Oh boy. What have I done now.
January 19, 2009 1:09 AM   Subscribe

[Relationshipfilter] Has "cheating" ever been a crucible for your relationship?

Background: I live with my girlfriend of a little over 3 years. We've been having the marriage talk for a long time, and I've been dragging my feet. Recently, though, the prospect of it hasn't seemed so bad, as it's been getting harder and harder for me to imagine my life without her. More and more I appreciate our relationship.

That said, the amplitude of marry/not marry has been increasing as time and pressure moves on, not smoothing out to a specific outcome. Our sex life hasn't been great, I'm not as attracted to her due to the significant weight she's gained since the start of our relationship, and we're both busy. I'm 29, she's nearly 30.

I'm away on business this week, performing in a different city. Being a fairly gregarious person, I usually meet people when I'm away, and, as has happened before, I've had opportunities to stray. Now, normally, these things are just drunken flirtations that result in a good "hmm, nice to know i've still got it" feeling the next day.

On this trip, however, networking turned to flirtation, and I met a girl who, for some reason, lit me up. While I passed on my opportunity to score (though later changed my mind, ended up in the hotel of the girl, but decided that the missed text messages for a liaison meant it wasn't meant to be), the next day I'm filled with real questions about my relationship. Guilt, frustration, etc. All the negatives of cheating without any carnal satisfaction.

So, now, understandably, I'm quite confused. What do you think? "Normal" male apprehension about commitment, or serious signs of relationship troubles?

Normal caveats: yes, I realize that none of you know much about me, and you're a bunch of internet strangers, but I'm trying to gain new insights into this situation, so I'd rather not get into a diatribe about the false accountability and privivacationality of the internets.

I'm happy to go into more detail about specifics about background if it helps you.
posted by dentata to Human Relations (50 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

No, it hasn't. Cheating has, however, been a breach of trust from which one of my relationships never fully recovered. But I'm not sure that's your biggest problem.

It sounds like you're lukewarm about your LTR. The fact that it's been getting harder to imagine life without your girlfriend is just a byproduct of having lived together for a long time, not a sign that you are meant for each other. You both ought to be able to do better than a marriage that 'doesn't seem so bad.' I'd take your quasi-cheating episode as a sign that your LTR is not doing for you what you need it to, and might not be doing it for the GF either. Time to work on it, or get out of it.
posted by jon1270 at 2:09 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Have you actually talked to her about these issues? Good communication is supposed to be a cornerstone of relationships, but you'd be surprised how often it goes out the window.

You may be feeling confused or guilty in part because you're hiding these things. Lay it on the table, including the attraction issue. Heck, maybe there's stuff about you she's not as happy as she used to be about.

That doesn't mean you two need to part, but when it's all out there, you can have a chance of working things out more honestly. Whether that communication brings both of you closer together or leads to an end, at least whatever happens will be in the open.
posted by cmgonzalez at 2:18 AM on January 19, 2009

I don't think it's a good sign that you're willing to take flirtation that far. When you went to the hotel, it was to link up with the girl you'd just met. You don't know what you would or wouldn't have done once you got to the room, sure. But you were open to all possibilities, and you didn't just text once to let her know you were interested in linking up. Linking up with someone you'd likely see again, if it's someone you've met through a social or professional network, I might add.

If you're asking for permission to have your cosy, comfortable relationship and the occasional fling, you need to ask your girlfriend about that, not MeFi. She might be OK with that arrangement. I kind of doubt it, though.

I think the weight gain is a red herring. You don't say how much she gained. A fluctuating 10 lbs overweight is not the same as having gone from stick thin to the size of a compact car. If it's so serious that you simply can't have sex with her, you need to talk to her about it. Be prepared for her to tell you to shove it, though, and for a lot of hurt feelings. Those hurt feelings will be easier for her to process than the hurt feelings she'd have from you cheating. She's already figured out that you aren't as into her now as before, and she's probably figured out why. Anyway, it's a discussion you need to have.

I'd take a break from the relationship, at the very least. It sounds like you have a lot to sort out before you commit to your current gf.
posted by Grrlscout at 2:37 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]

I think the comments in your first two paragraphs say more about your relationship than any half-baked flirtation on a work trip. It sounds like you're prepared to continue your relationship of 3 years because it might be difficult to make a change. You find her less attractive, sex is unsatisfactory, you describe the prospect of marriage as not seeming so bad now (how bad was it previously?) and you are "dragging your feet." There are a few warning signs there that marriage with this person is not for you, not now at least.

