I cheated. Now what?
June 21, 2008 7:51 AM   Subscribe

I cheated. They each make up for the other's discrepancies. Time to make a decision. Yeah... it's one of those.

Ok. Thanks in advance for bearing with me here, I'll try to make it as short as possible.

Relationship situation:
I have a boyfriend for about five months now but he's been chasing after me for roughly two years. After Valentine's Day this year I decided to give it a go and it worked out pretty well so far up until the past month. He is 25 (six years older than me) and does not go to college (I do). Our relationship has been a little shaky due to discrepancies in communication (he says he can't articulate himself as well as I can) and his financial situation. The past month he has been to court for several tickets and has about $1500 in fines. After having a very well paying job for about a year he was laid off and was collecting unemployment for the majority of last summer. Now he works minimum wage at a video game store because he loves video games.
I am not impressed with his lack of motivation and responsibility and now that he's even deeper in the hole (and a little depressed about it), things have been getting worse. He does seem to be having several "realizations" about his unhappy life situation and seems fairly motivated to fix things. I know he really really loves me and even though I've suggested taking a "break" several times he doesn't want to.

"Other guy" situation:
There is this guy who I have known since the beginning of high school. We're the same age. From our junior year till now we've had a strange "on and off" thing going on. For his first two years of college he went out of state but we communicated fairly often and whenever he came back to visit I'd see him. Last summer we dated until he had to go away. Now he's moving back and I'll be seeing a lot of him. He's interesting, attractive and intelligent although not quite as "fun" to be around as my boyfriend; I just don't feel as relaxed. He's going to a very good school and doing well and he seems to be on the right track as far as his future. However he's not as self-confident, affectionate, open and "fun" as my boyfriend.
Two nights ago we hung out and messed around. I think that qualifies as cheating.

My situation:
I am young. 19 years old. I can't figure this thing out. I've known both of these guys for a long time and I really care about both and I'm pretty sure I would be with the second one (NOT my boyfriend) if he hadn't gone away. There's a lot of passion in my relationship with my boyfriend but (even before the whole cheating thing came up) it was a little difficult for me to accept someone with such a different path in life and I sometimes felt it was bringing me down. If I could combine these two into one I'd have the perfect guy.

IF I NEED TO BOIL THIS THING DOWN TO ONE SIMPLE, GENERAL QUESTION (this is for those who like to skim long questions) it would be: Should I stay with my boyfriend who is much older, going through a lot of turbulence in his life but very loving and affectionate and fun OR should I take a chance with my old same-age friend who is more similar to me as far as intelligence and life goals but not as open and confident?

Yes, I know cheating is bad, this is kind of selfish, etc. etc. I don't need advice about that. I want advice from people who have had to make a decision between two people with these factors or experienced people who can tell me which qualities are more important.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Lose the boyfriend, try the new guy. He might not be as open or confident but he's 19. He may learn to be. But for me, one of the most important things in a long term relationship is that he be on the same level of intelligence (or at least interest) in me. Plus, it sounds like the boyfriend's self-confidence is OVER confidence, if he's unmotivated and working minimum wage jobs and not going to school. Only you can know for sure.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:00 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're 19, in college, and have been dating a 25 year old who has a minimum-wage job that revolves around one of his (escapist) hobbies for five months. Despite the fact that he's "pursued" you for two years and should be thrilled to be dating you, he's communicating poorly, lacks motivation to improve his professional life, and is somewhat depressed. You have feelings that your current boyfriend may be holding you back, and admit that you would be a different man--a man you have cheated with despite the fact that's he's only been back for a brief time, and who you have dated in the past and only broke up with because he moved away.

Honestly, do you see this relationship lasting past your college graduation?
posted by Benjy at 8:11 AM on June 21, 2008

Honestly, you're 19 and it sounds like you are not totally into one guy or the other. If you break up with guy #1 and do not date guy #2, there are still plenty of men in the sea that you could meet later. Don't just lower your expectations.
posted by toaster at 8:21 AM on June 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

It doesn't matter. This is a serious answer. What you do at 19 is irrelevant to what happens in your real life unless you get knocked up or get arrested.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:23 AM on June 21, 2008 [13 favorites]

End it with both of them. Enjoy college. Neither of those guys sounds like the right one for you, from what you've said, and there's nothing wrong with being single until you figure out exactly what it is you want and the right guy comes along. No one's going to be perfect, of course, but you'll eventually meet someone who has a lot more of the qualities you're looking for at the same time.
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:30 AM on June 21, 2008 [4 favorites]

