Ask Dr Nerdlove: Do Women Have It Easier In Dating?

Ask Dr. Nerdlove: Do Women Have It Easier In Dating?

Today's column takes on one of the most frequently recurring issues I hear about from my readers: The eternal question of "Who has it easier in dating: men or women?" Is there greater temptation for women to upgrade when the next hot guy comes along? Is it possible to trust your girlfriend with her guy friends knowing that some of 'em are hoping to get in her pants?

Hey doc, You've done articles where you answered the question about girls having guy friends but I'm still having a hard time with this topic. In my experience and from what you seem to also speak on, girls give signals and or hints when they like a guy. From that point he has to catch these hints that it's game on and she digs him right? However, guys when they like a girl are supposed to be more forward and aggressive. So then is it right to believe that girls have far more temptation to trade up than a guy does?

For instance being faithful to any girl I've dated (including my current one), has been pretty simple. I don't really seek out new women to be around, and when girls are sweet to me i'm nice back and move on with my life. If any of my female friends wanted to date me, I usually had NO idea they were into me and they never made confessions or asked me out over and over or tried to get me wasted etc etc. Bottom line, I believe that a guy has to make a serious meditated effort to cheat or find a new girl or whatever. If he behaves he probably wouldn't run into a ton of new possible girlfriends.

With girls it's different right? They usually have more male friends than female friends these days and usually a handful of these guys have crushes on them. Plus, wherever they go to party, hang out, work etc there are guys who want to date them who have to make the first move. So, it's really frightening this kind of dating scene. I'm not saying that all girls are just cheating on their men. I'm saying its really tough being in love with someone who is surrounded by your competition. With all these different types of guys from all walks of life trying to impress her, when is finally someone with enough credentials going to blow you out of the water?

Women don't have to cheat, they can just dump you if the right guy comes along. I'm not saying guys don't or can't do it. It just seems like a fucked up scene man. A woman can do everything right and mind her life and her own business and still have guys very clearly and obviously try to get with her.

For instance what's bugging me is that my gf found out a little while ago that one of her friends has been trying to hook up with her for a while. And she still wants to hang out with him (which I don't understand, she now knows that he wants her and she still thinks they should hang out?). She did nothing, she didn't go looking for men and now there's someone in her life is like hey yo, let me do everything I can to impress you and etc and win you over. Whereas I would have to actively work and bring women to my situation.

Is it bad that I think she should at least have some kinds of reservations about hanging with this friend, instead of them pretending that the information isn't out there? And do you think what I'm saying is wrong about women having way more temptation?

Frustrated And Confused

Hoo boy, there's a lot to unpack here. This is a layered question, FaC, because it's getting fairly deep into gender roles and their effects on communication styles and socialisation and compounds the issue by dealing with questions of jealousy, insecurity, hypergamy and making a turn into the age-old issue of "who has an easier time in dating".

So let's detangle things a little here, starting with the question of signals or indicators of interest. As I've mentioned before: women are socialized to be indirect, especially when it comes to interacting with men and giving indications that they're attracted to somebody. While men are taught to be forward - even aggressive - in displaying their interest, women are taught to be more subtle and rely much more on body language and eye-contact to communicate intent. Part of the reason for this - and why women on average don't take a more proactive approach to dating - is because a lot of guys tend to respond badly to women who are aggressive or overt, and because women are more likely to be harassed even for baseline friendliness.

You see, the social narrative says that men are supposed to be the sexual aggressors while women are supposed to be submissive and receptive. The more macho or hyper-masculine the culture, the more rigid the gender roles. As a result, there's a wide swath of men who are profoundly uncomfortable when gender roles are reversed. Often they vastly overestimate a woman's interest and turn her friendliness into an invitation for aggression — "Hi, you seem nice," becomes "Take me now in a manly fashion" — and there's really no way for a woman to tell how a guy's going to react before she's had a chance to get to know him. So most women tend to err to the side of caution and flirt more subtly at first.

And honestly? Guys tend to miss those signs either because they're not looking, or because they're misinterpreting them. It's a fucked up situation that makes it hard for anyone to tell who's flirting with whom. Womp womp.

In all likelihood there've been women flirting with you that you didn't notice, either because you missed the signals or because they're women you weren't attracted to. Remember that, I'll be coming back around to it in a second.

