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Lady Chatter-Less

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 9/15/2004

I have a wonderful boyfriend whom I love and adore and hope to grow old with. He’s sweet, loving, smart, and more thoughtful than any other man I’ve known. Both our careers are in good shape, and we’re planning to move in together soon. I knew when we got together that he had spent a lot of time in online chat rooms, but I thought he had stopped. I found out recently, though, that he hasn’t. And not only is he still using some very sexy screen names, but he’s also presenting himself in his profiles as single. When I asked him about it, at first he laughed a little sheepishly and shrugged it off, then later he got sort of mad and accused me of checking up on him. I’m 32 and I don’t care if he buys a girlie magazine every now and then, but this chat-room business makes me a little squeamish. He’s such a great guy, and everything else we have is so good, including our love (sex) life, but I don’t want to share him with other women even if it is in cyberspace. Am I being overly dramatic about this? Or should I trust the love I know he feels for me and stop being such a neurotic worrywart?

Want Him to Myself

 

Girlie magazines are not interactive. A guy may work up a full head of steam over a naked centerfold, WHTM, but she is never going to whisper naughty words in his ear. Or type them on his computer screen—at least not without a credit card. For chat rooms though, the whole point is reciprocity. Whether we’re looking for intellectual argument, emotional support, or some quick and sleazy cyberbooty, a chat room connects us to other live humans. Even when both (or all) of the parties involved are lying through their keyboards about their identities, there’s still an actual, albeit temporary and superficial, relationship.

It could be that your boyfriend, like a growing number of men and women, is actually addicted to his chat rooms, in which case he might need professional treatment. Ironically enough, there are several Web sites you can check out for more information, including www.netaddiction.com. Or maybe he rationalizes that “real” cheating requires actual physical contact. Either way, as long as your boyfriend is still cybercruising, he’s not committing completely to his relationship with you. Instead of being overly dramatic or neurotic, you’d be smart and self-preserving to insist that until he can and does move out of the chat rooms you can’t and won’t move in with him.

 

I’m a 20-year-old college student. A few months ago I finally started dating a guy I’d had a huge crush on for years. I can’t even believe how lucky I am because he’s incredibly cute and fun—except for one big problem. He’s a couple of years older than I am and already out of school, and he doesn’t like it that I spend so much time studying. It annoys him that I’m not as available to him as he wants. I’m carrying a double course load so I can get my bachelor degree in three years, but I want to go on to get a master’s, which means I’m going to be in school for several more years. He’s got an OK job but not really a career, and all he wants is enough money to live on and have a good time, so he spends every penny of his paycheck. I’m really ambitious and frugal because I want to have my own business by the time I’m 26. I know I’m more motivated than most people, but it worries me that he’s so casual about his future. How do I talk to him about this without making him think I only care if he ever makes as much money as me?

It’s Not About the Money

 

The point of dating, INATM, is to find out what we want and don’t want in a mate, and then, if we’re lucky, find someone who has more of the former than the latter who likes us back. It’s great that your guy has “cute” and “fun” going for him, but when it comes to building a life together, cute fades and nothing turns fun to fight faster than money problems. You guys may be powerfully physically attracted to each other, but moneywise you’re different species: You’re Aesop’s workaholic ant and he’s the lounge-lizard grasshopper.

His lack of interest in his future seems like a big item on your “don’t want in a guy” list, but if you’re determined to try, instead of talking about money focus on time. Tell him you’ll give him what you can, but that for the next few years it can’t be much. You’ve got two degrees to earn, and then you can count on 80-odd hour weeks getting your business up and running. It probably wouldn’t hurt to take a long weekend off now and then, for your sake and his, but you need to level with him that you aren’t willing or able to slow to his pace. If he can’t accept that, well, maybe your wish list needs to be revised to include “equally ambitious” or, at least, “supportive.”

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