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#596: There Are More Dudes on Heaven And Earth Than Are Dreamt Of In Your Philosophy

Dear Captain,

I couldn’t find a similar story, and I don’t know how strong a bro-relation is, so I’ve been quite confused for a while. The history about this story is bigger, but I only want to point out the main things. This is my story:

It all started a year ago, I met this guy Jimmy, which I fell in love with. We became friends. I gathered my courage and confessed to him. The response I got was not what I expected… His reply was just we’ll see what happens. After a month he didn’t took the effort to make it work. We didn’t saw each other at all. For me it was pretty clear that he didn’t wanted to start something with me.

A month later I went to a party at his house. For me this party was the opportunity to find out whether I still had feelings for him. At this party we all drank a little too much and a friend of him, Jason brought me home. I think you can already predict what happened. We kissed, nothing bad yet, except for the fact that this guy has a girlfriend…The next day, when we got sober I talked with Jason, and we decided it was a mistake and never mention it again. I felt horrible for making him cheat, and was so confused about my feelings. So it was easier for me to not seeing them both for a while.

A few weeks later, Jason contacted me. He wanted to see me and I agreed to it. I think I was being naïve, for not seeing what he wanted and we went a step further. His girlfriend still didn’t know anything about it.

A week later I met up with Jimmy at his house. Jason was there too. We talked about cheating and Jimmy hated people who were cheating, he couldn’t understand why someone would do that. At the end of the night he brought me home. We talked and I wanted to know what I meant to him. He confessed that he didn’t want a relationship right now. His ambitions are too big to settle down at this moment, but his feelings towards me can still go any direction. So my secret affair with Jason continued. After a month he ended it all. He confessed our affair to his girlfriend, and he wants to stay with her.

Months passed by without seeing them both, until yesterday. I went to Jimmy’s house, where they both were. The weird thing is that it didn’t felt awkward at all, sitting between them. For all I could say, I got the feeling that Jimmy was hitting on me. For what reason I don’t know, did Jason told him anything? Or is he finally ready to settle down? Just all those assumptions, makes me insecure.

Also I just don’t know what to do if I ever get serious with Jimmy. Am I obligated to tell him about Jason? I still have a weakness for Jimmy, but I don’t know if he can ever accept me for sleeping with Jason and if I would damage his friendship with him.

Dear Letter Writer,

Let me sum up the dudes you are dealing with now:

  • Confused cheater guy (Jason).
  • Angry guy who hates cheaters and who told you repeatedly that he doesn’t want to be with you (Jimmy).
  • Two dudes who withdraw when you are direct about what you want, but then circle back around to hit on you in confusing ways when it’s convenient for them (Both of them).

Let me sum up the kind of partner you deserve:

  • Dudes who enthusiastically want to be with you.
  • Dudes who are as direct as you are about their desires.
  • Dudes who don’t already have girlfriends.
  • Dudes who will not show undue interest in your past sex life or shame you about it in any way.
  • Dudes who don’t make you feel constantly anxious and insecure.

I think your instincts are telling you something important about how Jimmy is likely to react to finding out about your dalliance with Jason. Right now you are seeing it through a lens of “trying to deserve Jimmy,” so your reaction is all “Oh no, I ruined it” because you are anticipating the slut-shaming that could come your way if he blames you for what happened (even though his friend, the one with the girlfriend, participated fully in things and escalated them later). The way you describe Jimmy, and the subject line of your email “bros before hos,” make it very easy for me to imagine him bringing up the time you slept with Jason every single time it’s convenient for him, like, when he feels insecure or when you disagree about something and he wants to put you in your place. I think the dynamic between you and Jimmy is one where you audition for his affection and he is the decider – “not right now, doesn’t fit in with his ambitions, not really feeling it” – and I understand why information like this feels like an unfair weight on the scales. Let’s be clear: You don’t seem proud of what went down with Jason, and you may have some murky karma as far as Jason’s girlfriend is concerned, or with yourself and your own ethics around cheating, but you were single when all this was going on and you owe Jimmy jack shit in terms of explanations or apologies. If he were to bring it up in a negative light you would be justified in saying “That is ancient history and also what is your point?” 

I understand not wanting to stir the pot when things are fun and chill and hopeful again, but I don’t think this thing with Jimmy is going to work out. Not because of Jason, or because you ruined it, but because Jimmy has never really been all that into you and I think this past year has been an exercise in figuring out how little you can settle for. The part of you that asks “Is this person treating me right? Will this relationship meet my needs?” has gone quiet. With all the love in the world, I recommend that you detox from both of these dudes, Letter Writer, until that part of you wakes up and flexes its muscles again. There are better partners out there for you, and you’ll know them when you meet them because they will make sure you know how they feel about you and you won’t have to strategize or walk on eggshells in order to be with them. They’ll have more for you than on-again, off-again scraps. Believe it.

 

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110 comments
  1. Another J Name said:

    Gender of the LW not specified – as it should be, but TBH, this story is much less cliche “dude-bro” if LW is also a dude.

    • JenniferP said:

      Can you explain? I do not follow.

  2. duck-billed placelot said:

    OH, LW. Please, please do yourself a favor and decide to date outside this circle. I know it feels like Jimmy is leaving a door open for the two of you, but take the soft no for the no it is. Even if he were trying to leave the door open, you don’t want that. You want some one who is fascinated by you, who wants you the way you want him. Hitting redial on a feelings conversation that has ended the same way twice is only going to make a friendship between the two of you impossible. Hang up this particular phone, ok?

  3. boutet said:

    Oh yes, this is good advice. The time I have wasted hovering around guys who were flirty and into me… up until the point of actually having a relationship with me. Guys who wanted the benefits of relationships without offering any return benefits (including emotional and supportive, not only physical).
    I think the big shiny green flag with my husband is that he usually called me first after a date. I would be dwelling on how long to wait and am I a bother and I shouldn’t call yet maybe in two days… and then he would just call. He wanted to talk to me, so he made effort to talk to me. It was a revelation.