I'm with toaster, you don't sound that into the boyfriend, and I sense the "other" guy is not going to live up to your (reasonable) expectations. Break free, be single for awhile- I've seen friends jump from one relationship right into another, and it puts a lot of stress on the second relationship to fill the hole from the first.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:32 AM on June 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Adding to toaster's comment, I think you need to consider whether you want to continue a relationship with #1, and to evaluate that situation in itself rather than as a comparitive one - do you want to be with this guy and is this relationship going to give you what you need in the short- and medium-term? The decision about #2 is a separate, though related, one.

The ambition/motivation thing needn't be a big deal, but if it's very important to you in a partner, it doesn't sound like #1 is going to be the guy for you, and in spite of realisations about his life, he may never change in the way needed for you to be happy with him.

With #2, I'd give serious consideration to how important affection is to you, because that's also very hard to fix and it can be excruciating if it's missing.
posted by carbide at 8:34 AM on June 21, 2008

Your current boyfriend sounds like kind of a dud at the moment, honestly. I think that when he gets back on his feet he will make a great partner, but that may be years off. Right now he is just not in a place to be a good boyfriend for you.

The old guy, who is moving back -- sure, give it a shot, have lots of hot sex, you guys have a history and there are clearly some strong feelings. I kind of doubt things will work out with him long term, but who knows? At least it will be fun and exciting, and if you stay friends with him you can laugh about it all years from now.
posted by Forktine at 8:39 AM on June 21, 2008

What you do at 19 is irrelevant to what happens in your real life unless you get knocked up or get arrested.

(Disclaimer: I'm 19)

What? This person's life is very real to them right now, so it matters. Life is not a board game, if you play to solidify your position in some hypothetical Real Life stage, you'll regret it.

I suppose what you mean to imply is that these relationships will be transitory anyway, so pick one and enjoy it while it's worthwhile. That could just as easily be said for any relationship, and the OP is asking how to decide. So, to get around to answering that...

You've cheated on A to be with B. Do everyone a favor, break up with A, get together with B.
posted by phrontist at 8:41 AM on June 21, 2008 [9 favorites]

If I could combine these two into one I'd have the perfect guy.

So go find a guy who possesses all of their positive characteristics: fun, passionate, close in age, same life path. It's really not that hard to find.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:46 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

It doesn't matter. This is a serious answer. What you do at 19 is irrelevant to what happens in your real life unless you get knocked up or get arrested.

Whoa, bad advice. At 19 I moved to the arctic circle with a woman I had been dating for two years. We married two years later, but would have gotten married earlier had it been legal. What you do at nineteen can absolutely matter.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:49 AM on June 21, 2008 [3 favorites]

Break up with A. It doesn't seem as though you like him per se, but you like that he likes you a lot.

Then find a new A, someone older, more confident, and this time, college educated. Clearly you like B, but it doesn't seem like you can appreciate him for who he is and will be constantly harping on who is not, even though he may grow into being an A. You could date B obviously, but I suspect he's just not gonna measure up to your standards, even though he sounds fine.

You like'm older and more experienced. Go for that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:09 AM on June 21, 2008

Nobody probably including you is going to go for this, however...
When he started chasing you, you were 17 and he was 23. Insta-fail. Sure it's only 5 years, but at that time it was a third of your life. You were in high-school, he should have been out of college by then. His lack of motivation and obvious whatever it is that's causing him all these troubles is probably a REALLY GOOD REASON that nobody his own age would have him.

On top of that, you're 19. Forget anybody who says you should know what you're going to do with your life at 19 or where you're going to go or who it should be with. If you're not happy at 19, you won't be happy at 25, and you really won't be happy at 30 or 50. It doesn't randomly "get better." You don't have to be a cheating wench, but don't waste your time.

Also, just because you ARE happy at 19 doesn't mean you will be at 25. Don't be thinking about who you're going to spend the rest of your life with. Be thinking about what's best for you and your future goals, whatever they are.
posted by TomMelee at 9:10 AM on June 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

As a few people above have said, neither of these sounds like a great match for you.

The age thing is irrelevant and foolish to worry about, but just on the plus/minuses alone, neither of these guys is exactly knocking you off your feet.