Which brings us to the next part of your letter: whether a straight guy has to work harder than a straight woman to find someone to cheat with or to date after being dumped. And the answer is… sort of. But not in the ways you think.

See, to start with, the idea itself is misleading. You're starting off with a bad case of confirmation bias; you're only paying attention to women who have an easy time finding dates or meeting guys they're attracted to. Then you're ignoring the effort that women put into making themselves attractive and approachable - all those hours in the gym, all the time getting dressed and made up in order to look the way they're "supposed" to (without looking like they put in any effort). And even then, you're basically erasing every woman - and there are a lot of them - who isn't effortlessly finding a relationship.

(And, it should go without saying, all of this is without getting into LGBT dating issues.)

Now, remember what I said about men being the aggressors and women being passive? Another reason why men are able to be more aggressive is that women bear a disproportionate level of risk to their personal safety when it comes to sex and relationships. First and most obviously, there's the fact that the average woman faces greater physical risk from a strange man than the average man does from a strange women. Then there's the social aspect: men are lionized for having sex while women are vilified for it - including by the same guy she just slept with. And there are the obvious biological risks: pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, the latter of which present a greater risk to women than to men. And then there's the question of whether the sex will actually be worth all of that risk.

Men don't have to deal with most of that, so they're freer to be the aggressors. As a result, women are more likely to find men approaching them regularly - regardless of relationship status - while men who want to cheat on their girlfriends or wives are going to have to put more effort in to find someone receptive.

In terms of numbers, however… it actually probably evens out. Guys just tend to not notice because they're focusing on a small number of women and not noticing others who very well might be up for hooking up with them. Remember those women I said you didn't notice because you didn't find them attractive? There'll be plenty who are interested in you if you'd just stopped to give them the time of day...

Now before everyone jumps in on "so guys are stuck banging chicks they don't like," let me point out that this goes both ways. Women aren't just being hit on by gym-sculpted Adonises with perfect teeth and smouldering Ian Somerhalder eyes; they're being hit on by all kinds of guys - thin, fat, handsome, ugly, smooth, hairy… all kinds. Just because a woman has tons of people hitting on her doesn't mean that she's attracted to all of them or even any of them. And don't forget that a lot of those advances may be entirely unwanted and can (and often do) devolve into harassment, which further belies the notion that women somehow have it easier than men.

And that is what brings us to the last part of your question: what're you supposed to do when your girlfriend is surrounded by "your competition"? Isn't it just a matter of time before Studly Good Night sweeps her off of her feet and out of her panties and leaves you alone in the dust with your dick in your hand?

Let me ask you a simple question: do you trust your girlfriend? If the answer is no… well, you really shouldn't be dating her in the first place. Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship.

But if the answer is yes… well, then you really need to quit calling your girlfriend a whore. Which I realise seems harsh, but that's the unfortunate subtext of this question.

You see, you seem to be working under the assumption that women are dating checklists instead of people, and that's not how people work. Your girlfriend isn't dating you until she gets a better offer - she's dating you because there's something uniquely attractive about you as an individual. You're not a placeholder or a list of qualifications, you're an individual and it's those individual qualities that attract her to you. There are people out there who're handsomer than you. Who are richer than you. Who are more $USQUALITY than you.

And yet your girlfriend is with you, not out trying to get any of those guys. She picked you out of all the potential boyfriends for a reason, not because she needed a warm body until she could upgrade to Boyfriend 10.1.

(Although yes, there are people who do this. We call these people "arseholes." People who break up with someone to trade up have done their ex a favour because holy hopping sheep shit, why would you want to date someone like that?)

That friend of hers who's been trying to get in her pants since time immemorial? He's not your competition because this isn't a contest. Just because he's into her doesn't mean that she's suddenly lost all free will and it's just a matter of time until he's racked up enough XP to level up to Booty Call. Attraction isn't destiny. The fact that he wants her doesn't call your relationship into question. She's dating you specifically and either you trust her or you don't.

Is it OK that she's hanging out with this guy, knowing that he wants to get in her pants? Well, a lot depends on how she's feeling about the situation. Perhaps he's able to separate his attraction from their friendship enough to make it tolerable for her to continue being his friend. Perhaps she's ignoring his crush because she's really hoping he'll get over it and they can go back to being just friends. But unless she's actually giving you reasons to mistrust her - behaviour that is objectively sketchy, not stuff that actually has a logical and reasonable explanation - then what you need to do is just trust her.