  4. timemakesfoolsofusall said:

    LW, as usual the Captain is super spot on. One additional thing stood out at me from your letter: “His ambitions are too big to settle down at this moment . . . .” I can understand saying “I’m focusing on other things/my career/my passion rather than relationships right now,” but I think you deserve someone who doesn’t demean you by saying you’re too small-time to fit into his grand life plan.

    • Lilith Gothica said:

      “I think you deserve someone who doesn’t demean you by saying you’re too small-time to fit into his grand life plan.”

      One million times agreed!

  5. Octoplus said:

    I read this first as LW being a man, which was a more complicated story, but the second time as LW being a woman.

    • JenniferP said:

      I still don’t follow. Why is that necessarily more complicated?

      • Octoplus said:

        Which part?

        • JenniferP said:

          Why is it necessarily more complicated if everyone is gay? The relationships don’t really change.

          • octoplus said:

            I think the advice would be exactly the same. I was originally trying to explain where Another J Name seemed to be coming from. I think there could be internalized homophobia going on, too, if it had been all men.

          • Another J Name said:

            Not more complicated, just less cliche of dude-bro is there is a dude with a girlfriend kissing and otherwise hooking up with LW.

            It doesn’t change the effectiveness of the advice, which is excellent as always, but the concerted lack of identifiers made me read it in both ways. Just an observation, didn’t mean to be inappropriate!

      • Jill said:

        I also read this as LW being male. Something about the “bro-relation” bit? Reading it that way does not change the soundness of the advice, which is spot on, but it does give us more to consider.

        • JenniferP said:

          Okay? I also don’t know what gender the LW is. I’d like the referendum on that to stop now.

          • piny1 said:

            Whatever the LW’s gender – and even in situations where closeting/homophobia is an issue – the advice would be the same: get out of these toxic relationships with people who treat you mean and go find someone who treats you good, LW. And don’t spend any more time managing these dudes’ issues, because whatever they are, they aren’t yours.

  6. gallantqueer said:

    LW, just quick thought! I’ve done alot of dating. Like January 2010 to March 2014 I must have gone through 8 breakups. I’m now with two partners who are both awesome. My live in partner and I have a running icky romance talk gag where we basically tell one another that the way we ended up with one another was by being ridiculous picky, and I believe it. There are totally people who you don’t have weird gut feelings about it.

  7. human said:

    Hey LW, you sound way awesomer than this Jimmy dude. I think you’ll probably find someone awesome who thinks you are awesome. But even if you don’t, you’ll be there being awesome! While he’s just there being meh. So you win! (Not that it’s a contest, but sometimes these things help.)

  8. LW, great news! There are seven billion people on the planet. While this is pretty devastating environmentally, it means OkCupid is full of guys not named Jason or Jimmy! People who are in a place to have a relationship! People who spent have girlfriends! The world is your oyster! Life is like a box of chocolates – it’s ok to put the ones you’ve licked and decided you don’t like back!

    • I actually know a fair number of Jasons and Jimmys who would never do this sort of thing! If you can’t find guys with different names, at least get some upgraded versions that treat you like you deserve LW!

    • Laughing Giraffe said:

      Life is like a box of chocolates – it’s ok to put the ones you’ve licked and decided you don’t like back!
      I suspect this is a mistake, but if not, please remind me never to share a box of chocolates with you. :P
      Otherwise you are spot-on. :)

  9. Katherino said:

    “I think this past year has been an exercise in figuring out how little you can settle for. The part of you that asks “Is this person treating me right? Will this relationship meet my needs?” has gone quiet.”

    This says everything about 2013 for me. Still getting over it and through it, but I wish there had been someone around to say this to me this time last year! I did everything I possibly could to convince myself that the little I was getting from this guy was enough for me, and then wondering why I acted like a crazed animal most of the time – that was my brain saying “Hey, this is wrong for you and you are fighting a battle you will not win!”. Fuck 2013, seriously.

  10. Dear LW:

    The Captain’s advice to seek greener pastures is spot on.

    Here’s my take on it.
    Jason and Jimmy (as you paint them) are both worthless to you.

    Jason is probably worthless to anyone, as he cheats on his steady. Jimmy isn’t really much better, as he’s willing to say to a friend (you) that he doesn’t think you fit in with his ambitions.

    Neither of them want you for a serious relationship.

    But you- you’re brave and tell people how you feel and try to remain friends after rejection and are a good person. So you deserve a man who wants you and is will tell you and doesn’t leave you wondering if you can take scraps from him

  11. VelvetMorning said:

    “I felt horrible for making him cheat”

    My friend, unless there’s a lot of extraneous, incredibly important info that you have not included which would change the tone of the letter by a thousandfold, you did not make Jason cheat. Nope. Nope nope nope nope. He CHOSE his actions. You can own your own doings, and feel badly about them after the fact, but please don’t feel you have to shoulder Jason’s rather despicable “Why Did You Make Me Do That???” load, too. And if he ever suggested that to you, then I hope you recognise how side-eyeable this response from him is, in retrospect!

    • Yes! LW, unless you held a gun to his head and said “cheat or you die!” he’s responsible for what he did. It also kind of worries me that the “making him cheat” part came after the “I’d had a drink, he took me home, we kissed” part. If he was sober enough to drive you home, and you’d had enough to drink that you needed a lift it seems to me that there was some unevenness there? Like, you might have been less self-possessed at the time than he was? I don’t know, but from the way you phrased it in your letter, it seems sort of dodgy to me.
      Which is all to say: everyone here is right. These guys sound like they see you as more of a means to an end than an equal human person. You deserve someone who treats you like a person, who never makes you feel bad or unworthy or confused. You deserve someone who is as cool as you, and these two do not sound like they are at all.