Since neither of these sounds like long-term options, really, I'd probably stick the the one you have more fun with for now if you're into the whole monogamy thing. Or tell them both you're not looking for something serious, and wing it.

Optimus Chyme pretty much nailed my reaction.
posted by rokusan at 9:22 AM on June 21, 2008

You clearly want out with the 25 year old. Quit behaving as if it anything else. Fool around with your HS buddy. Find someone (maybe him) who is fun to be around. Bolster your HS buddy's confidence.

Or, pay attention.....Choose door #3: Neither of them. Go find a wonderful new guy entirely.
posted by filmgeek at 9:28 AM on June 21, 2008

One of those rare cases where I agree 100 percent with Optimus Chyme. Sure, there are people that get married at 19. You don't seem like one of them, though. You'll look back at this five years from now, regardless of what decision you chose, and think "man, I was young and stupid then." You'll eventually learn what you like in a relationship. Until then, make a decision and stick to it.
posted by Happydaz at 9:29 AM on June 21, 2008

Let me clarify by saying the last wedding I went to was of a couple who had been dating since they were sixteen; it was beautiful and they'd had ten happy years together and will probably have sixty more. In this case? Not so much. You cheated on guy A, so any long-term relationship you could possibly have with him is more or less ruined. And guy B sounds okay, I guess, but you started the relationship off with deception and infidelity, and it doesn't augur well for a stable, happy future. That's why it doesn't matter. You'll date B for a few months and get bored with him and move on. So go nuts and don't worry about it.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:44 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

What you do at nineteen can absolutely matter.

Yes everthing single decision you make absolutely matters. From what you have for breakfast to who you decide to date, it matters.
But what Optimus Chyme and Happydaz are trying to say is that you just don't have the experience or maturity to make the "best" decisions at this point. If you want statistics, check the data available on divorce rates for people married before the age of 25 as opposed to people married after.
So I would agree, go nuts and don't worry about it. Take your lumps, and learn from them.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:27 AM on June 21, 2008

I think your primary mistake is treating this as an either or situation. It shouldn't be a debate between one guy and the other. Decide if your relationship with your current boyfriend is working. If you decide it's not, then break up with him.

Then, decide if a relationship with this other guy is worth pursuing. If it's not, don't. If it is, try it and see.

Alternative number three, that others have suggested is to find a different guy who actually makes you happy in the ways that number 1 and 2 don't.

Alternative number four is to recognize that a boyfriend is not necessary at all times. It's okay to break up with #1, not get together with #2, and not look very hard for #3. You're young and in college, it's okay to be single for awhile, while you figure out what you want out of college, yourself, a future boyfriend, life.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:27 AM on June 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

The new guy sounds like an accomplished guy, and the boyfriend sounds like a loser.

Even if he's not quite as exciting as the 25 year old, boring 19 year olds don't always stay boring. This guy is in a good school, he is going places, you like him, and he's young. He sounds worth trying a relationship with.

But a 25 year old loser who works in a video store, who has such lamentable life skills that he is paying $1500 in fines for multiple tickets, etc., is probably not someone you want to tether yourself to at this time. He's at a different stage in his life than you; it's likely that he's going to be looking to settle down before you're ready. He doesn't have things sorted out in his own life and things aren't looking great for him. I think you need to cut him loose. What seems exciting about him now will probably not mean much to you in a few years.
posted by jayder at 10:32 AM on June 21, 2008

Reminds me of my first boyfriend when I was 19, who was also 25 and unemployed with not much of a future ahead. Oh, I also had an "other guy" who was my age, successful, but not as much fun. I broke up with the 25 year old and I've never regretted it.

The truth is that the older guy needed to fix his life. He needed to do a lot of soul-searching that I couldn't do with him since I was in a different stage in my life. He had set habits, as most older guys do and bad habits that weren't going away any time soon. And honestly, I did look down on him a little. Admiration is important in relationships and I could never admire him.

The other guy was a good boyfriend and it was refreshing to not have to worry about him so much. We could go out to eat without me feeling guilty about his monetary situation and we had a lot more to relate to. Being young, he was also much more flexible and didn't have deeply ingrained bad habits.