I think you would benefit from coming out of the comfort zone you seem to have drifted into, whether that takes the form of a frank discussion with your SO over the issues you mention above, or taking a break completely. You might get a fresh perspective on marriage and your feelings towards your girlfriend. It should not take the form of cheating behind her back. The hotel flirtation merely flagged up something that should have been obvious from the feelings you talk about at the start of your post.
posted by fire&wings at 2:49 AM on January 19, 2009

Two things:

I'm 29, she's nearly 30.

You're both 29. Perhaps you were only trying to let us know she was older without saying "she's older than me", but if not, keep in mind there's not a world of difference between an early-29er and a late-29er. ;)

What do you think?

I think that she's becoming less of a girlfriend to you, and more of a friend; it's important that she be both if you're going to get married.

That might mean you need to come clean about her weight bothering you, and that may drive her away. However, a life spend pretending you're attracted to someone that you're not is not a life you'll enjoy very much, and in fact you may end up resenting it.

That might also mean you need to stop flirting with other people, and concentrate on her for flirting and fun. If you don't, you're going to spend a lot of time comparing boring old girlfriend to exciting new unknown people (who themselves would become boring old girlfriend sooner or later if you dated them.) She can't compete with that, and she shouldn't have to. Should you stop talking to women? Nope, just casually drop a mention of your girlfriend whenever you meet a new woman. I guarantee you that she'll stop flirting with you and start talking to you like a normal person, unless she's in it for the conquest, in which case there's no reason for you to be talking with her unless you want to cheat.
posted by davejay at 3:38 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

Hit submit too soon. Oops. Continuing:


That might even mean that you and she are meant to be friends, or not even that. The only way you'll know is by knocking off the self-defeating behavior for a bit, and talking to her about how you feel -- and if you can't talk about your feelings with her, the whole thing is a non-starter anyway, no matter how much you "value the relationship."
posted by davejay at 3:39 AM on January 19, 2009

"Our sex life hasn't been great, I'm not as attracted to her due to the significant weight she's gained since the start of our relationship"

That says it all, really.
posted by almostwitty at 3:47 AM on January 19, 2009

If you resent her weight and age to the point you're "scoring" with random girls at bars, why are you even bothering with a real relationship? You make it sound like she's the equivalent of a comfy old pair of shoes you don't quite have the heart to throw away. Come on now, you both deserve better than that.

If it sucks now, getting married damn sure isn't going to help anything. You're basically laying the groundwork to metamorphose into the stereotypical shifty-eyed "mid-life crisis guy" with the convertible and flashy oversized Rolex, furtively popping viagra in mediocre hotel rooms to impress 20-year-old gold diggers.

Why not have your crisis now and get it over with before you waste the next twenty years of your life being miserable?
posted by aquafortis at 4:34 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]

By the time cheating has become a viable option, things are usually off the rails already.

Doesn't mean you can't salvage the relationship. Maybe your SO is just cruising along on autopilot?

Maybe it's time to have that what-are-we-doing talk?

Generally I advise against telling people about affairs, it doesn't really accomplish much, but your in case, because you didn't mount this other chick when you had the chance, it might be worth saying to your SO, "Hey, you know, I've been finding myself attracted to other people have having second thoughts about this relationship. We need to fix it, or end it."
posted by wfrgms at 4:50 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is all good advice, BUT: I see absolutely no reason to bring her weight into this. The problem, as far as your relationship goes, is not that she has gained weight, but that you are no longer attracted to her. It's bad enough she's about to get dumped, she doesn't need to be told it's because she got fat!
posted by lunasol at 5:07 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

"Our sex life hasn't been great, I'm not as attracted to her due to the significant weight she's gained since the start of our relationship"

You need to break it off, so that you both can find a better match. Quit wasting her time.
posted by dabitch at 5:08 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm 29, she's nearly 30.

That jumped out at me too. What the hell are you saying there, exactly?

Combine that with the weight comment, and it seems pretty clear that you are looking for a younger, thinner girlfriend, or at least sex partner. You don't talk about the rest of your relationship, so it's hard to say how much you have there. (Sex is just sex, after all.)

