Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Stay out of casual boyfriend's issues with his other girlfriend
Having + eating cake: I'm seeing a guy, but we are not yet exclusive. He is concurrently seeing another woman who is pressing him for a commitment. I am starting to get the feeling he is using me to leverage her, implying that if she pushes too hard, he will just pick me. To what extent is it my responsibility to get my guy to act more respectfully toward this other woman (whom I've never met and don't particularly like, based on his descriptions)?
Carolyn: "My" guy?
If I've read this correctly, he's dogging one steady companion to another. Your only responsibility here is to avoid abetting people who are either two-faced, or too cowardly to break up with people they don't actually like, or both.
If I've misread it, and he's speaking fondly of her but you just don't like the person he describes, then that's a different answer: His talking so much about her on dates with you is unfair to both women.
Either he likes both of you and is seeing where things take him, in which case he's too clueless or thoughtless to keep the details to himself; or he's deliberately leveraging both of you.
In other words, if this whole other-chick subplot is anything more than a conversational ort relative to the cake of your time together (see, I can torture a dessert metaphor, too), then that's a bad sign.
Cake Girl again: It's neither, really. He speaks neutrally of her, but I have a hard time mustering up respect for anyone who whines about wanting a commitment but isn't willing to cut ties when one doesn't happen.
Carolyn: But isn't he whining about her whining — to the replacement he's auditioning — while declining to cut ties?
Cake Girl: I see where you're going. You're suggesting that my annoyance is misdirected? We are just being conversational when we talk about the other girl. In any event, he isn't "whining" about her. For instance, yesterday he was telling me that she is upset he isn't going to a wedding with her, which is relevant to me because my birthday is the reason he can't go. He and I were talking about it to try to brainstorm solutions about how he could make it up to her.
This is probably starting to sound really weird to you. But the point is, I don't think he should have to choose between us if he doesn't want to, and I also don't think he should have to feel stretched so thin so she doesn't have a meltdown.
Carolyn: The only weird part is that you think we're buying any of this.
His answer to her on the wedding is, "I'm sorry, I have other plans." If he's sad to miss it or let her down, then he expresses that sincerely. If he isn't sad, then he needs to be very clear: "I see other people, by choice, openly. If that isn't okay, then it's best we stop seeing each other."
No brainstorming necessary. It's not your business.
It's also not your problem: He needs to manage his own dramas without making them your dramas. You call it "conversational," I call it self-absorption on a stick.