If you're seriously worried about it, then the best thing you can do is use your words. Let your girlfriend know how you feel without putting blame on her for your discomfort or making demands about who she can and can't be friends with. Just say "Listen, the fact that he's trying to get in your pants makes me uncomfortable. It's not that I don't trust you, it's about how I'm feeling about his behaviour and not about anything you're doing. It's just an awkward situation that leaves me feeling a little jealous."

Just remember: Having more people hitting on you is not the same as having more temptation. The fact that more people are up in somebody's face doesn't mean that they're having an easier time than everyone else. Don't get hung up on "who has more options" or "who has it easier"; focus on yourself and your relationship.

Have you ever had to deal with somebody's crush on your significant other? Have you had someone try to snake your girlfriend or boyfriend out from under you? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments section, and we'll see you in two weeks with more of your questions!


Ask Dr Nerdlove is Kotaku's bi-weekly advice column for matters of the heart, hosted by the one and only Harris O'Malley, AKA Dr Nerdlove.

Harris O'Malley is a writer and dating coach who provides geek dating advice at his blog Paging Dr NerdLove and the Dr NerdLove podcast. He is also a regular guest at One Of Us. He can be found dispensing snark and advice on Facebook and on Twitter at @DrNerdLove. Dr Nerdlove is not really a doctor.


Comments

    Replace 'some of them' with 'most of them' and it will be closer to the truth.

    You have to trust your partner, or there is no point to being in a relationship, but it doesn't mean that there aren't a ton of guys trying to hit on her.

    To me the main thing is that your partner is aware that people are hitting on them, and make sure they don't put themselves in situations where it could potentially go wrong.

    I know a lot of girls say that guys just buy them drinks because they are nice, or they dance with them just because they like dancing etc. but hardly any of the girls who aren't good looking are getting drinks bought for them or are being taken out on the dance floor.

    That is just how it is, an awful lot of guys are out to score (as are a lot of girls), so there is no point being stressed about it. Be good to your partner, be honest and loving and let them know if you are hurting. Share and don't be a tool and they won't be looking to move on.

    One thing I didn't like with one person I was dating, is she went out with some friends, they went dancing etc. and a guy was with her for most of the night. She talked for hours etc. and didn't manage to mention that she had a fiance. He asked her for her number at the end of the night, and she refused, and said she was surprised as she just thought he was being nice.
    I was upset that she had talked for so long but that somehow hadn't mentioned she was in a relationship already. Your partner should be a big part of your life, and take up at least a bit of space in your mind, so to me it seems like mentioning them in conversation is almost unavoidable, unless you are actively avoiding it.

    If I am talking with girls, I mention my partner within the first few minutes of conversation, not in an obvious way, but just something like 'My girlfriend bought this for me' or 'Yeah, I went to that movie with my GF last week'. It lets them know you are just out to have a fun night out, not looking to pick-up. Often they will then end up talking to someone else within a few minutes, but sometimes they don't but the tension is removed from the night.

    I think if you hide the fact that you are married or are in a relationship, then there is a problem.

    Last edited 27/06/14 10:22 am

      I agree with you for the most part but some people just don't talk about their partners that often and don't think to specifically bring it up when talking with someone of the opposite sex. One of my best friends is married and while I knew the guy she was with I didn't realise they were actually married for quite a while. We hang out and talk crap all the time but because her relationship with her husband is great it never really comes up.
      That said I'd totally understand if her husband wasn't cool with it. The weirdest bit about it is that he doesn't mind me getting his wife blackout drunk and keeping her up until 4AM. =P

      Also I know personally I feel a bit fat headed working in the fact I'm in a relationship when I'm just casually talking to someone. I'm sure even though in the situations you described 99% of guys are hitting on them most women would feel a bit full of themselves starting every conversation with 'I've got a boyfriend'.

        I think it also depends on the context of the situation though - meeting someone through work or a casual social engagement is a bit different to going to a night club, where the motivation of many is to meet others for a relationship and/or sex.
        If you''re out at a nightclub and a guy is paying attention to you all night, buying you drinks, dancing with you, etc., and then to turn around and say he's 'just being nice' is either being incredibly naive or disingenuous.

    Really good article as always! One thing that is not quite touched on though is that attraction isn't a choice. It's very possible that your girlfriend is attracted to a lot of guys, but sticks with you because , as Harris said, she sees something unique in you. Don't ruin it by not trusting her.