Eventually though, I found someone who had better qualities than both of them, but I'm glad I gave that relationship a chance and didn't let myself be held back by the older guy.
posted by melissam at 11:45 AM on June 21, 2008

You shouldn't marry either of these guys. Just have fun and date a bunch of people for the next five years. Pick the person you'll have the most fun with. However, I do think it's a little creepy he was 23 hitting on you at 17. When I got out of college I did not hit on high school girls.
posted by xammerboy at 11:58 AM on June 21, 2008

why do you even need to be in a relationship? neither of these guys seem to sound like they are doing it for you and yet you seem to think your only choices is to be with one or the other of them. you're 19. date around. check out what else is out there. find out what you really want or find some guy who is all that you want. or don't. jave fun. there's no need to settle down now or settle for some guy who is only partially what you want.
posted by violetk at 12:17 PM on June 21, 2008

You shouldn't marry either of these guys.

what? did i miss something? who said anything about marrying?
posted by violetk at 12:18 PM on June 21, 2008

To me it seems painfully obvious you don't want to be with current BF. This was obvious the moment you mentioned that he had been chasing you for two years and you didn't follow up with "and now I'm the happiest I've ever been that I finally gave him a chance".

Seems you don't want to be with the other guy either. You just haven't said anything really great about him. That doesn't mean you have to be in love with every little thing about him. But you don't seem to be in love with anything about him. Sounds like you think he's a pretty good guy, and on paper would make a good relationship.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 12:50 PM on June 21, 2008

Take door number three. These two just don't do it for you except in a casual way. Live on your own, invite them over once a week. Have a life. Make no promises.
posted by ptm at 1:27 PM on June 21, 2008

Take some time off relationships. Work out what kind of guy you'd like to be with. Work out what kind of girlfriend you'd like to be. Play the field for a bit. Learn how to be a good friend.

Breaking your own ethics leads to heartache and self-disillusionment.

What you do before 25 does count, because you're deciding/learning who you're going to be, and what's acceptable in how you treat people and how they treat you. Sure you can change as you get older, but it gets tougher. Also, the people you're hanging with now, they're people, they have feelings, they hurt.
posted by b33j at 3:52 PM on June 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

When he started chasing you, you were 17 and he was 23. Insta-fail.

I really have to agree with this. Really, if you hadn't cheated and there was no other guy, and you were simply asking if you should be in the relationship or not- I'd still say, break up with him.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:20 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ew, he's in his 20's and he's been chasing you since you were seventeen? Creep. DTMFA.
posted by arnicae at 8:32 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

False dichotomy.

If you liked the first guy at all, you wouldn't be suggesting that you guys take a break. Multiple times. Then cheating on him.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:18 PM on June 21, 2008

Note me down as someone who thinks it sounds like you're not really that into any of these guys and should maybe try being a single again for a while.

For all you people being creeped out by twenty-somethings dating teens, better never come to Europe.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 1:19 PM on June 22, 2008

Just outta curiosity, did the older dude complete college or just never go? Because if he never went, then things are a little more direā€¦

Still, seems like a bad scene and teenage drama factory all around. I mean, just from what you've given us, it's impossible to know whether Guy A (Alphonse) is a loser or someone who's having a bump in his life, and it's impossible to know whether Guy B (Bertrand) is worthwhile aside from his ambition.

Look, you've already done something that you're likely to regret at least moderately as you age (cheating on Alphonse). Might as well fess up to that first off. Likely, he'll tell you to get bent and that'll eliminate that variable. Then you're on to Bertrand, who you may or may not want to date for the rest of the summer (and who may or may not turn out to be a heel, noting that guys who aid and abet cheating are often not moral paragons). You'll probably want to have a "Is this a relationship?" talk, because he could be looking at this as a summer lay (not that there's anything wrong with that, assuming everyone's eyes open).
posted by klangklangston at 9:25 PM on June 22, 2008

Guy #3

you pretty clearly laid out that niether of these guys really have everything you want. find someone who does.
posted by French Fry at 8:02 AM on June 23, 2008

Have you thought about not seeing either of them? You're 19 for god sakes...go out there and have some fun. If neither of the two are satisfying your needs why bother...your just wasting yours and possibly there time. Reading your entry I would say you have no idea what you want from a relationship. Do you want stability, emotional support, do you want to have fun, something meaningful, a boyfriend who's smart, no so smart? It seems to me you need to figure all that out before settling down with someone. When one of the main reason why your in a relationship to begin with is because you, "Decided to give it a go." that's just asking for problems from the start.
posted by Plug1 at 8:47 AM on June 23, 2008

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