Welcome to "Ask MISTER CARL." I'm Carl Sandler, the founder of the gay dating app MISTER and Daddyhunt.com and a relationship expert on The Morning Jolt on OutQ on Sirius XM Radio. In this new blog series I offer strategies and advice for anyone navigating the marvelous, messy and often fucked-up dilemmas we face in our quests for intimacy, both online and off.
Dear MISTER CARL,
My boyfriend and I have been in a monogamous relationship together for three years. Recently, I downloaded Grindr and created a profile. I've chatted and exchanged pics with guys but have never hooked up with anyone. My profile says "partnered" and I specifically say I'm just looking for friends. Last week, my boyfriend went snooping on my phone, even though it was well hidden, and read some of my conversations. Now he's pissed and says being on Grindr is "cheating." I say it's just fantasy. Who's right, and who's wrong?
--Un-app-ily in Love, 31, New York City
Who's right? Who's wrong? You are. He is. It all depends. For some people in committed relationships, apps like Grindr (or -- shameless plug alert! -- my app, MISTER) are harmless fun. For others it indicates that the unwritten or explicit rules of their relationship need to be revisited. Secrets can damage relationships just as profoundly as actions. I don't know why you felt the need to keep the app hidden, but my guess is that it's because you knew he wouldn't approve.
Forget about questioning who's right and who's wrong in this situation. Instead, sit down with your man and have an authentic tête-à-tête about the real reason you're sexting total strangers. Maybe you feel that your love life has gotten a little stale after three years together, and it makes you feel desirable again. Maybe you're a hopeless flirt. Maybe you really are just looking for friends. Whatever the reasons are, be open and honest about them, and work toward building his trust back. If he asks you to get off Grindr altogether, decide whether that's something you're willing to give up in order to keep him.
Then again, maybe he's upset because you didn't invite him to the party. Offer to help him create his own profile so that you can send your dirty dick pics to him rather than to that headless torso 1,000 feet away. Better yet, create a profile for the both of you together. You know what they say: Two's a party, and three's just a hell of a lot more fun.
Dear MISTER CARL,
I'm in an unhappy relationship with my boyfriend of four years. A few weeks ago, I hooked up with one of his good friends, and now we're kind of secretly seeing each other. I know I need to break up with my boyfriend, but do I have to tell him I'm banging his buddy? It's not the reason that I'm breaking up with him. We've been having problems for a long time. I'd still like to be friends with him, but I know that'll be impossible if he finds out about this.
Bud Fucker, 32, Staten Island
Let me get this straight. You don't want to tell your boyfriend that you're sleeping with one of his friends, to protect his feelings? I have this magic bell next to my desk, and it rings whenever there is a too much bullshit in the room, and right now it's ringing so loudly that I can barely hear myself.
It seems to me that if you were that concerned about your boyfriend's feelings, you'd feel a little guiltier about following your heart (or rather your hard-on). It's pretty obvious that the reason you don't want to tell your boyfriend that you're sleeping with his best friend is that 1) you know there isn't a chance in hell that he'll want to remain friends with you after he finds out, and 2) you know you're kind of a jerk-off for doing it. But you're even more of a jerk-off if you're not going to be honest with him. Trust me: One way or another, he's going to find out about what's been going on behind his back. The best you can do is own up to your actions, be honest with him and salvage what you can of the relationship. Sure, you might be losing a boyfriend, but at least you'll be gaining an ounce of integrity.
Next time: "Do I have to tell every guy I sleep with I'm HIV-positive?"
Have a question for me? Send it to AskMrCarl@misterapp.com.