This question sounds more like you're looking for an excuse or validation for wandering. You don't say what your partner's expectations for you are, or if she's imposed any rules on you, but it sounds like your relationship is doomed if it's based on restricting your sex life absolutely. You may be fidgeting under the totalitarian threat of enforced monogamy, which sure sounds like it's conflicting with your impulses, which I think puts you in the camp of "human being."

To pontificate for a second: in all but the first LTR I have been in, there's always been a very early understanding that people are people, we all stray and wander and there is biology at work, so absolutist promises are just setups for disappointment and suffering when reality falls short of sky-high expectations. In my case, I know the idea of someone telling me what I may not do, even when it does not involve the other person, bothers me deeply. I expect this isn't that rare a human condition, even if it's not given voice all that often.

So instead of "omigod you must never touch another person or I will kill you" the rule for both parties for me has always been a sort of "We're people, stuff happens sometimes. If stuff happens, tell me about it later, and come home eventually, and we'll be fine. (And don't bring me any diseases please.)

I cannot overstate how much loosening that valve has kept the pressure low while maintaining security.

Consider establishing explicit rules early in your (next) relationship, and be realistic: thousands of years of history suggest that you are very unlikely to be "faithful" to only one person for 30 or 40 years, no matter how much you think you will, at least not without growing to resent your situation and/or that person for "trapping" you there.
posted by rokusan at 5:19 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

And what lunasol says: when you end this and move on, for the love of god do NOT mention her weight in any way. That would be pointless and cruel, especially since the odds are pretty damn good she'll assume that reason all on her own anyway.
posted by rokusan at 5:20 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

By the time cheating has become a viable option, things are usually off the rails already.

I would agree. It's like in When Harry Met Sally and Jes tells Harry that infidelity is just a symptom that something else was wrong in the relationship. ("Yeah, well that symptom is fucking my wife.")

It sounds like you know, on one level, that this isn't working but you're not fully ready to admit it yet. Talk to her. Bring it out in the open. (But please, PLEASE do not mention her weight if you want any chance at reconciliation.) See what happens. Either things will improve... or they won't. And if they don't, you can get on with your lives elsewhere.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:44 AM on January 19, 2009

Do you respect your SO? Forget love and whether or not you're attracted to her. Do you have any respect at all for her? If you do, you owe it to her to tell her the truth. You don't have to get into the fact that you almost cheated on her, but you do need to tell her that things aren't right for you and you and she need to figure out whether or not they ever will be.
posted by dogmom at 6:14 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth, I wouldn't want to marry you if you were my boyfriend and I knew all of this.
posted by jrichards at 6:22 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]

You need to decide what you really want most, whether that's working things out with your girlfriend or leaving her, and then commit to that path. Try to rule out cheating as a option, because it won't take you anywhere good.
posted by orange swan at 6:37 AM on January 19, 2009

"Cheating" isn't sleeping with other women. It's lying, deceitful behaviour. A relationship can withstand a bit of sleeping around, but not the lying or deceit.

Whatever you do, don't get married in the hope that it will save your relationship. It won't.

On the other hand, you could choose to grow up and start communicating honestly. Sit her down and tell her about your hopes and fears. Tell her about the girl in the hotel and how you didn't sleep with her. Tell her that you are worries about her weight gain, and how that might be a symptom that she's not happy. Work out between you whether you want to make a go of it.
posted by mr. strange at 6:56 AM on January 19, 2009 [5 favorites]

Break up now, or at least take a break, before you get married and resent each other.
posted by emd3737 at 6:57 AM on January 19, 2009

Count me in the "cheating has nothing to do with it" camp.

At base it consists of the anxious assertion that "gee, if things weren't so bad I wouldn't be doing this."

Poppycock. Your relationship might be terrible and you could still say "ok, I'm not going to do this, because I agreed that I would not, even if I would really like to do this." Your relationship could be great and you would still say the same thing.

In essence, our ability to keep a promise where we agreed to do so has to do with deciding that we will keep this promise.

Instead, when we break down, it usually is because either we don't really think very much of promises we make, or the drama and difficulty such scenarios present helps us stop thinking about a different problem which is really bothering us.

When we are looking back, we often attribute these transgressions to our partner, as if somehow a loss of feeling for our partner caused us to not keep our promise. Not so. The simple fact is that the choice is always ours.

Having said this--you didn't cheat. Go home and look into things.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:00 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

Typically at the core of cheating are issues of validation and self-worth.