      • MK said:

        If I understand what the LW said correctly, she/he and Jason didn’t have sex on the night she/he got a lift home from Jason. Their affair seems to have started after he contacted her at a later date.

        • kanel said:

          Not quite sure what you’re getting at in your comment, but if you mean that it wasn’t cheating because they only kissed, that’s something that people feel different ways about, but most monogamous people I know would expect their partner to not kiss other people.

      • Suzy said:

        Look, men aren’t brainless animals driven by their dicks. You didn’t make him cheat. This kind of attitude drives me nuts. You were single, he was the one with the girlfriend, and he made the choice that sticking his dick in you was more important than that. “But, but she attacked me with her vagina.” No.

    • Erin said:

      Yeah, caught that too. Yes, if you wouldn’t have been there, he would not have cheated with you. But you certainly did not “make” him cheat – if you haven’t left anything important out – especially as he called you back before you two went further. Sounds like agency to me.

    • Megan M. said:

      Yes, I wanted to point this out, too, LW. You did not “make” this guy cheat and you should not be assuming 100% of the responsibility and guilt for what happened between the two of you. I really hope that he hasn’t implied that this is somehow all your fault (even if he “joked” that it was because “you’re so irresistible” or something – UGH. Don’t let him pass responsibility like that!)

      I don’t know these two guys but I don’t like the vibe either of them seem to be giving out. I think you would benefit from hanging out with them and caring about what they think MUCH less, and instead finding other, more respectful, mature, cool people to hang with instead.

      • LW certainly did not make Jason cheat. Sounds like he was duplicitous.
        However, years ago I was with someone who cheated on his partner with me. How did it end? they split up, but while we were together he openly cried during songs that reminded him of her (awkward!) and then we ended when, surprise surprise, he cheated on me with someone he swore he wasnt into. Also a J!

        As for Jimmy, LW is into him but sad to say he isnt into LW. You also want to avoid any trophy gathering and contests between them, which I felt did happen between my J and his friend who both played for me.

        LW, if I was you I wouldnt respect myself even if I did get with either guy. Please, let it go – I know that isnt easy, but it is necessary – and find someone who will desire and prioritise you & make you feel special.

    • thebearpelt said:

      Exactly! No one “makes” anyone else cheat, really. (I think if that were actually true, it would be more akin to rape, actually.)

    • YES. That jumped out at me too. LW, it’s okay to experience guilt or conflicted feelings about an interlude with someone who’s attached. But please never BLAME yourself for “making” anyone cheat. It sounds like there were two consenting adults present that night, and he made his own choices just as you did. As my Grandma always said, “Don’t borrow trouble!” You’re only responsible for what YOU do. Full stop. *Jedi hugs*

  12. HostaPasta said:

    LW, neither of these guys is good for you. Jason is running around on someone who expects monogamy, and it’s not fair to lie to a partner about something they feel is important. He’s making you feel secret and small and scuzzy, and that’s also not something good people do to their sexual partners, and on top of that, he’s pouring all the guilt onto you, like you hypnotized him into bed.

    Jim is also not a good guy for you. He says he doesn’t want a relationship, but instead of leaving it at that, he adds qualifiers that you can stick your hopes on – not right now, his feelings can go in any direction, maybe someday. This is either oblivious or manipulative in him, and in either case, he’s not someone who’s going to be healthy for you.

    Please listen to the Cap and back away.

    • JenniferP said:

      Not wanting to date the LW is fine (lots of people don’t want to date other people, and say so, and that does not make them bad people at all), but as you correctly identify, it feels like Jim wants to keep the LW around as an option for when he feels like it and that is oogy.

      • HostaPasta said:

        Yes, exactly! I am getting many icky vibes. I could easily see it going from “I don’t want you right now” to “I do want you! Tonight. But in the morning….not so much. I’m complicated! Feelings are hard! I never know where they’ll go. Maybe later I’ll want you again. Maybe not. But keep hoping! Stick around, maybe I’ll change my mind, again! For a little while, at least.”

        • ratminx said:

          I am sitting here yelling “OH MY GOD!” with face in hands because this is all exactly what I just got done putting myself through for the last six months with someone. “I don’t know how I’ll feel a year from now, so maybe, but right now, no, but who knows…” It’s TOTALLY oogy. And it brings to mind Maya Angelou’s wise words, ““Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”

          • Laughing Giraffe said:

            Someone I know got dumped with the line, “Well, I don’t want to be with you now, because you want commitment and all that, but give me some time to sow my wild oats and stuff and we’ll be together later.” (In fairness, this person was a good bit younger than my acquaintance and “I don’t want to settle down with you for life” is a perfectly good reason to break up with someone.) I stopped talking to him about two years ago, not least because when I told him that she wasn’t coming back, he wouldn’t listen. He’s still waiting for all I know.

          • There’s more of them?! A male acquaintance dated a girl for a while, then had this convo: “you’ve slept with other guys and I was a virgin when we met therefore I’m entitled to sleeping around as much as YOU have. But then I totally want to continue dating. You’ll wait for me, right?”

            Sadly, she did.

          • Laughing Giraffe: Hope your friend sent him a copy of that Beautiful South song :)

        • heffalumps said:

          yyyyeeeeeppp. that shit kept me on a line for over a year. it’s NEVER worth it. :|

      • Courtney said:

        Sing it with me:

        “I am not your consolation prize”

  13. “His ambitions are too big to settle down at this moment!”

    oh my gravy, LW. Think about the implications of this. There is no situation, no computation, no algebraic wrangling in which this relationship is setting you up to feel successful, happy and desired. There are, however, a lot of equations that solve for you being really badly used.

