s staying faithful to you? Because that kind of tension and distrust WILL break up a marriage, or any relationship. It’s up to you whether you want to choose to walk away now, or wait for this to eat at you until your choice is made for you.

  2. I could never marry a man who believed that men were different about sex and thusly my opinion didn’t matter. I can’t help but wonder – is he the only one allowed to stray? How would he feel if you could not remain faithful to him?

    1. THIS.

      “Men are different about sex” is not a valid argument against monogamy or a good reason to disregard your girlfriend’s feelings. If you don’t want to be in a monogamous relationship, then don’t be! But don’t string along a great woman who really cares for you, even if you feel like you can’t live without her.

  3. he’s just not that into you

    1. Exactly. If he were, he wouldn’t hesitate about committing.

  4. TheOtherMe says:

    If he already doubts that he will be able to remain faithful to you, why do you think it will change if he agrees to marry you ? Although I admire that he was that open about it to you, I think that you need to really evaluate what your expectations are with this relationship otherwise it might lead to much hurt and unhappiness.

    1. Sometimes I cannot decide whether to admire the honesty or not. In principle I do. But I have seen many men “be honest” when they had no intention of genuinely enlightening their significant others. I have known some guys that don’t do this in order to give their SOs a chance to walk away; many have full plans to KEEP their SOs *and* manipulate the situation to their liking. Basically have their cake and eat it too. When this is the strategy, it is always interesting to walk away and see the look of shock on their faces. I obviously cannot know what the LW’s boyfriend’s intentions are. He may be communicating genuine concerns, or he may be making a play to cheat and get away with it (“Babe, I love you and want to be with you, but I can only do so if I have sex with other women”). Who knows.

      1. honeybeenicki says:

        I think you make a good pont about he may be making a plan to cheat and be able to get away with it. I can just picture the conversation now… “But honey, I TOLD you I didn’t think I could be faithful! Its not my fault, men think about sex differently.”

      2. WatersEdge says:

        But… WOULD that be his fault? If he told her he didn’t think he could do it and she stayed anyway, then he did it… He’s being honest about what she’s getting, and either she can take it or leave it.

      3. spaceboy761 says:

        This guy is pretty much asking for a polyamorous relationship and the LW seems to be repulsed by the prospect. Regardless of who’s ‘at fault’, she should MOA just as quickly. Blame games are a waste of time and mental energy when they don’t affect the solution (i.e. leave).

      4. WatersEdge says:

        Polyamory is when you seriously date multiple people at once. This guy sounds more like the kind of guy who think he can’t avoid the occasional one-night stand.

      5. spaceboy761 says:

        I guess ‘open’ would be a better term? My guess is that he wouldn’t be OK with her banging other guys, but he might beg to watch for all we know.

      6. TheOtherMe says:

        Lol ! I love your consistent use of the word “bang”

      7. WatersEdge says:

        We don’t really know that he’s even ok with the idea of him banging other girls. We’re assuming that he told her in order to get permission, but the LW makes it sound like he told her in order to take marriage off the table. Some people respect marriage enough not to enter it if they don’t think they have what it takes.

      8. honeybeenicki says:

        I think she’d be stupid to stick around if she’s not ok with the ultimate idea that he may sleep with someone else. Sure, its still his fault for not being able to control where he sticks stuff but she knows whats she’s getting into. I think it sucks it took this long for her to see the real person he is. I know some people who are ok with the idea of an open relationship, but I just can’t picture LW that way.

  5. Oh my Lord. COME OOOON! You know what you need to tell him? GOOD-BYE!
    Are you seriously going to stay with a man that is telling you, YOU are not good enough for him to want to be with only you for the rest of your lives?? Because that *is* what he’s telling you.
    This makes me angry that he thinks he is sooooo great that HE is the one not sure if he can be faithful to you. He is lowering you, & if you continue, you’ll be his doormat!
    If you absolutely feel that you cannot just walk away, talk to him…but even that, idk. This guy has jerk-off written all over him.
    MOA! QUICK! You are better than that! You deserve a man that has no doubt in his mind you are the only one he needs! PLEASE see that & kick his ass OUT!

    1. This makes me angry because I stayed with a guy that made me feel like dirt for two years out of our three year relationship…He would tell me “You think I’d ever marry you? You’re crazy!” He’d call me names like stupid, bitch, slut, etc… & then he broke up with ME after taking me out on a date telling me he wanted to give me “one last night of happiness”…I hated myself for sooo long after things ended & the skies opened up for me. I went crazy, drugs, alcohol, etc…all for what? Please, leave this man. I promise you will find someone amazing that thinks YOU are the greatest thing on Earth. You deserve that!

  6. SweetChild says:

    I agree with matbo, I’d bet a lot of money on the fact that if you said the same thing to him he would not be okay with it. Men aren’t different about sex (they’re just stupider about it), that’s just a huge excuse and an incredibly lame one at that. I mean, what is that, “he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to say no”?!?! If you love someone and you don’t want to hurt them, you say no, simple as that. And why would he be getting himself into situations where women are throwing themselves at him? Unless he’s a flippin’ rockstar and this is the girlfriend of I don’t know, John Mayer (he seems the type), he’d have to be putting the moves on them as well. Most guys aren’t soooo hot that ladies just can’t *help* but want to sleep with them! Anyways, I think this is just a cop-out. At 34 he should know how to treat people better, it’s not cool to make you uncertain and worried like this. It’s really painful I know but I don’t see how this could get better, without a change of heart from him and actions to back it up.

    1. I know, that really caught my eye: “he doesn’t know if he’ll always be able to turn it down if a woman makes it clear that she’s willing.” Yes, because all of us are just SO desperate to get a piece of that action.

      1. I wonder if that mens he’s been trying to cheat this whole time and just getting a lot of no’s. :/ (joke)

      2. Or he could just not put himself in those situations anymore!He is 34, and at that age it is perfectly exceptable to be going out with your friends, and girlfriend at the same time, and still have fun! He doesn’t need to go out with just his friends, get drunk at a bar, and try to pick up girls!

      3. SweetChild says:

        Exactly! How covered in hotsauce is this guy that he has to wipe women off him as he walks down the street! That must really be a huge hassle, even before you consider his obligation to sleep with them all!

      4. OMG, I am late reading this, but I LOVE “covered in hotsauce”. That is fantastic and I hope you don’t mind me stealing that saying!

      5. SweetChild says:

        Haha, no go ahead, I have already added “douchenozzle” to my repertoire from this very informative thread!

    2. Thumbs up for the John Mayer comment—he always strikes me as sleazy too.

      1. The worst thing about John Mayer is the hypocrisy- the pseudo sensitive sappy lyrics in songs like Your Body is a Wonderland that sound magical to innocent young girls, and skin-crawling to women with any experience with men who tell you what you want to hear and behave like apes. What a grade A douchenozzle.

      2. SweetChild says:

        Douchenozzle!! I hope you don’t mind if I adopt this new and exciting insult and give it a loving home in my vocabulary. John Mayer, ugh *shudder*, total douchenozzle!!!

  7. Anne (I Go To 11) says:

    This guy is being completely honest about who he is…don’t bother thinking he’s going to change, or, even worse, that you can change him. Sure, some folks change their minds, but it doesn’t seem likely that he will. Although it hurts to do it, you’d be much better off without the stress of “will he or won’t he cheat?” in your life. He’s pretty much flat-out telling you he’s not keen on monogamy. Why put yourself through the heartache if it turns out he does–or is already–cheat on you? You deserve better than that.

  8. I’m going to reiterate a piece of advice that Wendy gives pretty often: when someone tells you who they are, listen! This guy clearly isn’t interested in marriage, so if you can’t move forward with moving in together, then don’t move in with him. In fact, I think you just have different values; you want to get married, he doesn’t. I also think the whole “I can’t be faithful” think is just a load of crap and he wants an excuse to be forgiven if he does cheat on you. A lot of men stay faithful, why don’t you go look for one of those guys?

    1. That is EXACTLY what I was going to say. I think it’s one of the smartest things Wendy has ever said. When someone tells you who they are, LISTEN!!
      He is telling the LW in no uncertain terms what his idea of a future is, and she has to decide if that’s something she can live with or not, and it sounds to me like she can’t live with it. MOA!!! Get out before you waste any more time with him.

    2. I think you have it exactly right. He wants an excuse to be forgiven in the future. I don’t think he honestly believes the LW will leave him over this admission; I think he is just setting things up to manipulate the relationship in the way he wants.

    3. I knew someone who dated a guy who referred to himself as a “great date but a lousy mate.” Yup. He cheated on her. His justification was that he was honest about in in the beginning. So, if a guy says that he’s not sure he can be faithful, LISTEN.

    4. I gave my friend this advice the other day because it was so apt. Thanks Wendy!

  9. It is no use detailing what I think of this man and his character. The only thing the LW really needs to hear is MOA. Contrary to (apparent) popular belief, men are perfectly capable of remaining faithful, as long as they CHOOSE to do so. That is a choice that he refuses to make, which leaves the LW with only one good choice.

