I shared a cigarette with a guy at work yesterday, and now I feel really guilty about it. I’ve been in a relationship for over a year and I love my boyfriend. Am I an asshole?
Why didn’t I see this coming? The other guy was obviously trying to get close to me…I feel stupid, like I should have known better than to share the cigarette. I’ve been beating myself up over it.
What do you think? Should I forgive myself? Or is there something wrong with me? Am I loose? I kinda feel like a slut.
No Foam Latte (With A Smoke On The Side)
Dear NFL (WASOTS),
Has anyone ever told you that smoking will kill you?
Stop beating yourself up about this! Stop, right now. And never, ever, ever call yourself a slut. I don’t care if you go back to work tomorrow and sleep with every guy in your office, you’re not a slut. You’re just a woman making some very bad decisions. But never a slut.
Here’s the truth: actions are actions, and words are words. Did you DO anything inappropriate? You shared a cigarette. People do that with strangers outside of bars all the time. You didn’t kiss, touch or go on a romantic vacation with a guy who wasn’t your boyfriend. So the answer to that question is no. Did you SAY anything inappropriate? It doesn’t sound like you verbally propositioned this guy, or told him how much cooler/funnier/hotter/smarter he is than your boyfriend. I’m assuming that you didn’t complain about your boyfriend, or say that you were looking for a little something on the side. Again, the answer is no.
So? You did nothing wrong.
Of course, in this ambiguous post-dating world, it makes total sense that you’d come away from your nicotined rendezvous feeling guilty. When everything and nothing is a date, and when you probably got together with your boyfriend in the first place by sharing cigarettes and subtle sidelong glances, then a situation as innocuous as you hanging outside with a guy can feel charged and dangerous and loaded with meanings that may or may not actually be there. Does this guy want to hook up with you? Based on what I hear from guys all the time – that if a guy is conversing with you, then he wants to sleep with you – probably. But it’s not your job to read his mind, and other guys’ minds, and steer clear of anyone thinking impure thoughts. Are you supposed to stop being hot and awesome just because you have a boyfriend? Hells no. So as long as you act right, you have nothing to worry about.
WTF?! BOTTOM LINE: Don’t blame yourself for something you didn’t even do! Take the situation for exactly what it was – a shared cigarette with a colleague. And for extra karma points, be super nice to your boyfriend tonight. He’ll love it, and you’ll remember that you’re a good girlfriend.
Moving forward, of course, be smart and careful about this guy. Emotional affairs are just as damaging as physical ones, so keep checking in with your gut instincts. But remember that you’re not living in the 50′s, and it’s ridiculous to think that you’ll cut off communication with every guy in your life once you’re in a committed relationship. It’s impossible! Many of them are in your life for reasons other than just to try and get you into bed.
In our tech-overloaded world, maintaining a kind of post-relationship dah has become incredibly common and not necessarily dangerous, as long as you create clear boundaries. You probably spend all night with your significant other, but you may need to email all day with a colleague about a project, or your ex may comment on your Facebook status, or that guy on your soccer team may IM you asking for details about the game next weekend. Hey, maybe it’s even good for you to go outside every once in a while, share a cigarette with your co-worker, and bitch about your boss so that your boyfriend doesn’t have to hear about it for five hours when you get home. Whatever works! Just don’t hook up with anyone else, and don’t say things to another guy that you wouldn’t say to your boyfriend. Done and done.
Jess is the co-creator of Dating & Hookup, alongside her childhood best friend Becky Lynch, and is the author of the book - yep! - Dating & Hookup. She never tires of hearing your post-dating stories. She wants you to enjoy your love life, and is full of advice on how to do so.
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