  14. misspiggy said:

    In addition to all the excellent advice, LW, do you think perhaps all Jimmy wants from you is attention and ego-stroking and the feeling that he is desirable? Assuming you want more than that, I don’t think he is the one to give it to you. If he had been willing to give you more, my feeling is he would have done so already.

    • Ah yes, the Pantsfriend with No Benefits situation.

      *I want all the emotional benefits of having a pantsfriend but none of the payment. So I shall keep you by my side and be wishywashy on the subject of ‘The Future.’ You are interested in me and therefore you will play along too. Muahaha.*

      LW sounds like a very empathetic person, pulling on the insecurities and failings of Jason and the massive-destiny of Jimmy (what is he, an astronaut on the Mars mission?) on to LW-self, so that Jason and Jimmy don’t have to worry their pretty little heads about all that emotional pain. LW probably doesn’t realize LW is doing it, likely habit. It’s a great habit, to be fair, in a mutual relationship. It’s a real sign of a good friend/pantsfriend/family member to be able to care about the other person as if they were you. But it must must must have mutuality to be healthy. Otherwise, the above situation occurs.

      Jimmy and Jason both are getting stuff out of their relationships with you, LW. Are you getting anything other than wisps of air?

  15. H.Regalis said:

    I haven’t read this post yet, but the title instantly made me smile. Thank you ^_^

  16. Write both of these dudes off as sexual/romantic partners AND friends. Seriously. Don’t kiss them, don’t hang out at their house, don’t talk to them, don’t be in the same room as them. They aren’t into you, they don’t respect you and they just aren’t good people. Nothing you do can change that, so better to stay the fuck away and meet cooler humans.

  17. One thing I forgot to say, LW is that Jimmy has told you he’s not interested. You’ve chosen to hear “maybe later” as a shy yes, but it’s a soft no.
    Please ignore what you now perceive as flirtatiousness. Please drop them both.

  18. MK said:

    I have to say I got a rather different impression of the situation from what LW says.

    My take is that the LW told Jimmy she/he wanted a relationship and Jimmy was dubious: he didn’t rule it out, but didn’t put any effort into it either. That might be because a) he just wasn’t that into the LW and/or b) he wasn’t interested, but is too much of a wimp to reject the LW cleanly. Then what happens is:

    “At the end of the night he brought me home. We talked and I wanted to know what I meant to him. He confessed that he didn’t want a relationship right now. His ambitions are too big to settle down at this moment, but his feelings towards me can still go any direction.”

    I think it would be interested to know who initiated this talk. Why did they talk, since the situation was apparently resolved with the LW deciding that, since Jimmy wasn’t making an effort, they should remain friends? If it was Jimmy who rekindled the issue, I have to agree with everyone else: he seems to want to keep the LW as an option in case he changes his mind. If it was the LW trying to get a different answer than before, the whole “my ambitions are too big to settle down” spiel might be a case of Jimmy feeilng cornered. In which case the LW should seriously consider if the “feeling” that Jimmy is now hitting on her/him is actually happening or just wishful thinking.

    (By the way, if the guy actually said this, he is full of it. The majority of world leaders and self-made millionaires are married with children. And a singificant number of them didn’t wait to be elected Prime Minister or make the Fortune 500 List before having a personal life. Since I don’t get the impression that the LW is demanding marriage/children right now, I fail to see how having a loving, supportive girlfriend will hinder Jimmy’s ambitions)

    Also, I find that the fact that the LW knows about Jimmy’s attitude towards cheating makes a future relationship a bit complicated. No, the LW is not accountable to Jimmy about what she did in the past. But if she/he knows that Jimmy would never date someone who had cheated and she/he starts a relationship with him, well, that’s not the most honest way to be with someone. What I find totally confusing is that the LW seems to imply that Jimmy is hitting on her because Jason told him something. Told him what? And why would it make him want to hit on the LW?

    As far as Jason goes, I agree with everyone else: the guy cheated on his girlfriend with the LW and is almost certainly trying to shift the blame on the LW (I find it hard to believe the LW would think she/he “made Jason cheat” all on their own). In any case, since he broke it off with the LW, who makes no mention that he approached her again in any way, he is out of the picture and the LW would be well advised to stay away from him. The only concern the LW seems to have about Jason is whether she/he might “ruin” his friendship with Jimmy, if she/he tells him about the affair. To be frank, I don’t see why that should be your concern, LW. Jason engaged in a behavior (cheating) that many (most?) people find morally wrong. If Jimmy finds out this about Jason and it affects their friendship, this is a simple case of Friend A’s values clashing with Friend B’s behavior and the frienship suffering as a result, not a case of the LW coming between two friends or whatever. Their friendship is not your responsibility.

    • Marvel said:

      Eh, I think saying he’s “full of it” for not wanting a relationship with the LW is a little much. It’s true that you can absolutely have ambition AND have a relationship, but some people simply don’t want to. It can be a lot to balance. Especially if your ambitions are the kind that require moving frequently, for instance.

      Otherwise, agreed.

      • thebearpelt said:

        I kind of agree but I think it’s bullshit in that it sounds more like he doesn’t want to put EFFORT into a relationship, if that makes sense?

        Making out and sex would be fine, but having to care about someone else’s feelings and needs is too hard “because ambition.” To me it sounds like he’s trying to leave sexual parts of a relationship open for discussion while also shirking responsibility for any emotions, instead of just saying he’d like sex-no-strings or something.