  10. honeybeenicki says:

    I hear a lot of things lately about how humans are not “meant” to be monogamous. They compare humans to other animals (most animals do not mate for life) and expect us to just believe that. Well, as far as I’m concerned, we are different from other animals that are not monogamous because we have a higher level of thinking, frontal lobe, etc. We have the ability to make decisions and consider other people’s feelings. I absolutely do not believe that men are going to cheat because they think differently about sex. I believe they will cheat because they choose to. It is not an innate action. Men (and women) are perfectly capable of being monogamous if they choose to be so. Sure, some people have open relationships and find others who are willing to deal with that, but most people are not comfortable with it.

    That said, this guy is feeding you a bunch of bullshit, LW. He is giving himself an “out” for if and when he cheats. He’ll be able to say, “Well, I did tell you I didn’t think I could be faithful.” I personally don’t think that excuses the behavior, but who knows what his thought process was to get to this point. If you want to be married and live in a monogamous relationship, this is NOT the guy for you. He has made it perfectly clear that monogamy is not on the top of his priority list and I wouldn’t doubt if he’s cheated before. He may say he didn’t, but its up to you if you believe him.

    1. LW needs to find her lobster, not her rabbit!

      1. spaceboy761 says:

        FWIW, Lisa Kudrow is really talented and lobsters are not monogamous.

      2. Love that episode!!!!!

      3. Quakergirl says:

        YES! Love that episode.

  11. Guys are different???!!! What a lame excuse! No matter male or female, it IS possible to commit to someone and vow not to commit adultery!!!!!!

    LW I’m sorry to say that if I were in your position I would walk away. I believe that I deserve a committed relationship and a man that will be able to resist whatever and/or whomever comes along. If he TRULY loves me he will be able to resist.

    1. spaceboy761 says:

      The whole “Guys are different” line is a bunch of sexist bullshit that this guy is using as groundwork for a future excuse. A better way to look at it is “People are different”…. some people happily exist in polyamorous relationships and some can’t. This looks like a case of two people wanting different things.

  12. spaceboy761 says:

    Your guy is pretty much asking you for an open marriage. If you’re OK with that lifestyle choice, start labeling your boxes with the new address. If you’re not, leave them blank.

    1. TheOtherMe says:

      Open for him only*

      1. spaceboy761 says:

        We don’t know that for sure, but probably. On a semi-related note, did anyone catch Sister Wives this week? I forgot to DVR it.

      2. TheOtherMe says:

        I think if he was ok for both of them to be “open” he would have definitely pulled that card out: ” But honey, you can also cheat if you want to… “

      3. ReginaRey says:

        Sister Wives wasn’t new!! So mad. I am fascinated by that show.

      4. spaceboy761 says:

        I hear that TLC is considering changing its name to the ‘And you thought that YOU were a bad parent Channel’

      5. WatersEdge says:

        hahahahahaha… pretty much! although those sister wives seem very nice.

    2. I don’t think he is looking for an open marriage, because he probably would have asked for that instead of changing his mind on getting married to her. It seems to me like he is giving her away out by letting her know that he is going to cheat, and it is up to her to take it.

  13. It might be painful now but imagine how painful it would be to find out he cheated on you. If he can’t be with you and not cheat, he doesn’t deserve you.

  14. I think the some comments berating this guy and his motives are a bit unfair. In Dan Savage’s column, he talks about the difference between a “CPOS” (cheating piece of sh*t) and an “honest, non-monogamous dude” (or woman). LW, since your boyfriend has not cheated on you and he is being honest and upfront about this, it seems that he almost certainly falls in the latter category. He may not be explaining this in the best way (saying “men and women are different” is definitely not the best way of putting it), but it sounds like he is simply saying that he is not sure he can or wants to keep a long term monogamous commitment. Perhaps he should have told you sooner in the relationship if he realized that, but not being cut out for monogamy doesn’t make him a bad person and it doesn’t mean that he is just looking for an excuse to cheat in the future. I definitely agree with the comment on Wendy’s statement about when someone tells you who they are, listen – he is doing just that. So, LW, I think you need to think long and hard about what you want out of a long term commitment and eventually a marriage. Is 100% monogamy a requirement for you, or would a “monogamish” relationship (another Savage-ism) be something you could be happy with? There are lots of different relationship models, and you need to figure if there is one that can work for you and for your boyfriend in the long run. If a full monogamous commitment is what you require in a relationship, then yes, you need to MOA, because you both deserve to have your needs met. But, at least give some consideration to whether there are other possibilities that might work for BOTH of you.

    1. It’s not that I cannot see your point, but there are some factors in here that I find odd. 1) They have been together for 3 1/2 years and he is just now bring it up 2) He is 34. So he was 30 when they started dating. It seems to me that if this was genuine interest in a polyamorous relationship, he might have figured it out before now. I realize people change over their lives, but a 30 year old man with a reasonable breadth of experience in sex and relationships should have a general idea of what he likes and what he wants in the future. It is good that you can give him the benefit of the doubt and see his side, but I cannot.

      1. I can see your point as well – I agree it is possible that he is just being manipulative. However, I think it is wrong to assume that is the only possibility, or even the most likely possibility. It is not clear to me from the letter when exactly he first brought this issue up, but yes, if he knew years ago, he should have said so.But it also seems just as possible that he didn’t realize it until he was in a relationship that seemed to actually be heading toward marriage. Also I think it should be mentioned that it really doesn’t sound like he wants a polyamorous relationship (which usually implies having more than one *loving* or emotionally intimate relationship), but rather that he wants some degree of *sexual* openness in their relationship – this is an important distinction, at least in my mind. In any case, my point was mainly that we shouldn’t categorically assume the worst about anyone who is interested in something other than a 100% closed relationship if they are honest with their partner.

      2. WatersEdge says:

        True.. and I don’t think we really know if he even WANTS sexual openness. Maybe he just wants to express his concerns about not being strong-enough-willed for an entire lifetime. He sounds scared to me.

      3. I agree that he could be just scared and therefore trying to give himself a window if something happens. But the fact that instead of discussing how scared he is he is actively saying he will probably cheat is a little disturbing to someone who wants a closed marriage.

      4. Excellent point!

    2. WatersEdge says:

      This is what I was going to post! This is exactly how I feel. I think this guy is being honest about his concerns not to manipulate you, but because he loves you. But that doesn’t give him a pass to cheat if you want 100% monogamy forever. And if you want to get married and he STILL has doubts about marriage after 3 years and the desire to live together, that’s a reason in and of itself to break up.

      As for monogamish, I’m really glad someone brought that up because I was afraid to. I’ll be honest here- my husband is like your boyfriend. Over the 1.5 years we’ve been together he’s evolved from “I’m not sure I can be monogamous forever” to “Momogamy is gonna suck sometimes, but ok” to “You are like a fillet Mignon and other women are like a Big Mac- they have their cheap appeal but it wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying, so I don’t mind monogamy”. The situation is different because my husband came around over time and he says outright “I made a commitment and I will never cheat on you” but honestly… I don’t always believe him. I know he’ll never have an emotional affair or a long drawn-out thing, but I am really not sure that a one-night stand on a business trip won’t happen 20 years from now. I had to decide for myself that one or two random occurrences over the course of an otherwise loyal, fulfilling lifetime together were something I could live with. I’m NOT saying I condone it or I’d even look the other way, but I genuinely hope that if it’s just a one-time thing that I never find out. That was a decision I made for myself before marriage; a trade-off I could live with to be with the guy who is otherwise a pretty-close-to-perfect partner in all the other ways that matter. And yes it is a two-way street: he’s told me that if I ever cheated on him, he wouldn’t leave me, that we would work it out.

      I just wanted to provide some perspective on the situation as someone who’s been there. My husband respects monogamy on principle, or at least respects me enough to be faithful to me, and doesn’t say “I deserve to cheat because my biology is uncontrollable”. If your boyfriend’s perspective hasn’t evolved over time then definitely don’t marry him. But maybe you should bring it up again in more detail and let him talk it out. If he really wants to try but is just scared, that’s one thing in my opinion. But if he doesn’t want to try, then there’s really nothing to work with there.

      1. I really respect you for posting your personal story about this! I wish you and your husband the best.

  15. ArtsyGirl says:

    Ok now you made me take my earrings off! I am so fucking tired of men stating that they are able to stray because they are biologically built that way. Based on our physical markers, humans are not really meant to be monogamous but you know what biologically we are supposed to go and rape the youngest and fittest members of our society because they are the most likely to have healthy pregnancy. We as humans have moved past biology through the strictures of culture and religion – we accept the universal good over personal good. Anytime some one argues that it goes against their nature (normally trying to condone some bad behavior I want to scream)
    (whew** I feel slightly better)

    Ok LW here is what it boils down to. Your BF wants to have all of the benefits of marriage (co-habitation, sex, companionship) without ever having to officially commit to you. He wants the right to drop you at a moments notice if he finds some nubile young girl at the bar who is willing to sleep with him. Now you have been together for a while and he has never cheated on you – but by warning you ahead of time he is reliving himself of any future guilt *but honey I told you I would do this

    Now it might be a case of the grass is greener and his fantasies of Scarlet Johanssan willing to screw him on sight when they bump into each other on the subway are all pipe dreams but are you willing to stay with someone who really isn’t interested in staying with you? Maybe breaking up with him will get his head screwed on right or maybe you will run into Ryan Reynolds yourself.

