Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A bleg for love life advice

On behalf of my friend Anne, I need to ask the internet what the best way is to handle a knotty romantic situation.

Here are the details: Anne met Brad online a few months ago. Neither of them was looking for anything long-term, and he's coming off a bruising divorce. But they hit it off and are quite compatible together. They can both see this turning into something long-term, but nobody's looking to get married here.

Brad's got some commitment issues at present (see: bruising divorce), and his communication tends to be spotty. It can take him two days to respond to a text message, for example. But when he does get in touch and they get together, it's wonderful.

Last night they had a particularly wonderful time. Walking outside, holding hands in the warm spring air, sharing a meal, and having a splendid roll in the hay. Around midnight, Brad went home, and Anne figured she'd check her e-mail.

Within a half hour of Brad leaving Anne's bed, he was making a let's-get-to-know-each-other overture via a hook-up website (the site where Anne and Brad had first met). Unbeknownst to him, the woman he was contacting was Anne under another screen name. She'd set up a second account to be able to set her mind at ease, being able to check out the activity for Brad's profile without having it look like she was spying on him. And now, so soon after a fantastic evening with Anne, he's putting the moves on Fake Anne!

So now Anne is in quite a spot. She is honestly OK with him reaching out to people on that website because their relationship isn't exclusive—but to do so within a half hour of cuddling with her is a huge slap in the face.

What should Anne do? Talk to him candidly and explain that he just contacted her other alter ego, and that this was so hurtful? Ignore it? Contact him as Fake Anne and see where he tries to take that? (She's not much inclined to play games of that sort.) Anne needs some advice and boy, I haven't a clue what she should do. Anyone?


Charlie said...

I would say that Anne shouldn't feel the need to overrule her real and valid feelings with a general principle.
Which is to say, she shouldn't let the general principle of being okay with Brad dating other people
outweigh the fact that it hurts to know that Brad was actively searching for other dates right after he was with her.

I'm not one to tell someone exactly how they should run their life. Anne is the one who has to make a decision
she is willing to live with. Instead of specific advice, how about some general thoughts?

- Is she still planning on seeing other people? Perhaps she can decide to treat the hurt more as a sudden shock that will fade quickly.
- She should probably think about what she was hoping to find by creating the alternate profile. If *I* were doing that, it would
mean that I wanted the relationship to be more serious than I'd been saying out loud. If that is the case for Anne, then it might
be worthwhile to have a frank conversation with Brad about where she wants the relationship to go. (Of course, my motivations might
not match her's, so your mileage may vary.)
- One thing that seems clear is that he isn't looking for an exclusive relationship right now. That's why he's still looking around
on the Internet, and it's probably why his communication is spotty. While Anne is mulling over what she wants to do, she should
probably keep this in mind.

I suppose my advice, such as it is, isn't rocket science. Still, I hope it at least provided a spark of something helpful.

Mignon said...

I echo exactly what Charlie said and would add one thing:

Brad's motivation for phishing so soon after leaving Anne was most likely for one of two reasons. Either he didn't have the wonderful evening she remembered and he felt like it was time to move on. Or he had a truly wonderful evening and got the commitment jitters and thought he'd better hurry up and expand his horizons or (horrors!) he might find himself monogamous and committed to a wonderful woman.

I see the latter, and I see a frank discussion coming, because the former is the end and the latter could be as well.

Andrea said...

I agree with the other two.

Communication is important, but...so is trust. And she created another account in order to "spy" on him. So, that's a red flag in the relationship already.

But how interesting that one of the other women he reached out to after being with Anne was "Fake Anne." Ya know?

The Absent Minded Housewife said...

Nothing. Except delete the fake Anne profile.

She knows now what he is and where he is. I bet she knew that before and that's why she made the fake profile. Either she takes it at face value or she can move on. Bruising divorces are confusing painful things and to expect some sort of logical behavior out of the guy...well it's illogical.

She says she wants one thing when her behavior displays she wants another. Taking some time to explore that without complicating her feelings with more snooping can make all the difference.

"Wordplay" is just starting on IFC btw.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Andrea. I found it quite interesting that Anne felt compelled to set up the fake account --- you say she didn't want to have it look like she was spying on him, but in fact that's exactly what she was doing. It was crude of Brad, and perhaps a kind of betrayal, to seek someone else out right after being with Anne, but it really was also crude of her, and another kind of betrayal, to spy on his actions. (By the way, would Anne have felt any better if Brad had waited until the next day to contact the fake Anne?)

I think Anne should ponder why she set up the fake account. If it was because she sensed something about Brad that she couldn't openly admit to herself, then she should forget about him unless she's willing to risk that he may keep looking for someone else. If she decides being with him is worth the risk, then she should come clean with him about what she did and what she knows about him, and see if they can each forgive and begin again.

Damn! I feel like Ann Landers...


Laura said...

It doesn't sound like Brad has communication problems, it sounds like he communicates pretty well.

When he doesn't respond to a text message for days, it says "this relationship will happen on my time, and I am not looking for something full time."