    But if the answer is yes… well, then you really need to quit calling your girlfriend a whore. Which I realise seems harsh, but that’s the unfortunate subtext of this question.

    But, what if my girlfriend likes being called a whore?

    The generalisations from the dude in the letter are amazing.

    It'd sure be nice to be one of the women this dude is talking about. Of course, if that was the case, I'd probably get to be banging hot too (yesssss), because he's obviously not talking about the extremely average women like me.

    And even then, you’re basically erasing every woman – and there are a lot of them – who isn’t effortlessly finding a relationship.

    Exactly.

      Good point.

      One of the things he brings up is true: I've had a female friend (who then became the GF) point out on several occasion after the fact when I've been completely and utterly oblivious to so-called flirting which is basically just a girl going out of her way to be available or giving various non-overt signals. "Dude. She was totally giving you an opening."
      Part of me missing it was probably that I usually had no interest, so I wasn't actively looking for those covert signs that women seem to think is their version of 'making a move' (but is in reality way too subtle for my poorly-conditioned, dumb man-brain to catch. Heh. My brothers wanted to strangle me after we were musing on a friend moving away who I confessed I had nursed a bit of a crush on. Apparently in the ENTIRE REST OF THE WORLD'S eyes, she had been 'throwing herself' at me, but I hadn't twigged. Obliviousness! It's a thing.)

      A few times that I DID pick up on it however, were from women who I had absolutely no interest in. Some of the coworkers actually used to cruelly joke about a couple of the office crushes on me, just little jokes here and there at the girls' expense. (And occasionally suggesting I throw 'em a bone. Har har har, etc.) And while my attitude was very much 'noooope', interacting with the girls while knowing full well that they were crushing made the experience kind of uncomfortable and there was a kind of moment of clarity of, "Oh my god, so this is how hot chicks feel, like... all day every day."

      I think part of the reason so many guys think that way is because if a woman drops her standards through the floor she'll have an easier time finding someone (probably not a healthy relationship, but someone). So it becomes this thing of hypothetically you can find a willing partner at any point in time, thus you must have it easier finding a partner.
      Guys don't have access to that same ridiculously stupid plan so they don't see that even though technically posting 'I have a vagina, I'm willing to learn to cook and clean, and I'm willing to do anything to change my Facebook relationship status' is possible it's not an option.

      It also doesn't help that most guys know quite a few male friends who are willing to sleep with anything but they don't know any women who are getting constant crap from their parents to have kids, are the only non-married girl in her group of friends, etc. It creates the illusion that there aren't any desperate women but there are legions of guys willing to kill for an average woman (even though those desperate guys usually still ignore average women).

        While I get your point, claiming that men don't have access the "that same ridiculously stupid plan" is ingenuous and also bullshit. Guys can totally drop their standards and get a partner just as easily as you think women can. You think there aren't women out there who'd jump at the chance if a man offered to treat them right? To get laid on the regular? Or even if these guys just, y'know, showed them some attention? Particularly if they've never had anything like it before?

        Regarding your last paragraph, chances are they actually know a lot of women like that, but that's not exactly the kind of thing most women talk about with men, even men who are friends, because of the assumption that if she complains about the fact her family is banging on about when will she get married or have babies, etc, she's going to think HE'S going to think she's desperate, or wants to get into his pants or something.

          True story from a residential college at uni:

          A really nice, pretty girl had moved to the big city along with her guy friend from the hometown. She had a huge crush on him, but he was out gallivanting around with some pretty openly-disgusting tramps. (One who came home at 10am minus shoes and cackling, "We spent the night giving blowjobs to strippers!")

          Desperate, nicegirl came to the dank pit of guydom that was our common room and lamented, "Why is he with a skank like her and not me? What do I do to get him to notice me?"

          We explained that the male order of preference goes:
          Guaranteed sex with a hot girl > Guaranteed sex with any girl > Some chance at sex with a hot girl.
          Our most sage elder instructed her, "If you want to win his heart, you must ask him, "Do you want to [EXPLICIT-EXPLICIT] me?""

          Of course, this shallow and simplistic estimate of male priority offended her sensibilities and everything she believed about the value of personality and true wuv etc, and she huffed off, disbelieving.

          A week later they were openly dating. Who knows, maybe she found better, more PC-friendly advice... but when the man-cave-dwellers grinned and gave her thumbs up, she definitely blushed.

