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Wait theyve been sleeping together this whole time
October 25, 2010 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Am I over-reacting to new information about my boyfriend's relationship history? Which involves his current roommate?

I need a random-people-on-the-internet straw poll.

I met "John" on vacation two months ago. We are both in our late 20s. We had such a magical week together that we (probably crazily, I know) are trying to romantically keep in touch. We Skype every day and email. We've already seen each other again, despite an ocean between us. So far, the distance is not a problem.

John lives with "Nancy." They've lived together for three years. They used to date, something that began after they'd moved in together as friends. They continued to live together after the break-up. They are really good friends, and have been though a lot together. I am comfortable with all of this.

I am visiting John in a few weeks. I am staying at his apartment. When I first met John, Nancy was on vacation. I have not met her because when we saw each other a couple weeks ago we met in a different country. (I know! I've become a jet-setter!)

Last night we were on the phone, and I said I was really excited to meet Nancy. John admitted that Nancy is NOT excited to meet me. This led me to ask a few more questions about their relationship. I'd figured his past relationship was none of my business, but I was curious why Nancy wasn't comfortable with me visiting.

I learned the following: They've still been sleeping together. They've lived together for three years: dated for the first one, and have been occasionally sleeping together for TWO YEARS. Sure, they've dated other people, but every so often they'd end up having sex when single. John has not had a serious relationship in the past two years.

I trust him not to cheat on me - maybe I'm crazy for thinking that. He REALLY likes me, and has said that he doesn't like dating casually, and would not attempt to do something so impractical with me long-distance if he didn't want to give it a full shot.

I am weirded out that he has slept with Nancy for two years, which is a long time. In my gut, this is a red flag in his behavior and makes me see things in a different light. The last night of my vacation, we stayed at his friend's house because Nancy had arrived home that night. He said he wanted our last night to be just us (something I know is still true), but also that he didn't want to explain me to Nancy. Now, I see he didn't want to EXPLAIN me to Nancy, if you know what I mean.

John also clearly stated that he doesn't enjoy casual sex. To me, this means occasional sex with Nancy is not a random, blow-off-steam event.

Am I over-reacting? Do I need to be reminded that relationships are messy, and it doesn't matter WHAT he did before he met me? Or, am I right to be weirded out by this, especially since it's clear Nancy isn't happy I exist?
posted by missmary6 to Human Relations (71 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
John has given several indications that he will put Nancy, the woman he lives with, above you, his across-the-ocean "girlfriend". That's not about the past, that's about the present, and would be an issue I would need to see resolved before wanting to go any further with this fellow.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:16 PM on October 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'd next him, but I'm twice your age and with that comes the selfish desire for a drama-free life.
posted by TLCplz at 1:18 PM on October 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


In my gut, this is a red flag in his behavior

Listen to your gut.
posted by Linnee at 1:18 PM on October 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


He is incapable of evaluating the concept of "casual sex" by anything approaching objective standards. It sounds like he's fully rationalized his behavior to the point where he sees nothing wrong with it -- but still managed to neglect to mention it until now.

Guaranteed that if you broke up with him tomorrow, he'd sleep with her again next week. I rarely ever say this, but DTMFA.
posted by hermitosis at 1:18 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


It sounds like this person is not your boyfriend, to be honest. I would dial back your expectations quite a bit.
posted by empath at 1:19 PM on October 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


In my gut, this is a red flag in his behavior

Always trust your gut. In this case, it's there to protect your heart.
posted by pixlboi at 1:19 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


The fact that he failed to mention this until you probed about makes me very inclined to agree with your gut instinct.
posted by Zophi at 1:19 PM on October 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


While it is true that it doesn't really matter what he did before he met you, and having casual sex with a good friend when you are both single is hardly problematic, I think it is a real problem that they are still living together when you are trying to do long distance. Not because it is bad per se, but rather because you are ALWAYS going to be wondering whether or not tonight was the night that they got drunk at a party and came home together and something just 'happened', because it's obviously something that's easy for them to fall into.

Long distance is hard enough without you having to always worry about that kind of scenario. He may have "clearly stated" that he doesn't enjoy casual sex, but the evidence points to the contrary. Again, nothing wrong with that, but I can't see you being very happy in this scenario. Think carefully.
posted by modernnomad at 1:19 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


In my gut, this is a red flag in his behavior and makes me see things in a different light

Here's the light in which I see it: John is in a relationship. With Nancy. (Sex becoming "occasional" happens in, well, most LTRs.)

Perhaps they've had a discussion about having an "open" relationship, and you are a part of that that Nancy doesn't actually want to see. More likely....you'll never end up meeting Nancy because she's not a roommate, she's his girlfriend (or wife) who doesn't even know about you.

You've got to trust your gut here. BIG RED FLAG, RUN AWAY.
posted by motsque at 1:21 PM on October 25, 2010 [23 favorites]


Guaranteed that if you broke up with him tomorrow, he'd sleep with her again next week.

