She’s made all the mistakes so you don’t have to... Ask Erin is a weekly advice column in which Erin answers your burning questions, about anything at all.
I am a 27-year-old woman and I’ve been hooking up with a 29-year-old guy off and on for the past three-and-a-half years. We met online, chatted for awhile, and then exchanged numbers.
At the time, we were both single and not looking for relationships, so it became a friends-with-benefits situation.
We would go on dates from time to time, hooking up whenever we saw each other.
In between dates, we’d sext and send each other nudes. We never really brought each other into our lives, like meeting friends, etc. He lives about half an hour away from me.
In the past six months, I’ve started feeling like I might be falling for him. He’s on my mind all the time and he’s pretty much exactly the kind of guy with whom I would want a long-term relationship.
At least, that’s how I was feeling until yesterday, when he posted a picture of himself and some girl on Instagram, saying that he was so happy to be in love and celebrating his TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY with her!
We hooked up the day before he posted this. I need help!
I don’t know what to do. I have strong feelings for him and would do anything for him.
My birthday is next week; we'd talked about getting together midweek. I feel like I should let him know how I’m feeling. I am so angry that I somehow ended up being his freaking Becky with the good hair! WTF?
I also feel embarrassed and ashamed that, even though I know he has a girlfriend now, my feelings for him haven’t really changed.
I just feel foolish.
I want to confront him, but I need advice on how to do this. I’m sure his girlfriend doesn’t know about me, as I've only known about her for a day. I haven’t contacted him since I saw that photo.
I looked at my Instagram and realized he doesn’t even follow me.
Does he not know that I follow him? Do you think he doesn’t realize I would see that?
What should I do? I feel so confused, angry, ashamed, hurt, betrayed, and used.
I can understand how shocked you would be to find out that you’ve been “the other woman” without knowing it. I would be pissed, too.
You’re processing two things here: the girlfriend/his deceit and your feelings for him.
When it comes to his girlfriend, he wasn't honest with you about having a relationship. However, as you said, you have a long-established “friends with benefits” situation with him, nothing more.
Should he have told you? Yes.
But was there any established commitment between the two of you? No.
You mentioned that you had not let each other in to other parts of your life — introducing to friends etc. — so in some ways, it’s not all that surprising. You also cannot assume what the rules of their relationship are. Maybe they have an open relationship, or maybe he’s indeed a total scumbag who's been cheating on his girlfriend the whole time.
It almost doesn’t matter. No matter which way you slice it, there is clearly dishonesty on his part.
When you establish that a relationship is casual, you cannot expect the other person to shift into commitment — especially when you haven’t expressed that it’s something you want.
I don’t know how many times my friends have started casual dating relationships and end up feeling upset or let down when they change their mind and their partner doesn't follow suit.
From your email, it sounds like he is under the impression that the two of you are hooking up, not pursuing a relationship. You can’t fault him for that. But you also hooked up under the understanding that you were both single.
As for your feelings for him?
You might not want to hear this, but I think you need to let this one go.
Even if you had a talk with him and expressed your true feelings, where would that leave you? At best, he’s a guy who's dishonest with the person (or people) he's sleeping with, even if things are open with the girlfriend. At worst, he’s a cheating jerk who has been two-timing his girlfriend and lying to the other woman with whom he’s been sleeping.
This does not bode well for a long-term relationship. You can do better, I promise.
All of that being said, don’t beat yourself up for all of this. He lied. You trusted him on some level. You didn’t set out to become some guy’s mistress.
Now that you know, act responsibly — both in terms of opting out of a situation that will surely end in tears for some (if not all) involved, as well as taking care of yourself and your feelings.
You have those feelings for him, and that’s OK. But don’t let those feelings cloud your judgment.
Step away, take care of yourself, and, in the future, get clear with yourself about what you want from your relationships. Don’t let yourself fall under the spell of “casual,” because at a certain point, feelings are bound to develop.
If you have a question for me about love, sex, breakups, single parenthood, iPhones, toxic friendships, avocado toast, Siouxsie and the Banshees, or anything at all, email me at email@example.com. As always, your anonymity is golden. xoxo