    1. Thanks! You made me giggle. I hope she runs into a Ryan Reynolds very soon! This guy is awful to pull this stuff 3 years into the relationship and he is no young immature thing. Ugh! Like you this guy got my ire up also.

    2. It just irks me how he’s saying “Idk if I’ll be able to turn down a girl who’s willing.” Like he’s THAT amazing that woman will throw themselves at him on a daily basis & that the LW is not good enough. If she stays with him, her self-esteem will plumet.
      I wonder what he would say if she told him she wanted to “stray” too.
      She just needs to show his ass the door!!

    3. THIS. Men aren’t savage beasts. They have the ability to reason, think, sympathize, and make moral decisions. I mean, you can’t keep it in your pants, then own up to that! But don’t blame your biological makeup!

      1. *if you can’t keep…

    4. honeybeenicki says:

      Haha its funny that you mentioned Scarlet Johansson and Ryan Reynolds… my husband and I have kind of a joke between us that we can pick one famous person and if either of us was given a shot with them, we wouldn’t stand in their way. His is Jessica Alba, mine is J. Loren from the band Hurt. I’m sure it will never happen, but a girls gotta have dreams 😉

      1. TheOtherMe says:

        Haha ! we have imaginary spouses !

      2. SpyGlassez says:

        hehe, my boyfriend still gets jealous when I talk about my “deep abiding love” for the lead singer of the band Gaelic Storm. But I started listening to them in college and didn’t meat the BF til last year, so I remind him that my “other love” came first.

    5. Very well said. I personally also think that STDs are an indicator by God or Nature that we are supposed to be monogamous.

      Regardless, the LW wants a commitment from her boyfriend and he’s told her that he doesn’t think he can give it to her. She has her answer and needs to Move On. I think 3 years is enough time for a 34 year old to know or at least have an idea of how he sees her and their relationship in his future.

      LW, he basically told you that he thinks he will cheat if the opportunity presents itself. You will not get more of a warning than that. He’s pulled out the red flag for you and waved it in front of your face. It’ time to Move On and find a man worthy of your love and commitment.

      1. demoiselle says:

        STDs are just other forms of life which are struggling for survival and propagation. Our bodies happen to be excellent platforms for doing so. Putting aside the idea of God’s intentions, which is a matter of individual belief, I don’t think we can assign any value judgment about what Nature intended based on the behavior of STDs. If we were all monogamous, they’d just spread another way. Syphilis and HIV, for example can be passed from mother to child–but I doubt that we’d conclude (if that were the primary mode of transmission) that nature intended for us to be child-free.

      2. Of course it’s a matter of individual belief. Hence the “I personally” part. Did I say I was passing judgement on anyone?

      3. demoiselle says:

        I didn’t think you did. Did I accuse you of passing judgment on anyone? I had thought I was speaking abstractly, but if it came across differently, I’m sorry.

        Anyway, I notice now that I’ve replied to you about this three times, and so it might seem like I’m being bullying. I didn’t realize before that these were all your threads–I just find the topic really exciting to think about! 🙂 Perhaps there is a part of me that still longs for a career in biology rather than theatre.

        No hostility or judgment is intended from my end, I promise.

      4. Yes, I had thought you were trying to single me out. If you say your intention was not so, fine. Regardless, I respect your arguments. You have made valid points. I still hold my own beliefs as does everyone. My only point was that I disagree that men are biologically build to go around and sleep with as many women as possible. I do not believe that God/Nature intended humans to be that way and I think a man trying to use that as an excuse “Men are different’ is absurd. Another argument could even be that humans are aware of other people’s feelings. We have the capacity to care whether we’re actually hurting someone or not.

        There’s tons of reasons really. I just don’t buy the “Men are different” argument.

      5. demoiselle says:

        I really wasn’t singling you out. I hadn’t even noticed I was replying to the same poster. By the way, I absolutely agree with you that “men are different” is a weak excuse, and personally consider monogamy very important. 🙂 I respect your viewpoint. Indeed, I might have just as easily (in terms of getting excited by an idea) started bouncing up and down and pointing to monogamous ducks.

    6. could not like you or your post enough!

  16. Lexington says:

    I am loving people’s comments on this

    1. TheOtherMe says:

      Nothing like the “adultery” topic to get the comments flooding in 🙂

      1. demoiselle says:

        It’s a topic that it’s easy for everyone to have an opinion about…

  17. fast eddie says:

    Men and women’s sexuality are indeed different else we wouldn’t be attracted to each other. Compatible and complimentary as we may be the simple truth is that no one can be 100% certain that we would never stray under the right circumstances. Commitment is easily to claim but when your hormones scream for attention the temptation can be overwhelming. You’ve been together for a long time and comfortable with each other. He’s being honest and open with you about his feelings about a hypothetical situation. Face this issue nose to nose (or other body part). Imagine what you’d do if either of you strayed. One of the reasons I don’t is that there’s no way to guarantee that she wouldn’t find out about it. Trust is a large part of why we get along so well and I want our relationship to continue enough to not risk it’s demise for the sake of a few minutes of pleasure no matter how tempting it may be.

    1. I understand that no one can be certain that they won’t stray under the right circumstances, but you don’t put yourself in those cirumstances. If you know you are weak willed, then never find yourself alone with a member of the opposite sex. If you are a man with female friends, only see them in public places. As Chris Rock says “If it’s late, JUST GO HOME”. Usually going home ends in avoiding infidelity. It’s easy to not cheat if you never give yourself the opportunity. The LW’s boyfriend simply just doesn’t care and openly welcomes the chance the chance to sleep with other women.

      1. Yup, he’s not thinking about avoiding these situations because he doesn’t WANT to be monogamous.

    2. I would hope that another reason you don’t, besides the fact that she could find out about it, is that it would hurt her.

    3. Sometimes I read your comments and think typical male sexist behavior. People can be 100% sure they would never stray. I am and my fiance is. My grandparents were together 63 years before grandpa passed and never even once thought about cheating on each other. My parents have been together over 30 years and have never thought about cheating. And my dad was a professional baseball player with plenty of opportunity. You may not be sure about yourself because based off past comments of yours it sounds like cheating is something you have done a lot in the past and that you did not treat women very well when you were younger. I like that you give answers because a lot of men think like you, but seriously, cheating is a choice. It is not something that has to happen because the right opportunity came along. It is a conscious decision you make. I am not trying to attack you, but it is possible to keep it in your pants.

      LW = MOA! He is trying to get you to give him future permission to cheat or he may have found a women he is interested in pursuing.

    4. Anonymous says:

      Sometimes I read your comments and think typical male sexist behavior. People can be 100% sure they would never stray. I am and my fiance is. My grandparents were together 63 years before grandpa passed and never even once thought about cheating on each other. My parents have been together over 30 years and have never thought about cheating. And my dad was a professional baseball player with plenty of opportunity. You may not be sure about yourself because based off past comments of yours it sounds like cheating is something you have done a lot in the past and that you did not treat women very well when you were younger. I like that you give answers because a lot of men think like you, but seriously, cheating is a choice. It is not something that has to happen because the right opportunity came along. It is a conscious decision you make. I am not trying to attack you, but it is possible to keep it in your pants.

      LW = MOA! He is trying to get you to give him future permission to cheat or he may have found a women he is interested in pursuing.

      1. I agree with the sentiment that some people never would consider cheating, but I’m not sure how you know definitively that your parents and grandparents never even thought about it. It is unlikely they would discuss that aspect of their marriages with you.

      2. Anonymous says:

        Actually I have. My family is very open and we discuss everything. Don’t judge like you know my family. If we hadn’t have spoken about these things many times I would not add it to my comment. But I really don’t care if anyone agrees with me. The fact is that not everyone thinks about cheating or does it. If you do and you want to, that’s up to you. I think cheating is wrong, you don’t have to agree.

      3. TheOtherMe says:

        Some people (at the present time) truly believe that they would 100% never stray but it’s almost impossible that you can predict how things turn out in the future.

      4. SpaceySteph says:

        On the other hand, this guy is not remotely sure he won’t cheat. In fact, he’s pretty sure he will. To have a fighting chance at monogamy, you actually have to be willing to believe it’s possible.
        Though nobody can say for sure they’ll never cheat, if you’re going to say for pretty sure that you will, I think that says it all.

      5. fast eddie says:

        As any teacher would tell you, ‘Never…’ is never the correct answer.

  18. “Men are different about sex.” What a lazy excuse.

  19. LW – I took the following quotes from your letter. If a friend came to you and asked your advice because her boyfriend said the following things, what would you tell her?

