Hey Dude Whisperer,
Let me first say that this is a BRILLIANT idea...I can see this getting huge, like you having to quit your job to just do this someday.
So, I understand Dudes pretty well, in fact I've often been told I'm like a Dude in a Chick's body. I behave like a Dude in most of my casual relationships. But that's besides the point. I still think I have more to learn about Dudes. I'm totally head over heels in love with this Dude I met last June, and it seems to be pretty mutual. He lives far away (like 1/2 day's drive) so it's been pretty tough on us, but we can never seem to forget about each other. I think he could be THE ONE (which is a huge deal for someone in their late 30's who's been consistently using the "just say no" approach to commitment).
Anyways, he's got this INSANE jealous streak. It's like a sickness. He's aware of it, and it's not debilitating--I've dumped far worse jealous guys. We talked about it a bunch, and he knows it's his deal, I know it's his deal, but in reality it's 'our' deal. I've been doing everything I can to make him *know* he's the guy for me and I will not ever cheat on him.
He seems to be starting to get it. Given that we live so far apart, and I'm not big on just being alone all the time (he knows I'm dying for him to move here and play house with me), so for now I hang out with friends. I have some friends who are guys (aka Dudes). They know my deal and know I'm not going to sleep with them.
So, here's the question - what's the best way to handle this with my Dude? I know if I tell him about hanging out with my guy friends, he will have his crazy jealous episodes and I'll have to do a lot of smoothing over and calling him on his shit and defending myself. If I don't tell him, I will feel like I'm lying or hiding something, and I have nothing to hide in reality.
The only other option is not hanging out with any guy friends, which seems like the wrong answer on a lot of levels...BUT I don't have the best of pasts...there are a lot of men and a lot of stories and he always notices guys checking me out when we're in public - something to factor into your answer--none of that helps me any, but it's not something I can change, I guess it's just my albatross.
What say you?
Thanks for your time,
Hi Jonny’s Girl,
First of all, thanks! Glad you’re liking what the DW does over here. It is his not-so-secret dream for The Dude Whisperer blog and related merchandising empire to get so huge that he can sit on Oprah’s couch one day, if nothing else just because the DW can’t think of a more unlikely achievement for someone who knows nothing about women. Or daytime TV. Or whatever else Oprah does. You’d watch the DW on Oprah, right? Anybody know Oprah? Maybe you could hook us up? Also, the DW would like to have his own line of sexy ladies underpants if anyone has connections in that realm.
But more to the point, congrats on finding the potential Mr. The One. The DW is suspicious of that jealousy, though, and feels compelled to note it right up here at the top. In the DW’s experience, severe dude jealousy comes mainly from one of two things. 1) Major league Woody Allen/George Costanza/My Older Brother Was Captain Of The Football Team AND A Rhodes Scholar Chick Magnet Who Gave Me Daily Wedgies caliber insecurity. If you don’t feel like you’re worth much, you expect everyone else has the same doubts about you. 2) Experience as a cheater. After all, who is more wary of the sneaky than the sneaky?
Anyway, just sayin’. Keep your eyes open.
Now, how to manage Mr. The One’s “INSANE” jealousy. Imagine a puppy. Now imagine that puppy taking a sh*t on your living room rug. You know, the wicker-ish one from Crate and Barrel that you got on sale and is the first piece in your plan to eventually re-do the entire living room? Well, if you don’t somehow let the puppy know that taking a dump on that rug is against the house rules, it is an absolute certainty the rug will get another load in short order. And not only that, but next the undeterred puppy is gonna squeeze one on your couch. Next, your favorite chair. Next, your bed, right square in the middle of that duvet or comforter or whatever those unnecessarily complicated blankets are called. Eventually, no place will be safe. You’ll spend your whole day wondering where the next turd surprise will turn up.
In other words, don't let Mr. The One crap all over your house and get away with it. Live your life the way you need to live it and force the jealous bastard to deal. If you cave in to his irrational demands and stop seeing your friends, two things will happen. One, you’ll resent him because eventually you won’t have friends anymore. Two, the demands will get more and more irrational until one day you look up and realize you’re not allowed to go to the corner store without a GPS, a video camera, and an armed (female) guard. This is worth having him get all riled up about. Seriously. Which may unfortunately mean a Lot more sticking up for yourself in the way you descibed above.
And when the DW says keep seeing your friends, he does not mean lie about it and go behind the dude’s back. Do that and you’re still essentially caving in to his demands by acting like they’re valid enough to lie about. And, lying causes a whole unnecessary layer of intrigue nobody ever needs in a relationship. And, if a supercrazy jealous dude catches you in a lie? Whoa, Nellie! He'll take that next big stride right over into paranoia and believe nothing else that has, or ever will, come out of your mouth.
So, how can you make this stuff that is completely normal to other people easier on this dude? Well, a lot of that is up to him. At a certain point you can't make another person more sensible than they are willing to make themselves. But the DW would suggest you keep reassuring him as you are. But when you reassure, make sure it is specific and direct and literal. Like you’re talking to a nine year old. Or a parrot. “I will not cheat on you ‘cause I really like you, dude,” for instance, not “Relax, everything’s fine.” The latter and things of the “Trust Me,” variety give his mind way too much wiggle room to make up weird crazy jealous ideas he’s been working on late at night, staring at the ceiling. “I’m going to dinner with my friend Steve, whom I will not be kissing or groping or blowing or f*cking because he is an utterly platonic friend, you jealous moron. Grow up,” might work.
And as for the checkered past, take a look at Dudefile #5 – The Checkered Past. By the time you’re late thirties, even insanely jealous Mr. The One should understand that everyone’s got a few checkers. And you need to, as above, simply insist that he not make a big deal of it. Same goes for you getting checked out. Personally, when the DW notices his wife getting checked out, the last thing he does is take offense. I mean, dudes check out cute women. All day. Every day. Like she’s exempt? Perhaps Mr. The One would rather be dating a woman that no other man on earth found worth a lingering look?
One final note. This dude is never going to completely lose his jealousy. Yes, he can work on it, and yes he can get better about controlling himself, but it will never magically disappear and go away and never be an issue again. There's always a chance an ex-smoker will smoke again. There's always a chance this dude will freak out when you least expect it. Make sure you're okay with this flaw of his before you really do make him The One.
Anyway, hope this helps. And keep reading! And write Oprah!
Best of luck with The (Mr. Jealous) One,