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When to Define Your Relationship and Exit Dating Purgatory
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When to Define Your Relationship and Exit Dating Purgatory

Patrick Allan, Gawker Media

Photo by Richard .

You've got problems, I've got advice. This advice isn't sugar-coated-in fact, it's sugar-free, and may even be a little bitter. Welcome to Tough Love .

This week we have a man who's in a relationship, but also isn't. Confused? So is he!

Keep in mind, I'm not a therapist or any other kind of health professional-just a guy who's willing to tell it like it is. I simply want to give you the tools you need to enrich your damn lives. If for whatever reason you don't like my advice, feel free to file a formal complaint here . Now then, let's get on with it.

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Hello Sir Patrick Allan,

I've read a few of your advice articles, and I'm willing to hear out all sides on my particular issue. I'd really appreciate your time and sound (with all wise-and-witty-ness you may have) advice on what I can do in this shitty situation. If you will, here goes...

There's this girl. We went to the same high school, became Facebook friends, hit it off, and have been friends for a long time. We talk everyday. We go out to dinners, movies, hold hands, kiss, etc.-everything you'd expect from a typical relationship. Thing is, we have no official title. She doesn't want an "official label," and for the most part I agree. We've both been through the nastiness that is an "official" relationship. By leaving the titles behind, we enjoy the good aspects of a relationship and not the bad-ideally. After about six and half years of what she and her friend calls a "flirtationship," something's gotta' give.

Lately, we've been arguing A LOT. And it's always about the same shit, man, like literally, the same goddamn shit. I have a history of alcoholism, drugs, and womanizing-all previous to meeting this girl, of course-and I have two DUI's on my record. It's not the best past, especially for a girl like this. She's a good girl. In highschool, she was the one carrying loads of books and studying while I was the one whistling at the hot teacher or putting Icy Hot on toilet seats. But I've come a long way and I thank her for a good chunk of that. I don't drink anymore, or smoke, or go further than glancing at pretty women. I recently graduated college, got a decent job, and live on my own. Yet despite the changes, we can't seem to stop arguing.

She has a lot of guy friends and I've been slightly traumatized by past relationships-namely two very long relationships that ended with them cheating on me. I don't accuse or blame her of anything, but that's not to say I don't "ask." Anytime she tells me she's going to dinner with "a friend," I get all messed up inside and spew something nasty like "Where are you guys going?" or "Is he someone I know?" Then she'll get super defensive and angry due to her past experiences with controlling exes. The fights have basically been a result of me not "laying off." I don't think she's doing someone else, and one of our rules is to let the other person know if we ever do, but she hasn't said. Still, when we fight, she'll use it against me, saying something like, "If there is someone else, you can't say anything because we don't have a title and you've lied to me and hid stuff...etc." It just seems like she plants seeds of questioning in my head since I piss her off about it. The latest fight has created a rift, and now I don't know how to close this chasm.

Long story short: we got into a similar argument again. I was buying a new car for us since my old one was falling apart and she always rides with me when we go out. The sale took about six hours (this was my 1st new car purchase by myself) and I didn't call her when I said I'd call her back (since I was closing an auto transaction). She got really mad and didn't talk to me all day while she was out with her friends. That didn't sit well with me, so I sent some angry texts then went out with my old friends I used to drink and smoke with. But I didn't drink. I didn't smoke. In fact, I was a designated driver. And I was miserable the entire night because I missed her and couldn't stop thinking about it. BUT I didn't do anything stupid, besides choose the wrong crowd to hang out with. We talked that night and I told her I was out with the boys and was miserable. She got so pissed at me, scolding me about going out with people I got in trouble with in the past. This fight brought up a shit load of things from our past that apparently weren't settled between us-like how I'd lie to her about smoking when I was in the process of quitting, or how I would say things and not pull through (like exercising).

She's taking a few days off from me this week, but I did manage to get a text from her yesterday, which gives me hope (I sent a pic of our guinea pig to her-I keep it at my place). I'm patiently waiting what she says, but noticed she posted on her Facebook wall "Why do people realize things when it's too late?" I can tell she's not happy. Man, I don't know what to do. I'm trying to be a better person, and I think I'm making progress. She needs to realize that I love her and that my old lifestyle is non-existent when she's around. Maybe she's afraid I'll revert back since I went out that night? That was my bad, but I'm so serious man, I didn't have a single alcoholic drink or smoke anything! I just needed someone around me when it felt like she abandoned me, so I hit up the boys. I know I could've been stronger. The last fight, she said if we fight about this again, she'll leave what we have for good. Expert advice needed from an expert. Reading your advice articles leads me to seeking your awe-inspiring greatness (this is my first time).