I dont see the problem with this....as long as the current boyfriend is committed while he is with you I would not care one bit what he does if he should ever find himself single.
posted by The1andonly at 1:21 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even giving him the benefit of the doubt I can't reconcile "he doesn't like dating casually" and "he doesn't enjoy casual sex" with having sex with a roommate that you're not dating. Maybe he has some special place in his mind for people he's been formally intimate with that still live together that I don't just get.

The cynic in me though says he's not being totally honest with his relationship with Nancy (i.e, he is cheating and boxed himself into a corner with his narrative)
posted by forforf at 1:22 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think you need to dtmfa already, there's nobody to dump here. You really aren't 'in a relationship'. If you're interested in this person, keep things very, very casual until he is actually available. And by available, I mean if not in the same country as you, at least not living with this other person. But really, being in the same country is kind of a key part of dating someone, unless you had been dating seriously for a very, very long time before moving apart geographically.
posted by empath at 1:22 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


He's hiding you. You don't even know for sure if his ex knows about you or, if she does, the full extent of your relationship with him.

Yes, he really likes you, but is that enough? Can you live with him living with his once (and perhaps future "friend with benefits"?). Even if you trust him completely (and given the shortness of your relationship, you shouldn't), it would drive most people kind of crazy.

Slow it down. If he doesn't want to show you off to the people closest to him, then you're not the closest person to him.

Remember, they stumble who doth run too fast...especially across an ocean.
posted by inturnaround at 1:23 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm saying this as someone who lives with my fiancé, my ex-boyfriend (we broke up yeeears ago), and my ex-boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, so I hopefully have some perspective on this part:

Sure, they've dated other people, but every so often they'd end up having sex when single. John has not had a serious relationship in the past two years.


John and Nancy have been each other's Fallbacks. This happens all the time, as I'm sure you know, being a mid-twenties survivor yourself. It's a little unusual that they still live together, but otherwise you're facing a really common situation: two people who used to date use each other as fallbacks. These arrangements can go on indefinitely, especially when the mid-twenties dating scene is bleak and unpredictable, because instead of putting lots of effort into finding people, they can just fall into minimally complicated sex with Fallback Person for reassurance and gratification. The Fallback Situation almost always continues until one of the people finds someone much more compatible with them, and then the fallback relationship is over.

Nancy is understandably upset not simply because her fallback guy is no longer available, but also because your new relationship with John is probably making her feel a bit insecure about being single again (instead of loosely attached to John).

You'll get a better handle on the situation once you meet Nancy in person and see how John behaves around her, but it really does sound like John has always recognized his incompatibility with Nancy and is eager to finally move into something more serious with someone else. Good luck!
posted by zoomorphic at 1:24 PM on October 25, 2010 [23 favorites]


Your new boyfriend is in a messy, open quasi-relationship with a live-in girlfriend. Proceed with caution. Personally, I would not expect a relationship from this person at the moment, and would wait until he is free and clear. Savor your shared good times, stay in touch, and chalk it up as a delightful fling.
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 1:26 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Who arranged the details (dates) of your last meeting? It makes me nervous for you that she was conveniently out of town. And then, on the one night she was, he kept you from seeing each other. And kept her from knowing about you.

This looks like a case for Joey Greco. :(
posted by halseyaa at 1:27 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


You will never meet Nancy. She's not his friend or his roommate who he occasionally sleeps with. She's his long-term, live-in girlfriend. There was no breakup that they got through amicably enough to live together. She probably has no idea that you even exist. Sorry. I would run in the opposite direction, but if you want to proceed, do proceed with much caution.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 1:30 PM on October 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


It sounds to me like these two are in a long-term romantic/sexual relationship of some kind, no matter what they actually call it.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:31 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Listen to zoomorphic. Zoomorphic is wise.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:33 PM on October 25, 2010


The last night of my vacation, we stayed at his friend's house because Nancy had arrived home that night. He said he wanted our last night to be just us (something I know is still true), but also that he didn't want to explain me to Nancy. Now, I see he didn't want to EXPLAIN me to Nancy, if you know what I mean.

Yeah, I knew what you meant the first time you said he didn't want to explain you to Nancy.

I can think of a couple situations where it'd be understandable if one person in a relationship wouldn't want to reveal their relationship to certain other people. If it's someone who doesn't want to reveal their sexual orientation. If there are coworkers who are dating and don't want this to be known at work. This is not one of those situations.

I don't see how this is possibly an acceptable relationship -- either of them!
posted by John Cohen at 1:35 PM on October 25, 2010


Zoomorphic is really, really wise.
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:35 PM on October 25, 2010


I tend to agree with everyone else about red flags, however at one point in my life I was in a very similar situation, including the ocean part. (Except that I was "John" and not "missmary6".) Forforf's explanation would have been close to describing my behavior - I had (and continue to have) a special place in my heart for the small number of people with whom I have shared significant relationships.

In my case, perhaps surprisingly, everything worked out well for all involved. So I'd say that you might want to slow down, but not necessarily give up!
posted by MisterMo at 1:36 PM on October 25, 2010


This is just a data point, but I previously lived with an ex for almost a year after we broke up. We had sex often, but only when we were both single. There were no feelings involved other than mutual mild affection. We did it because it was convenient and we were both horny. That's it. There were no underlying issues or unrequited feelings.

