Should I Marry My Serious Girlfriend Or My Secret Lover?

Welcome back to The Alchemist — Because Advice Columns Don’t Have To Be Useless

Question 1: What do I do about my hot friend who all the guys want?

From “Ask E. Jean,” Elle

The Question (summarized): My friend is so much hotter than me that I’ll never have a boyfriend because every guy who meets her will want her instead and I will always be a consolation prize.

The Bad Advice (summarized): Your friend probably isn’t as beautiful as you think — you are probably the beautiful one! But also, if she’s really that hot and you meet “the one,” don’t let her around your boyfriend.

My Better Advice: Some people are beautiful, and nice, and witty all at once in a way that makes you curse god. My brother has a friend who looks like a Swedish supermodel. That kind of effortless beauty that has you trying to stay on the other side of the room if you hope to be seen at all. When I met her and discovered she also had a really wonderful personality I literally shouted “YOU’VE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME” and threw my hands up in the air and gave up on my personal appearance for an entire week.

What I’m trying to say is, that sort of feeling of inadequacy sucks, and it’s hella common. We live in a society that rewards women for their physical beauty above all else. When they win that genetic lottery we hope they are at the very least somewhat balanced out by a complete lack of a sense of humor, and when that doesn’t turn out to be the case we feel even more disadvantaged. It’s even worse when we genuinely like this seemingly perfect person and want to spend time with them, while also wishing we could turn down their light occasionally in order to be seen.

That sort of feeling of inadequacy sucks, and it’s hella common.

Here’s the thing though, everyone — absolutely everyone — has somebody else that they feel the same way about. Everyone who is worth spending any time with is convinced that nobody will be able to truly see and appreciate who they really are. And who your friend is isn’t only what you see. There is a part of her that she is wishing you’d see beyond the seeming perfection.

While physical attraction is a major component in initial romantic meetings, please don’t be convinced that the image of ultimate beauty put forth by white male supremacy is actually what all, or even most, men want. While many men feel a lot of pressure to act like they all want the same type of woman, and that they all define beauty the same way, the truth is that attraction is a very personal experience. You’ve likely found yourself at times mystified over why you find someone attractive, staring at their features that are nothing like what society says beauty looks like and wondering “why does this make my nether regions tingle so?” The same thing happens to men, who are just as varied in their attractions as women are.

Also, it is important to note how quickly our physical attraction based on what we can see is taken over by physical attraction based on how we interact. Shared interests and goals, emotional intimacy — these things all quickly supplant physical characteristics, and in fact drastically change how we view physical characteristics. And what we need intellectually and emotionally from partners is as varied as we are.

What I’m trying to say is, you are somebody’s jam. You are the bees knees to somebody — a lot of somebodies. And when you find that somebody, you will be the beauty they have been looking for, and your friend will pose absolutely no threat to that and she will not keep them from finding you. In the meantime, enjoy your friend and try to appreciate her as a whole person as well, and not just a reflection of the ways in which you feel like you don’t measure up.

Question 2: Should I marry my long-term girlfriend or the woman I’m having an affair with?

From “Ask Dr. Tracy”

The Question (summarized): I’ve had a great girlfriend for the last four years and I like her a lot. I’ve also been sleeping with another woman and she makes my stomach tingle. I really want to get married soon. Do I marry the great woman I’ve been with for the last four years or do I leave her for the new woman?

The Bad Advice (summarized): You’ve invested a lot of time in your girlfriend, why start over? Actually, do nothing. Wait it out. “Sometimes the best decision is no decision.”

My Better Advice: Lol. “Sometimes the best decision is no decision.” Oh my god, I know this advice column is free but GET YOUR MONEY BACK. Here’s what you need to do — leave both women. You may “like” your girlfriend of four years, but if after four years you can still only describe your relationship as “We live together and she is very special to me” — YOU NEED TO BREAK UP WITH HER. You don’t want to get married; in fact, you don’t want to get married to either of these women. You’ve made sure of that with how you set up your relationship with them.

I know this advice column is free but GET YOUR MONEY BACK.

You’ve strung along a perfectly good woman for four long years while you decided if she was the person that would make you want to grow up and settle down. Now a new woman comes along and she’s exciting and new and you now have an answer for why you didn’t want to settle down this entire time — your girlfriend is obviously missing whatever this new woman has. But what if this new woman is missing something that the old girlfriend has? Spoiler alert: She will be. And every woman will be missing something because until you are ready to be an adult who is able to fully invest and commit to real relationships instead of holding on to fantasies of perfection you are going to come up with reasons why this woman might not be “the one.”

There’s nothing wrong with not being ready to commit to a long-term serious relationship. There is something wrong with pretending that you ARE ready and wasting four years of someone’s time in your lie. There’s also nothing wrong with having more than one partner, but only if you are honest with your partners about it and they’ve consented to the situation.

Be single for a while, then commit to honest casual dating while you work to find out what it is that you actually want from a relationship and from life. The right woman will not be able to answer these questions for you, she will be the right woman because you know who you are and what you need and can bring to a relationship. Until then, be honest about where you are now in life, with the women in your life and with yourself.

Like what you read? Give Ijeoma Oluo a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.

The author has chosen not to show responses on this story. You can still respond by clicking the response bubble.