    – “he started expressing doubts not in our relationship, but in marriage and the idea of committing to one person forever”
    – “he said that “guys are different about sex””
    – “he doesn’t know if he’ll always be able to turn it down”

    MOA already.

    If he hasn’t met another woman yet, he is clearly setting a path. All he will say to you is “but I told you I didn’t know if I could be faithful”.

  20. When people tell you who they are, BELIEVE THEM.
    This man says he’s not capable of long term monogamy. BELIEVE HIM.
    A man worth holding on to will make you his top priority and assure you that he wants no one but you.
    And now about living together. SO MANY women move in with their boyfriends, hoping to get married, and it doesn’t work out. I believe that many women view living together as a step towards marriage, while many men view it as a test drive.
    For women who are looking to move in with their boyfriends and would like to get married, this needs to be made explicit from the beginning. So many women get their hearts broken, needlessly, because they feel so in love and hope it will work out, and it just doesn’t. In my opinion, if marriage is what you want, you should at least be engaged when you move in. That way the commitment is pretty solid from the beginning.

    1. Agreed. Statistics show that over 80% of couples that co-habitate before marriage, end up divorcing when they actually do get married.
      I’m not bashing people that do it, if they think that’s right for them, I just think it should be taken a little more seriously.
      I told my boyfriend I wouldn’t move in with him until we’re married. He’s not too fond of it, but that’s my thing & I feel it’ll be better in the long run.
      I’m *not* bashing people that DO do this, but *I* def. agree with you, Tech.

    2. Thank you!!! I always get weird looks and comments when i tell people I won’t live with my boyfriend before marriage. I don’t disagree with other people doing it, its just not for me. But I truely do believe that a couple needs to decide whether living together is a step towards marriage, a test drive, or just a convenience/financial decision.

      1. honeybeenicki says:

        Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if my husband and I didn’t live together first. Well, we lived together before we even dated so it was a few steps from there.

      2. Add me to the pile of people unwilling to co-habitate prior to marriage. I don’t judge others for it, but it’s just not for me. A test drive? Really? Maybe we should knock out a few kids before marriage too, make sure we’re good parents before we make the big marriage commitment! (Yes I know that analogy is kind of silly, but you know what I mean.) I think you can get to know each other well enough to know if marriage is for you without having to do each other’s laundry. Call me old-fashioned, but I think there’s something to be said for saving some things until marriage.

        Also, I’ve read the argument that couples who don’t live together before marriage are less likely to divorce because “people whose values dictate that they shouldn’t live together before marriage often also have values that dictate that they shouldn’t seek a divorce” (from demoiselle below). And while I acknowledge that is part of it, I’ve read studies that indicate there is more to it. As in, the actual act of living together prior to marriage, or an engagement, devalues the commitment of the actual marriage for some couples. Not all couples of course. But for some, they lose motivation to actually go through with a marriage, since they are basically already living in one without the hassle of the wedding.

        Also, it seems to make a huge difference in how you approach it- I’ve read that couples that are already engaged with a date set and then move in together are much better of statistically than those without those conditions.

        Anyway, I realize this is not a popular opinion among my peers. But HmC you’ve got to test drive test drive! I just have a hard time looking at it like that. If that means I need to date for a longer time prior to marriage than a co-habitating couple would, I’m fine with that.

      3. demoiselle says:

        I respect your position. I, certainly, *intended* never to move in with anyone to whom I wasn’t engaged (though in my particular case, fortunately, it worked out differently). It’s difficult to separate out causation and correlation. Maybe living together does devalue the relationship for some people. And maybe at the same time, other people are more willing to just live with someone they are “blah” about than they are to actually marry them–so if those individuals later give in and get married, their marriage is already on unstable ground.

        TheGirl gives probably the most practical advice: what’s really important is to *have* the conversations about marriage and children, and have them explicitly, early in the relationship.

      4. You’re right, it is difficult to separate out causation and correlation. I guess what it comes down to, for me personally, is that I love my boyfriend very much, I love spending a lot of time with him at his place or with him at mine, and for us that is enough of a process to figure out whether we’re right for each other. It works out well that he also shares the value of not wanting to live together prior to marriage. We don’t want to compromise our chances of forever by shacking up now, even though of course part of us wants to because we love being around each other. For us, it’s a personal sacrifice of what we want in the immediate present, in exchange for what we feel is best for our relationship and our happiness in the long term. Also, I like the idea of saving that new experience for after the nuptials. I know it will be a huge adjustment and probably overwhelming, but hopefully it will be very exciting and new in a good way as well.

        So again, no judgment to others. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my lifetime, it’s that romantic relationships are extremely personal enterprises, and you really don’t know what’s going on in there from the outside. Whatever decisions people make that are best for them, it’s none of my damn business. But, I have to say that it doesn’t seem to be a good idea, if marriage *is* your long term goal, to hastily move in just because it looks fun, or to save money, or because “well we’re together all the time anyway!”

      5. @HmC I agree with you 100% on this matter!

      6. demoiselle says:


      7. Quakergirl says:

        “But I truely do believe that a couple needs to decide whether living together is a step towards marriage, a test drive, or just a convenience/financial decision.”

        I think as long as the couple genuinely agrees (not just claims to agree thinking they’ll change the other’s mind) on what living together means for their relationship, there’s no problem living together before marriage. I moved in with my boyfriend about a year and a half ago– four years into our relationship– but we had a huge discussion about it before we decided to do it. I said in no uncertain terms that unless we were both committed to getting married to each other in the future (we were 21 at the time and about to start our senior year of college), I wasn’t willing to move in together. He said he felt the same way, and that he had no doubts about marrying me. I had none about marrying him. We also talked about a rough timeline of when we’d like to get married so that it wasn’t a situation where one of us woke up on college graduation day and started getting antsy while the other one was thinking we’d get married at 30. I wouldn’t have done it as a test-drive, but I think as a decided and well-considered step towards marriage, it’s been really good for us and our relationship.

      8. Quakergirl says:

        We also had already had the life goals and values/kids or not/how to raise them discussion previously, so that was taken care of.

        Another important factor that I think people overlook is the “what does being married mean to you” discussion. I don’t know that we explicitly had one big talk about that, but we’d been together long enough and been involved in each other’s families enough to have a good understanding of each other’s views, and since we’ve been living together we’re talking about it more directly. In talking about it with friends though, I’m always kind of shocked to see how different people’s views on the subject can be. As this letter shows, you can’t assume yours and your partner’s are the same.

    3. @TECH I SOOOOO AGREE WITH THIS!!! I have read many times over that the rate of divorce is higher for couples who live together before getting engaged. Because what ends up happening is one of them pushes for marriage, even though it may not be for the best, so they go ahead and do it because it’s so hard to walk away when you already have all these assets built up together. You may not be feeling it 100% but marriage just seems like the logical next step…

      1. demoiselle says:

        It’s also because people whose values dictate that they shouldn’t live together before marriage often also have values that dictate that they shouldn’t seek a divorce. But it doesn’t mean that the relationships are in fact happier or working better.

    4. demoiselle says:

      My mom always said not to live together before getting married. But then she changed her tune when I started dating an awful guy. She realized he’d be able to hide his awfulness more successfully living apart than living together. So she encouraged us to move in together. She was right: the veil fell, and we broke up within six months because I discovered he was unbearable and abusive.

      He and his wife lasted for four or five years, but for several of them he was either commuting 4+ hours per work day or living in a different city and visiting weekends. When he moved to the same home with her and started to work locally, they were divorced within a year.

      My husband and I also moved in together before getting married. However, we had been talking about our plans to get married for many months before hand, and we explicitly knew that was where our relationship was headed. It has worked well, because we were equally and emphatically committed to our future together. Plus, we also knew how we functioned as a cohabiting couple. There were no surprises after the rings went on.

    5. I think the main problem is that people don’t have the marriage and kids talk before they move in together. As long as that’s been taken care of (which apparently was not the case for the LW), I don’t think there’s anything wrong with co-habitation.

      1. honeybeenicki says:

        It has amazed me how many people havent discussed those very basic things. If you are going to seriously commit to someone, I think you should know where they (and you) stand as far as marriage and children. Often those are two things that are difficult to compromise on and I don’t think they should be compromised on. When my husband and I were dating, I knew he had 2 kids and had a vasectomy (his ex had 2 very complicated pregnancies that almost resulted in losing one of them), so we discussed children pretty much up front. I have never really wanted to actually have children but did want to adopt at some point and he was open to that and is now even the one pushing that we do it sooner rather than later.

      2. I think the reason people don’t think to discuss it is that it is often assumed that everyone wants to get married and have kids. It is, after all, the statistical norm. The reason I always knew to have that conversation is that I never wanted to have kids, so I always wanted to make sure that news was out there right away, as I knew it would be a serious dealbreaker for a lot of guys… not that it always did any good. So many people tried to tell me I’d change my mind, or worse yet, that they would try to change my mind FOR me! I had an older gentleman at work who used to argue with me about it daily and said it was his mission to convince me to have kids. Ugh.