        • kanel said:

          I guess that is how I interpret what the LW said about Jimmy maybe hitting on them because Jason had said something. That there could be a possibility that if Jimmy heard about Jason having sex with LW without the responsibilities of a relationship, he realized the LW might be open to something like that with him. If he was the one to bring up the issue of cheating just to say he could never date anyone who cheated, that may well have been his way of saying “I may be flirting with you, LW, but I will never ever be your boyfriend.” And in the event they start seeing each other more, being physical and such, and the LW starts feeling like they are at a relationship level, he will always have that trump card to pull out, that he will never be in a relationship with someone who has cheated. Not cool. (That is, if he counts participating in cheating while single as cheating, which it isn’t really, but it’s enabling.)

          Just a thought. It doesn’t really matter though. The advice applies either way.

          Though I must add that I don’t find it unreasonable to not want to date someone who has cheated in the past. Many people who cheat do it over and over again. It would be a red flag for me if I knew someone had cheated or enabled cheating or seemed a little too lax about cheating.

          What’s not fair is putting all of the blame on the LW, when Jason is the one who has broken the monogamy agreement he had with his girlfriend.

      • MK said:

        I didn’t mean that he is full of it for not wanting a relationship, I meant he is full of it for not admitting he doesn’t want a relationship. When someone says “my ambitions are too big for me to settle down”, it’s an evasion: they bypass the question of whether or not they want to have a relationship and sort make it sound like they can’t have one. Which is simply not true; they could if they wanted to, they just don’t want to (or want to put the effort or want the specific person). Basically, he is being a coward about owning his choise or, more charitably, he is trying to let the LW down softly.

      • Seconding you. My letter to CA 2 years ago was basically ‘I have Huge Ambitious Things to do before I can settle down, but is it okay to date in the mean time?’ I never once meant that anyone in the world was ‘less’ than my plans, just that my life wasn’t ready to tie to anyone else’s because of those HATs.

    • BeldamSansMerci said:

      “What I find totally confusing is that the LW seems to imply that Jimmy is hitting on her because Jason told him something. Told him what? And why would it make him want to hit on the LW?”

      I inferred that too, wondered if I was the only one… I’m imagining a scenario where Jason has admitted his fling with LW to Jimmy, and either:

      1) Jimmy got annoyed that his friend got a taste of the goods he had “dibs” on, and feels he now has something to prove about how obviously he’s always been and always will be the one LW really wants. (I’ve seen this happen, and the people I’ve seen it happen to have always blithely assumed that it means “Jimmy got jealous, that means he’s realised his true feeeeelings for me!” and that this is the start of their true love story. It doesn’t mean that. I’ve never seen it mean that outside of crap romance-genre fiction.)

      and/or:

      2) Jimmy decided that LW is “just some slut” whose feelings he no longer has to care about and is perfectly okay to use for sex now, rather than viewing LW as someone whose desire for a deeper relationship has to be treated seriously and rejected gently. (In case not obvious: I am not endorsing the use of the word “slut” or any of the things it implies; I am presenting it as I imagine the hypothetical Jimmy of this scenario would see it, with trust that readers of this site will feel all the ickiness it carries.)

      Of course there is no hard evidence for any of this in the letter, and I could be completely wrong… I do hope I’m completely wrong.

  19. Vicki said:

    OK, he has big ambitions. Bigger than Barack Obama’s? Obama’s ambitions didn’t stop him from marrying and having two daughters. (If Jimmy were Jane, and LW wanted children, that combination might give her pause: but he’s male, and agreeing to be in a monogamous relationship is a different level of settling down than living together or marrying, let alone having children.)

    • JenniferP said:

      He didn’t (and doesn’t) actually have to give a reason for “I don’t want to be in a relationship with you” – but this is a quietly hilarious illustration as to why sometimes giving no reason is better than giving a reason that kind of makes you look like a tool.

      • I’m assuming that he’s already signed up to go to Mars and nothing you can say will dissuade me of that.

        • JenniferP said:

          Or maybe he’s gone Interstellar.

          • I am familiar with ” ’39″ by Queen. LW, you do not want to get emotionally tangled with a guy leaving our solar system. Temporal Displacement! Temporal Displacement!

        • PBnoJ said:

          +1

        • Guava said:

          Seriously! I got dumped once by a guy who gave the reason: “I feel like I need to go West.” Maybe he meant Western New Jersey? IT IS STILL A MYSTERY.

          • I wonder if he was secretly part of the Pet Shop Boys.

          • I got dumped for a car. My boyfriend got given a sports car as a graduation present and he went out all day, every day, driving it. Given his petrol usage on the family account, this was genuine! And in years to come he did apologise. I honestly dont think he was seeing anyone else. But if a sportscar gave him more of a thrill than a girlfriend… He is welcome to it! Ha!

          • Nerdlinger said:

            Oh man – I kind of snerked my tea because “going West” it made me think of the movie Fievel Goes West. And I know its the wrong movie, but this popped into my head immediately and made me giggle:

          • H.Regalis said:

            @flashsays – This makes me think of the Dead Kennedys’ song “Buzzbomb.” Hopefully that was not your ex >_>

    • Marvel said:

      Again, I feel the need to point out that for some people this is a legitimate reason. Maybe his ambitions require moving frequently in the future and he doesn’t want to do long distance, maybe he’s a busy person and he doesn’t want to add the stress of a relationship to his life, maybe this is the sort of “soft” rejection we give a pass to all the time in other letters. Does it matter? I usually enjoy reading the comments here because people tend to agree that “I don’t want to” is a good enough reason; why are we suddenly invalidating this guy’s reasons for not wanting to be in a relationship? That feels pretty gross to me.

      • JenniferP said:

        I’m with you. He doesn’t have to want a relationship with the LW at all! “I feel ambitious to go to space, and I don’t have time for a girlfriend right now” still means “I don’t want a relationship WITH YOU.”

