Ask Jono: My BF Flirts with All the Ladies!
I would go on and on and on and your work is great, and you're hysterically funny, but everyone says that, and I'm TRYING to be original, which is very hard, when the advice columnist in question is undeniably amazing and almost definitely handsome.
I look like a dope and I once broke my one-day-old phone by dropping it in the toilet. Flattery is not required! Moving on.
I am really really confused. I've been going out with this guy for over two months, and I thought it was going really well. We seemed to fit really well with each other. That is, of course, until he tells me that for the entirety of our relationship he's been flirting with other girls. I thought he was a really nice guy, and now I just don't know, and I kind of remember jerky things he's done, but I don't know whether that's just because I'm upset or whether he's really a jerk. I asked him if he would stop, and he told me he didn't know if he could. Later the next day, he told me he'd decided he would try to fix it. I really don't know what to do, and my friends are giving me conflicting advice. Please help.
From a confused and hurt Sparkler.
P.S. I saw one of the flirty txts he sent one of my classmates, and it was pretty flirty. He also told me some of the worse ones were hnd related.
Hooo boy. We're going to have a SPARKNOTES OFFICE BRAWL over this question, because my gut reaction is certainly different from the advice of the other Adviceologists. Auntie SparkNotes and I are going to wind up angrily but harmlessly shooting staplers at each other, because she totally thinks flirting while in a relationship is okay, and I totally think relationship flirters should be fired out of a cannon into a... um... larger cannon that is... gross inside, or something. I have not thought this through. But, for example, here is a post wherein Auntie argues that flirting while in a relationship can be harmless fun. Now, I'd argue that flirting is like boxing: it's only harmless fun under very specific conditions, e.g. that you're not the one who is personally harmed by the fun, and if Floyd Mayweather spontaneously lurches into the stands and starts punching your face until it is not alive, you are no longer having fun. But Auntie does have a point that I agree with, so I'm going to cover that part first.
Everyone has a different threshold for what's considered acceptably flirty. And before you say "But Jono, I never flirt with aaanybody," I can point you to exactly one million internet posts where some guy is all nerd-raging because his girlfriend has the audacity to speak to boys, who happen to be male, which is his job. Different things make people jealous. We all have a different idea of what's acceptable, and sometimes people start a relationship without realizing how different their ideas are, and soon enough they're having a climactic swordfight atop Niagara Falls because they never figured out what they wanted from each other.
Maybe this guy is doing flirty things that have no actual meaning to him. Sometimes situations that seem sexlicious have no emotional content at all; for example, what if he gave another girl the Heimlich maneuver? That would be okay, right? What if he gave her CPR? What if he gave her CPR but both of them had just had their pants eaten by sharks? What if he completely hated the girl, but was honor-bound to save her half-naked life anyway? I assume you see what I'm getting at here, which is that people can interact sexily in a way that has no emotional meaning at all for one of the people involved. And maybe, if this dude totes loves you and is just saying random mouth words at all these other girls, you could shrug it off as a pointless but normal interaction. Maybe it's just how he rolls.
I don't like this situation. I do like that he told you about it, and went so far as to give you the details; that implies that he's an honest guy and he feels guilty. But I think that even the "flirting is okay" viewpoint assumes that the person is just smirking and winking at somebody, not texting "I WILL CAUSE BABIES TO COME OUT OF U" to some random girl, which is what I assume he did. Personally, I don't like flirting while in serious relationships at all, because the main purpose of flirting is to say "I am sexually attracted to you," and that's a stupid thing to communicate if you're not actually available. And more importantly, when you asked your guy to stop, he said he didn't know if he could? That makes me assume this dude just walks around involuntarily blurting flirts out of his dumb face 24/7, and texting hot girls no matter where he is ("WAT A HOT FUNERAL THAT WAS!! TAKE OFF YR PANTS").
There are guys, and girls, who simply are this way—flirting is not even a thing for them, and they just do it, and to them it's exactly the same as saying hello (except they suspiciously only do it to hot people). It's not a reflection on you; it's just their ingrained behavior. But even if your guy is like that, it's okay to ask for boundaries. You do need to actually ask for them, though, because if his baseline for normal conversation is "Hello! Let's nakedly flop around," then it'll be a big change for him to stop being constantly flirty. But whether this is how he always acts or not, you need to make him understand that this seriously does bother you, and that you seriously, for reals, want him to stop.
If I were you, I'd give him the chance to do so. He wants to make this work, or he wouldn't have been forthcoming enough to tell you he was flirting in the first place. And besides, as far as relationship ultimatums go, this should be a pretty easy one for him to live up to. If he can't manage "Stop putting your sexy words in another girls' ear-hole," then I'm pretty sure he's not worth your trouble.