Could your situation be a bit dodgy? Maybe. I would still trust your gut, but I just wanted to let you know the situation doesn't automatically equal badness.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 1:38 PM on October 25, 2010


Yeah, what Zoomorphic says. This isn't a huge deal to me. They're in their 20s, they don't have anything else going on. They're friends with benefits. What's the big deal?

I don't think he's hiding you; I think he's just been avoiding a problem. Your relationship is really young. There's a time to face the problem, and it looks like that time is coming.
posted by iguanapolitico at 1:38 PM on October 25, 2010


Please enjoy the benefit of my (painful) experience: it's most likely exactly as SkylitDrawl describes. Please don't torture yourself with any other interpretation, as I did (to my great detriment and shame). Look, I'm friends with plenty of exes and if John and Nancy were just friends, you'd've met her already and she'd've wished you well. That didn't happen and the likely reason it didn't happen is because he's sleeping with both of you and not giving either of you the full story. I acknowledge my complete bias in this situation. At the very least, though, you have a guy who isn't honest and hides you. Do you want that as a best case scenario?
posted by December at 1:39 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Do I need to be reminded that relationships are messy, and it doesn't matter WHAT he did before he met me?

Not all relationships are messy. I actually think that this is something people (not talking about you specifically) tell themselves to justify being involved in a lot of unnecessary drama.

And, I'm not sure I understand what you mean when you ask whether it matters what he did before he met you. If you're asking whether his past actions can impact his current relationship with you, of course they can. If you're asking whether you can learn something about someone's likelihood of engaging in certain actions based on what they've done in the past, every credit bureau, university, police officer, etc., believes that you can (and so do I).

But we're not actually talking about his past actions here. We're really talking about the living situation that he is currently in right now, that is still happening.

Two things:

1. Platonic friends with platonic feelings don't become displeased and upset upon meeting the significant others of their platonic friends. If Nancy is upset at the idea of meeting you, then she, at least, is not 100% platonic towards your BF. It's up to you to decide how comfortable you are with him living with someone who doesn't feel totally platonic about him.

2. I actually think this is the more important thing.

He said he wanted our last night to be just us [because] he didn't want to explain me to Nancy.

So he kept you from Nancy, and he kept the real nature/history of his relationship with Nancy from you until you pushed.

So this becomes clear: he is someone who is in the habit of withholding information from women he's involved with when it'll make his life easier.

This is a trait that, in my experience, leads to a lot of grief and only gets worse. This, above anything else you've written, is what would worry me.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:42 PM on October 25, 2010 [21 favorites]


Or, am I right to be weirded out by this, especially since it's clear Nancy isn't happy I exist?

There's a big possibility that John and Nancy are involved and that he is hiding you from her.

BUT

Imagine for a second that everything that John has told you is on the up and up: for two years, they infrequently have sex. Even if she knows they're not "together", even if neither of them have any desire to get back together, it seems to me that from where Nancy sits (again, assuming that John is being truthful), you're taking away her access to easy, fallback sex. Why the hell should she be happy to meet you? You can't use "But she's not happy to meet me! a-HA!" as some sort of indication that something more may be going on. No one should be expected to be happy about losing their fallback sex partner.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:43 PM on October 25, 2010


Until you have anything other than John's presentation/opinion of what his relationship is with Nancy, you really don't know quite what is going on. And I say this as someone who is [still] in a long distance but totally satisfying relationship with a guy who was in a complicated living situation with a long-time-ago ex, someone who he said was more or less cool with everything.

That said, it's sort of tough to evaluate this without having some sort of "Well since I am your romantic partner am I the one whose opinion matters when you are making decisions?" assessment and it may be hard for you to figure this out without spending more real home time with John, not romantic honeymoon type travel time.

Put another way, my guy was *sure* that him being in a committed relationship with me was no problem. Why shouldn't it be? She had another boyfriend, a long term boyfriend, and they were "just roommates" [hadn't slept together in years and years] and yet, even though I trust my boyfriend that that was honestly how HE saw the situation in is own heart of hearts, it was clearly not what was actually going on. Once I spent some time in his house, it was pretty clear that they were not anywhere near as disentangled as he thought [hoped? assumed?] they were. Even though they both asserted they were not a couple. And this came out in a series of microdramas about things that would only be "issues" between roommates if there was some sort of entanglement [think "Why aren't you guys inviting me to go to dinner with you?" sorts of drama] which were crystal clear to me but just not really visible to my guy. He blew it all off, I had a hard time with it.

So, assuming that your guy is 100% telling the truth about everything [and I don't know and you don't know if he is], even then this still might be a sketchy situation. A few questions that helped me work it all out.

