Love Is Like Herpes

Dear Dategirl, I'm 24 years old and my boyfriend is 26. We've been together for three years and mostly it's been great. I am a student, and throughout my schooling I was constantly stressed and depressed. My boyfriend not only has been my financial support (I can only work part-time), but also my sole emotional and psychological support. In short, he is the dream boyfriend. We understand each other, rarely fight, we have great communication, and the sex is amazing. Unfortunately we don't live together anymore because I had to move back home (it's my culture's tradition and I have no say in it), but we did not intend to change our relationship. We've recently started fighting a lot. He had discussed marriage, and I have been very up-front with the fact that I do not want to get married—at least for a few years. Here's the thing: Before I started dating my current boyfriend I went out with a different guy a few times. He and I had a pretty cool relationship, since we were both clear about just wanting sex. We tried to have sex once and I did not enjoy it. He kept calling, but finally I just told him the truth: I didn't like having sex with him. Despite that, I haven't been able to get him out of my head, even though it has been years since that one-night stand. He recently got back in touch with me, and we went out just last night. We kissed, but didn't have sex. I'm confused. I don't know why I can't stop thinking about this guy. We have nothing in common and I would never be able to have a relationship with him. I also know that what I have done constitutes cheating, and I don't want to do it anymore. Is it normal to feel so confused? What can I do? I still like this other guy and would really like to have sex with him, but I haven't done so because my current boyfriend does not deserve to be cheated on. Am I just trying to look for something that does not exist? And please do not give me the "cheating is wrong" line, 'cause I know, and somehow I still want to.—Feeling Confused

There are a couple of different ways of dealing with a troubled relationship. Some couples try to talk it out and make it better. Other people spazz and do stupid crap instead of dealing with their problems. You're obviously in the latter camp. Do you honestly think that if things weren't in the shitter with your current boyfriend, you'd be feeling all nostalgic for Mr. LameFuck from years gone by? But now he's back and paying you all sorts of attention—the kind of attention that your long-term boyfriend probably hasn't lavished on you in ages. Plus, you're living separately after having cohabitated for a while. Not only did you push your relationship backwards, you then put it on pause. No wonder you two are at each other's throats. What you need to do is separate the two situations. Do you want to stay with your boyfriend? Perhaps you do, but you're going to need to do a little work and make him more a partner and less a caretaker. Maybe—gasp—talk to him about why you're always arguing. Then again, maybe this thing with him has run its course and you're using this other dude as an exit strategy. If that's true, think about why you're so reluctant to be on your own. Either way, quit taking money from him immediately. That is beyond unfair. Are you in love with Mr. BadSex? I'm guessing not. You certainly haven't said anything nice about him—just that he sticks in your head. As far as that goes, I still remember my first cold sore like it was yesterday—that doesn't mean I want to be reunited with it.

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