“Accidental” Bra-Touching and Rebound Mathematics

by A Dude

I’m in a serious relationship with my boyfriend (we’ve been dating for 13 months, but I’ve known him for a couple years as a close friend). I really love him. He’s gregarious and outgoing, which compliments my quieter, introverted personality. But lately, this gregariousness has become something of a problem. He’s always been a big flirt. As previous best friends, I know personally how flirty he can be even while in a relationship. For the majority of our relationship, he has been wonderful about this. He says this is his first long-term, serious relationship and I actually think it is. But now he is really flirting with one of his female friends.

He’s told me about some of the things she’s said to him, and people have said he’s leading her on. Here’s where I’m a bad person … I looked at his phone after drinking a bit. And as what always happens when you snoop, you find things you don’t like! Sigh, karma. But he’s been texting a lot of things (saying things like how they missed their chance to hook up when we briefly broke up, how much he likes her, how he has sex dreams about her all the time, etc.) and I also found out about a suspicious incident on a bus. She says there was some cuddling and bra touching and he says it was “accidental” if anything happened. But … I’m not sure I want my boyfriend who gets in a situation where there could ever be any even “accidental” bra touching! I know she likes him and has planned hook up attacks (scary movie in basement alone and she tried to get him to initiate but instead he turned on the lights and invited some other people…go boyfriend!).

I really do think my boyfriend loves me (that also comes up in the texts, he’s upfront about how serious he is with me to her and to their mutual friends who’ve talked to him about it)…but I just don’t think he always knows what is appropriate. Not to get all overly analytical, but his dad cheated on his mom for years and now that he’s left that marriage, cheats all the time now with younger girls on his current partner. It’s not an excuse for my boyfriend, but the flirtyness definitely seems to run in and be encouraged by his family.

So basically I don’t think he would cheat, but these actions are still disrespectful and hurtful in my eyes.

I love him but I want this behavior to change. How do I talk to him about this? He does have a temper and I’m almost always the non-confrontational one, so I’m a bit lost on how to initiate this talk. Also, there’s the obvious issue that I found this out by snooping (I know…guilt). Help me!

First of all, there is no such thing as accidental bra touching! Jesus. Unless you’ve opened up the wrong dryer at the laundromat and a bra flies out and hits your hand, but even then the bra is technically touching you. At the very least, one garment would need to be negotiated in order for a bra being worn by another person to be touched by your boyfriend. Wait a minute! What about the cuddling?! My sweet child. I’m not even going to get into the scary movie in the basement.

The fact that you found out about all this by drunk-snooping is not good (as has been discussed AD NAUSEAM on here), but you can’t go back and erase that. Plus, it appears to have only reinforced what you already knew anyway. Just dump this dude. Your psychoanalysis only enables his behavior. What he’s doing is unacceptable, whether his upbringing encourages it or not. His father’s behavior is unacceptable, too. Get out of this as fast as you can and don’t look back. You may love him, and his personality might complement yours in certain situations, but this is not flirting, it is testing your boundaries. He’s slowly seeing how much he can get away with, and from the looks of it, you’re willing to let him get away with a lot. Don’t do that. Don’t talk to him about it unless it’s in the context of breaking up with him. Don’t tell him you looked at his phone, just talk about the things he knows you know. If you hadn’t mentioned his temper, I’d say confess to the snooping, but it’s never worth finding out how far someone’s temper will take him. If you’re worried about his reaction, then talk to him in a public place and arrange to meet with a friend immediately after. Maybe wear an extra layer of clothing, too, just in case.

I am a 24-year-old lady and a 36-year-old gentleman has asked me out on a date. He’s a super hot park ranger from DC and he makes me laugh and he likes dogs. The age difference isn’t such a big deal, it’s his actual number. My dad is 42. I just met my dad a few summers ago, and I can’t lie that there are substantial similarities between these two guys. They sound almost exactly alike on the phone, and they have the same height/build. I don’t think I have daddy issues, but if I did, this would be a tell-tale sign (according to the movies and television I watch). Please give me a reality check. Is it inappropriate for me to date this guy when he reminds me so much of my father?


More? Simply enough, if the mere act of this guy asking you out on a date made you think of his similarities to your father and ask this question in a public forum, then it is probably inappropriate to go out with him right now. Having said that, I really don’t like the term “daddy issues,” because it’s incredibly reductive, and really, everyone bases decisions and positions based on their relationships with their parents. I mean, my mother is incredible, so if I date someone who reminds me of her in some way, I don’t see it as a negative or frightening thing. I also don’t see it as negative if a lady likes to watch CBS from Sunday Morning to 60 Minutes like my dad does. What I think we all want to avoid is dating someone who, if he/she were to come over to our parents’ house for dinner, would make us feel like we were in a scene from Dead Ringers. My advice would be to ask yourself (and maybe a professional if it’s a bigger issue) if these feelings about your dad/date leave you feeling anything less than great about yourself. If so, you should focus on working that out first. The last thing you want to do is start using this guy (or other men) as a proxy for working out your feelings about your dad, because it will prevent you from getting anywhere with either of them.

Other than that, dude sounds quite hunky. Your dad I mean.

So, this is the first time I’ve ever written into an advice column — I hope you can help!

I have a great boyfriend, and we live together. Aside from usual living together issues (dishes! laundry! etc!), we make pretty great roommates, which is lucky, since we love each other and want to keep living together, have a great apartment, etc.

I have two problems: Problem 1 is that our schedules are just off enough that we hardly see each other. It’s like his world is California, and my world is New York, and there is this three-hour time difference. I get to work by 8 or 8:30 (ouch!), and his office gets going around 10, so we don’t see each other in the mornings. I haven’t once been able to convince him to wake up early enough to have breakfast together (I’d never ask him to do this regularly, just maybe even once per month), although I often stay up extra extra late to hang out with/have dinner with/go to a bar with him. Are mornings just a thing that some people can’t handle, or what?

