I have been dating my boyfriend for 5 years and we have lived together for 4 of those years. When we go out dancing he flirts with other women. He claims he is not, but it’s like he goes out of his way to find the prettiest girls there and talk to them. I watch him and have never seen him give out his number or take theirs and at the end of the night he always goes home with me. I have talked to him about it and he says that he loves me but he’s a guy and there is no harm in looking.
I am at the point that I don’t want to go out dancing or anywhere else because this is becoming a big issue with me. How do I make him stop and if I can’t, should I break up with him? I cannot go through life like this.
New York, NY
I just looked into my magic 8 ball and I’m sorry to say: Outlook not so good. It’s not just his blatant flirting with other women that concerns me, but the fact that he dismisses you when you try talk to him about it that makes me think he’s not a worthy partner. I won’t even disagree with him that there’s no harm in looking, but he’s not just looking (he can do that without you knowing). He’s getting up and leaving you alone so that he can flirt with other women. This is beyond inappropriate.
You are right: You cannot go through life like this nor should you. You should look forward to a night of dancing with your man, not dread it. I recommend that you have one final talk with him. Be firm but calm and say something like, “In order to feel respected and loved in this relationship, I need this behavior to change.” Anything you say after that should be an I-Statement, which I’ve spoken of here before. This means you say things like, “I feel hurt when I see you at the bar with other women” or “I am so upset by this that I don’t want to go dancing with you anymore” as opposed to “You’re a jerk for leaving me alone to talk to other women.” Even though he is a jerk, I-Statements require other people to face the way their behavior makes you feel, whereas You-Statements implicate blame and make people defensive. If he does not comply or take your request seriously, then it’s time to go.
I know this will be difficult for you because I can see that you’re defending him. You say that you’ve “never seen him give out his number or take theirs” or that “he always goes home with me” as if either of those makes what he’s doing okay. Defending a man is normal when you love him and aren’t yet ready to admit that your relationship is unhealthy. You have put up with this long enough, it’s time to demand that his behavior change or go your own way.
You can ask Samara and Caroline questions for the Love & Life Advice Column here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The ideas and advice presented here are not a substitute for professional advice. Talk to your psychologist, counselor, physician or health care professional for situations that warrant further analysis.