- where are we spending holidays and who gets to decide this?
- do you need to ask your roommate if I can stay over or do you just let her know that I am staying over?
- can I drop by the apt. to see you or be there when you are not there occasionally or is that going to be an ongoing problem?
- is there anything else you share that I should know about? [my guy was sharing a car and a cell phone with his roommate which sort of made sense in a hippie roomates way but was totally unacceptable for a long-term relationship esp. because they weren't leading as seprate lives as he thought/felt]
- we are not in a poly relationship, correct? [even though technically the way we all related until he moved out seemed like this, it was essential for me to make sure this was known to him, me and to her]

In short, your guy needs to not make Nancy's drama into your drama. He needs to handle that by making assurances to YOU, not to her. He needs to be above board and not play both ends against the middle. And you need to make sure he backs that up in word and deed. Talk is cheap and if someone just needs to say the right thing to get into yout pants, that's a lot different than dealing with the more complicated work of smoothing out a bumpy situation that is more or less under their control. See that he does that, or walk.
posted by jessamyn at 1:43 PM on October 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's funny, but I'm actually not in the "this is a red flag" camp for once. Sure he could have come clean with you a little earlier, but really this is the very beginning of your relationship. I also can see how one could not be into casual sex, but still sleep with an ex. Sleeping with someone you had a relationship with isn't casual. You know the person. You have a history with the person. Even if you both aren't interested in restarting the relationship, it's not what I would call casual sex. Except for the roommate bit, this is extremely common among people who are single for a prolonged period of time, but are still on decent terms with their ex.

I would want to know when the last time he slept with her was and how often the ex sex happened. Are we talking twice a year or a weekly thing. My biggest worry is that Nancy is not over John and secretly, or not so secretly, wants to get back together with him. Who broke up with who? If it was mutual, was it really mutual, or was Nancy just going with the flow to save face?

John needs to sit down and have a talk with Nancy about how she needs to get over it and play nice with you or else he'll have to consider moving out. I think if he's willing to do that (or some version of that) you're good. If he's not and you come and she's horrible to you, then yeah that would be a red flag in my book.

Of course I rescind all this if any other things come to light or if you aren't actually introduced to Nancy as John's girlfriend when you come to visit. Oh and that you actually stay at his apartment when she's there and he doesn't try and pull some last minute "let's go away for the weekend" or stay at my friend's house thing again.
posted by whoaali at 1:55 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


(I know! I've become a jet-setter!)


And....you're way caught up in the D-RAMA of your situation already. If John didn't have casual sex then he wouldn't sleep with his ex (who is also his roommate). Casual sex is sex you have with someone you are not in a romantic relationship with. John has casual sex. He's not some perfect overseas hunkbag of no flaws.

Nancy is being handled with kid gloves seems to tell me that Nancy probably doesn't think that she has casual sex either.

John and Nancy aren't a couple, but they definitely aren't broken up. Proceed however you wish knowing that. (me, I'd run far far away from that mess. And have me some casual sex in town until I lined something else up)
posted by WeekendJen at 2:01 PM on October 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


The guy has said he's over her and wants to make things work. To dump him JUST because he has baggage seems like an overreaction to me. I'd tell him you don't want to put this much effort into someone who already has a kinda-sorta girlfriend and that he needs to get all that straightened out if he wants to be together. If he's for real, then he'll create some clear boundaries with her (give him some time; it'll kinda be like breaking up) and you two can be happy.

But I'd also keep an eye out for any other indicators of escapism or fear of intimacy. The fact that he's with her but not really with her is a potential flag. The fact that he's falling head over heels for you in a situation that's so quintessentially not real life is another. Worst to me is this image of him escaping from her disapproval with you. What was his attitude like? Because if my platonic housemate was jealous of my date, I'd be annoyedly like "WTF?!? You have no right to be annoyed about this; we need to get stuff straightened out." If it was more like "tee hee," then he's using you to escape her, and I'd bail very quickly, because it suggests that he creates obligations to partners, only to then dodge and escape them. (Hopefully not!)

In general, given the various suggestions that the appeal of this thing with you could partially be that it's NOT real, if you don't want to waste time here, I'd try to become as real and daily-life as possible. Create a daily phone call routine. See if he's reliable through ups and downs, particularly small conflict with you and also the kind annoying, trivial, unexciting hassles that make up life. Does he skip out or hang in there? Try to spend a month together sometime soon. What about him helping you help your mom move? Be real life, not a movie or vacation or intoxication, and see what happens.
posted by salvia at 2:02 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


For now, I consider this sketchy as all get out. Proceed with caution until you meet Nancy and he introduces you in a way that is unambiguous. Once you meet her, and spend some time with her and him together, then you can see what the situation really is. Until then, you can do the whole trust but verify thing - or maybe more like don't distrust but verify.

The whole Fallback thing could be true and is really plausible - but like you said, it's messy and there are all kinds of possible interpretations.
posted by mrs. taters at 2:02 PM on October 25, 2010


At the very least you have a vacation to a foreign land (despite an ocean between us). I just hope he's paying for the ticket for you to come over to see him.
posted by TheBones at 2:03 PM on October 25, 2010


Nancy doesn't necessarily know she's single.

It is probably not all Nancy's fault that she doesn't necessarily know she's single.