            I'm not really sure the relevance to my comment, but yes, I am sure in some cases that will happen.

              'Undesirable' women can attain men who are lowering their standards by offering promiscuity.

              It's actually really easy to see a connection if you use a little empathy towards those who are different.

          Oh no, I get that there are desperate women out there. I just think there's this stupid plan a lot of guys have that goes beyond just desperation. They think 'well, if I were a chick I'd just stand up, yell 'free lunch' then pull my tits and I'd not be single anymore'. As dumb as it is they know a lot of people who would definitely go for it (hell, it's sort of hot). Meanwhile we see that sort of desperate attempt to get laid coming from a man as something so pathetic it would turn off literally every woman. I would hope women universally have more respect for themselves than that, but as you say there are desperate women out there.
          So while it doesn't actually make dating easier or anything because nobody would ever do it, for a lot of men it reinforces the idea that if it ever came down to it all any woman has to do is stand there and submit.

          Regarding your last paragraph, chances are they actually know a lot of women like that, but that's not exactly the kind of thing most women talk about with men

          Totally. I sort of phrased that wrong. I'm sure they know plenty of women like that they just don't realise it. It's almost never covered in anything on TV or in movies that isn't aimed directly at women (to the point where it excludes men) or played off as a total exaggeration. The closest we see is the occasional baby crazy woman in a comedy. When we do see women settle we usually see the outward facing side where they're over compensating.

          I should note that these aren't my personal views and I'm not defending this way of thinking. I'm just talking about my take on why guys seem to gravitate towards the idea that women have it super easy while men do all the work. I do think there is a difference, but it's just a difference not a simplistic easier vs harder thing. Some aspects are easier for women, others are easier for men, a lot of it comes down to whether you want to lead or follow, but it's mostly just a case of the grass being greener.
          Personally I like to be talked to rather than talk myself, so the fact I've had meaningful relationships and sex is proof that not all women just sit back and wait for things to come to them. =P

          [Edit: Also since we sort of got fixated on desperate women I should probably point out that I don't think all women who lower their standards, deviate from standard dating procedure or whatever are desperate. There's nothing desperate or pathetic about going out of your way to try to be more attractive, whether that's for a specific person or just generally trying to find someone.]

          Last edited 27/06/14 2:53 pm

    This one was actually quite a good read, mainly because I'm always interested in psychology and socially defined gender roles in relationships and dating. It's also personally relevant because:
    a) I've had an old fashioned upbringing where I've been taught the man should always be taking the lead
    b) I'm told every day by society that I am not physically the perfect male that women want and that I'm too nice and need to be more of a jerk if I ever want to stop being stuck in "The Friend Zone".
    So it's nice to see that both sides are stuck in the same boat and there's still hope yet.

    Last edited 27/06/14 11:56 am

    Well, I have been in this situation before first-handedly.

    Okay, I'm not really the guy stealing someone else's girlfriend.
    It was the girl whom started out as good friends and escalated into you know girl-and-guy-good friends.

    Then one day she messaged me saying she's going to get married and wants to have sex with me cos she wants to have sex with a hot guy before getting married.

    Well, so you see, it just doesn't convince me that if a girl has many male good friends and she doesn't or hasn't had the thought of banging running them, even for a split second, or even sucking their weiner.

    Cos, it's not the first time.

    IT JUST DOESN'T CONVINCE ME.

    Hope it helps.

    Urgh. Just... Nerdlove's coming from a nicer place, but utterly divorced from reality. I WISH this were a world where this was appropriate advice but we just don't live in that world. The problem is that the kind of rock-solid ideal relationship that can weather numerous approaches by one party surrounded by skilled playas is pretty much the exception (at least in bars), not the rule.

    It's difficult to believe in advice that tells you women who go out for a night on the town don't 'trade up' (or even have just a fantasy fling, some escape from reality) under a barrage of attractive playas when you have a wealth of first hand experience to the contrary. While Nerdlove has a point that if she was willing to cheat on you she wasn’t worth being with, it's a hollow one. A platitude to make yourself feel better after the fact. (Which, of course, it won't.)

