Reliving In The Moment
For a year, I've been dating a man who insisted on dating other people — even though I wasn't interested in seeing anybody but him. This was a source of conflict between us. We're now seeing each other exclusively, although we never really made a verbal agreement to that effect. He has many ex-girlfriends, and he's always referring to them: "My ex-girlfriend who liked this ..." or "My ex-girlfriend who did that ..." Also, he often tells me about other women he thinks are hot: his college students, coworkers, a journalist who interviewed him. For a long time, I tried to ignore his remarks, but they're really starting to get to me. Why does he do this, and more important, how can I get him to stop? —Feeling Crowded
Men's brains aren't all porn all the time. Occasionally, men are forced to take a break from picturing themselves bagging the checkout girl or getting a lap dance from the librarian to focus on where they left their wallet or keys.
The women in their lives remain blissfully unaware of these mental smut loops — as long as the men have the decency to refrain from simulcasting them. Most men do — including all your ex-boyfriends who've managed to ask hot waitresses "Do you have a wine list?" without adding the closed-circuit portion of their thoughts: "...and bring those breasticles home to daddy."
Of course, men aren't the only ones whose uncut thoughts are best left unaired. There are women out there who can't go 10 steps without bumping into really hot men — a side-effect of their tailing said men around the grocery store while trying to get a closer look. Most are merely hoping to cop a good stare, not create a mental photo spread of the frozen foods Adonis so they can wallpaper it across their boyfriend's ego at day's end. That would be cruel. About as cruel as excavating exes and marching their long-lost wondrousness all over the current relationship. It does, however, send a clear message — the same message your boyfriend has been sending you: "Barrier! Barrier! Step away from the relationship!"
Maybe you're seeing him "exclusively" at the moment, but he's literally telling you he's seeing a lot of other women in his past and future. Believe him. Oh, but maybe he's just afraid of getting too close, and maybe he's just insecure and trying to make you jealous; and maybe the rusty safety pin holding his manners gave way, and hostile tackiness is the result. Well, if he isn't ready for a relationship, he might be kind enough to say so, instead of holding you up like a caught cockroach against every girl who's long-gone from his life — especially considering that exes are always at their most sparkling in the distant abstract.
Barring the kindness of strangers and passive-aggressive boyfriends, you should at least be able to count on your own. Hellooo? Anybody home? No ... you were probably too afraid you'd lose him if you spoke up when he made you feel bad. You never had to get shrewish about it — just toss off some joke that the way to your heart was probably not through his warm memories of his last girlfriend's extraordinary back end. Your saying nothing said it all — that he's free to make you feel bad whenever he wants. How can you get him to stop? How about forgetting your dream of a beautiful future with him and taking immediate steps to make him part of your relatively unpleasant recent past?
I'm a fit, attractive 40-something man with no exes, children or vices, who believes in cherishing, honoring and adoring a woman on a daily basis. I'll never let a day go by without saying "I love you," giving my unconditional support, and doing all the little things for my partner. Are there no women who are willing to be loved in such a manner? —Ready To Give
Clearly, you're a man who doesn't sweat the small stuff, like finding a bride before you pledge to spend the rest of your life with her: "Hi, I cherish you, can I get your phone number?" Sadly, most women are likely to get stuck on the wildly impersonal aspect of your love — the fact that you're ready to declare it every morning at 8:22, but have yet to even meet the object of your affection. Relax, stop looking for the love of all time, and find a woman you like this week. Go out on dates, and consider how you actually feel about her before hurling your plan to cherish, honor and adore her into motion. You might even make a little space for her to show affection back. Some day, the world may be ready for your reverse approach to romance. Until then, err on the side of seeming hard-to-get instead of hard-to-get-rid-of.