When he does not make their relationship exclusive, and reaches out to other women on the internet, he is saying "I don't want to be exclusive"

This isn't a betrayal. It doesn't sound like Brad is being dishonest with Anne. It sounds more like Anne has created an idea in her head of what she WANTS this relationship to mean, and Brad's actions betrayed that idea. Anne needs to decide if the relationship - as it currently is - is meeting her needs, and if she's OK with it. If she is, she needs to start being more honest with Brad and communicating better. If she's not, she also needs to communicate that - and accept that, if Brad isn't open to changing what she would need to change, that the relationship is over.

Narya said...

I think Anthrax is closest to my own thoughts on this. Anne should ask Brad where he sees the relationship going, and on what kind of timetable. She has a little extra information, which she doesn't need to reveal (and I don't think she's being duplicitous for not revealing it), but his answers should give her the info she wants. If he says, hey, I have a great time with you, but I am REALLY not ready to be involved seriously with anyone right now, then his words and his actions are in concert with each other and Anne can decide whether she's okay with spending time with someone who may decide to bail and who will, at minimum, need some time, and who, after said time, may not want to be Involved with Anne. If he gives her a line about how great things are, etc., then she knows he's full of shit and she can back off herself. He might still be fun to hang with, but it ain't going anywhere AND he's not honest.

DoctorMama said...

"She is honestly OK with him reaching out to people on that website because their relationship isn't exclusive—but to do so within a half hour of cuddling with her is a huge slap in the face"? The second half of that sentence is a direct contradiction of the first half. I smell some serious self-delusion.

K said...

I'd say she has issues going on here as well. If she felt she needed to check up on him, then she should be conscious of that and realize she doesn't trust him.
It was fun, it is over, imho.
She must really want something more serious, or she wouldn't care. He is not going to give her what she wants, not for a long while.
Personally, from some experience on a similar situation, I would recommend she back away now and just say "eh, it was fun". Being honest with herself that she wants more out of it is key.
She'll just be hurt more if she pretends that it didn't happen, and nothing he says will make her feel safe in this relationship. Therefore, confrontation isn't worth it at all, it will only hurt her more.
Good luck to her in a future guy!

Neverbored Board Shop said...

I think she should just come to terms with the fact that he's trying to hook up with as many women as possible in the shortest period of time. It's a challenge guys set for themselves. I use to do it all the time- not to be hurtful or sneaky or anything negative but simply to see how many different partners I could be with by the end of the week, or month. Eventually you fall in love with someone and that part of your life fades away. But if he's coming straight off a divorce he's probably turning back the clock a bit and getting ready to go through the cycle again. Anyway, that's my read on it. She should base her next move going on that information. If she wants to be with him JUST SAY IT. You have to be totally blunt with guys- they're not going to figure anything out for themselves. At least that's how I am.

Anonymous said...

Dude. Seriously? Anne's got issues. So does Brad.

Anne thinks it's okay to spy on a guy she's admittedly *not* in an exclusive relationship with because???

Brad thinks it's okay to not even let a decent interval pass before putting the moves on another woman? So much for basking in any glow they might have created.

Keeping in mind that I don't know the people involved except for the milli-sliver you've presented, I'd say they're bad news for each other.

He's not interested in anything progressing, period. He wants to control the pace and do what he pleases, apparently. This makes me cringe. What comes to mind is that he's just using her, leading her along until someone more acceptible comes along. He's kinda treating her like a hooker...without the having to pay for it part. She apparently isn't Ms. Right, she's Ms. Right Now. Biiiiig difference. Plus, there's the whole ignoring her thing. If he doesn't have enough respect for her as a person to answer her messages in a timely manner, what the hell is she doing sleeping with him??? Frankly, he makes my skin crawl.

Anne doesn't trust this guy. Now, I don't know if it's him specifically or all men in general, nor do I know what prompted her to feel the need to start checking up on him. The fact that she felt the need to do this speaks volumes about the state of health of the relationship, IMO. Any relationship I've had where things like that have happened has ended badly.

I know Anne likes the guy. He apparently doesn't like her in the same way, though. I think she has to decide whether the sex is worth having someone in her life she so obviously can't (or won't) trust. For me, that answer would be no.

I think I'm getting more intolerant of that kind of thing as I get older. I just don't think it's worth it. If you want the goodies, you've got to earn it. Feeling like I *need* to check up on you would be deal breaker. But, I'm not them, and it isn't my relationship.

Me, I'd fess up to him over coffee and then say goodbye. He's a troll.

Mary said...

Anne, Brad's just not that into you!

Steven Pierce said...

It's hard to be sure what's really going through Brad's mind. The real question is whether Anne can continue to be with someone who'd go online so soon after being with her. Anne's confronting Brad is a great way to ensure that the relationship doesn't progress further, but maybe a postmortem is all that's possible at this point.

grumpywookie said...

I think it's pretty clear what each one wants is not really what the other one wants.

To not be passive agressive, I think Anne should initiate an honest talk with Brad about spacing intimacy with other relationships.

I personally, would want to know if the person I was sleeping with was sleeping with or dating other people. Not because I'm interested in marriage but (1) there are pretty major health risks with multiple partners and (2) it is outside my comfort zone, and I owe it to myself to respect that.

If she feels this way as well, she needs to have a very direct conversation with him. If he's honest (and I can't imagine why he wouldn't be), they probably wont be seeing each other any time soon. It's not the end of the world, it just needs to be settled.

amyunicorn said...

Ditch him.