John needs to sort his life out before he starts new relationships, sorry.
posted by tel3path at 2:08 PM on October 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


Zoomorphic may be right, but being older and more cynical, I suspect SkylitDrawl is even righter and wiser on this one. Put this relationship on ice until you actually get to meet Nancy--and please let us know if you do. I, for one, will be very pleasantly surprised if that actually happens.
posted by uans at 2:18 PM on October 25, 2010


[comment removed - folks, maybe we can keep the "$GENDER is like THIS" stuff out of here? It's not helpful, and it's fight starting.]
posted by jessamyn at 2:21 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Meet Nancy. See how she reacts to you.

Sit down with him and have a talk about how things look for you and give him a chance to come clean on anything. His reactions to this conversation should give you clues who to proceed.
posted by nomadicink at 2:40 PM on October 25, 2010


You and Nancy are being played by John.

After he took pains to hide you on your last visit, why would you assume anything this man has told you thus far is true?

Accept that you had a fun adventure/diversion... and now it is done.

DTFMA. (sorry this is how it turned out. it sounded very romantic.)
posted by jbenben at 2:42 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hmm... from the basic facts that are here in the question, I don't think you can assume one way or another. It's definitely a red flag. No matter what's really going on, there's clearly some disparity between Nancy and John's views of their relationship. However, this DOES NOT mean that she's definitely his long term girlfriend or that he's deliberately hiding you. I mean, he admitted she's not thrilled to meet you, and this sounds potentially super messy, but it means that he told her about you, right? That she knows, at the very least, there's some sort of romantic thing brewing, however serious.

Sometimes this kind of tension can be somewhat alleviated by meeting & making a connection with that other person. I don't think this development should prevent you from continuing in a relationship with John -- as someone who met my SO online and moved to live together, I support you giving this a shot -- but you should voice your concern to him.

Just say you feel strange about their relationship, it makes you question the commitment that you're making (simply by staying in touch & planning international trips), you have no reason not to trust him but you'd like him to be a little bit more clear about his intentions in the future with Nancy, and his idea of HER perception of their relationship. That all may take some courage but it's totally understandable, I think!

Agreed, stay wary, be in communication with him, and let us know how it turns out!

Good luck -- and by the way, I don't find you "caught up in the drama," but maybe just... falling in love? Which can make you optimistic and blind and stupefied in a way that is sometimes nice, sometimes dangerous!
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 2:44 PM on October 25, 2010


It seems like there are two drastically differnet interpretations here.

One is: he's a bastard, and he's cheating on his girlfriend with you, get out now and consider it a bullet dodged.

The other is: hey, people sometimes have sex with exes. He sometimes had sex with his ex. True, he tried to avoid the issue, but can't that be because he only just met this amazing girl overseas and doesn't want to scare her off with a whole lot of backstory?

I say give him the benefit of the doubt, assume he's earnest and just wanting to spare you the drama he'll no doubt be facing at home. Proceed with caution, but I don't think there's anything yet to justify the DTMFA response.
posted by twirlypen at 2:47 PM on October 25, 2010


I'm on Team Zoomorphic. Their... "arrangement" doesn't even strike me as all that out of the ordinary for people around their age. I think these days, everybody has an ex that segued into a "friends with benefits" situation that was really more about inertia and feeling lethargic about putting much effort into the dating game. Sure, not everybody has kept on living with this person, but it's not unheard of -- especially if they live in a city like NY, where a good apartment isn't something you just walk away from.

As for the wisdom of "trusting your gut" -- don't. This "gut" is the same thing that makes you suspicious and scared of every moving shadow in your bedroom at night and convinces you that every cobweb you brush up against in the basement is the web of a venomous spider. It's wise not to ignore your gut, but the message you should come away with is "proceed with caution," not "bolt at the first thing that scares you."
posted by patnasty at 3:00 PM on October 25, 2010


Despite the fact that that's my name, I live with my ex-girlfriend Nancy, I am in my late 20's, I was not in town two months ago, and Nancy is rarely excited to meet people, I would like to state for the Metafilter record that I never ever use Skype, so this is probably not about me (also I do not have a secret girlfriend).

Echoing zoomorphic, who along with being extraordinarily right is also my roommate. And my ex!
posted by soma lkzx at 3:04 PM on October 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Enough about him. What about you, do you know yourself well enough to figure how to handle this situation? It's a bit complicated sure, and it's one where you could wind up getting a raw deal.

So I think you should ask yourself these questions: Do you have a good bullshit detector? Are you good at reading people? Are you a realist who see people and situations as they are and or are you a romantic? Would you be willing to put up with a bit of bullshit and if so, how much? Do you trust yourself and your gut to look after yourself?

Long story short, you can control what he or Nancy does, what they feel or anything else about them. The best you can do is know yourself, then talk to him and meet Nancy and then decide whether this is good and healthy situation for YOU.

Good luck!
posted by nomadicink at 3:10 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can you email back and forth with her? Be her facebook friend? Chat with her on the phone? Contact her in any way that's not mediated by John?

If not, I'd let this guy go.

