Dr. Dick: Testing the Water

DR DICK is the Tab’s new advice columnist. This week he deals with a girl in a long-term relationship considering infidelity.

Dr Dick, MD PhD is a qualified therapist with many years’ experience. He’s a solid, stand-up guy who tells it like it is. His likes include: giving advice and colourful hats. His dislikes include: your shit. This week he deals with a girl in a long-term long-distance relationship considering infidelity.

Step into my office

Dear Dr Dick,

I have the best boyfriend ever. He’s smart, mature, makes me laugh, we have a great sex life, and he absolutely adores me.
We’ve been going out for two and a half years – including all of the time I’ve been at Cambridge – and they’ve been the best years of my life, hands down. But it’s not been easy. He doesn’t live in Cambridge, and I sacrifice my student life in order to see him at the weekends.
I’ve also started to fancy other people. I’m flattered when I go to Cindies and guys offer to buy me drinks, and jealous when my single friends go home with people they’ve just met.
I’ve come very close to cheating a few times. I feel really bad about it. But then part of me thinks that maybe I should just have a one night stand, that it might confirm whether my boyfriend’s the right person for me. I’m scared of breaking up with him in case he’s the one, and terrified that no one will ever love me as much as he does.
Would it be really bad for me to ‘test the water’ without telling him?



Dear Jenny,

Where I come from, we have a phrase sometimes used to describe ‘testing the water without telling him’. It’s ‘being a fucking idiot’. In what conceivable world do you think it would be a good idea to shag someone just to reaffirm for yourself that you’re happy in your current (and longstanding) relationship? Playing away like this is like having a set of your ribs removed so that you can suck your own dick: it seems like a really great idea, but ultimately it’s going to end really badly, there’s no going back and you’ll end up fucking alone.

There are two ways this could go. The first scenario is this: you like the look of some Pitt Club tosser in Cindies, he buys you some VKs, you go back to his for a night which can only be described as ‘torrid’ and ‘short-lived’. Afterwards, you feel great – your resolve is strengthened, your current boyf is definitely the right man for you. You carry on with him and live happily ever after. The problem is that you’re always going to have this nagging feeling of guilt, telling you that you cheated on him and you should tell him because that’s what people do when they love each other and he’ll forgive you and it will all be okay if you just tell him. You’ll push it away, but like your herpes it will just keep coming back.

Eventually you’ll crack and tell him. He might forgive you, he might not. If he doesn’t, then game over, thanks for playing, you’ve lost two and a half years of comparative happiness. If he does forgive you, then great, you’ve hit the jackpot – you managed to cheat on him and keep your relationship. But the issue here is that you’ll still feel like the cheating fuck that you are. Trust is like a mirror, or a frenulum: once it’s broken, it’s really fucking difficult to fix it, and whatever you do it’s never going to feel quite the same way again. You’ll end up miserable because you’ll never be sure whether he actually forgave you, and he’ll never be able to trust you in quite the same way again. Again, you lose, and it’s your fault. Ironically, you screwed yourself over by reaffirming that he was the one for you. Actually I’m not sure whether that’s irony or just really shit. Probably the latter.

Alternatively, you might luck out when you fuck (out), and realise that you’re really not that enamoured with your current beau after all. Subsequently, you break off the relationship (without telling him that you dipped your wick in another pool of wax, unless you’re the kind of person who gets turned on by the idea of repeatedly stabbing yourself in the face with a shank made of solidified tears). You’ll be free. You’ll have a few more one night stands and it might be great – after all, sex is sometimes like a tampon: much more interesting with no strings attached. Afterwards, though, you’ll get that sense of lonely self-loathing that only ever occurs post-coitus in a stranger’s bedroom.

Maybe that’s the kind of thing you want. Being single is certainly more fun and less work. I don’t think you want out, though. You sound like you love your boyfriend. There’s a thing that you have to remember, which everyone knows but few will admit. Even when you’re in a relationship, you will still fancy other people. You’re human. Humans fuck. Most people your age can’t even look at a bus without getting turned on, let alone something with two legs and a pulse. Even in the deep, spunk-filled swimming pool that is love, you’ll still occasionally poke your head out of the ooze and wonder what else you could be doing right now.

Long distance is really, incredibly, indefatigably fucking shit. It sounds like you only have either a term or a year to go. Wait until you’re done with Cambridge and live near each other again so you can rut like rabbits and you’ll probably feel a lot better. You’ve got a good thing going here. Don’t fuck it up.

Much love,

Dr. Dick