        Seriously, though, EVERYONE should have that conversation as early as possible. Say, right when you decide to see each other exclusively.

      3. What do I do if my boyfriend wants 10 kids and I only want 2? LoL… well he says his minimum is 4, but I just can’t imagine going through 4 pregnancies… ugh! I’ve told him I’m open to adopting more kids once the ones I have are a little older and he says he’s open to that too… but honestly, how can I say for sure how I am going to feel after I’ve already pushed out 2 babies? And how can he really know that he wants 4? He thinks being a dad is going to be “easy”.

      4. demoiselle says:

        That could be a challenge. Perhaps–later on–showing your boyfriend some research on the extent of the effects of pregnancy on health and the woman’s body would be helpful. Or having him baby sit a couple of kids for a long weekend, where he is the one principally in charge. Or both. He may be in love with the abstract idea of having lots of kids, and not really understand what the reality would be like for both of you.

      5. I think as long as you both want to have kids you can work it out! I think the yes or no is the dealbreaker, the compromise is in the total number.

        Perhaps if you gave him some details on the COST of raising 10 children he would change his mind? Between the braces, shots, band instruments and college you’re looking at a LOT of money. Not to mention the inevitable one that moves back home at 30! However, since I am not particularly interested in pushing out 1 baby, I am perhaps not the best person to answer! : ) To quote an early Dear Wendyism – you guys would be Duggaring it up BIG time. I do have to say that I love the idea of adoption – so many kids out there need a good home!

      6. Yes, I’ve told him that I’d be interested in adopting a pair of siblings who might otherwise be split up. I’m thinking he will change his mind on the number of kids after the first one comes along… my best friend’s husband thought having a baby was going to be a piece of cake… after the birth of their son, he now thinks having kids is the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life!

      7. That would be just about the sweetest, most selfless thing ever!

    6. I completely agree with you if a couple does not discuss future plans before they move in. If both people are on the same page before they move in, then I think its a really helpful tool in learning about each other before marriage. I love my boyfriend very much, but I feel like I know him a million times better now that we live together. When you’re just dating, you try to make every time you see each other “special” like, you know, dates. When you live together, you have to learn to make everyday special. Not moving in before you get married is a huuuge pressure, because you HAVE to make it work, and you’re more likely to compromise on stuff for the sake of the new marriage rather than saying something for yourself. Everyday living with a man is like a relationship workshop. To not have those tools yet, and be already married would seem crazy stressful to me. Of course, my boyfriend and I are on the same page about commitment, so I think our goals are more permanent.

      1. TheOtherMe says:

        I completely agree with you Sarah. For me PERSONALLY, ( I can just feel the purple thumbs coming ) living together was actually a bigger step than being married. I dated my ex for 2 years before we moved in together and I remember being really freaked out for a whole year after we moved in together. I just couldn’t find my place in our home, I wasn’t sure how to fit into my new life. 3 years later we got married and I remember thinking that if we hadn’t lived together first, I would have had the same panicky feeling but would have thought that it was the marriage part that was freaking me out & not the living together part.

        ( since my divorce, I am still living alone, almost 9 years later )

  21. demoiselle says:

    Even men who are raised with the dubious idea that men are somehow “different” can be monogamous. Here’s my anecdote:

    My uncle was raised by my grandfather to be a womanizer. The men in my family, in that generation, was utterly committed to the model of the virtuous, pure woman and the man who sleeps with whatever woman he can, even his buddies’ wives. Ugh. Anyway, point being, my uncle grew up in a household where men were expected to sleep around and women were expected to accept it. And as a young man, he did copy his father.

    Then he got his girlfriend pregnant, and they got married. They didn’t know each other very well. But they stayed married for 30 years or so. On his deathbed, my uncle told my mother, “I never, ever cheated on my wife. The reason was that I knew she was a very unforgiving woman, and if I ever did, she’d divorce me and take away everything.”

    So there. Even a man who was in the 40s and 50s to believe that “men are different” bunk was capable of keeping it in his pants when sufficiently motivated.

    I don’t think the LW should issue ultimatums. I am not sure that most women could have cowed a man like my uncle–my aunt *really is* a frightening and unforgiving woman, and she *really would* have ruined him. Nor is their relationship some kind of ideal model.

    I’m just saying that this “biological imperative” to cheat is bunk. It’s a cultural standard, it’s the way we have been raised to look at sex and sexuality. But in the end, what it comes down to is the individual man (or woman’s) *decision* to cheat or not to cheat.

    If fidelity is important to you, LW, your boyfriend has made his stance clear. You should find someone whose values align with yours, and who isn’t so chickenshit that he has to hide behind “guys are different.”

  22. My first impression was that he already cheated, he just wants to make a softer landing when he gets either gets caught, or confesses. Either that or he already has a flirtation waiting for the LW to either give him permission, leave him, or go out of town for a weekend. It’s good the the BF was honest about his ability to stay faithful but the timing is very suspect. You don’t wake up one day and decide that you can’t be faithful to your longterm partner, which leads me to believe that he’s probably been thinking about this a lot. So take his word for it and don’t move into another apartment with him and definitely don’t marry him. He doesn’t think he can faithful, which is a PC way of saying I’m going to cheat on you every opportunity I can get, and that’s obviously something you’re on ok with. Biologicall humans aren’t meant to be monogamous, but that was the result of the life expectancy being 20 years and the need to make babies as mush and quickly as possible. A lot has changed since then, including humans and while biologically we may be programmed to fail we have that wonderful little thing in our head called a brain that tells us the cheating is wrong. Not to mention the conscience the pops up when you’re about to make a mistake. Everyone is capable of being monogamous if they truly want to. I’m not putting down open relationships nor am I saying people should force themselves to be monogamous if they’re truly unhappy but his excuse of “men are different” is crap and should be treated as such. Leave him before he cheats with the next woman, apparently throwing herself at him, and you end up with herpes.

    1. spaceboy761 says:

      New Rule: Automatic green thumb for any advice that ends with “and you end up with herpes”.

      1. callmehobo says:

        We can make this the fortune cookie “in bed” of advice..

        Make sure you rotate your tires regularly…and end up with herpes.
        You should visit the dentist at least twice a year…and end up with herpes.

      2. TheOtherMe says:

        Oh I love the “in bed” fortune cookie !
        My last one was “accept the next proposition you hear”

        so I did 😉

      3. TheOtherMe says:

        But I didn’t end up with herpes !!!

    2. Thank you for mentioning the sexual health issue. That, for me, is a huge part of fidelity. Obviously individuals in sexually open relationships can have honest discussions about how to address this issue. But I have always suspected (and admittedly I don’t know) that people cheating in supposed-to-be-monogamous relationships are probably not being super careful with their sexual health. It’s not exactly a situation that lends itself to foresight and good judgment.

      1. honeybeenicki says:

        It is a very important issue, especially for the other person in the relationship. For example, LW has been told her boyfriend hasn’t yet cheated but doesn’t think he would say no if the opportunity presented itself. Is LW now going to insist on condoms for the rest of their relationship for her own sexual health on the chance that he is going to sleep with someone else and she won’t know if he used protection? Sexual health is so very important for everyone involved. My husband had a problem with the fact that when I go in every year for my lovely yearly exam, I get the STD testing that they offer. He said it showed a lack of trust in him and while I didn’t want to make him feel that way (and I do trust him), I am not willing to take ANY chances on my own sexual health and well-being. Now, when he goes in for a yearly physical, he does the same.

      2. Again, I just want to say that as far as the “Biologicall humans aren’t meant to be monogamous” idea goes, if that were true, why is our culture rampant with STDs?

        Also agree with spaceboy, green thumbs to any advice that ends with “and you end up with herpes.”

      3. And to clarify, when I say rampant, I mean besides the major STDs with no cure like HIV and Herpes, I think I heard 1 in 4 people have HPV. So many people have HPV that it’s basically treated as if it doesn’t count even though it is still an STD (albeit a less serious one).

      4. demoiselle says:

        I’m now moving out of the range of my scientific knowledge, but it is possible that STDs are also so rampant and devastating because our populations move around a lot more now than they did in the past. If an illness stayed within a single group for many generations, those groups would tend to develop a resistance, right (those who had none would die off, leaving the survivors to reproduce and pass on their genes)?

        As I understand it, before sailing the the “new world,” syphilis was not a problem in Europe, but it quickly became a devastating plague of nodules, madness, and European noses falling off. Europeans had no natural resistance to it (I don’t know to what extent natives of the new world did). Likewise, smallpox devastated the indigenous population in the Americas.

        Now, we travel all over, sleep with people from all over, move from continent to continent, and we bring our colds, flus, and STDs with us to expose new groups.

      5. Okay whatever. This discussion board isn’t about STDs. It’s about giving advice to this woman whose boyfriend doesn’t want to commit to her. I already gave you the benefit of my doubt and agreed that I could see your point of view and that you had valid arguments. Let’s not turn this into a debate that has nothing to do with the advice that the LW is asking for.

