I'm going out with a guy—let's call him Brett—and we’ve been going out for about a month and a half. He is the stereotypical "perfect guy" who is sweet, good looking, funny—and almost every other girl likes him too. The thing is, I don’t think that he’s right for me. But I get jealous when I hear other girls talking about him, and that’s when I start to fall for him again. I know that’s a stupid reason to be with someone, but I can’t help it!
A couple nights ago I promised myself that I wouldn’t let anything make me like him again, and that I would pull him aside and break up with him. And so there we were, him and me, sitting on his car, holding hands, I was just about to dump him. But then I chickened out and I couldn’t do it. The conversation didn’t even pause or anything. Afterward, when I was going home with a couple of friends, they were all mad at me for not breaking up with him. I don’t really understand why.
Then last night I was talking to my friend—let’s call him Jesse—and he told me he liked me. I have to admit, I kind of like him too... he’s not exactly like Brett, he’s not as sweet or innocent, but he’s a lot of fun to be around, and I really like spending time with him. So after he told me he liked me, I panicked and forgot all about Brett, and told him I liked him too! Now I feel terrible! Does this classify as cheating? Because I really don’t want to do this to Brett! I want to break up with him in person but every time I try, I can’t do it. I know Brett deserves better than me and I can’t keep hurting him like this! And I have no idea what to do about Jesse! What if the same thing happens with him?
Well, there's an interesting question! So what you're saying is, what if your interest in your shiny new boytoy lasts only as long as it takes for the novelty to wear off? And what if you don't want to play with him anymore, but you also don't want anyone else to, either? And what if you just keep faking your way through another sham relationship, preventing him from finding a girl who actually likes him, while you line up your next conquest on the DL and then moan about how awful you feel?
...Yeeeeah. Um, Sparkler? You do realize that you could always just decide not to act like a selfish, two-faced, giant lying, flaming bag of butts, right?
Which is not to say that you're a bad person for feeling possessive of a guy even though you don't want him yourself. You're human! It happens! We all have ugly impulses and base instincts, we all feel the sting of jealousy and insecurity, and we're all capable of acting in selfish and self-interested ways. And yes, we all occasionally screw up, give in, and cross the line between feeling selfish impulses and indulging them. But when you do that—and let's be real, you did—you've at least gotta own it. Because while you may not be able to help the instinct, you can certainly help the part where you act on it.
So, stop with the "I just can't help it" stuff (seriously, stop, or I'm getting the Punishment Salmon), and admit the truth: you made a crappy decision, and you're acting like a jerk.
It's okay. We still love you!
And the good news: once you admit that you made this mess, you'll find that it doesn't seem anywhere near as daunting to un-make it. Which is what you're going to do, beginning with ending your farce of a romance. Break up with your boyfriend, today—and if you really can't do it in person, then you have my permission to do it over text or email (not because it's a nice thing to do, but because it's less terrible than what you're currently doing, so it counts as an improvement).
And then? Hey, it's your call. Date your friend or don't date your friend. But whatever you do, promise yourself that from here on out you'll be brave enough to recognize when you're at your worst, you'll take responsibility for your choices, and you'll act with honesty and decency in your relationships.
And also, that if you ever again find yourself whining, "I can't heeeelp it!" as an excuse for failing to do the right thing, you'll smack yourself in the face with the biggest, floppiest fish you can find.
Have you ever made excuses for your own bad behavior? (Oh come on, we've all done it.) Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.