Quid pro shmo



Dear Andrea:

My girlfriend and I met in Europe. We were simply friends because she had a boyfriend. She came to the United States for grad school, and now we're dating. But, she still hasn't broken up with her boyfriend over there. She doesn't want to do it over the phone because she's been with him for about five years. She says she'll break up with him over summer break when she can do it in person. Does this mean I could also have another girlfriend? I don't want to be the asshole boyfriend who tells her to break up with her undergrad boyfriend, yet it'd be great if I could be that guy without being an asshole. Help?



Dear Fuse:

You're not confused; you're just a bit dumb. You're not really her boyfriend either; you're the Guy She's Seeing behind Her Boyfriend's Back. As a GSSBHBB, you don't get to tell her to break up with her boyfriend. If you want two girlfriends, well, people do do that. but it's A) not likely to work out and B) best not demanded as quid pro quo. That's just childish. You don't really want to get all "Mo-o-m, she got more pudding than I did! It's not fair!" about this, do you?

It's perfectly OK to tell her you'd like to be her boyfriend after she breaks up with Euroboy — saying what you can and cannot put up with doesn't make you an asshole, it just makes you not a doormat. Right now she assumes you don't really mind being the guy she keeps stateside while she dangles Euroboyfriend on a very long string. And why shouldn't she?

If she really believes letting him think all is hunky-dory (substitute appropriate folksy Yurpean idiom here) for another six months and then ruining his summer is kinder than dispatching him swiftly and judiciously, then I really don't know what to think of her. Clueless, thoughtless, or cruel? Hmm ... I just don't know which one to pick — they all sound so good!



Dear Andrea:

I have been cohabitating with a woman for 10 years. We were a couple for half that time, but due to her bipolar disorder, my issues, and the resulting incompatibility, I insisted we officially break up. However, I'm still providing considerable financial support and have continued living under these less than ideal conditions as she strives to get her life back in order. Slowly. As if this were not enough, our apartment is in shambles. All the while I've lived virtually as an ascetic monk.

A number of opportunities have gone by due to my unorthodox, awkward living arrangement. I've wavered from one extreme to the other — going through periods of resigning myself to never having sex again or else being absolutely, uncontrollably obsessed. At this point, not knowing when my apartment and my life will be my own again, I am about to climb the walls. I lust after just about any female that crosses my path, including those to whom I would not ordinarily give a second look. Although my roommate gives lip service (the only kind I've received during the past five years) to my seeing other people, she also has no problem making it known how uncomfortable it would make her feel. Meanwhile, I am going stark raving mad. Look forward to hearing what, if anything, you can offer.


No Monk

Dear Monk:

Yeah, well, I'm not offering the only thing we're both sure would make you feel better, so don't get too excited.

Look, you know what I'm going to say. Loyalty is great, and taking care of those less able is great, but there's a lot to be said for taking care of yourself too. You've done well by her. Now help her get set up with some services and take yourself (or, preferably, her) to Craigslist and find her a room. Pay her rent if necessary. Be her friend.

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