      6. demoiselle says:

        As I posted above (please read), I had no intent of picking on you or passing judgment. I’m sorry if I offended you. I thought we were discussing an exciting idea, but I’m happy to put the sub-topic to rest.

      7. demoiselle says:

        Because STDs want to survive too, so they developed to take advantage of the most advantageous routes for spreading to uninfected humans. Colds, flu, and athelete’s foot are rampant, too, but that doesn’t mean that we were meant not to breathe or shower barefoot.

      8. Fair enough.

      9. Okay – I now must use the tag-line “STDs want to survive too”. *laugh* Might even have to say “STDs just want lovin’ too”.

      10. SpyGlassez says:

        Depends – if you lived in the dorm I did in college, you’d know you weren’t meant to shower barefoot.

      11. One interesting argument I heard was not that STDs prove we aren’t meant to be monogamous, but that they encouraged the societal development of monogamy because it’s evolutionary disadvantageous because 1) Monogamy means you reap the benefits –children to work and care for you 2) Your tribe isn’t devastated by venereal disease. Monogamy would largely keep diseases isolated between a few carriers.

      12. To clarify, “biologicall” is meant to be “biologically”. My bad. As evidenced by my bad grammar above, I’m having a difficult grammar day so it could just be that, but I’m having difficulty understanding your line of thought. If biologically humans aren’t meant to be monogamous then it would make sense that there be a high STD rate if we are all sleeping around (and I mean that in the best non-slut-shaming way possible). The more people you sleep with, the more at risk you are for developing STDs. Monogamy (for both sexes) is a relatively new idea. 150 years ago, men were given free rein to sleep around as much as they pleased, and they did. Syphilis anybody? As early as 50 years ago, women rarely divorced husbands for keeping a mistress. When my grandmother married my grandfather her mother told her to just accept his other woman when she comes along. STDs aren’t new diseases, they’ve been around for a while. HIV and others are relatively new viruses that msot likely came about because of increased mobility we can bring diseases back from all over the world that we previously had been unable to reach. Add in individuals who reject the constraints of monogamy (again, in the best way possible) and you have new diseases affecting the population. Now add in the introduction of superviruses, viruses that can mutate to infect people who have never been vulnerable (H1N1, Avian Flu), etc. Human may not be made for monogamy but that doesn’t make them immune from disease.

      13. And I just repeated what everyone else said. Sorry!

      14. fast eddie says:

        Remember the Bobbit’s? I’m surprised that nobody’s mentioned it.

  23. napoleon1066 says:

    Okay… I suppose a man should say something.

    This is probably the first time in his life he’s clearly faced “forever with one woman” down, and he has doubt. “Is this right for me? Do I really want to settle down?” Let’s not confuse some self doubt with a desire to cheat. It seems to me that’s not what he’s saying at all.

    Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the future. Leaving him because he’s acknowledging that he’s not sure how he’d react to utter temptation is a poor response. Maybe he loves you, and he’s just not ready to commit to forever yet.

    Maybe when you move, you shouldn’t move together. What he needs to do is confront the realities of the choice in front of him: a lifetime with you and only you, or a lifetime without you.

    1. TheOtherMe says:

      “Okay… I suppose a man should say something.”

      Yes. and thank you for your point of view on this.

      1. spaceboy761 says:

        Oh, so I’m just chopped fucking liver now. I’ll remember that.

      2. TheOtherMe says:

        No ! You’re a stalkable-fun-lovin-say-it-as-it-is-Robot !

      3. Never, spaceboy, never.

      4. SpaceySteph says:

        Thumbs up just for the use of “chopped fucking liver” which is a much better variant of the old fashioned saying.

      5. spaceboy761 says:

        I never actually understood the saying since I really like chopped liver. I guess “So what am I? Pate?” just doesn’t carry the same gravitas.

      6. SpyGlassez says:

        At least you’re not fucking chopped liver. That’s a whole different kettle of STDs.

    2. demoiselle says:

      Maybe he doesn’t know yet whether he wants to commit forever. Maybe he really is confused. And maybe the fact that he still can’t figure it out after three years means he’s just not that interested in this woman. In three years, you should know whether *this person* is inspiring enough to commit to.

      How long did it take others to realize that they had found someone who would make the commitment worth it? (This is a serious question, I’d like to hear from other posters.)

      Although my husband and I didn’t get engaged until 2.5 years in, we seriously told each other that we thought we might have found “the one” within four weeks. It was hurried a bit because we were both moving to different countries at the end of that four weeks and we had to decide whether to undertake a LDR. But we both already knew we’d probably be willing to *commit* for each other, if everything went well. And we told each other this before we had even said “I love you.” (Once again, due to our unusual circumstances).

      1. WatersEdge says:

        My husband had the same issues as the LW’s boyfriend (detailed above). We were engaged after 11 months and married 2 months later. He had major issues with monogamy from the start of the relationship, but he settled in pretty quickly and he made his vows with confidence. I think he still struggled with it after our wedding day a bit… even though he made the decision to commit and knew it was the best decision for him, he wasn’t sure that it was the most fun decision to give up all others. After a few months of marriage it’s even better, and he doesn’t talk about monogamy as a negative anymore, just a fact of life. According to him, he understands that it’s part of the deal of being in a relationship with me and it’s worth it to keep me (I said above that I could deal with 1-2 transgressions within a lifetime if I never knew about them… but if I found out it would be a huge issue involving months of crying, couples therapy, etc… he is absolutely not allowed to cheat. I don’t know how I reconcile the difference in my head). I agree that after 3 years if he is still struggling then maybe it’s time to leave.

      2. Quakergirl says:

        Really, really, not that long. When people ask me I say that I knew from our first date, and every day from then on was just a further confirmation of what I already knew. I know that’s not how it is for everyone, and I get that Quakerboy and I are freaks of nature (met when we were 14/15, started dating at 17/18, still together at 23/24). But I just don’t think it takes that long to know that you are particularly well-matched with another person. That you love and respect them, that you share life goals, ambitions, values, and interests. That you put their needs first and would do anything in your power to prevent harm from befalling them. That you view the world similarly. That you make a great team, whether you’re owning at family card night or making major life decisions together. That you want to come home to them every day because they’re your sense of calm and safety when life is just too much. That they make you the best version of yourself.

        In my opinion, if you’ve lived with someone for two years and you haven’t figured out yet whether your partner is enough for you forever, then they aren’t. When it’s right, it’s just not that difficult of a decision.

  24. What a cop-out line with “guys are different” I agree that people can have different views of sex, and what being faithful entails, but to say that guys are different just sounds like an excuse to me! I know plenty of guys, and girls that have cheated on their significant other so it seems to be a personal choice not something that is hard wired into a certain genders brain. You should definitely take your boyfriend for his word, and move on already, because you both seem to have the same view on what marriage means (you both think you should be faithful) and he is letting you know he can’t be faithful to you.

  25. By telling you all of this, I think from this point forward he will feel he has put his cards on the table and told you that he likely will cheat on you. And if in two years from now he actually does cheat on you, he would refer back to this conversation as “Well, I told you”.

    He’s telling you he’s not the monogomous type. Believe him!

  26. Jess of says:

    I’d love to hear more men chime in on this.

    I don’t disagree with what’s already been said about listening when someone reveals themself, etc. It could very well be that this man is letting her know, in his special way, that he’s not capable or interested in commitment (or perhaps HER).

    But, I DO know that many men struggle with the enormity of commitment. And not because they don’t want it but because they take the concept so very seriously. And many have to go through a soul searching phase where they pose these kind of questions and scenarios to themselves (“can I really live up to this contract?”).Doesn’t mean they don’t love their partners. It’s a rational process rather than an emotional one.

    Sometimes too its how MUCH they love their partner that raises the stakes on the importance of “succeeding” at commitment. I do wonder a little, if that is what this man is doing. Could it be fear and self-doubt rather than disrespect for monogamy or his partner?

    Again, not trying to make excuses for him or suggest this is the case for THIS guy. Just wanted to offer another way of looking at it.

    1. demoiselle says:

      Women have to do that soul-searching, too. And really, men get the better deal in marriage–I don’t have much sympathy for those who want to get the considerable rewards of a life-partner without giving her wishes respect.

      1. I don’t necessarily disagree with the thought that men get the better deal in marriage (especially in this day and age), but I was curious as to your reasoning behind this.

      2. WatersEdge says:

        Research shows a ton of physical and emotional health benefits when you compare unmarried men to married men. They live longer, have better blood pressure, lower risk of stroke/heart attack, less likely to be obese, lower levels of depression, that kind of thing (I am not 100% correct on these examples but you get the idea). None of these benefits exist for women.

      3. demoiselle says:

        WatersEdge has beat me to it. Men get far more out of marriage because when they get married they get a wife.

        Women get a husband, which often means a higher burden of responsibility: another person to support, clean for, cook for, emotionally and sexually tend to, another person’s family to keep track of, another person’s job to promote and prioritize (often at the expense of her own), another person to get to the dentist and the doctor. Even when both partners intend to be egalitarian, there is still usually a lot more energy going from the wife to the husband’s physical and emotional well-being than vice-versa.

