Dear Wendy: “My Boyfriend Hangs Out With ‘Mean Girls'”

A couple months ago I entered into a relationship with an awesome guy whom I work with (not necessarily the best call, but what can you do!). So far, things have been pretty good. We have the ability to keep it professional at work and we share the same sense of humor, etc.. The problem is, a couple girls in our office also like him, but are very catty about it. They’re the kind of girls who attempt to be your friend in order to get info. Recently, a coworker whom I am also friends with overheard these girls saying nasty things about me and that they hope my relationship would end. I told this to my boyfriend, but he still continues to spend time with them at work and outside of work (without me!). I told him I didn’t want it to influence their friendship — I would just hope he would see that it really hurt my feelings, and any girl who would say that is not as good of a friend of his as he thought. I’m reluctant to tell him that this is making me crazy, but I don’t know what else to do! — Jealous Coworker

Why are you reluctant to tell your boyfriend it makes you crazy that he continues to spend time (without you!) with women who publicly disrespect you? I’d not only tell him it makes you “crazy,” but it makes you question his loyalty to you and whether there’s really any potential for your relationship to last long-term. It’s not like these women are family members or lifelong friends who mean a lot to him. These women are co-workers — co-workers who badmouth his girlfriend. And he’s basically telling them that he accepts their badmouthing by continuing to see them socially. If he were a gentleman, he’d either quit hanging out with them or he’d do whatever possible to foster a cordial relationship between you and them so that you could all hang out together as friends. But he’s not doing that and I think it’s because he likes knowing he incites passion in the women he works with. He likes the feeling that all of you are fighting over him.

I’d be very reluctant to continue dating someone who disrespects me as blatantly as your boyfriend is disrespecting you. If I were you, I’d tell him — again — how uncomfortable you are with him hanging out with the catty office girls (without you!) and how it makes you question his loyalty to you. I’d then give him a couple weeks to make some changes and if I weren’t satisfied by then that he got the message and wanted to do right by me, I’d dump his ass. People show you who they are pretty early on in a relationship and that’s exactly what your boyfriend is doing now. He’s very clearly showing you he’s a bit of jerk and not mature enough or ready to make the sort of sacrifices one often needs to make in a loving, committed relationship. If he continues to prove these things about himself and you stay with him, you’ll have only yourself to blame months down the line when you’re more emotionally invested and you’re still being treated like your feelings don’t matter. He’s showing you his true colors, sister. Do you see them?

Two years ago, I met a guy and fell harder for him than I ever had before (or since). Shortly after we started dating, I learned that he had broken an engagement (and 8-year relationship) just a few weeks before we met. He wasn’t phased by it and told me that it had been over for a while, and by the time they had formally broken up they were both ready to move on. I believed him in my blissful newly in love state. He broke up with me a few months later, saying that he needed some time to be single after being in a relationship for so long. Needless to say I was pretty devastated, but we stayed on talking terms exchanging the odd text or email.

In the intervening two years, I did my best to meet someone and get over him: I did the online dating thing; I joined co-ed sports teams; I let friends set me up on blind dates, but nothing has resulted, or even remotely compared. He, on the other hand, got back with his ex-fiancée and got engaged again. In the summer, I ran into him at a mutual friend’s birthday party and we ended up having sex, and started something of an affair. I have never discussed his fiancée with him — he told me when they got back together (well before we started sleeping together again) and hasn’t mentioned it since.

I know that the typical advice is “they never leave their wife,” but I have loved this guy since we met and keep hoping that he’ll “choose me.” When I’m with him, I always tell myself that I don’t care that he has someone else; being in the moment, having the greatest sex I’ve ever had, and being in love with him is enough. Then he goes home and my heart breaks. I can’t imagine him celebrating the holidays with another girl and I became physically ill when I saw the engagement photos his fiancée had tagged him in on Facebook.

I have fantasies of sending her an e-mail and telling her about our relationship (forwarding her our IM transcripts, e-mails etc.), but I don’t because I assume he’d be so upset with me that he’d end it with me. I’m scared to lose him but at the same time I’m 29, established in my career and own my home and am ready to find someone to commit to. I feel like I have to choose between love, with the only person I’ve ever really felt that for, and commitment with some unnamed other. What should I do? — Once Bitten

First of all, my advice isn’t “they never leave their wife (or girlfriend or fiancée).” Sometimes cheaters do leave their primary woman for their mistress … but that doesn’t mean your guy is going to leave his fiancée for you, or that you’d have a happy, healthy relationship if he did. I can tell you that as long as you stay with this guy and make it easy for him to continue being with both of you, he’ll never leave his fiancée. Why would he? He gets to have his cake and eat it, too. And you better believe that it’s only going to get harder for you to continue seeing happy pictures on Facebook of the two of them together. It’s only going to break your heart more deeply when he leaves you at home to spend the holidays with his fiancée and their families. And as his wedding approaches and he has less and less time to spend with you, you’re only going to feel crazier, looking for some sign that you mean as much to him as he means to you. But you don’t. You don’t mean that much to him because if you did, he wouldn’t be engaged to marry someone else.

And yes, you might have the power to ruin that relationship. You could send emails and IM transcripts to his fiancée, but that won’t make you feel better, because the thing that you want — the guy to be yours and yours alone — you won’t get. You’ll still be without the guy and instead of feeling better, you’ll feel worse. You’ll feel worse because you will have made another woman hurt like you do. In fact, she’ll hurt even more. At least you have the luxury of knowing the truth. Imagine if you didn’t know the truth and some woman who was screwing your fiancé threw that truth in your face? And for what? Not because she wanted to save you from making a big mistake; no, she just wanted to have that guy all to herself. Is that how you see yourself? As a vindictive, selfish woman? Because that’s certainly how you’re coming across.

OB, get some professional help. Go see a therapist to help you get over this man and move on once and for all. He’ll never ever be yours. Even if he broke up with his fiancée to be with you, his heart will never fully belong to you. He has so much history with this other woman and you’ll always represent the reason he’s not with her. So, move on. Let the two of them figure out their relationship while you clean your slate and look for someone who’s actually available to you. There are other men out there. You just haven’t seen them or given them a chance because you’ve never let yourself give up the fantasy that you’ll end up with this cheater in the end. You remained in contact with him. You held out hope. Now, it’s time to let that go.

If you ever want to be happy in love, you have to let this guy go: defriend him on Facebook, delete his number from your phone, and block his email. Tear off the band-aid as quickly as you can. It will hurt at first, but I promise it won’t hurt as much as if you keep that band-aid on and continue this charade of a “relationship.” You don’t know hurt like you’re going to feel if you continue sleeping with him while he marries the woman he loves. The woman who is not you. And be glad she’s not you! Be glad you aren’t marrying a man who regularly cheats on you. Be glad you have the luxury of cleaning your slate and finding someone who actually respects you and loves you, because it’s clear this man does not. And he never will.

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