Please look into this before you hurt someone who loves you.
posted by uhom at 7:19 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: UPDATE: Thank you all for your frank advice.

Let me clear up a few things. First, the weight thing is more along the lines of 40 lbs than the normal LTR comfort padding we all put on. And yes, I've brought it explicitly (tactfully) up, which didn't go so well. We've been through some counseling about it. I feel really shitty that it matters to me. And you're right, it's more about attraction than it is about numbers.

The age thing was a bleary-eyed typo, I'm a year and half younger than she, and the point of that was to say that she very much wants to get married.

I think I also succumbed to a little gusto on the hotel detail... since she actually was staying in the same hotel as my cast -- but I was still playing with fire in terms of (briefly) going to the hotel, and scoring was a very poor choice of words.

A few days after the fact, I'm very happy I didn't go through with it, and you're right: The weight, the other stuff, even the "cheating" isn't the issue. It's just attempts to throw off responsibility. Even as I was making the walk to the hotel, I couldn't stop thinking about how hurtful it would be. What it feels more like, and i think what I'm really trying to get down to, is an attempt to jolt myself into a situation where I can gain clarity about my LTR.

That's what I mean about a crucible. The last 3 months have been me realizing I have too much fantasy about what marriage should be, and it's been a struggle to deal with the fact that maybe it's not going to be a divine YES! when i choose a mate -- perhaps it even is with other people/relationships, but I don't think my brain is wired that way. And that's what I'm having the most trouble with... that as time progresses, my convictions and doubts keep amplifying. I'm scared shitless that I don't have clarity on this -- so much so that I feel the need to ask "objective observers" to get perspective.

This is what I worry about.
posted by dentata at 9:38 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

The age thing was a bleary-eyed typo, I'm a year and half younger than she, and the point of that was to say that she very much wants to get married.

Age has nothing to do with wanting to get married. Of course if she's always wanted to get married, she's going to want it MORE when she's in a LTR and the longer the relationship goes on, the more marriage seems like "the next step." But it's not because of her biological age, it's because of where she is in her life.

Just to dispel the myth that when women reach 30 the clock starts ticking. I was married at 22. I was divorced at 25. I'm 27 now and have no desire to ever be married again. Sure, my path is different from most women, but there's nothing about her age that means that she's any more or less likely to want marriage.

The reason that some women feel like they should be married by 30 is that society tells us that women are married by 30. There's no reason to perpetuate this nonsense.

posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:42 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Happily married folks: was there a time when you were horribly unsure of your relationship?

grapefruitmoon: Sorry, shortcuts keep getting me into trouble. I absolutely agree with you, but as she's expressed to me, she's worried that she'll go through early menopause like her mother. But again, the age really isn't the issue here.
posted by dentata at 9:57 AM on January 19, 2009

You can't force yourself to want to stay in a relationship you don't actually want to stay in.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:14 AM on January 19, 2009

Look, frankly, everyone who is in a relationship is susceptible to the "choir of angels" bit in that comic, only it usually goes over less fancy. People in relationships are human; they sometimes look at other people. Maybe get a little attracted. That's okay. The point is to not let it cross into anything inappropriate.

But relationships aren't cake either. They do take some work. That's not to say drudgery, but things that keep the spark alive and you both in each others' lives (and out of them, as you preserve your individual interests). And honestly, once you've been with someone for a few years, they can become predictable. They know exactly how to push your buttons, and they can be downright annoying on occasion. That's one reason that work comes in.

As someone upthread said, new people look all shiny and wonderful, but so did your girlfriend once. It's hard to tell someone's flaws right off.

As for her weight gain, offer to go work out with her. Both of you take on a healthier diet together. If you're berating her, even if she wanted to lose the weight, stressing out over her figure and relationship isn't the best condition to lose weight under. Make it collaborative, and it might even lead to a little more spark between you.

Do you think you both could try counseling?
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:27 AM on January 19, 2009

Finding yourself attracted to (and/or flirting with) someone who isn't your mate isn't some big sign from the cosmos that you're Not In The Right Relationship. It's really pretty normal. The fact is, everyone feels this kind of attraction at some time or another, even people who are married/committed to each other, even people who have been together for a long time and who are very happy with their partners. What matters is whether or not you choose to act on those feelings.

