First, some practical info: I’m in Los Angeles with various Goldsteins. Because of family stuff, I won’t be available for chat tomorrow at 1 p.m. The chat will go on without me. Taking my place will be the Milhouse to my Bart Simpson, the Gayle to my Oprah, the Robin to my Batman … Glenn Yoder. He won’t be dispensing advice, but he’ll monitor the chat as you help one another with love problems. Be good. Don’t go all “Lord of the Flies” on him.
Today is about Temptation Island, which turns out to be Jamaica Plain.
Q: Dear Meredith,
I’ve been debating going to you for advice for awhile because I was hoping I could work this whole thing out on my own, but I’m throwing in the towel. My boyfriend and I have been dating for three years and it is great. We’ve been living together for 2 years in a happy, blissful state. I truly love him. We never fight, our personalities are completely inline, and in general we just “click.” But he had to move back home (only 45 minutes away) for financial reasons and has since been acting really lazy and doesn’t put much interest in seeing me or making it a priority. I’ve begun to question whether or not he really cares about me the way I care about him, and as of late have felt our relationship has been shaky.
This is really only a small, minute part of my love problem, however. The big problem is me. I have this uncontrollable urge to cheat that gets harder and harder to silence -- I have had this in ALL of my relationships. It is the thrill of it all and I know I shouldn’t want it, but I do. When our relationship was fresh and undefined I grazed in many pastures but once I realized I loved him, I wanted to be committed and silenced these carnal urges, rather successfully.
However, this past week a mutual friend of my bf and me, not to mention a past roommate of both of us, made a move that was extremely out of character for him and tried to “put the moves” on me. At first I brushed him off right away and had this moment of relief thinking I had conquered my demons. Then he tried again later on and I brushed him off, but let it go on a little longer. After that evening I was convinced I had succeeded in ending my treacherous ways, but the more I think about it the more I am filled with ‘butterfly’ thoughts about the mutual friend.
Admittedly, we perhaps have more in common than the bf and I and our life goals are more in tune with one another, plus there has been a building sexual tension I think we had both been trying to ignore for a long time, and he is pretty cute …Yah, those are the thoughts I’m desperately trying to silence and as you can see, they keep creeping in to my mind.
Right now I’m confused and shaken. I feel guilty and lustful but at the same time I have been more successful at controlling my urges than ever before. I know I’m no good and rotten, but I do love my boyfriend. I just don’t know if my actions are indicating I should move on or rather that I’ve been frustrated with the relationship but still do want it to continue. Oh, and... I don’t really want to tell the bf because this is one of our best friends and I worry this could get more awkward than necessary -- I say this because other mutual friends have tried similar things before and it has gotten unnecessarily awkward. I know you can’t solve my problems, but this has left me teetering between the devil and the angel on my shoulder for a week and is becoming an obsessive thought I can’t silence. I know I could never be with the mutual friend, but these thoughts make me question whether or not I can be with my boyfriend.
– Trying to Silence Temptation, JP
A: Well, TTST, this is nice and juicy for a Tuesday in L.A.
“Other mutual friends have tried similar things?” What do you mean by that? My head is spinning. Who are these friends? They don’t seem to have much respect for your relationship.
I'm sure you care for your boyfriend, but it doesn’t sound like you want to be in a committed relationship right now. That doesn’t make you a bad person. It just makes you not ready.
If you want to see other people, fine. Just tell your boyfriend so he can plan accordingly. I know three years is a lot to turn your back on, but you sound like you’re asking for permission to walk away. The tone of your letter suggests that your gut is telling you to be a free bird. I’m going with your gut here, assuming I’m reading it right.
I know you’re worried that this is about your own bad wiring -- that you’ll want to cheat after a few years no matter what relationship you’re in. But I’m not convinced that’s the case. I think you’re just not ready for a big commitment. You thought you were, but you’re not. And frankly, you're surrounded by people who aren’t ready for much. Your boyfriend isn't 100 percent in now that he's living at home, and your friends seem to ignore all boundaries.
My advice is to make yourself single so that you can do whatever you want without feeling like a jerk. Maybe your boyfriend would be open to a more casual relationship. Maybe he’d be open to taking a break while you’re living apart. It's worth a discussion.
But really, if you’re constantly fighting the urge to cheat ... if it takes constant discipline to be good ... then it’s time to make a change.
Readers? How can she silence that little devil? Does she want to be in a relationship? Should she let go after three years? Is this about her bad wiring? Share.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.