I’m 20 years old and in college tend to date more than one woman simultaneously. There’s been, however, a change in my situation. I hooked up with a girl from my course and it quickly advanced into something way more than that. I’ve spent several nights at her place and also we’ve had very sweet conversations about us and what we feel about each other. I’m the first girl she has ever been with and she seems to really like me and I really like her. She is currently in another country for two months doing volunteer work and soon I’ll be in a different country doing the same. So the current situation is that we don’t exactly have a commitment, because we know it’s a long time and we’ve just started dating so it would be a bit too fast.
The thing is that, before her, I had my eye on another girl and because of miscommunication and simple problems in our schedules, we never dated. But now this “soccer girl” is free and wants to see me and is very insisting, and the relationship between us is also very sweet and caring. Soccer girl knows all about volunteer girl. I really want to hook up with her, but I also feel guilty for the volunteer girl.
So would hooking up with soccer girl be a betrayal? Or is it OK because we don’t have an explicit commitment? If so, do I tell her? I honestly sometimes have the feeling I would be “getting away with a technicality.” What do you think?—Very Indecisive Girl
Anna says: I think you should be honest with volunteer girl, VIG. If you’re not ready to be monogamous, especially since the two of you are going to be in different countries for several months, then tell her that. Odds are that she’ll agree with you, especially since you just started dating, and you share similar world views about sowing your wild college oats and what-have-you. I know it’s scary to be honest about desiring other people, but it’s far better to do so than to act on your impulses, feel guilty about them, and possibly have to lie about them or keep secrets later on.
You don’t need to go into carnal specifics about how you and soccer girl are going to play “hide the goalie” when you talk to volunteer girl (may I call her VG, VIG?). Just tell VG that while you really like her, you think it’ll be better for your VAG to keep the relationship open for now, and that you can revisit the discussion when the both of you are once again in the same country. And then listen to what she says.
If, however, after talking about it, VG would rather you not bang the hot midfielder, then you’ll have to decide whether keeping her heart is more important to you than keeping it in your pants. But, I’d put my bets on VG being cool with your relationship staying open for the time being. Most people are not unreasonable—we may get jealous, of course, but long-distance is hard, and even harder when the relationship is so new. Other potential pitfalls to discuss, should VG be down with the VAGS: Does she want to know when it happens, or will you be operating under a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy? Do you want to know if she dallies with other people?
Another reason I think you should be upfront with her is because you run in small circles and your soccer girl adventures are probably going to get back to volunteer girl in one way or another. Speaking from personal experience, it was much harder to learn of my girlfriend’s one-night-stand later than it would have been if she’d told me around the time it actually happened. But we never had that conversation. I assumed things and she assumed things and we were both wrong about those things and it led to a big fight months after the fact, when it all could have been easily avoided with 10 minutes of Real Talk.
I urge you to take the time now, and set a precedent for honesty. I think you’ll find it does wonders for alleviating angst and confusion and wondering about how your partners are going to feel or react to various scenarios. The truth is we never know until we ask.
And enjoy the rest of your wild youth. I’ll be sitting over here at Applebee’s waiting for this girl to realize I’ve been staring at her so that I may slip her this enigmatic ode from Nabokov on a cocktail napkin: “It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.” Any day now…
Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your The Hook Up questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.