Do you want to make a life with this woman you've been with for three years? That's the question you need to ask yourself. If the answer is yes, the other stuff can be worked out. Mismatched sexual expectations and undesirable weight gain are both really common problems (as even a casual perusal of Ask Metafilter will demonstrate). If you both love each other and communicate honestly, they're not insurmountable.

The answers in this thread that amount to "cut her loose" are pretty ridiculous in my opinion. Expecting a long-term love relationship to be without doubt 100% of the time is unrealistic and childish. Of course nobody wants to be the partner that is just "adequate." That's not what I'm saying. But everyone's life has ups and downs. Riding them out and finding productive ways to cope with the troublesome bits is part of being an adult.
posted by trunk muffins at 10:39 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I've been in weekly therapy for 3 months, mostly to figure this out, and recently we've been doing couples therapy.

Yes, I want to make a life with her. I think. No, I do. Well, am I really too young to do this? No, I'm just being childish. But I haven't had many long term relationships. I'm trying to feed my ego. Maybe I should just be celibate!

That's pretty much the answer right now.
posted by dentata at 10:49 AM on January 19, 2009

Maybe I should just be celibate!

No. You shouldn't be.
posted by Jairus at 11:09 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

And yes, I've brought it explicitly (tactfully) up, which didn't go so well. We've been through some counseling about it. I feel really shitty that it matters to me.

But it does matter to you, and that's just a fact. Beating yourself up over isn't going to magically make you want to jump her bones.

Yes, I want to make a life with her. I think. No, I do. Well, am I really too young to do this? No, I'm just being childish. But I haven't had many long term relationships. I'm trying to feed my ego. Maybe I should just be celibate!

It sounds to me like you're an ethical person who really cares about your girlfriend, and thus feels guilty about the dawning realization that this relationship really isn't right for you.

There's a difference between holding out for a choir of angels and holding out for someone you're actually attracted to and don't want to cheat on.

You both deserve better. She deserves better. Do you really believe that this is the best she can get?
posted by granted at 11:18 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

I do agree with those above who say that if you do break up with her, don't mention the weight thing (again). It'll just make a bad situation worse.
posted by granted at 11:19 AM on January 19, 2009

Do you love her? Can you tell her all your secrets? Do you have fun together?
posted by Maisie Jay at 11:22 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

and scoring was a very poor choice of words.

And yet, there it is.

You may think you're still in a relationship, but you're really already playing the field. Time to officially recognize what's already true.
posted by tkolar at 11:28 AM on January 19, 2009

I have been in your girlfriend's position, and I think you should break up with her.

Your story sounds remarkably similar to mine. My husband and I were married for a little over 5 years, together for about 7. Our sex life declined steadily and was pretty much non-existent by the time we split up. He was unhappy with the 10-15 pounds I had put on over the course of our marriage, and was no longer attracted to me. Suddenly one day he told me he had kissed another girl and it made him "realize how much he had been missing" and I was still his "best friend" but he didn't want to be married to me anymore. There is a lot more to the story, of course, but that is essentially what happened. Now it is 3 years later and I am much, much happier without him. I am assuming that he is happier now too, though I don't speak to him anymore.

In short, breaking up is hard, but your wandering eye is telling you something. For the sake of your future happiness, and for hers, you should really end this.
posted by apricot at 12:30 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Happily married folks: was there a time when you were horribly unsure of your relationship?

Oh yes, especially early on, and this was as close to the "choir of angels" person as one would expect to get. Marriage takes effort and maintenance, which is not something popular storytelling expresses very often. If I had to sum up what made the difference, I think it would be that we began to earnestly desire happiness for one another, and behaved as such.

Now, ten (15, really) years later, I still get a butterfly in the stomach when I spot him in a crowd. Sorry if that's oversapping.

Also: When reading about your situation, not much seems to reflect much actual fondness for your girlfriend. I don't know whether this is intentional, but it might be something to think about.
posted by bunji at 1:11 PM on January 19, 2009

Hmm. I have to agree that the relationship is on its way out. You've grown apart, the attraction is waning... c'est la vie.

And she's gonna figure it out soon and she will be hurt anyway.

There's no reason to stay in a relationship for the sake of marriage; I'd get out while you can and spare yourselves both the pain of making a potentially HUGE mistake.

Anecdote time:

Friend and long-term girlfriend got married. She cheated. He forgave. She cheated again. They divorced.