The fact that he doesn't want to introduce you to her makes me think that he's hiding her (or you). The fact that it's long-distance makes it really easy for him to play both of you.

Had he introduced you two--even for a moment!--I'd be saying something different.

This, however, is classic cheater behavior--"oh, I'd introduce you, but SHE's hung up on me and she's uncomfortable" or "oh, her, she's just friend but she's jealous so I don't rub it in". Yeah, okay then.

And why, WHY would someone live with a friend who was uncomfortable with them dating other people? Worst roommate EVER.

I have close friends like this so it's not the extra-relationship sexing that bothers me, it's the hiding.

I don't have to hide SOs from them because they don't interfere in my other relationships and are curious to see who I'm dating if it's someone longer-term! I am excited to meet new SOs and vice versa. And I'm happy to see them be happy with other people, get married, whatever--I'm there with bells on, supporting them like I would any other friend in a significant relationship.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:18 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've had lots of fallback sex myself, so I totally know what zoomorphic is talking about. This is what changes the situation from totally normal twentysomething-casual-sex to totally-sketch for me: The last night of my vacation, we stayed at his friend's house because Nancy had arrived home that night. He said he wanted our last night to be just us (something I know is still true), but also that he didn't want to explain me to Nancy. Now, I see he didn't want to EXPLAIN me to Nancy, if you know what I mean. Why not just have the two meet? Sure, Nancy won't be happy about losing her fallback sex partner (I mean, who IS excited about that?), but if John has a new girlfriend, he brings the girlfriend over. Nancy then handles it like an adult who has been having easy breezy casual sex with her roommate, as in, she is nice to the new girlfriend because, hey, all that casual sex was easy breezy, right? And she knows the casual sex was a temporary arrangement, right? So, what's up with hiding the OP and Nancy from each other? That's just a teensy bit suspicious, but I'm for the OP doing whatever she wants to do and I want this to work out for her (I mean, it sounds really romantic and dramatic, and just once, I'd like for a romantic, dramatic story that I read about on here to have a totally normal, sweet ending).
posted by SkylitDrawl at 3:22 PM on October 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Goddamn, Metafilter. I love all of you. Thanks for weighing in.

I've already been honest with him that I find this situation a huge red flag, and he wrote me a REALLY long email with WAY more detail than was necessary about the history of their relationship. I don't have reason to take his word as gospel, but I also don't have reason to accuse him of being a cheating, lying scumbag either.

I'm going to talk to him again now that I've thought about it some more and can better articulate why this doesn't sit right with me. And, yes, I have been through the battle-worn dating scene of the mid-20s and had a horrific, roommate "relationship" so perhaps I have more willingness to figure his situation out.

He's been very clear HE'S excited for me to meet Nancy, and thinks the two of us will like each other. Plus if it all goes to hell -- hey, I'll be on vacation in Europe!!! woo hoo!

and just to stick up for myself -
(I know! I've become a jet-setter!) And....you're way caught up in the D-RAMA of your situation already.
I'm excited about going to Europe, not in this load of crazy. For the first time ever I've been able to afford to travel, and it's been very exciting and dream-fulfilling for me.

posted by missmary6 at 3:31 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Find a man closer to home.
posted by zadcat at 3:33 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The real question I'd be asking if I were you (asking yourself, I mean) is this: What's the point of dating John?

Sure, you feel a connection, and you really like him, etc. But what's the point? There's an ocean between you. At what point will that change? Ask yourself what you really want, relationship wise. Think big picture. Do you someday want to be married? A house and kids? Maybe just two childless adults in love and living together? What do you want and is there any chance this man could be the man for that?

Sure, this jet-setter thing is fun now. It's new! Exciting! Mysterious! Sexy! ...but how will it feel on your birthday, or Christmas, or New Years Eve, or Valentines Day? ...how will it feel on the day when something great happens and you want someone to share it with? ...how will it feel on your worst day when you just need to be held?

Long distance relationships (if this one is even a relationship) almost always end one of two ways:

- The distance ends with a happy permanent coming together.
- The couple ends with a sad goodbye.

Choose wisely.
posted by 2oh1 at 3:56 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Man, I really wanted this answer to be different. But I'm of the "you have sex with whomever you want to when you're single" (so long as you're hurting no one, etc) stripe - but yeah, this is a huge red flag because he's putting her romantically/sexually charged feelings first.
posted by FlamingBore at 4:10 PM on October 25, 2010


I think you need to reconsider your opinion about John. This doesn't mean I think he is a bad person! I just think you are considering him a "boyfriend" when maybe you shouldn't.

First off, you say he doesn't like casual sex--but you two got together on vacation and had sex. That seems casual to me. Since you live in different parts of the country, he had no way of knowing that you would continue to get together after you first slept together.

I agree that Nancy and John have been each other's fallbacks. The question is whether they are in the same place right now. John sounds like he is into exploring new relationships, or at least new sexual partners, but Nancy doesn't. She is going to be living with him, side-by-side, so it would be really good to hear from HER what she thinks she and John are--former boyfriend/girlfriend? Friends with benefits? Or more. I'm guessing she's hoping they'll end up together.