        That’s why men do a lot better when married than when not. Why male professors who are married get tenure easier than ones who are single, while married female professors (especially when there are kids, too) struggle to do the same. That’s why divorced and single women often feel happier than married ones, while single men are less happy than married men.

        Even when a marriage is bad, a man gets a lot of incidental benefits. That’s probably why women initiate divorce far more often.

        This guy wants all the benefits of a girlfriend or wife, but without having to meet her stated need for monogamy. I don’t think much of him for that. Instead, he should find someone who is equally ready to share him. But I bet that he wouldn’t get as sweet a deal from a woman who was less committed to him.

      4. I certainly agree with your points. I think these have all become even more prominent as women enter the work force (which, I 100% support, and am currently pursuing a graduate degree myself). Where I live, men do not take on more of the household burdens now that their wives work. Their wives work, AND still do all the other stuff. So the previous benefit that women received from marriage (monetary support) does not apply to the women I know, and they are still taking on all the old burdens. I feel that one of the reasons for the high divorce rate is that the nuclear family has not changed to fit the working mother. The men I see in the 40s and 50s follow the mold of marriage established by their parents, but it is becoming less sustainable.
        I feel the need to add that I am NOT anti-marriage. I just don’t want a marriage like that of my mother and her peers.

      5. Jess of says:

        And yet, men are the ones (or so we’re told) that tend to drag their feet when it comes to marriage. The irony is maddening!

      6. demoiselle says:

        I’m not sure that what we’re told is necessarily the truth … I wonder what studies exist about the eagerness of men to marry vs. the eagerness of women to marry. I’ll be that–in the abstract at least–young, single men are more open and excited about the idea of getting married than young, single women.

        However, on an individual level social pressures might tend to make women push for her partner to commit (validating her, shutting up her parents or friends, saving her womb from ‘shriveling with age’) while encouraging the guy to drag his feet (maybe he’ll get a better deal from someone else later on, the longer she waits for him, the more powerful he feels, he gets to enjoy himself for fifteen years then marry a younger woman who looks up to him, etc).

      7. Jess of says:

        And yet, men are the ones (or so we’re told) that tend to drag their feet when it comes to marriage. The irony is maddening!

    2. SpyGlassez says:

      The BF and I had that conversation a while back, when we were in the exclusive-but-not-yet-talking-future phase. I had once made a comment about loving him “forever” and that had sparked each of us talking about “forever.” He was worried because you “can’t predict how long you have or what the future holds” and I reassured him that I meant whatever future there was for us. He and I both came from families where marriages are strong and you work through problems (one divorce in my extended family — by which I mean aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents/etc — and one or two in his). For him, marriage and commitment meant (and mean) SO MUCH that he didn’t want to make a mistake.

  27. Maggie Mae says:

    I believe it comes down to treating yourself like a prized possession. If you act like you’re worth the commitment, he’ll believe it.

    Agreeing with napoleon1066, you shouldn’t move in with him. He needs to see that there’s only two options. With you or without you. He doesn’t get the option of having his cake and eating it too.

  28. The “I might not be able to help myself from sleeping with other women” is a red herring. He knows where you want to go in this relationship and he doesn’t want to go there, so he throws up this hypothetical future situation to put the brakes on your roll. Things are good between you right now and he doesn’t want to disturb his comfy life, or better said, hasn’t seen anything else out there that has motivated him to disturb his comfy life, but don’t think this guy is committed to you – he isn’t. Please move into your own place and get busy with your own life, give him enough rope and see what he does with it.

  29. silver_dragon_girl says:

    I’m 90% sure that this translates directly to, “I’m not sure if I want to marry you or not.” I would advise you to make your decisions based on that statement.

  30. Turtledove says:

    I don’t know, I think I’m with Napoleon on this. If this is the first time you’ve mentioned marriage, he could easily be freaking out. He’s thinking, “Oh my god, oh my god, she wants to get m-m-m-MARRIED! What do I do? What do I say? Oh my god! Can I get married? What if I can’t? What if I can’t keep it in my pants and I wind up divorced and then she’s gone and can I handle it? Oh, my god oh my god oh my god.” It just takes some guys that way– I think society teaches them that marriage is this big scary thing and that they’re supposed to be afraid of it. Only the LW can parse out if he’s a genuinely good guy having a panic attack and some verbal diarrhea or if he’s just not interested in being monogamous for the rest of his life. Either way, the LW should move out on her own. If she strongly suspects the first or if she’s not ready to let go of the relationship, it may be wise to set a time limit, say 3 to 6 months and then revisit the topic when they’ve had some time alone to really think about it. If, after some time apart and a little perspective, he still feels the same or she decides that she’s happier without him then it’s time to MOA.

    1. I don’t know. He’s 34 years old, not 18. After 3 years of dating and 2 years of living together he should at least have an idea on his feeling about marriage and commitment.

      1. My husband didn’t. His parents divorced when he was 11 and it affected him deeply, and his brother was going through a very bad divorce when we first started talking about marriage. He was absolutely terrified, and we spent about a year with him knowing that I wanted to get married to him, but him not being able to take that step. I was broken-hearted and ready to leave him. I just eventually told him that I needed to know whether or not he wanted to get married, so that I could decide what I should do. I told him it’s his choice to make – the rest of his life with me, or the rest of his life without me. Totally up to him, but he had to choose one. Luckily for me, he proposed not long after (I had actually given myself a deadline of about 3 months and then I would break up with him if nothing had changed). After he proposed, he was a different guy – so excited and happy, not stressed out and terrified of it anymore. He was really into the wedding planning too. I think for some men they really are just scared, but once they bite the bullet and make the decision, they’re happy (as long as they make the right decision, I guess).

        Oh, and my point was that my husband was 34 at the time this happened. I asked him how it was possible that he never figured out before then whether he wanted to get married, and he just said he never thought about it. My guess is that he just avoided ever thinking about it, since it was something he was scared of, and there had really been no need to think about it until I pushed him to do so.

      2. moonflowers says:

        There’s some research out there that shows that boys who witness their fathers going through a divorce grow up to be extra afraid of marriage, and are more likely to be jaded about the whole idea of commitment. I’m not sure why it is, but divorce seems to affect men more than women.

  31. So, he isn’t dumping you for another woman, but he would take a firm offer from a willing one, but he would stay with you! See, he cares! Oh, and he’s not gonna marry you, so that way he wont feel as guilty when some woman does offer him sex. But its not his fault, because he’s a man. You just wouldn’t understand. But he’s not gonna leave you! Hey, isn’t that romantic? Like a f*ckin fairy tale!

  32. Quakergirl says:

    It isn’t that he can’t remain faithful, it’s that he’s not willing to. That’s fine, and good for him for admitting that monogamy may not be for him. But if monogamy is something you want, move on, sister, because he’s made it pretty clear that he doesn’t want the same thing.

    What I think is a bit of a cop-out though, is that he thinks it’s something about men as opposed to something about himself. Not all men are incapable of maintaining a monogamous relationship– some men want them and commit to them completely. Likewise, there are men and women who never desired monogamy and don’t seek monogamous relationships. Individuals desire all sorts of different relationship models regardless of their gender. The faster he realizes that and stops blaming his Y chromosome, the more likely he’s going to be to find someone with similar desires. And the faster you realize this, the more likely you’re going to be to see that this is just not the guy for you.

    1. This point has been made a few times, and I definitely agree. I feel like society provides men with this one-size-fits-all excuse for certain sexual behavior that prevents them from confronting their genuine thoughts. Not all men take advantage of it, but far too many do. It would be like me saying, “I just feel like being an emotional bitch today to everyone! I can’t help it! I’m a woman! Just the way I’m made!” Not okay.

    2. “It isn’t that he can’t remain faithful, it’s that he’s not willing to.”
      Exactly! Cheating is a choice.
      Totally off topic, but when dealing with choices – you can’t choose to be gay. You do choose to become a drug addict. You do choose to cheat.

      We’re all making so many assumptions here. I wonder what the LW’s boyfriend would think if he came across this thread.

  33. MsMisery82 says:

    Bah. “Guys” may be “different” about a lot of things, but that’s just his cop-out. Having a penis or not being able to tell plum from fuchsia doesn’t mean give him a golden ticket, and to paint an entire gender with the same negative brush is sexist, even if you’re doing it to your own. Thank him for his wonderful years of service and give him his pink-slip.

    1. I agree!

      Its a sexist excuse to allow men to do what they want, when they want without having to think of the consequences of their actions. I know plenty of women who could give any guy a run for his money as far as libido is concerned-and havent cheated on their SO.

      Grr. Makes me so mad!

  34. My 2c.

    I would tell him: honey, if you don’t want to cheat on me, how about you break up with me before you stick it into someone else? Call me before you want to do the deed, and I will be out of your life, no questions asked.