Dude I dated was coming out of divorce. His ex had pressured him into marriage & he was miserable, abused and is now incredibly messed up (no concept of what a healthy relationship is).

Friend is married to some dude she shares no interests with. She's often out by herself and she's cute so she gets hit on a lot. She has plenty of great guy friends who adore her so I mean... there's some guy out there that will take her salsa dancing and eat sushi with her. There's some girl out there who will be happy to sit at home with her current hubby and watch Nascar all night.

Sad stuff but the point is you both deserve to be happy. Perhaps there's someone out there more suited to you and someone out there more suited to her.

Man up and ask yourself if you want a relationship like this for the rest of your life. Because marriage doesn't make it better (it often makes it worse).
posted by HolyWood at 2:44 PM on January 19, 2009

I've been your girlfriend in this situation (same age too), same duration of relationship, similar issues, but he proposed. And then tried to "postpone" the wedding about six months later. Speaking from that experience, I cannot underscore to you enough how VERY, VERY WRONG it would be to propose to her if you are not absolutely certain you want to marry her.

I would run a few hypotheticals through your mind along the lines of what you anticipate happening if you actually do propose. If she is pretty much waiting for you propose, and you do, she will likely take that ring and run with it. And you need to be ready (and _willing_) to take that ride.

I think you need to give yourself a break and stop feeling guilty about your feelings towards her. Your feelings changed. You haven't made any permanent commitments to her... yet. She'll just have to understand that. But don't waste her time.

You're looking for a standard - a test - for what is enough emotion to feel for someone to warrant a proposal. But I'm pretty sure that if you're thinking about things along those lines, you're just avoiding the writing on the wall.

She wants to be married. You're not sure you want to marry her. End scene.
posted by smallstatic at 6:13 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: not much seems to reflect much actual fondness for your girlfriend

She's my best friend, she makes me laugh, and we're a great match for each other. Sorry that didn't come across before.
posted by dentata at 7:09 PM on January 19, 2009

Except for the fact that her weight gain makes her no longer a worthy person to you.

Sorry, I just hate this shit. What if she got into a terrible accident and lost her hair? I realize the former seems controllable and the latter not, but relationships are not just for when things are good. Are you exactly the same studly self that she got into the relationship with? Maybe she'd have a lot to say about your grooming and your personal habits, too.

There's nothing right or excusible about what you did. You cheated on your girlfriend. You may not have actually taken your whosi-whatsit out of your pants and put it into someone else, but that was just a matter of details, not your conscience kicking in.

This is going to end badly. This is how you treat your best friend? No really.
posted by micawber at 7:47 PM on January 19, 2009

dentata, imagine you're hanging out with your best guy friend. He's had a lot to drink and decides to confide in you the following:

"I was reading this online forum my girlfriend posts to. She says she has a hard time imagining life without me, and she appreciates me. But this thing she posted... she said she doesn't think I'm attractive anymore. She doesn't wanna have sex with me. And all that travel she's been doing for work? It turns out that she's been getting drunk and flirting with guys to see if she can still 'stray' and 'score.' And it gives her a good feeling the next day, knowing that she can.

"This week I guess it really came to a head. She met some guy who really 'lit her up,' and she actually went to the hotel where he was staying. If she'd gotten his text messages, she might've cheated, because that would mean it was 'meant to be.' She said she felt frustrated because she hadn't gotten any 'carnal satisfaction.' It kinda sounds like the only reason she didn't sleep with this guy was some 3G network problem or something." He laughs weakly. "We've been talking marriage. Should we get married?"

What do you say to your friend? If the answer is (as mine would be), "For crying out loud, no! You don't want to marry someone who disrespects you like that! How could you ever trust her?" then there's your answer.

You said your girlfriend is your best friend. You say you love her. Don't you think she wants to marry someone who won't disrespect her like that? Don't you think she deserves to marry someone she can trust? (These aren't questions I'm demanding replies to, of course--just hard questions you should ask yourself. )
posted by cirocco at 9:57 PM on January 19, 2009

Response by poster: I realize this is all a bit after the fact, but I really didn't do my description of the relationship justice.

Last week(!) I was fantasizing about our wedding ceremony. Fantasizing. Like, ooh, that'll be great. A great life with this woman who makes me laugh! I know the initial description is couched in "i want to get my dick wet" language, because at the time I wrote it, I was figuring it was just some sort of childish ego thing I needed to work out (which is a part of it, I acknowledge).

