Welcome to our newest feature: Ask The Intern, where each week, our intern answers your questions about sex, dating, and relationships (and sometimes Tristan chimes in as well). Our interns are smart people interested in working in the field of sexuality in some capacity, and you can find out more about the current intern in the byline below. Got a burning question, problem, dilemma, or issue for our intern? Email intern at puckerup.com.
I met this guy, really liked him, and we spent three days together—no sex, but did things that would lead to it. The first day, he told me he was talking to a girl. I assumed he meant dating a girl and it wasn’t serious. The next day, he said he was dating her for a year. But, that didn’t stop me from pursuing what I wanted—him on the third day. On Monday, he went back to New York, in love and intact.
And I’m in Chicago—confused. I really liked him and vice versa. Perhaps I’m mislabeling my confusion for nostalgia or anger? I let my guard down, and I never do that with guys. I told him private things and vice versa. A part of me despises myself for portraying myself as a sex object. How could I do that—to me and his girlfriend? I feel cheap, used and empty handed. I fell too fast. I want to believe he’s a nice guy but…I feel robbed of my own words and experiences. But there’s this quote: “Sharing doesn’t make you charitable, it makes you free.” Perhaps I don’t feel that way because I felt obliged into opening up. Or, perhaps I’m just thinking too much into this? Bottom line is will I ever be someone’s girlfriend and not some girl for the moment? How can I be a girlfriend?
First things first—take the idea of being someone’s girlfriend off a pedestal. It’s not worth it. Despite what fairy tales tell us, there is no simple formula to being a significant other. Relationships are amorphous, confusing, DIY activities. So, instead of striving to be “a girlfriend,” ask yourself what you actually want from a romantic relationship. Stability? Monogamy? Consistent sex with a familiar body? Consistent sex with a handful of familiar bodies? The best part of real life is that you get to make your own relationship formula.
But there is one thing that most people want from a relationship, the glue that holds this DIY project together—trust. Unfortunately, it was this crucial puzzle piece that was missing from your weekend tryst. He wasn’t being honest with his long-term partner, which, in turn, made you question his motives. Moreover, he wasn’t being honest with you! Saying that you are “talking to a girl” sends a very different message from dating someone for a year.
At the same time, sneaking around can be exhilarating and sexy, so this “other woman” feeling might be part of what drew you to him in the first place. And that’s okay. It is natural to lust over what is off-limits. Red tape—both literal and metaphorical—is an incredible aphrodisiac.
But don’t feel cheap. Don’t feel like a sex object (unless you enjoy objectification, but it doesn’t sound like that’s your thing). Don’t judge yourself for letting your guard down. You opened up to someone you enjoy spending time with. That’s a skill you should value. It’s natural for you to feel bad for his girlfriend, but that is his problem. He should (and probably does) feel guilty and confused.
However, keep your letter to me. Use it to remind yourself how these situations make you feel in the long run. Next time you find yourself in a weekend love affair ask yourself: is it worth it? I think the answer will be pretty clear.
Abby Spector is a recent graduate of Wesleyan University, where she majored in Feminist/Gender/Sexuality Studies. She is currently interning for Tristan, a job that allows her to write about sex, research feminist porn, and play with dogs (among other, equally awesome things). When she isn’t working, Abby enjoys comfortable nudity and salty foods. Her dream? A world where she could sit around naked and eat overly-salted french fries. Her blog is Sexy Awkward Times.