Rivals and departures
I've been dating a guy I really like for a month. He's been in a long-distance relationship with a woman since last spring. They spend a week together every couple of months, and were off and on for a few years prior. She's coming to visit for three weeks next month, and afterward, they plan to part for good, as she'll be working in another country. I want to be mature about this, but if he wants a relationship with me (he says he does), I don't understand this big romantic last hurrah with her. He says it's unfortunate timing, and he has to have this goodbye fling, as it's been planned for a long time. I'm feeling like the consolation prize and question his level of interest in me. Am I being an unreasonable princess? — Upset
It's crushing to learn that you aren't "the one," just "the one in Kentucky," a la "Stunned wife discovers husband of 15 years has second wife and family in another state!" Of course, your guy not only told you there was another woman but seems to have stopped just short of giving you a dossier of all her flight times and confirmation numbers. So, what's next on your agenda, flying into a rage that the cat you adopted refuses to bound to your gate and bark at intruders, or railing that a wino uses the $10 you flipped him to buy Boone's Farm instead of tickets to the art museum?
This guy may like you plenty and may make some very relationshippy sounds, but he's had tickets to Sexapalooza 2010 for quite some time, and he isn't about to rip them up. You're gambling he'll decide you're so fab that he will, and he's gambling you'll decide he's so fab that you'll pledge to wait for him and wave a little temporary goodbye: "Good luck! Have fun! Try not to catch anything!"
You could give him an ultimatum — either he gets his man-paw out of the long-distance cookie jar or you're history. If you take this tack, be prepared to walk — and to turn your head and notice, to your disappointment, that nobody's running after you. Should you decide to just suck it up and do something else (or someone else) while he's on his three-week sexcation, be prepared to find yourself feeling less than loving and charitable toward him upon his return. Waiting around also sets up a really bad power dynamic — making it clear that you're OK with being the B-Team: You're on the bench, some other woman's in the bed, and you're hoping against hope that she'll sprain something.
You want to be mature about this? Great! Admit what you've known all along: this guy's a catch with a catch, and you're suffering because you've been acting like he's available when he's only available-ish. In light of that, the wisest approach is probably breaking up now, letting time pass, and seeing how you both feel in the future. If you feel like trying again, find out why they called it quits: whether they aren't compatible on a day-to-day basis, or whether it's just that Southwest doesn't fly wherever it is she went to, I dunno, collect yak scat. Sure, you want to be the chosen one, but not because he suddenly finds himself in the mood for a lower carbon footprint and more leg room.
My boyfriend adopted a beady-eyed pit bull mix three months ago and shows it more affection than he shows me. He talks to it like it understands everything he says, then praises it for not answering. When I said the dog's clueless silence does not mean agreement, he got mad and consoled "Heather" as if I'd hurt her feelings. He even wants it in our bed. — Barking Mad
If there's a challenge to your relationship, you expect it to at least come from a member of your own species — one whose lingerie labels read "Victoria's Secret," not "PETCO." Take your boyfriend out for drinks, tell him what's great about your relationship, and see what he has to say when you explain that you're feeling a little hurt that you now seem to come second to a creature that scoots its butt on the rug. It's possible he has commitment issues and is trying to push you away, or wants to break up but is trying to force you to do the deed. It's also possible that you've discovered who your boyfriend really is — a guy who has deep conversations with his dog. If so, you may decide that there's a conflict in sensibilities that just can't be bridged. In that case, I think you know what he'll say: "Heather says to tell you, 'Don't let the doggie door hit you on the way out.'"
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail email@example.com (advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society.