But all of this are just signifiers for the real problem in the relationship, as far as I can tell, which is the attraction. I'm not talking about weight here. Other than the attraction, the relationship is great. We laugh together. Has the relationship always been good? Nope. Have we been working on it? Yes, we both have. And especially recently, it's been good!

Yet, I acknowledge that I'm the type of person who is rarely satisfied, so I need to address that for _any_ relationship. So I keep oscillating between is it "us" that's the problem, or "me"?

Or maybe I'm just spinning a web of bullshit for myself. Thank you for your answers, nonetheless.
posted by dentata at 1:02 AM on January 20, 2009

Hey, no one said that you're an evil bastard or that you don't genuinely care about your girl. Not even you. The fact that you're asking yourself all sorts of questions about what happened and what it means about you or your relationship says that you do genuinely care about trying to do the right thing. I think the main thing that came through in your post was that you're presenting the relationship in very ambivalent leaning negative sorts of ways.

That "angel trumpets and devil trombones" moment when you meet That Special Person really can happen. I think it's a bit quieter than the brass band suggested in the description, maybe in the belly or a quickening of the heartbeat. My husband walks to the train station each night to meet me and walk me home. Every night, I see him on that platform, and every night, my heart skips a beat. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that he's the only man on the entire planet for me. But he's the one I want to be with.

I don't think you're shallow for mentioning the weight thing. If it bothers you, it bothers you. You aren't saying she isn't a good person because she's fat, or that you don't care about her. You're just saying that you don't want to knock boots with her. OK, fine. If that's true, you don't need to be in a romantic relationship with her. It's pretty simple. Just tell her that you think she's fantastic but that you are really wondering if you need to be with her right now. Tell her that you don't want to hurt her, but that you want to be absolutely certain before you make another step. You can't control how she'll take it. But if you're honest with her, it will hurt, but not like it would hurt if you cheated... or if you kinda hung on, playing wait and see.

For what it's worth, Mr Grrlscout likes 'em exotic and skinny. I'm neither. When we met, I was carrying a lot more weight than he'd normally prefer. He said that yeah, he would have preferred I'd been thinner when we met, and he's happy that I've lost some weight. I think he's still scratching his head at why he thought I was sexy when we met, because I was so incredibly against type. He's a little shorter than the guys I normally would have dated. I like tall men. Mr. G's a couple of inches taller than me, but not the normal 6' 4" I'd date.

Sure, we both knew a lot about each other before we met face to face (long, long story), but despite we both were against type for each other, we were and are all over each other like crazed weasels.

I'm telling you this because I think that if you met a woman who's really right for you, and not just a good friend, that you'll both be at it like crazed weasels, too.
posted by Grrlscout at 2:14 AM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yet, I acknowledge that I'm the type of person who is rarely satisfied, so I need to address that for _any_ relationship. So I keep oscillating between is it "us" that's the problem, or "me"?

Fwiw, I think this is a really important question for you to pursue.
posted by smallstatic at 8:25 AM on January 20, 2009

I suggest you separate the feeling attracted to another issue with the "do I want to be here issue." The only reason that you are connecting them is because you are feeling them.

I'd even put off a decision for two weeks, just so the psychological effects of going through the experience will clear. Otherwise your feelings about the incident and the other person could make a rational decision more difficult to come by.

What I'm arguing is that your agreement with your SO to remain faithful to your relationship until and only until you do break up is a conscious decision to make which has nothing to do with the fact that you are also attracted to others. I'm a big believer in the idea that if you feel so strongly about someone else, you owe it to all parties to make a clean break and take a chance that a new thing would work, instead of cheating.

This means you can disconnect the question of remaining faithful from your diminishing feelings about your partner--that is you can make that decision separately, logically, without the insistence of other drives in yourself making that question difficult.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:32 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Other than the attraction, the relationship is great.
You mean, "other than the fact that I want to fuck other people, the relationship is great."

You've characterized this correctly: You are trying to spin a web of bullshit for yourself. Her weight bothers you, and this led you to try and bed someone else. You said it, you meant it, and now you have to wear it. She's your best friend, you have wonderful fun together, you enjoy her company, but you're willing to violate her trust in a very fundamental way because...she's heavier than you'd like her to be.