    I really wonder what guy will throw away the good things he has at home for a one-night stand. (I haven’t had any one-night stands, but I think I can compare them with the first time you have sex with someone else. It’s not that great, really. It does get a lot better over time.) So who’d be willing to risk great sex for a lousy one-night stand? Someone who wants out of the relationship.

    Usually, when people are in otherwise good relationships, I am reluctant to say MOA. But if the LW’s goal is to get married, eventually, it looks like the boyfriend is not headed in that direction. Maybe he needs more time to figure things out and get used to the idea? LW, figure out how much more time you are comfortable with giving him.
    (But if he doesn’t know after 3.5 years though, it’s unlikely he’ll change his mind).
    And don’t give him any ultimatums. You can’t make people change their mind. If they don’t want to change and they do what you want them to do, they’ll end up resenting you for it.
    If he doesn’t see you in his life for the rest of time, then you have to accept that. Which is very very hard to do.
    Good luck!

  35. He is outright telling you that he will cheat on you. Listen.

  36. Get out Out OUT!!!

    Although any man who says that he hasnt cheated “yet” I wouldnt be inclined to believe in the first place, I do see him waving his colours at full mast when he says he cant be faithful!

    Relationships are a lot of work, and people do grow and change-I am sorry if this sounds rude, but hes a grown-ass man! If he hasnt had sex with enough women at 34 years old to feel satisfied in a fufilling relationship with you, why should you hang around and wait for the other shoe to drop??

    Please dont waste your time waiting for him to be unfaithful to you!

  37. Ha ha ha! Men are “different about sex”?! They magically cannot resist when a woman makes it clear that they are willing? What a crock of shit. Honey, what he is doing is feeding you a line to see if you are okay with him cheating on you at random. Men CAN and DO control those urges. Otherwise they would be humping anything and everything in public like dogs at the park.

    Drop him like the bad habit he is and tell him that you have more respect for yourself than he has for you. And sweetie, get yourself an STD check. This was also probably a hint that he HAS cheated before.

  38. Since there are 162 comments I am sure somebody somewhere has already covered this, but your boyfriend is telling you he doesn’t want to be with you. Maybe right now it’s convenient and good and all for him, but he is letting you know that he is not interested in the long haul. Or he is giving himself an out for cheating in the future. When you love someone and want to be with them, you want to be with them, you don’t have one foot already out the door with that whole “men are different” BS.

  39. I don’t disagree with the overwhelming majority here, that this guy is probably acting lame and non-committal, and the LW may very well need to consider leaving him. *However*, just to add some thoughts to the other side of the argument… my boyfriend and I tend to have conversations that are very stream-of-thought. Within the confines of a loving bond and a relationship we both very much want and are very much committed to, we have made extremely honest admissions to each other that, when framed improperly and without perspective, I think could be interpreted to the casual observer to be a “MOA!!” situation. But context makes all the difference.

    For example, if my boyfriend mentions in one conversation that he’s not sure if he wants to have kids, I could freak out and write to Wendy saying “Omg I want kids and he doesn’t!” And then the comments would tell me to MOA because we want different things. All the while, in reality, he just articulated that thought as he was having it, in an extremely honest fashion. And when it comes down to it, he would be happy having kids. He just had to work things through in his head first. Thinking, rational people often have reasonable doubts about big life decisions like marriage and kids. If you never question your ability to be monogamous FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, then you are either very lucky to be so super sure of what you want, or you’re in denial about how big of a commitment that really is, or you just don’t think about stuff that much. I definitely do not fall into that last category. And I don’t think I’d want to.

    So to reiterate, I’m not disagreeing with the majority sentiment here. But I did want to note for the record, that there are some issues of context that I’m not sure have been considered. I can’t tell from this letter exactly what those would be, if any. Only the letter writer knows for sure. It’s very possible this guy is a totally sexist sleaze bucket, but I’m not sure we have enough information to say that for sure.

  40. Black Iris says:

    If a woman offered sex to your boyfriend, but her husband was outside the door with a shotgun, would your boyfriend be able to turn her down?

    Then he can be faithful to you.

    I think he truly loves you and wants to keep you. He just doesn’t want to make the commitment you want. You have to decide if that’s enough for you.

    Also, I’m wondering why he suddenly says this. I have a hard time believing that he was faithful. If he was, could there be someone he’s interested in and hoping to cheat with?

    It is possible that he does not mean to cheat, he is just saying it could happen sometime and doesn’t want to make a promise. Otherwise, I think you may need to tell him you are looking for a different kind of relationship, no matter how much you love him.

  41. Hello,

    I’m male, 25, single but dating my g/f (3 years), never cheated, love her VERY much, best girl I’ve ever met (puts me before her even), changed me for better, she’s my best friend and etc etc…I am going through what seems to be very similar situation and explanation “don’t trust myself in the long run.”

    In my opinion, this man you speak of is doing what he feels is the best decision out of many thoughts I’m sure he’s had before actually admitting this to you. I think that although he knows those words will hurt you, and arguments will arise that he doesn’t wish to get into, he’s willing to address an issue that he feels cannot be avoided by just moving on with life as if nothing is happening, and not acting like everything will just be okay. I don’t agree with others’ thoughts that this is a cop out for cheating later on, I think he loves you very much, and doesn’t want to hurt you even more so later on in life, as well as wasting your time. This is why he’s telling you, before a long story becomes a novel.

    I had this talk with my girlfriend last night, and it hurts a lot…trust me. It’s not the case that I will go out and do something if I’m alone with a girl, but I don’t feel that I’m “tamed” (for lack of a better word) enough to not have thoughts about potential chances and resist them in the long run. Yes, men go through “wild” stages in their life, some longer than others. I know I’m stupid for not staying with this perfect girl, but I realize that I haven’t matured enough to make “the” intelligent decision instead of giving in to emotional temptations.  (My g/f thinks this is because she pulled me out and changed my life-style before I finished experiencing it)

    Should you let him go? Yes, I think the best thing to do at this point is try to move on with your life as much as it hurts. Guys are only puzzles when we try to work around the truth in attempt to avoid arguments and addressing issues. When the truth finally comes out, listen to us because this is exactly how we feel-no puzzles, other intentions or meanings. I understand that you’re heart broken by what he told you, but one should seriously consider the fact that he “claims” he didn’t cheat on you, but rather brought this to your attention ahead of time before those temptations become reality.

    I did not say that the statement of this topic is excusable. I’m simply providing a man’s point of view on a topic that has many replies from females who use their “female experiences” as their knowledge base for input. I hope you have a great life, and I hope this reply helps you even one bit.

    Thank you,

  42. Hi I am a communications major and one of the issues we unravel is gender and sex differences….it is a fact that men and women are the same when it comes to sexual drive and keeping the species going….what is different is the rules created by “men” are given approval to not be faithful….”it is in us” crap….nope sorry guys, gig is UP…we all have it in us…but women have been suppressd by a man’s world…there are expections; case in point there is a little town in mexico where the women are first class and men second, somehow they have passed the world norm…don’t get me wrong, I am not a feminist in nature, BUT I do believe in evolved humaness (spirituality) and equality…sorry for the typos writing fast, if you wish for me to elaborate, I will. M

  43. My fiance recently admitted to two instances where he messed around about a year ago (no sex) and we tried to work on it but he later that he doesn’t think he could say no to an opportunity if it came up again. We have been together for 10 years and the man is 42. He is seriously leaving everything and taking his personal items to be able to live this free lifestyle. Is this a mid life crisis or is he just over being with the same woman for so long. He tells me I am perfect and that I am everything he wants. I am so confused.

  44. The Truth Teller says:

    The real problem here is that many women nowadays just can’t be faithful to just only one man since they have that desire to go out and cheat all the time since unfortunately many of us good innocent men have been there and done that already.

    1. Been where and done what?

  45. High Libido Guy says:

    I (29) am similar to the OPs boyfriend. I have been with my girlfriend (25) for two and a half years. I love sex and imagining only having sex with one woman for life depresses me thoroughly. I think I would actually end up resenting her over time if I couldn’t.

    Over the last two and a half years I have had 5 or 6 conversations with her about how I am the type of guy susceptible to cheating. I have not had sexual contact with anyone else during our relationship, but have really struggled with it. She has told me she sensed this about me, and last time we spoke about it she said she wasn’t worried anymore, but if anything did happen she didn’t want to know about it. I find this a relief but I still feel guilty when I think about it. I love her very much and want to spend my life with her, and if I had a switch to turn off sexual desire for other women I would flick it.

    I would have broken up with her if she told me she doesn’t want me to stray, (she has never said this.). I will probably have sex with another women at some point. Maybe I will try using a prostitute so it is more discrete (as she told me she doesn’t want to know), but that feels seedy to me. I am also scared that I would pass her an STD, and I would feel very ashamed of myself if I did that. OPs boyfriend may be like me…

    I should also note that I wouldn’t want an open relationship with my gf, if she wanted to have sex with someone else herself the only way I would accept it would be same room swinging (I would actually be happy with this if it didn’t affect our relationship, I just don’t think most women can do it without it having a major negative impact on their relationship), she has expressed no desire for this though.

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