Dear Wendy: “I Found Condoms In My Boyfriend’s Bag!”

This morning when my boyfriend was in the shower, I was going to surprise him by putting a note in one of the small section in his backpack. We’ve been going through a rough patch recently, so I thought it would be nice to give him it. When I reached in, I found two condoms in there which were unused. I was too surprised to process it, I just put them in his drawer and I forgot to give him the note. We’ve been together for eight months, so I’m trying to trust him but there’s a huge part of me that is wondering if I am being naive and stupid. I want to tell him what happened but I don’t want to sound like I’m attacking him or like I’m snooping. How do I approach him about this, if at all? — Should I Even Ask?

You don’t mention whether the two of you use condoms together. If you do, I think it might be safe to assume he carries them in the event you need them when you’re out together. Maybe they’re leftover from the days before you started dating? I, for one, know I’ve got stuff in the pockets on my bags that have been there longer than eight months. But you’ll never know the answer — or be able to tell if he’s lying — if you don’t just ask him point-blank to his face. So, tell him the truth — that you wanted to leave him a little note in the pocket of his bag, but then when you opened it up you found these condoms. You were so surprised, you kept the note, and you want to know why he’s carrying them around with him. If he hems and haws and generally has a shady reaction, you wouldn’t be out of line to question him about cheating on you. I’m not saying that’s what he’s doing, just that you wouldn’t be out of line to question him.

I’m a 26 year old living a lively, post-graduate school life in New York City. I don’t have to tell you or your readers how wonderful and thrilling this city is. I am fortunate enough to have amazing friends here and we have many adventures together yet, in spite of this, I feel something is missing. Or someone more particularly. After a tremendously painful breakup with a long-distance boyfriend in July, I have recently begun to “date” again. I’m giving it a try, but I’m troubled because I often hear that men in New York City are more reluctant to settle down and stay with their girlfriends than in other cities. After a failed relationship with a man I dearly loved (still do), perhaps I am giving more credence to this than is necessary, but I cannot help the thought that there may be some truth in this. I am at a stage in my life where I greatly value long-term, committed relationships, that could one day potentially lead to marriage. I’m considering moving to another city where men might be more welcome toward stable relationships. While this is not the only reason I’m thinking of moving (wanderlust, cheaper rent), I’d be lying to myself if I pretended it wasn’t one of them. What I am asking, I suppose is this: are men (particularly those in their 20s) in New York less interested in committed relationships than in other places? Is moving partially with the intention to find a nice boy and to settle down healthy? —Love Sick

A lot of people like to talk about New York men being so difficult to date, and maybe that’s true, but I think it’s pretty impossible to say whether one city has a more commitment-phobic flock of men than another. If you’re going to live in an urban area, regardless of where in the country, you’re going to find a plethora of young men whose top priorities don’t always include marriage and kids. That’s because cities attract people who have a lot going on and whose lives are often quite full without committed relationships. It may take those people a little longer than, say, people who live in small towns or suburbs, to feel like they’re ready for something new, that they have room in their lives for a serious relationship. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t young men who aren’t interested in one, or that guys never reach that point. It just may take a little searching to find them.

Here’s what I know about searching: like usually attracts like. If you’re ready for a relationship, you’re going to attract someone else who’s ready for a relationship. The thing is, a lot of people lie to themselves about what they’re looking for. They think they want a relationship, when what they really want is some companionship or someone to like them or to give them attention. They aren’t really ready for the kind of commitment and compromise relationships require. If you’re recently out of a relationship with a man you still “dearly love,” as you say, maybe you aren’t as ready as you think you are. But if you are ready for a serious, committed relationship, you’re going to find it regardless of what city you live in. As long as you’re projecting that and getting out there and meeting people, eventually you’re going to find someone who’s projecting the same thing. It just may take you an awful lot of tedious first dates — and yes, probably especially so in New York.

*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at [email protected]