Yesterday, I wrote about a phenomenon that's been galling me lately: when people, men or women, engage in flirtatious behavior without disclosing that they are in a relationship. It seems innocuous—hey, what's wrong with a little flirty-flirt?—but can be depressing for the other party. On the other hand, I wasn't thrilled with those people who are in relationships who manage to drop it into every shred of conversation, just so the single person is 100 percent clear that they're not being hit on. (Men with dogs: We get it.)
Anyway. I was out with my boyfriend (see how I did that?) and a bunch of his friends, including married guy, who said, "You don't know right away if it's something you need to disclose, and then by the time it is, it's too awkward to disclose it."
Anyway, you all were kind enough to share your own experiences and transgressions, and I've culled the best ones from emails and the comments on the original post. Some names have been changed! Some have not! Enjoy, and perhaps you can take solace in the knowledge that you're not the only one who thinks dating is hard and people are liars.
i ran into a guy i went to high school with (in a chicago suburb) at a bar. he's cuter than i remember, gets my number, we send flirty text messages. we go out a few weeks later, we hang out all night with a friend of mine and his roommates. about 5 hours into the night he mentions that he's going to SC with his girlfriend the next weekend. FIVE HOURS into hanging out.
i mean, at least he mentioned it but my girlfriend kicked me pretty hard under the table right afterwards. we all acted non-chalant about it. "oh! girlfriend! she in the city?" and it turns out, she wasn't. it's a long distance thing which, i guess, explains all the free time he has to text and hang out with girls that aren't his girlfriend...
But what about the guys (girls too?) who always mention their girlfriends a bazillion times because they're clearly impressed with themselves for having found one in the first place? Those conversations are the worst. Dude, you don't need to deter me from trying to pick you up, your extreme social awkwardness did the job just fine, thanks.
A lady we'll call Macy, but who in my head I am calling Vera Farmiga, writes:
I'm in my late-20s, am in a 5+year, live-in, relationship and I do this on business trips. ALL. THE. TIME. I'm also positive it happens to me in return, I just have no way to confirm-and I'm completely cool with it. It's really the only way to keep 3-4 days in D.C., Chicago, Denver, Boston, [insert-your-favorite-big-political conference city here], interesting: You don't awkwardly eat alone, someone else saves you an expense check, you don't have to be the only sad sack in the Fairmont D.C.'s bar AND, if work gets boring in the next three weeks, you have some to flirt with on email and reconnect with at the next boring conference. Finally, you can feel a little sexy on a business trip-something that usually leaves me feeling like some tired, monkey-suited eunuch.
Frankly, there are dudes I've "conference-dated" for years now. They are probably some of the more functional relationships I've had-although one is definitely old enough to be my father. But, God save it, if we ever all have some ridiculous Shakespearean encounter at the same conference.
Here's how I do it: I don't wear my "I'm in a relationship jewelry" (no cutesy diamond or sweetheart necklaces). I definitely say where "I" not "we" live. Talk about all the places "I" travel-implying alone. I always wear skirts to conferences-as opposed to the marrieds in sensible pant-suits. I'm always the girl who suggests drinks after the last session. And I never answer my texts or phone calls until late at night. Works like a charm every time.
Am I bad person? I don't think so. They live in different cities and I've never slept with any of these guys-to some rather vocal disappoint over email-and only came close to what I consider disrepute when I met up with one alone WHILE on a trip with my boyfriend in New York. A couple have even met up with me while visiting the West coast. I still sleep soundly every night.
I was on a first date once with a man who I'd been set up with by a sort of mutual friend. Making conversation I said "So, have you ever been married?" He looked kind of sheepish, didn't answer, and then looked down at the table. "Oh my god," I said, "are you currently married?" He nodded.
I left pretty quickly after. Not immediately after, I hadn't finished my steak. But the moment I did, I was gone. When I later freaked out at the friend he said "Oh. Yeah, he's married. I didn't think you'd mind."
Worst working in of "I have a girlfriend" I've ever encountered? At a New Year's Eve party, a guy complimented my shoes. I said, "Hi, thanks!" And he said, "Uhh, uhm, my girlfriend is around here somewhere." Cool, dude. Because my having said "thank you" to a compliment YOU gave ME does not mean "Let's bone."
Couple of hours? Try 6 months. It might have been more. I met a sales rep through work who used to call me every day, take me to lunch a lot, tell me his work problems etc. All the time I'm thinking...'this guy kinda likes me...I think'. Mass flirting from both sides. It was so 'hot' my work colleagues would comment on it and ask me when I was going to 'close the deal'.
So anyway, about 6 months into this little dance and I'm getting frustrated and thinking 'Thats it, I'm just going to ask him out'. I get my regular daily call (3pm, like clockwork) and he mentions he's going away on vacation. I casually ask "Oh really, taking anyone with you?" He replies "Yes, Chris...the person I live with."
"Oh you've never mentioned a roommate before." I say.
He says "No, um, Christine is my fiance".
And possibly my favorite, from commenter iantenna:
maybe i'm just 29 going on 75 here but this shit drives me bonkers. i'm not gonna say that monogamy is the only way to go because i don't think any way of thinking about anything can be the RIGHT and ONLY way to go. but i will say this, FUCKING PICK A WAY! if you wanna bone your way across town more power to you but don't hurt or decieve other people in the process. you can have entertaining, even vaguely flirtatious, conversations with other people while still having everything out in the open and it abundantly clear who's going home where. yes, it's exhilirating but it can also easily be done without hurting anyone else or doing anything "wrong." maybe i'm on shakey moral ground here but if it keeps me going home to my wonderful wife with nothing to really feel bad about so be it.
to me cheating just sounds complicated, both logistically and emotionally. that's why god invented breaking up and porn, also the imagination.