Thanks for everything, sincerely,

Lost-n-Confused

Hey Lost-n-Confused:

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold up... I love this "Sir Patrick Allan" thing you've got going here. Fantastic. Anyway, enough about me, let's work this out. *turns chair around*

You two decided to avoid "official labels" in an attempt to make things easier for yourselves, but I think it's actually making things more difficult. You guys both have one foot in and one foot out, and that's always going to be a problem, especially whenever you have a disagreement. The instant something bad happens you have this easy out of "Well, we're not in a relationship, so you can't say blah blah blah ..." It's like you're playing a game with someone and as soon as they start to lose they decide they were never actually playing.

Now, don't misunderstand me here. I'm not saying the label itself is that important. You don't need to announce to the world that you are "offish bf and gf," or even decide that's what you are. And I'm not saying you two need to be monogamous , or get married, or do whatever it is self-righteous people say is morally sound. I'm saying that you both need to define your relationship in a way that you both feel comfortable. What's okay? What's not? What bothers each of you? This weird "we're in a relationship but we're not" thing is only going to complicate things further because neither of you have laid out what you want, and it's clear you're not entirely comfortable with your arrangement. Also, it's possible her perspective on this "flirtationship" is very different than yours. Maybe you're a bit more into it than she is?

So what do you want? It seems you're both well beyond "fuck buddies," so talk about this stuff! If you both want different things, or you're not willing to compromise on these issues at play, this relationship will never get easier. You say your aim is to enjoy the good of a relationship without the bad, but that's not how it works bud. You don't get the good without the bad. Frankly, your situation seems to be filled with far more "nastiness" than an "official" relationship. There's no trust, no compassion, and no understanding.

But there's another problem here that I think is just as big as your amorphous blob of a relationship: she won't let go of your past . Lost-n-Confused, you are making progress in becoming a better person. You got sober, you got a college degree, you got a good job, and you bought your first brand new car! I mean, I don't know what you're like in person, but on paper it seems you've turned things around and held to it. It's not okay for her to be drudging up the past every time you guys get in an argument. Yes, you did those things, but you've worked hard to change. She needs to let you be this new, better version of you. That said, you can't fault her for being concerned when you hang around the wrong crowds. And if your behavior starts to resemble your old doggin', druggin' ways, that's cause for her to say something too. But using your past as a weapon against you every time you two disagree is not cool at all.

It sounds like you care about this girl, Lost-n-Confused, but it's important you know she's not the only thing keeping you in line. You made those changes and you can keep on the straight and narrow without her. Who knows? Maybe there's someone else out there that will appreciate your journey a bit more. But before you make any decisions, sit down with this girl and evaluate what you have here. Take it seriously and throw your hat in the ring. It's time to put up or shut up.


Quickies

Because I just don't have the time or patience for all of you...

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Perfect Husband asks:

I love my wife though not very beautiful but I love u. I I don't and can't image myself f....king another more beautiful lady. Each time we make l.... E she just the best she just humm. Y don't see I other laddie that way,.

Huh? Okay, so I left this one unedited-not just for your enjoyment, but mainly because I have no idea what Perfect Husband is saying. Let's break this one down line-by-line together. Here we go:

I love my wife though not very beautiful but I love u.

You love your wife, but she's not very beautiful. Got it. But you love me... I'm flattered, but no thanks.

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I I don't and can't image myself f....king another more beautiful lady.

You don't imagine yourself having sex with another "more attractive" woman while you're with your wife. In fact, you can't. Okay, sounds fine so far. You must really love her and find her attractive even if she's not considered conventionally beautiful by other people's standards.

Each time we make l.... E she just the best she just humm.

Every time you make love, she rocks your world. She just hums... which I'm guessing is a good thing? It sounds positive. Unless you mean actual humming. That could be distracting. Maybe play some loud music while you bang?

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Y don't see I other laddie that way,.

I'm assuming you mean "lady" here, not "laddy," because that's a whole different situation. Basically, you're asking me why you're not attracted to other women who aren't your wife? I'm not seeing the problem here, PH. Uh, I guess you love your wife and have happened on domestic bliss. Sounds horrible.


That's it for this week, but I still have plenty of blunt, honest advice bottled up inside. Tell me, what's troubling you? Is work getting you down? Are you having problems with a friend or a coworker? Is your love life going through a rough patch? Do you just feel lost in life, like you have no direction? Tell me, and maybe I can help. I probably won't make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but sometimes what you need is some tough love. Ask away in the comments below, or email me at the address you see at the bottom of the page ( please include "ADVICE" in the subject line ). Or tweet at me with #ToughLove ! 'Til next time, figure things out for yourself.

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