        • thebearpelt said:

          I agree, definitely, but I feel like he’s trying to leave himself open for a sexual relationship with LW that requires no emotional support, y’know? Instead of just letting LW that he’d be interested in casual sex, he’s instead doing this “maybe” thing when it sounds like he’s just not interested in the emotional effort of a relationship right now and that bugs me. It feels misleading.

          • Laughing Giraffe said:

            Just so. There’s not even anything wrong with, “I don’t want to commit to a serious capital-R Relationship right now, but I’m down with making out if you want” as long as that is what is honestly presented. “I don’t want a relationship now…but check back later…maybe we can have one if we start as FWBs…oops, nope, but keep trying!” is gross.

          • That’s my take too. He doesn’t sound like he’s actually saying “I don’t want a relationship with you” at all. It sounds like he’s saying “I don’t want to work for a relationship with you, but if you’ll do the heavy lifting, I’m down for it.”

  20. TO_Ont said:

    Could be read more than one way, but I think I basically read Jimmy as ‘I’m not interested in any relationship with you in the foreseeable future, but I haven’t figured out how to come right out and say it bluntly, so I’m trying to be a bit vague and give excuses since that feels more polite and less personal to me.’

    I’d read the ‘maybe someday’ not as an actual invitation to hang around him waiting for ‘someday’, but more like get on with you life and pursue other options, and if by chance something changes someday in the distant future that’s cool, but let’s not plan for that.

  21. Best thing I had ever figured out was after my first relationship. There are always other people you can date, you do not have to settle.

    I think there’s that looming fear for a lot of us, especially before we’d dated anyone, that we’d be alone forever. But what LW also needs to keep in mind is that it is far better to be single than to be in a bad relationship.

  22. Cactus said:

    “The way you describe Jimmy, and the subject line of your email ‘bros before hos,’ make it very easy for me to imagine him bringing up the time you slept with Jason every single time it’s convenient for him, like, when he feels insecure or when you disagree about something and he wants to put you in your place.”
    Just wanted to highlight this line, because I’ve been in relationships where this was a common argumentative tactic of my partners’, and it never stopped feeling shitty, even though they were totally full of shit.

    • Polychrome said:

      oh yesssssss. me too. That vulnerability or backstory shared when things were good being weaponized down the road — it only stops hurting when you stop caring about their good opinion. Took a long time for me to get to “that person just doesn’t like me or think well of me and that’s that” as (to quote the good Captain) “just one dude’s opinion”. Feels awesome though.

      • Polychrome said:

        Also! The Captain’s line about “auditioning for affection”. I’m trying to think of a clever way to use the metaphor of mission creep, but anyway, it’s hard to see this dynamic clearly except in retrospect but every relationship begins with a bit of this, of course, and I think great relationships probably involve a continuous stream of !!mutual!! auditioning for the other person’s continued affection (in a fun way). But sliding into a dynamic where you are constantly feeling the pressure to do this while clearly the other person is either not trying anymore or even kind of ramping up unkindness while sitting in judgement of your endless, hamster-wheel-like “audition”: abandon that mission. Beat a hasty retreat. Regroup. Live to fight another day? Okay military metaphor not perfect here, but hightail it outta there. The next mission may end in luv not war, give peace a chance, in closing, oh wait I feel a theatre metaphor coming on! Auditions! why is that giant hook trying to get me? I HAVE THOUGHTS ABOUT HAMSTERS.

        • ratminx said:

          This reminds me of Brene Brown’s phrase, doing the “hustle for worthiness.” Every time I catch myself doing it, or realize after the fact that I was doing it, I then start giggling at the thought of shaking my butt for affection (I’m a terrible dancer) and then the song “Do The Hustle” gets stuck in my head. And then I stop it, or do my best to stop it in future endeavors.

  23. The thing is, sometimes there ARE no other guys, you have to settle with what you’ve got or end up alone :( At least, that’s my experience.

    • JenniferP said:

      Well, then be happy alone, because it’s way better than waiting around for someone who doesn’t love you, or dealing with someone who treats you poorly, or walking on eggshells.

      • Cactus said:

        Yes. I cannot agree with this enough, having learned this “the hard way.”

        (And I know some people find it more difficult to be alone-alone than I do, but there are other types of meaningful relationships that aren’t romances which can be far more fulfilling than being with a not-great partner. I remember a few days after breaking up with my terrible college boyfriend, just spending most of the day with a good friend who I hadn’t seen in about a month, and feeling so happy and free and connected and like I could just be goofy instead of waiting to be criticized for everything I said.)

      • Anisoptera said:

        Yes! +1 for be alone. Seriously.

        I mean, if you think “settle” means you don’t end up with a hedge fund manager who looks like John Hamm then OK, I agree, the sweet yet not perfect person you love is fine. But don’t settle for someone who doesn’t treat you well, or who you despise.

        It’s not worth it. It’s not even worth the practical stuff, and I say that as someone who’s done can’t-get-out-of-bed-sick alone, and lengthy unemployment alone.

      • every time I hear this I feel validated. you’re the best, captain.

      • Yes, this.

        I grew up fat. Very fat. I assumed I’d have to become thin to get a partner, when I failed – over and over – to become thin, that *really* screwed up my head. I assumed anyone who expressed an interest in dating me was damaged. I assumed I’d be single, so I focused on education and work.

        Eventually I got (mostly) over it. And I still had built a life I enjoyed. I did eventually marry, but it’s because I wanted to share my life, not because I needed to prove something.

    • Laughing Giraffe said:

      Yeah, but a relationship isn’t food. I can imagine a situation where your options are to either eat garbage or starve to death, but you won’t die if you decline to date an unpleasant person, even if the alternative is to be single. (And also, where are you that there are literally only two people available for you to date? Antarctica?)