End this relationship and start trying to find the eternally young, pretty, thin woman you're fantasizing about.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:28 AM on January 21, 2009

End this relationship and start trying to find the eternally young, pretty, thin woman you're fantasizing about.

I think the key to getting less obnoxious answers on MetaFilter is to never ever mention the weight of your partner.

If you aren't happy with your current situation, and you don't see that changing, then you should end things. Marriage is definitely work, but really, it shouldn't be that much work. You should enjoy the whole endeavour, even if there are the occasional bumps in the road.
posted by chunking express at 8:07 AM on January 21, 2009

If his girlfriend has *really* gained all this weight, it could point to a serious health issue. She could have thyroid problems, she could have PCOS, or maybe she's depressed. Everyone assumes that weight gain makes you into a digusting slobby smelly Jabba the Hut, and you only got it because you didn't exercise or you ate too many doughnuts, or "eat less and exercise more" when 98% people who diet gain all the weight back within five years. To quote Joy Nash, "98 percent is ALL OF THEM."

The majority of men have no idea what weight looks like on a woman. Yeah, some guys can guess it to the pound, but if you spend any time on online dating sites, guys think that, hey, I can expect a girl to weigh 110 and be

I also see nothing here from the poster about his own weight gain or if he is, again, the hunky studmuffin he was when they got together. That's rarely, rarely the case, but hell, I'm willing to be surprised.

I've been here, and nursed friends through this. I've stayed up all night with the friend who literally stopped eating because she gained 7.26 pounds due to the birth control pills her boyfriend INSISTED she take, and then had the temerity to say that her weight gain turned him off and she should really hit the gym.

It is easy to say "My girlfriend's fat so I'm not attracted to her any more" because you'll get 90% of the dudes in the world saying "Right fucking on, NO FAT CHICKS" instead of just saying that you're not attracted to her any more and you don't know why.

Attraction is subjective. It just is. It is okay to not be attracted to her any more. It is not okay to blame it on anything but yourself, and even then, there shouldn't be any blame. Just because you love someone doesn't mean they're the right person for you to marry.
posted by micawber at 12:04 PM on January 21, 2009

on preview, since clearly I am angry, "be 100 lbs and 6 feet tall and not see anything wrong with it"
posted by micawber at 12:05 PM on January 21, 2009

Last week(!) I was fantasizing about our wedding ceremony. Fantasizing. Like, ooh, that'll be great. A great life with this woman who makes me laugh! I know the initial description is couched in "i want to get my dick wet" language, because at the time I wrote it, I was figuring it was just some sort of childish ego thing I needed to work out (which is a part of it, I acknowledge).

You sound emotionally unready (as in, immature) for marriage, personally. If you flip flop emotionally about it to such a degree, I agree with most of the others in saying don't even think about it, and really, seriously consider if you're not wasting you and this poor woman's time. You haven't found it yet. Maybe it's with this relationship, but if it is, it'll only become so once you do the soul-searching work of learning to mutually appreciate each other, etc. Everything in your initial post screams out that you feel like there's a millstone around your neck and you've got the blahs. Snap out of it--by either moving on, or working on what you have now. As others said, the flirtation crap is the effect of a greater issue, not a cause in itself. You have bigger and more nebulous issues to work out.

And since you asked re: cheating as a dealbreaker, randomly, in my case, yes. I have a no tolerance policy for cheating. Not for the act in itself alone so much as all the things it signals--a breakdown in honest communication (the deception about the act sure, but also the silence about how things were lacking prior that caused the act) and an ability to stop viewing each other as worthy of better behavior, etc etc. (Shrug) I realize it's not a common approach, but it's working for me so far.
posted by ifjuly at 3:47 PM on January 21, 2009

I know this is wicked late but my .02 cents is that
1. This isn't cheating or even indicative that anything is wrong in isolation, and
2. You aren't attracted to her? DTMFA. Maybe women can get over this issue, but I'm sure most men cannot. It sounds to me like you're really trying to figure out if breaking up with a girl over your lack of sexual interest is shallow and mean. Stop trying to figure that out, just do what's right for both of you and split. It'll be the hardest thing you ever do, but the end result will be happiness for both of you.

If this is unthinkable, explicitly work on it with fantasies and threesomes or dressing up in coyote costumes or whathaveyou. But don't stay together out of fear of being the bad guy. That just makes you the worse guy.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:21 AM on January 23, 2009

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