Part 2 is that, also, lately I’ve been taking night classes, so I am underslept, underfed, and, in general, under-fun. They’re over at the end of August, and it’s pretty much ruining my summer. But! After some initial grumbling about how it’s hard for us to go out together/do things on weekends/etc., has really just been incredibly supportive. He makes dinner and saves a plate for me in the fridge. He makes me tea while I study. What is the best thank you gift I can give to my bf? (It seems like this shouldn’t be a birthday present type thing, right? Like, not a new microphone, kitchen gadget, or bicycle accessory…) Thanks!

Can you talk to the last lady here? It actually sounds like you have a really lovely, if currently inconvenient, relationship, and I think I might have a two-birds-one-stone solution for you. Allow me to start by saying that I, too, am not a morning person. I’m not not a morning person either, but on balance, my repartee is far less scintillating before nine-ish. But, if one morning my girlfriend were to wake me from slumber earlier than normal with breakfast in bed, wearing some new, particularly alluring undergarments, I probably wouldn’t even notice what time it was. In fact, I would probably not be totally aware that I was awake for another 15 to 20 minutes. But, I would feel extremely appreciated if such a thing was presented with a “thank you for being a good guy.”

I would then not only continue being a good guy so as to earn further such rewards, but also wake up earlier on subsequent mornings and return the favor on occasion (although I’m not sure what ladies consider alluring male undergarments … cheetah thong?), in the hopes of creating a cycle of sexual breakfast encounters. Let’s call it a French Toast Ouroboros. If that doesn’t work, just taze him randomly for a couple months, he’ll start waking up real early, maybe not sleeping at all. And then you can buy him therapy as thanks. Either way, you’re set! Ta-da! But seriously, in an ideal world, we’d always be thinking of ways to make our partner’s lives easier and better, and it sounds like you guys are pretty close. I hope your schedules come together really soon, and when they do, please share us with your journeys toward domestic enlightenment. Namaste.

Just over two months ago I was dumped by my boyfriend of 1.5 years. He said it was because he couldn’t make me happy, and for about four days I thought it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me and cried on everyone’s shoulder and ugh, terribleness. But I started to feel better pretty quickly (it’s true, he didn’t make me happy?). And I took all the Hairpin advice and started doing pilates and got a haircut and went out drinking with lots of different girl friends and just got excited about my life again.

About a month later, I was really starting to feel really good. And happy! And I happened to be on Twitter and saw a tweet from this guy saying he’d just moved to my city (back story: I’ve known him for ages and ages (since high school!), and I always had a big crush on him, and we even had a brief flirtation/making out at a party a few years back, but at the time we lived several hours away and we were both kind of idiots and nothing happened). We went out for drinks to catch up, and then out for dinner, and then just for some really long walks around the city. And in the five years since we were last really friends, he has grown up and turned into this really nice guy who is ambitious and funny and identifies himself as a feminist and UGH. So I told myself that we were Just Friends and that worked for about two weeks until we were playing Scrabble one night at his place and I kind of sort of kissed him? (UGH I KNOW.) And the kissing was really good, so for the past few weeks we’ve been continuing to hang out and have dinner and go for walks and sometimes make out a bit. And we have had one conversation about What We Are, and I told him I wasn’t ready to date anyone, and he was like, “Cool, let me know when you are. Also p.s. I think we’re sort of already dating, but no worries.” And he says things like that he really regretted that we never dated before and he really wants to make a go of it this time.

So. Deep breath. My question is: Am I insane? Am I incredibly stupid for letting myself like this guy when I am still getting over something else? (The thing is, I try really hard to not like him, and not want to kiss him, but it is nearly impossible.) Will I doom this (potential) relationship if I get involved with him? Is there anything I can do to try and not-doom it, short of taking things slow, not sleeping with this new dude yet and continuing to just spend lots of time by myself figuring out what I love, post-breakup style? Is there a standard calculation I can use to figure out when I will be over boy a and ready to date boy b? Help help help!

The general formula is as follows:

Duration of Relationship A (in months) x Happiness Ranking During Relationship (1–10) / Number of Combined Ladies’ Nights and Pilates Sessions Required to Feel Good Again = Duration of Rebound

In your case, and excuse me for taking any liberties with the numbers here, we’re looking at:

18 x 5 / 8 = 11.25

So, wait 11.25 hours after you read this and go have a good time with Dude B. Please feel free to adjust that number accordingly.

Whether you wait a day or half a day, though, you are not insane or stupid. The opposite, I’d say. It’s clear you’ve already put a lot of thought into it and are protecting yourself appropriately. If you’d said that you’d had your heart broken by someone you’d been euphorically happy with for a number of years, I would probably tell you to be careful. But you got about as upset over your breakup as I do when my DVR doesn’t record AMC Essentials, so go for it.

Obviously, you’re always going to be a little more vulnerable when you get into relationships with people who already mean something dear to you, but that’s just part of the deal. The potential for greatness proportionally increases with the depth of friendship. Just continue to be honest with him and ask him to do the same so that there are no surprises, and, if it doesn’t work out, you’ll be able to preserve your friendship much more easily.

The last thing I’ll say is that you didn’t compare him to your ex, only highlighted why he was great, so that tells me you’re hanging out with him because it’s fun, not because he’s filling a void. In fact, you spent 10 sentences enumerating Dude B’s qualities and all of 10 words on your Dude A’s suckiness. That’s about all the math you need right there.

Previously: “Scumbag” Siblings.

A Dude is one of several rotating dudes who know everything. Do you have any questions for A Dude?

Photo by Irina Fischer, via Shutterstock