The Hook Up: Wandering Eyes and Online Dating Advice



I have a wonderful girlfriend and we have been together for three years. Everything is picture perfect. We communicate well and our sex life is good. I envision a long-term future with her, however, I can’t help but have these desires to sleep with other women. I don’t want to sleep with every hot girl around, but in the past three years I have seriously wanted to ravish a total of three girls.

I have asked my girlfriend if she would consider an open relationship or a threesome, but she has declined. I don’t know why I have these feelings and it makes me feel like a horrible human being, especially since my girlfriend has no desire to sleep with other women. What should I do?

Anna says: Three whole girls! Call the police! Call Animal Control! Call Topanga from Boy Meets World! (Not for solutions to your problem. I just want to know what she’s been up to.) You appear to be suffering from what my ex calls “theory guilt.” You haven’t done anything wrong. You’ve only had impure thoughts, which is a crime punishable by no one but ourselves. Meaning, it’s not a crime. At all. Every person in a committed, monogamous relationship experiences pants-warming feelings for people who are not their partners at some point, as I’ve said before. It’s totally normal and fine to have these feelings! And honestly, you’ve only wanted to “ravish” three people in three years, which is 1) adorable (I picture bodices being ripped off very slowly and in a frustrated manner) and 2) such a small number that it should be measured in decimals and not whole numbers if we were using math to validate our sexual desires, which, to be clear, we ARE. Three outside-relationship boners x 1,095 days (that’s three years) / all the sex you’ve had with your partner = .0000048375 (approximate guilt level).

You’re not a horrible human being for having feelings for someone who is not your “picture perfect” girlfriend. You’re a human being period. So please let yourself off the hook. OK? What you should do is accept that we all have feelings, and sometimes those feelings are inconvenient because we can’t do anything about them or they don’t align with our “long-term future” plans, or they are just stupid feelings* (tired and cranky, for instance. A world of good those two feelings have ever done for anyone!).

*The Serious Lesbian in me feels compelled to add, “There are no ‘stupid’ feelings. Don’t invalidate your emotions. Simply experience them. Namaste**.”

**The Non-Serious Lesbian in me just threw up a little.

Monogamy is not without its sacrifices, of course. If you want to be with this gal for the long haul (and she sounds pretty great, amiright? The fact that you’re still having sex after three years is practically reason enough for me to be like, “Hold on to that one!”), then you have to let go of that one-boner-per-year crush that you lust after (or relegate her to the realm of fantasy and call it a day). I’m not saying it’s easy, cuz it ain’t — there’s a reason non-consensual non-monogamy (aka cheating) is so prevalent. But if this is the girl you want to be with — the girl you want to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race and split the Internet bill with — then it makes everything else worthwhile.

I’ve been trying this whole online dating thing and it’s so hard and depressing. I’ve been actively using two websites for over six months now and I’m getting nowhere. I think I went out with two people this whole time, and it’s not from lack of trying. I have a profile with things I like (specific books/movies/TV shows) and I have profile pictures, but I hardly ever get any messages. So I’ve been writing to people myself, but I get close to zero replies. In the first message I try and write about things on their profiles we have in common (hobbies or whatever, I never comment on their pictures), but that doesn’t seem to be the way to go. Aren’t I supposed to be trying to start a conversation? Then the girls who do reply only respond once or twice and then stop. Two even deleted their usernames mid-conversation. I find it all so depressing. Everything takes so long. Getting a date takes forever and then if we don’t hit it off it’s been weeks of effort down the drain. Any tips to make things go smoother? — Dateless

Anna says: Do I! First, yes, online dating can be very demoralizing. I’ve had it go both ways. The first time I joined OkCupid it was like a party in my laptop and everyone was invited, including a lot of weird guys who lived in the suburbs. I met many great people who are still friends with me to this day and got one almost-three year relationship out of the deal. The next time I joined OkCupid, however, it was like a scene from The Walking Dead — I spent so much time roaming the tireless abyss, never meeting anyone, and then when I did, they were only interested in my brains, not my body (apparently I give off a “friend” vibe. Pffft!). After two years of flops and dead-ends, I gave up on the site, which was, of course, when I met my current girlfriend (through a mutual friend whom I did actually meet on OkCupid). After all that, I indirectly owe my relationship to OkCupid. This is all a really long-winded way of saying, online dating is a crapshoot!

But that’s all dating, really (and life). I’m sorry you’ve had a hard time of it, but you simply can’t know why someone doesn’t write you back, or why someone might choose to delete their profile “mid-conversation.” It might have nothing to do with you at all. Maybe they got sick of the game. Maybe they got a girlfriend. Maybe they got stuck under a very large boulder. No one can say but them, so try not to take it too personally, OK?

I would also like to commend you for taking the initiative and writing to girls first. This is hard and it forces you to shoulder the risks/vulnerability, and so I am internet-clapping for you on this front. And yes, it can take a long time between first email and first actual date, but it doesn’t have to. Ask them out in the first message. Start a conversation, sure, but the point is to see if you have actual chemistry, which is hard to do when you’re both alone, staring at glowing screens. If you don’t want to endlessly exchange banter with someone, then cut to the chase. Some women may balk at meeting “so soon” but really the only thing they have to lose is an hour of their time and the cost of a cappuccino or beer.

I can’t give you much specific profile or message advice since I don’t know if your online persona is sporting any glaring red flags (I’m happy to take a look if you send me a link. Or, better yet, have someone who knows you well take a look), but barring something truly ghastly, I bet it’s fine. If you want specific tips for getting better messages, check out this post I wrote awhile back. However, what you say in your messages doesn’t hugely matter. If they’re interested, then they’ll write back — unless your entire message consisted of doodles and emoticons or something. Also, don’t write a novel. Keep it short ‘n’ sweet. And ask a question. If they don’t write back, then they don’t write back. Tell yourself it’s nothing personal and move on. I tended to waste a lot of time wondering why Lesbian Version of Joseph Gordon-Levitt wasn’t writing me back before I figured out there was nothing I could do about it. You can’t make people write you back. Just like you can’t make people love you back. The sooner we learn that lesson, the better.

Also, no one is stopping you from being all, “To hell with this!’” and exploring new avenues for dating. There’s more than one way to skin tofu, as the newly updated, Anti-Violence Against Cats expression goes. If online dating isn’t working for you, you have my blessing to delete that sh!t immediately and go wind surfing.

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 and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your The Hook Up questions at [email protected].