Recently, my boyfriend traveled overseas for a meeting with a vendor and a female client who happens to be very flirty. We’ve met her out for drinks a few times and she always flirts with my boyfriend, but ignores me, no matter how many times I try to engage her in conversation. Ever since he got back, things haven’t been the same. I’ve asked him a couple of times if everything is okay with him and he says yes, but he’s definitely distant, both emotionally and physically. I hate to keep being the pesky girlfriend, always asking if something is wrong, but I’m not sure what else to do. I feel like something has shifted and possibly that something is going on with this woman. Any thoughts? —SK, Brooklyn, New York
The Gay Woman’s Perspective: Jody Fischer
If you trust your gut, then you have to have a talk with your guy. If things have shifted, then it’s not the relationship you had before. So whether they had an affair or not, you feel a change in your interactions.
He may ’fess up. He may have nothing to come clean about or he may lie to you. But you need to lay it on the line. You’re not happy and you’re not being pesky. Not at all. You’re stating your truth. Ask yourself, do you really want to stay in a relationship with a guy who’s distancing himself on all levels? I don’t know how long you’ve been with this guy, but it won’t be for much longer if you two can’t have a heart-to-heart soon. And if his behavior doesn’t change, go out and find a guy you can connect with. Let the boy and his client make nicey-nice without you in the picture. These kinds of affairs never end well anyway.
You deserve a guy who treats you well, is willing to be honest with you, and wants to work on things when they’re not going well. Sorry, but it doesn’t sound like this is that guy.
The Straight Woman’s Perspective: Rebecca Brown
You know what I don’t like, SK? I don’t like bitchy women. Most women like to flirt, yes, but most women would never be so low as to flirt with your boyfriend while you’re present and ignore your multiple attempts to be friendly toward her. What’s wrong with these women? Who raised them? Were they not held enough as babies? It’s maddening! But you know what else I don’t like? Guys who are dumb enough to fall prey to these mean girls, and it sounds like you might have one on your hands. Or not. You won’t know until you get an answer. You can’t change all the bitchy women and dumb guys in the world (there’s just not enough time), so you have to have to act on what you know. And what you know is this: something is off. Your gut never lies, so believe it and follow it. Leave the other woman out of it since you’ve already asked about her and tell him that you care about him and you feel something’s off and want to work it out.
If he still tells you nothing’s wrong, then you have to accept him at his word and give him some time. But if the weird behavior continues without any answers, it might be time to move on. No one wants to stick around in a relationship where the other person is being distant but denies anything’s wrong whenever you ask. That’s page one of the Passive-Aggressive Handbook and it gets old fast. Ask once and get the “nothing’s wrong” response, shame on him; ask twice and it’s shame on you. Stop worrying about whether you’re being pesky and start asking questions. If he doesn’t eventually start talking, it’s time for you to start walking.
The Gay Man’s Perspective: Darren Maddox
Have you kidney punched her yet? It’s perhaps not the best reaction to flirting all night with your boyfriend, but it’s certainly an option. Why are you trying to be friends with this woman anyway? Tell your boyfriend that he needs to grow a sack and tell her to back away because he belongs to you. That way, you’re not the needy girlfriend; you’re merely in control of the situation.
As for him being distant, you need to sit down with him and get this out in the open once and for all. Tell him something isn’t right—don’t ask him if something’s wrong, but do ask him if he needs to tell you anything. Again, you’re in control. If he says no, you have to move on from your insecurities with this woman and take his word for it for now. He could be dealing with something completely different that you haven’t even considered, so let him know you’re there to help him through whatever he’s going through. You have to trust someone when you’re in a relationship. Get to that point or get out of the relationship.
The Straight Man’s Perspective: Chris Kennedy
There’s a cute little saying that goes something like, “Shit or get off the pot.” I command this of you, SK. In your case the “shitting” part means saying what you really mean, which is, “Did anything physical happen between you and Miss Flirty-always-ignores-me-when-I-see-her-co-worker? Cuz you’re acting weird.”
He may be upset that you ask him, but there it is. It may be a small mess but at least it’s in plain view, right there on the table. If he ignores it, it will just sit there, stink, and get worse. It’ll be in his best interest to deal with it, plug his nose, and throw it away. In other words, he’ll have to answer you point blank. Yes, he did fool around, in which case you drop him, or no, he didn’t, in which case, you drop the questioning. Either way, you’re fulfilling the “getting off the pot” portion. Your beating around the bush right now is frustrating for both of you and it’s feeding your insecurity. You feel this coworker is too flirty with your man and disrespectful to you when you go out. In the future—if you two do indeed have one—you should avoid hanging out with her. Your boyfriend’s obligation is to you first. If he knows you’re uncomfortable with her and he’s going on business trips with her, he’s got to step up and let you know nothing happened. Your peace of mind is important to both of you.
I’m not a fan of the notion that you just have to trust your partner and be quiet when you have substantial doubt. What you have to do is communicate. If you attack this head on, you’ll flush this mess right out of your system—regardless of his answer.