All you really know about John at this point is that you have fun together when you are on vacation and have no real-life drama going on. You have no idea what would happen if you saw each other IRL. Nancy has been there, done that, and has the t-shirt. If you and John take this farther, can you see John kicking her out, given their history? Would you be comfortable with her still living there if you and John get serious? Something to think about.

By the way, talking about serious, where do you want this fling with John to go? Because the odds of this turning into a serious relationship with both distance and Nancy in the picture are really, really slim.

If you're really okay with just having a long-distance fuck-buddy, then I think John is your guy. But I wouldn't count on anything more coming out of this.
posted by misha at 4:22 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


1. When in doubt, don't.
2. Listen to your gut.
These are the two pieces of advice that never lead me wrong. Whenever I ignore these, I end up saying to myself, "I knew it. I should have just gone with my instinct in the first place."
posted by cescadarling at 4:36 PM on October 25, 2010


First off, you say he doesn't like casual sex--but you two got together on vacation and had sex. That seems casual to me.

I have to concur with this, I'm afraid. Unless Nancy is forcing him to have no end of sex he doesn't like. Perhaps I lead a sheltered life, but I don't accidentally wind up having loads and loads of sex when I'd really rather not.

It's not even his situation per se that bothers me. It's that his actions don't match his words.
posted by tel3path at 4:38 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is more than one way to define "casual sex". Some people consider it to be sex with someone that you're only physically attracted to.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:02 PM on October 25, 2010


The real question I'd be asking if I were you (asking yourself, I mean) is this: What's the point of dating John?

Sure, you feel a connection, and you really like him, etc. But what's the point?


Only on Metafilter would going to Europe to have sex with someone you really have a connection with and previously had a "magical week" with would not be an end unto itself.

Most relationships, long distance in Europe or not, end. Enjoy the ride and you really never know what will happen.

I'm not saying not to bail if he ends up being a lying asshole, but if he's not you only live once.
posted by whoaali at 5:51 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


And, yes, I have been through the battle-worn dating scene of the mid-20s and had a horrific, roommate "relationship" so perhaps I have more willingness to figure his situation out.

Argh, no! The proper response to having been through drama in the past is to avoid drama in the future! Drama isn't normal at any stage of life; and if you thought your mid-20s battle scars were bad, just wait til you see what your 30s can do to you if you're still messing around with this crap.

No matter whether having "fallback" sex is normal, or whether John is telling the truth, the big problem here is that he's living with Nancy. He has a live-in, sexual and emotional relationship with another woman. Even if this doesn't equate to a full-on boyfriend/girlfriend thing, or any sort of formal commitment, it means he's not really free to be your boyfriend. It would be one thing if she really was just a casual ex he slept with sometimes but didn't live with; but they live together. He can't really cut loose without moving.

he wrote me a REALLY long email with WAY more detail than was necessary about the history of their relationship.

This is actually not a good thing. You want your relationships to be about you and him -- especially in the beginning. You should not be bogged down in details about his relationship with another woman, past or present. It just shouldn't take so much elaborate explaining or difficulty at this point in your relationship. He's not ready; and you deserve more than that. A good, healthy relationship is easy to start. Trust us.
posted by yarly at 5:53 PM on October 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


Only on Metafilter would going to Europe to have sex with someone you really have a connection with and previously had a "magical week" with would not be an end unto itself.

Most relationships, long distance in Europe or not, end.


Only on Metafilter would we use the fact that "most relationships end" as a way not to understand the point that this relationship seems relatively pointless. This doesn't mean the sex they've had wasn't "an end unto itself" (!). The fact remains that she could just as easily -- no, much more easily -- have sex, etc. with someone near her who wouldn't be juggling these two kinda-sorta-relationships at once and engaging in all this hiding and walking on eggshells. I mean, do you think having sex is just such an amazing, rare opportunity that it justifies such a fraught relationship? It is really not that difficult or amazing to have sex.
posted by John Cohen at 6:12 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I absolutely second yarly.
posted by uans at 6:51 PM on October 25, 2010


If he'll introduce you, then no big deal.

I think it's wise and considerate that he is considering her feelings--as long as that's what's really going on.

There's no reason to break up with him unless it becomes a major problem. Lots of people have ex-sex, fuck-buddies, or um...friends.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:02 PM on October 25, 2010


I am skeptical of the whole story. It sounds like John is actually in a relationship with Nancy, and you are the other woman.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:07 PM on October 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am also skeptical. There's nothing in this story that isn't a giant red flag of trouble. NOTHING. If a friend of mine told me this situation, I wouldn't want her to date him.

If you live with someone and shag her for two years after you have supposedly "broken up," that there is still pretty much having a relationship, and no bloody wonder she has a problem with meeting you. They haven't freaking done the work of breaking up, i.e. separating, living somewhere else, and not shagging each other. "Break up" in this case seems like a technicality more than anything else. I'd have a lot less problem with the intermittent (supposedly) shagging if they didn't live together, and if she wasn't bothered by meeting you. But all of the above? Nothing but red flags!