    A lotta guys out there are scum who don't care about a mention of a boyfriend or a ring on a finger and will gladly be the Other Guy in a fling. And the more attractive your partner, the more they - and your relationship - will be tested by some scumbag who intuitively knows all the unspoken fantasies and daydreams she doesn’t necessarily want to live out forever, but will let herself believe long enough for a romp in the sack with someone who's not you. For a brief period of shameful time, I was young, angry, stupid, and full of cheated-on wounded pride, and I was that guy. I know first-hand how disgustingly, faith-in-humanity-shatteringly easy it is to persuade so many (many) attractive women to cheat on their guy (or girl).

    And you know, I rationalized it exactly the same way as Nerdlove, here?
    She obviously wasn't trustworthy. There were clearly problems in the relationship. If I could wedge them apart so easily, it obviously wasn't going to last. Better he find out now before getting too invested.
    Y'know. Bullshit rationalization like that to explain away and justify the fact that a betrayal occurred, put a positive spin on something painful and hurtful that was done to someone else. Just because people are weaker than they (or others) wish they were doesn't mean you have the right to go tipping them over the edge. It doesn't mean what they did wasn't wrong or hurtful.

    So, you can either be more, be the fantasy, be utterly absorbing and intriguing/inspiring/exciting/whatever attracted her to you in the first place such that the hollow offers of fantasy from random playas can't compare to the real thing back home, or you can be complacent about your relationship, ease into bag-holding 'yes dear' mode and perpetually console yourself with the moral high ground every time your partner 'wasn't worthy', making yourself feel better with the empty platitude that 'it wasn't meant to be'. Just because you don't think you're competing with those guys doesn't mean they aren't. It just means YOU aren't. People who don't compete while others are competing? They tend to lose.

    Positive spin/part where I agree: Nerdlove notes that she's with you because of some unique quality about yourself that was attractive. Now, here's the thing… people in relationships? They can change. God knows I ruined a couple relationships when I go too lazy about them. I went from devil-may-care amiably arrogant rogue to 'boyfriend material'; domesticated, dress-as-told, hold the bags, 'yes dear'.

    That's kind of a bait-and-switch if you think about it, that's not what the girl signed on for. Have FUN with your partner. How did you behave when she was first interested in you, when you were convincing her to go to bed? How do you behave years down the track? Go back and be that guy that attracted her, who was excited and interested in playing, teasing, just to see her laugh, engaging with and exploring that fascinating, different perspective she brings to… everything. That's how you 'compete'.

    I'd dump her.

    That friend of hers who’s been trying to get in her pants since time immemorial? He’s not your competition because this isn’t a contest. Just because he’s into her doesn’t mean that she’s suddenly lost all free will and it’s just a matter of time until he’s racked up enough XP to level up to Booty Call. Attraction isn’t destiny. The fact that he wants her doesn’t call your relationship into question. She’s dating you specifically and either you trust her or you don’t.

    One thing I'll say from personal experience is that just because she isn't interested in the guy doesn't mean it's over. I had a girlfriend's close male friend confess that he loved her while we were going out and she wasn't into him, but that's not where it ended. Essentially I had a guy who idolised my girlfriend, who she trusted as a friend, standing there treating me like a roadblock towards her happiness.
    If I screwed up, as I do a lot, he was there in an instant to tell her she deserved better. That was totally true but by better he meant him, because in his head their relationship would be nothing but perfection. Even though she wasn't reacting the way he wanted her to it hurt our relationship. Something minor would happen and instead of us cooling off he'd jump in and fan the flames. She could do something to hurt me and by the next day it would have evolved into me being a monster for understanding she didn't mean to hurt me, accepting her apology and asking for some space for the night. For a guy who claimed to love her he sure did make her cry a lot and cause a lot of unnecessary stress.
    I don't think he was directly treating me like the enemy. I don't know if he even realised what he was doing. All I know is having someone there who thinks your relationship with your girlfriend is bad for her can cause some serious problems regardless of trust. I mean how do you say 'listen, I don't think your friend hates me specifically, but he has this insane standard for how you should be treated that's based on a fantasy where you don't have the free will to disagree with him, and that causes him to constantly attack our relationship'?

    I'm certainly not saying every woman is easily manipulated and I'm not bitter about it, the relationship had other problems, but regardless of your/their gender keep in mind that when your friend says they have bottled up romantic feelings for you it doesn't go away just because you reject them. If you find yourself more upset about relationship problems after talking to a friend maybe take a step back and check to see if you're talking to someone who doesn't want you to be in a relationship.

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