      • No idea if this is Guillerma’s situation, but anyplace where women become spinsters after 25 really puts the pressure on you to marry that dude you got with at 24.5, because there probably won’t be another one along. Or a small town where you’ve already dated everyone you’re interested and there just aren’t any more, and you don’t want to leave.

        • *Guillermina, my bad, I’m sorry.

        • Even then… leaving might not be something you want, but that still doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a worse choice long term than settling for someone you don’t really want. It’s worth remembering that there are still options – they might seem like pretty awful ones at first, but sometimes they’re actually going to be an improvement.

    • heffalumps said:

      unless you’re living in a confined environment with only two (semi-) available guys and no escape–there are always other options. always, always, always. if the reason for “there aren’t any other options” is something like “because we’re all in a tiny high school together” or “I live in a really small town” or “I have a very small and incestuous circle of friends” then time and effort will solve the problem, and bring a plethora of new choices to your menu. I can personally attest to this, having been in all three of those situations at various times. never, please, never ever “settle” with someone who hurts you or makes you feel bad. truly, honestly, it really is *far better* to be alone.

      • Ethyl said:

        Someone once said something to me that was really useful when I was dreading a Thing I had to do for work — they said you know, just remember that there is always a choice. It may be that the choice is “quit without another job and move back in with mom and dad,” or “quit your degree program and lose thousands of dollars you’ve invested,” or “leave everything and move to a different place with no idea what you’ll do once you get there.” The choice may be something you would never, ever do — but that choice is still there. It really helped me re-frame my situation as one I was currently actively choosing to be in despite the fact that it sucked sometimes, and made me feel a lot more empowered.

    • Linden said:

      Being single is awesome compared to being with someone shitty.

      • Linden said:

        Also, who enjoys being in an “I settled for you” relationship? Bust down your expectations all you want, but if you’re not really into the other person and you’re just being with them just to be with someone, they’ll walk and/or cheat eventually.

        • bloodygranuaile said:

          When I was fifteen I was in a relationship with a dude who was totally upfront about the fact that he settled for me because he couldn’t get the friend of mine he was actually in love with. I was totes OK with this at first because I thought it meant that neither of us had to take the relationship very seriously and it would be OK if I wasn’t all that into him either and basically that I wouldn’t have to do all the relationship work that girls are expected to do, which was fine since I didn’t have much of an idea of what precisely I would have been supposed to be doing anyway.

          NOPE. Apparently I was still supposed to be for-real girlfriending 100%. Apparently, dudes don’t like it when you treat them as shittily and lazily as they treat you.

          • Oy. Reminds me of how the girlfriend who didn’t let me into her house or tell me about her money issues freaked when I said I was starting therapy again — because I hadn’t confided in her about my symptoms. Apparently I was supposed to disclose EVERYTHING no matter how little she disclosed. Ahem.

      • Anothermous said:

        A thousand times this. The fallacy that singledom is the Worst Thing Ever is what shitty guys thrive on to keep women in their miserable clutches.

      • Queen of scarves said:

        “Being single is awesome compared to being with someone shitty.”

        I totally agree, but ALSO: being single is awesome compared to being with someone decent who is not a good fit.

        • Linden said:

          That too!

    • Jenna said:

      Alone is pretty good, actually. I have been married, and I have been single, and now I am involved in a poly relationship. I’m happy with the poly situation, but, being single and not having to account for any decision or justify my choices or consult on major or minor anythings? That is nice. No arguments. No power plays. No disagreements that aren’t ever really over till I surrender to his view. Single, I get to choose what is for dinner, and I get no complaints. I cook MUCH more now. I chose what color to paint the house; it’s turquoise, now, and that goes better with the mid century modern look than the inoffensive brown it was before. I can get rid of clutter without someone protesting that we might need that someday.
      Our society and culture at large really wants us all to pair off, to buy a house, to have 2.5 kids….but, I was happier when I decided that didn’t need to apply to me.
      If someone else needs a partner to be happy, great!
      But, take a look at the cultural baggage too. Figure out what you, as an individual, actually want out of a relationship and actively look for THAT.
      It may be that you want someone in the house when you come home to listen to your stories of your workday and share in household chores and food. Personally, I get that from a roommate. We even give each other small gifts and go out to dinner or movies together.
      Do you need someone to help organize your finances and maybe hold your hand during medical forays? I get that from my metamour(my lover’s other lover, if you are unfamiliar with the term).
      Sex with a fantastic person? Someone to cook extravagant dinners with or go away for weekends? I have a boyfriend who fills those roles.
      So, I wrote a book instead of a short reply, but, take a look at what YOU really want and need. If what you want and need is a partner, great! Find someone who wants to be your partner, and don’t settle for someone who is only kinda sorta interested if you do all the work, and all the stars are aligned.

      • You wrote an awesome book. Thank you.

    • That’s not “you have to settle or be alone”. That’s “you get to be alone instead of dating the kind of guy who makes you feel like you’ve settled”.

    • Glorificus said:

      There are many benefits of being single. Netflix/hulu/tv you decide, always, no compromise. Music you decide, always. Food, you decide, always. Decor, finances, social plans, hobbies, cleaning, all the things; you can have them exactly as you want them. No State of the Relationship meetings. No tolerating their friends that honestly you really don’t like. Pets, like them? have them (if you can where you live). Want to do a major purge and take everything you no longer want to the 2nd hand store? It is all your stuff, do whatever you want. I could go on like this for awhile. Single isn’t pathetic, single is fucking fantastic.

    • hummingbear said:

      I think the “settle” advice does sometimes make sense for people who REALLY strongly want biological children. But even in that case, it should mean finding someone equally committed to being a parent, who is a good person and treats you well but whom you aren’t romantically in love with. Not settling for a jerk.