Oh, and adding to the fun, you apparently live on another continent. Her vagina's a lot closer to him than yours is. If I were him I'd put the "sure thing" local (hell, live-in) shag as priority over the LDR shag.

Really, I think this guy sounds pretty skeezy, AND it's international skeeze. That's a lot of work for a guy that you can't even necessarily trust to stay out of her vagina when you're not there, and you're not there most of the time. (And given the joys of trying to immigrate these days, getting the two of you in the same location long-term is gonna be uh, fun. I dunno if I'd trust this particular guy to stay out of her vagina, given the circumstances, so this could be a real problem.)

Either DTMFA, or fling material only.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:48 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


This guy sounds like an unintentional SNL skit. "Oh, this is my roommate. This is my soccer coach. This is my cousin. This is my grocer. Yes, I sleep with them all of them, of course I would, they're my friends and they have vaginas. But YOU'RE my girlfriend." What does that entitle you to? A Christmas gift? For him, it's just a title, but what his roommate is is his "head girlfriend/head wife" like in "The King and I." What do you get that she doesn't? What does she get that you don't get?

I get the sense that if he ever felt "burdened" by being in a relationship, the first thing he would do is stick his penis in her vagina and assert independence.
posted by anniecat at 8:04 PM on October 25, 2010


I've already been honest with him that I find this situation a huge red flag, and he wrote me a REALLY long email with WAY more detail than was necessary about the history of their relationship. I don't have reason to take his word as gospel, but I also don't have reason to accuse him of being a cheating, lying scumbag either.

When was the last time he had sex with Nancy?
posted by 23skidoo at 8:15 PM on October 25, 2010


23skidoo -- June. (We met first week of September.)
posted by missmary6 at 8:22 PM on October 25, 2010


Here's something no one else has mentioned (I think). Let's say you get together, become boyfriend and girlfriend. At some point you will get into a fight about something, perhaps even something stupid. Will he go looking for pity with his roommate when he's pissed at you? My bet is he will. It's just not a safe situation.
posted by Gilbert at 8:51 PM on October 25, 2010


Let's say they get together, he tells Nancy that he's serious about this girl and that their sporadic flings are over, she mopes for a while then deals with it, and he and the OP continue the relationship they've started.

Endless hypotheticals aren't all that helpful - not to my mind, at least. He isn't sleeping with Nancy all the time, it was a rare comfort kind of thing and it sounds like he's very clear that that is finished now.

Yes, there's a chance it could all be lies and manipulation, but the same is true with anyone. I don't think there's a need to demonise him just yet. He has shown no sign that he's cheating on anyone - he only ever slept with the housemate when they were both single.
posted by twirlypen at 9:06 PM on October 25, 2010


He's been very clear HE'S excited for me to meet Nancy, and thinks the two of us will like each other.

This contradicts the fact that he deliberately kept you from meeting Nancy on the last night of your vacation.
posted by whitelily at 9:46 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I trust him not to cheat on me - maybe I'm crazy for thinking that. He REALLY likes me, and has said that he doesn't like dating casually, and would not attempt to do something so impractical with me long-distance if he didn't want to give it a full shot.

Has he officially declared that you two are exclusive? Just the wording here reminds me of a guy I knew, who would say things like "I would never, ever cheat on my girlfriend"... and then when caught sleeping around would say that he'd never declared any of the women in question to be his girlfriend. Long distance, charming, lots of crazy long e-mails and phone calls.... He was really good at it (and as far as I know, still is).
posted by anaelith at 12:51 AM on October 26, 2010


The last night of vacation business ain't no thang as I read it. They had one week together and did not know when or if they would see each other again. In that context not wanting to risk drama on the last night is totally understandable and acceptable. Well as long as this Nancy business came out at some point, which it has.
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:01 AM on October 26, 2010


I'm kind of with John Cohen here. It's maybe a bit of an over-reaction, only because your 'relationship' is very nebulous. You are both fantasy wish-fulfillment for each other right now so don't get too hung up on the 'connection' or the ex for that matter. If you are loving the travel just travel. Why not take your vacation as an independant gal, see some of John and some of the sights and then go home with happy memories and more plans for travel that don't depend on a romantic outcome. Believe me, those connections are ten-a-penny when you're confidently on the road.

However, the romantic fool of me ten years ago wouldn't have listened to a word of that (ah - experience!) so proceed in whichever way you wish. It'll all be good.
posted by freya_lamb at 8:10 AM on October 26, 2010


However, the romantic fool of me ten years ago wouldn't have listened to a word of that (ah - experience!) so proceed in whichever way you wish. It'll all be good.

Yeah, I mean I kind of agree with this. It could be a fucking disaster, but if you don't at least give it a shot, you'll probably end up living with regret about what might have been. Just go into it with your eyes open and don't invest more into this than you are willing to lose.
posted by empath at 8:21 AM on October 26, 2010


If you were with a counselor and explained this to him, he may have you listen to your story, hear your concern and fears and help you understand that you are answering your own question as he simply listens to you.
posted by patriot329 at 8:31 AM on October 27, 2010


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