This is the first in a regular feature where I attempt to solve your relationship problems with the help of a man. My partner in crime this time round is the illustrator John Cei Douglas, who had a lot to say that wasn’t relevant and got us sidetracked in a long conversation about wanking and animals, (available on request).
I’m in a happy, long-term relationship but am REALLY attracted to a colleague. I’m not even sure why, he’s 20 years older and married – it really is just a fantasy. I’ve gone on and off him: I go a month where I find him hot and the next month I can’t believe what I was thinking. I can be flirty around him sometimes because I find it fun but I don’t go over the top. I may be REALLY deluding myself but he flirts back and instinct is saying he feels similarly- as in, he fancies me but would never do anything. Is it OK to keep fantasising? It brings the tiniest bit of excitement to the work day and I think makes my sex life more interesting. I’ve never told anyone and don’t see him outside of work.
Vanessa: How is this an issue? If it’s just a girl, with her boyfriend and then she’s fancying a random man at work, that’s life.
John: That’s normal!
People expect when they get a boyfriend you flick a switch in your head, and you stop fancying everyone in the world.
It’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen at work cos you’re fucking bored.
If you’re a neuroscientist you should probably be concentrating a bit more carefully
You probably still get bored.
That’s the key to a good relationship: you are going to be attracted to other people, but you love the person you’re with so much, that you don’t do anything about your fleeting attractions. That’s called ‘not being a dick’. If it’s making you question your sexuality, that’s a different question.
It just makes it more entertaining. Feelings are just feelings.
You’re allowed to have feelings. Fantasies are just fantasies: you can imagine you’re being shagged by a big hairy minotaur and that’s ok too.
But you’re not talking to a minotaur… You’re not flirting with them at work.
Or are you?
If you’re flirting with a minotaur at work, you should probably check yourself into a hospital.
Stop taking those hallucinogenics at lunch.
You are fully insane. You work in a building full of minotaurs. Just go home. Go back to your parents’ place if you can. Stay there. They’ll look after you.
Find a safe place.
Flush your stash.
So.. the conclusion we have come to is?
You worry too much.
My boyfriend and I are in an open relationship. He met me and his other girlfriend in the same week, so as far as I’m concerned we’ve always been equals. I’m happy with non-monogamy and feel it works for me, but she stresses me out. I’ve met other former/current romantic/sexual partners of his and totally understand what he sees in them. I simply don’t have a problem with other women in his life. The other girlfriend, though…
(Important note: I haven’t met her.)
The problem is two-layered. The first one sounds SO PETTY – She does passive-aggressive stuff on Facebook that is meant to assert herself against me. For example, she has a stash of photos of them together that she’s uploaded but hasn’t tagged, and any time there’s evidence of me and him doing something together, she’ll dig out one of the photos and tag it. Told you it sounded petty.
The second layer is that I actually don’t like her. She did something recently that I find to be completely ethically unsound, and common consensus is that it’s not just me being sensitive.
The combination of her doing petty shit that’s targeted at me, and me not liking what I know about her makes me feel guilty, and like I’m doing non-monogamy wrong. I don’t get any pleasure from disliking her, and I wish I could feel good about her. It feels like there’s no way to bring this up with my boyfriend without sounding incredibly young, silly, jealous and petty. I’ve made a conscious effort to view my relationship with him, and her relationship with him, as separate and independent things, but evidently she’s determined to be viewed as number 1, whereas I would prefer we were equals.
John: Why are you friends with her on Facebook?
Vanessa: Don’t be friends with her on Facebook.
Don’t even look at it.
Block her. That’s what I do when someone makes me too crazy. It’s like you don’t exist to each other.
I think she’s too focussed on this guy’s feelings. Saying, I don’t want to bring it up again because it’ll seem immature. I think she’s overcompensating.
Just tell him.
You don’t have to interact with the other girl at all. You don’t need to meet, you don’t need to do anything, except accept her existence and stop checking… why do you even know she’s tagging the pictures of them together?
Cut her out, you don’t need her in your life. She’s your boyfriend’s other girlfriend, not your other girlfriend. She needs to say “I am ok with what we’re doing, but I’m not ok with her behaviour. This woman makes me uncomfortable.” If he thinks she’s immature, he’s a dick.
I think though we’re not getting an even account. They’re both checking up on each other on Facebook; why?
Unfriend her. Block her.
What is this terrible thing that happened?
Did she kill his mum?
Yeah. There’s levels.
“She put a dirty dildo up my boyfriend’s bum.”
What? That’s totally gross!
Sorry. I missed the bit about it being dirty. I thought it was a ‘dirty’ dildo. Not actually dirty.
No, someone else’s dirt.
Yeah, you can’t do that.
Even if that’s your thing, it’s dangerous… Anyway, stop pretending everything’s ok.
That’s the whole thing with non-monogamy: “Everything’s fine!”
“I’m not jealous!” You’re both spending all your time checking up on each other. And that is the key sign that it’s not fine and you are jealous.
Which is ok! A lot of people who get involved in kink and non-monogamy and all that jazz have to work so hard to get accepted that they don’t wanna admit that things go wrong. They spend so long shouting “It’s a legitimate lifestyle choice! Fuck you! Don’t judge me!”
Things go wrong in all relationships. All the time! They’re not going to go perfectly cos you’re trying a less traditional thing.
The more people you bring in, sadly the more complicated it is liable to get, so you have to work harder to keep it moving along smoothly…
They should all have sex: like in Chasing Amy.
That is the last thing they should do.
It was such a great film though!