    • Suzy said:

      No, you don’t have to settle for anything. You don’t have to settle for being used, and you don’t have to settle for being treated badly. “No other guys”? There are 7 billion people on the planet!

    • H.Regalis said:

      So, you weigh your options and decide if the pros of being in a relationship, any relationship, are better than the cons of being alone. If you decide they are, then date Meh Jerkass Guy. If you decide they aren’t, then don’t.

      I can see situations where culturally you have to get married, like no one will rent an apartment to you as a single woman, or it’s impossible to work outside the home as a woman, or you will be killed/thrown out into the street because you’re pregnant out of wedlock, or your family is non-existent/too poor to feed and house you if you choose not to get married. Basically, “get married or you will literally starve to death or be killed.”

      If you’re not in that situation, then you have other options. Move, make new friends, volunteer, go to your church’s singles group, go the next town over, whatever. Are some of those things, like moving, drastic? Yes, but if a relationship is an important thing for you to have in your life, then sometimes you gotta do stuff like that.

      Even if you opt to go for Meh Jerkass Guy, that’s not a guarantee. He could still dump you/die/be abducted by aliens/go off to war and end up in a PoW camp for the rest of his life/whatever; and then you’d be alone anyway.

  24. Haze said:

    Yeah, ditch those two. You will save SO MUCH TIME AND EMOTION, seriously, because otherwise, it could turn into this festering ongoing thing in the background where it’s a shitty rollercoaster of “yay, he likes me!” and “crap, he doesn’t”. Save all that psychic energy and put it towards yourself and towards finding people that are not asses.

  25. NaturalBlue said:

    One of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned is that if someone is interested in you, they will ACT like they are interested in you. No need to guess about their intentions, just look at what they are doing and respond accordingly. These two are obviously not that interested but you keep offering yourself up like a cheese platter that they keep picking at even though they don’t really like cheese that much, but it’s there and they’re kind of hungry. Cut that out and find someone that loves cheese. mmmmm… now I want some cheese. What was I saying?

    • Nanani said:

      You were saying cheese is great. Cheese IS great.
      But the LW is not cheese. the LW is great in a different way and should not be treated like a plate of food. Because people are not cheese. Cheese is cheese and people are people.

      • FlyBy said:

        This is relevant to my life. People who want to take only certain parts of me, as their emotions dictate, like a sampling platter? I am people, not cheese.

  26. Beauty In The Breakdown said:

    LW, I think you may have fallen into a trap I used to fall into quite frequently, and that I see a lot of my friends fall into too. This is the “I’m overwhelmed with the possibilities of two people that sort of/maybe/might really want me and now I don’t know which to choose.” But what is confusing about this situation is that it’s unfortunately a false choice; and the fact that there are two potential partners involved makes it all the more confusing. It’s hard to see your way out of the confusion because these are two potential partners who are extremely happy with the status quo, and who want to talk you into being happy with the status quo, and unfortunately, with treating you extremely poorly.

    When I look back at my previous self from 7, 8 years ago, before I learned to view myself in a more healthy light, I realize that this sort of thing was happening to me regularly. I was so overwhelmed when anyone would pay me *any* attention, that I would feel that I was honor bound to pay any attention I received back, and that would trap me into a relationship on their terms, even if it was unhealthy. I didn’t understand that I was under no obligations to enter into a relationship with them if I didn’t feel it was healthy, and that I actually deserved, and needed, to set boundaries myself in order to keep myself healthy.

    Furthermore, you, like me, deserve a healthy relationship. You deserve someone who treats you well, and doesn’t just treat you like a convenience, someone to be discarded or tossed aside when it’s convenient. You don’t need to let someone else dictate the terms of the relationship simply because they initiated it. And just because these two people have shown interested in you, they’re not the ONLY two people who will show interest in you! Think of it; how many more people will, if you go looking?

    This is another trap I fell into. I had low self esteem, and I was scared that nobody else would show interest if I walked away. I felt so grateful that anyone had shown interest in me at all, that I felt scared to walk away from an unhealthy relationship, because I felt like it was a possibility that nobody else would show any interest in me in the future. So it was majorly self-esteem related for me. I felt like on some level, I deserved the poor treatment, and I should stay with the people who treated me poorly. I had a lot of work to do on myself before I could realize that I deserved so much better than this. And I urge you to look at yourself and understand that YOU dictate the terms on which you’re treated; and that both Jason and Jimmy are not up to this standard. If you walk away and say “I am not going to be treated like this again, ever,” than you will make it true.

    I managed to do this in my life, and after I did this, (after being single quite awhile while I figured it out) I did find a guy who treats me immensely well, who honors and is faithful to me, and respects me fully. But I had to do the self work to get there, and to set those boundaries so that when I was dating, none of the creeps could get to me, and so that I wouldn’t accept them if they tried to get to me. I hope you can do this too, but I know how difficult it is. It’s a process, and one that takes time, because these creeps work their way into your head.

    • Katemonster said:

      Yes, this!!! Also, I read the last bit as warning against crepes working their way into your head… And so now I’m in the mood for second lunch.

  27. OpheliaDev said:

    I agree with the prevailing opinion – LW, you deserve better! One thing I’d like to add – you say Jason confessed to his girlfriend. What happens when the girlfriend shows up to one of these little get togethers and sees you? If she blows up, do you think Jason is going to defend you? Or do you think that Jason will blame you and Jimmy with his hatred of cheaters will also blame you? That sounds like an AWFUL scenario.

    Sometimes your friend group can seem like the whole world, like there’s nobody else out there who will “get” you. And that’s just not true. There are lots of people out there who will like you and value you. LW, I’d strongly suggest you take a big step back from Jimmy and Jason and go out and expand your circle of friends. I think if you meet some other people, Jimmy and Jason won’t be the “end all and be all” that they seem to be right now.

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