Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

I loved this piece in the Times the other day about acknowledging our “thing” — “that particular behavior, habit or mind-set that is self-destructive but that we’re completely blind to” — that’s keeping us from achieving our full potential (including a happy relationship). Apparently — and this may come as no surprise to you — something like 95% of us think we’re self-aware, but one study suggests only 10-15% of us truly are. Most of us don’t really know what our “thing” is. That’s part of why people write to advice columnists. Sure, they want advice on a particular issue, but often I believe what they’re really asking is: please tell me what my “thing” is, as you see it, from this example I’m sharing.

The author in the Times writes: “A close friend and I have this agreement: If one of us ever recognizes the other person’s “thing,” we’re bound to disclose what it is, no matter what.

Are you one of the few who knows what your “thing” is? If you had to guess, what would you say? Are you brave enough to ask someone you care about to tell you? Would you tell him or her what theirs is?

For the record, I asked Drew what my “thing” is and he first replied with: “Nothing. You’re totally living to your full potential.” Ha! He’s no dummy. But then I promised him I wanted to know my “thing” and wouldn’t get mad if he told me, and this is what he said:
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updatesIt’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Parent Trapped” who wrote in in the fall of 2016, when her boyfriend of a year asked her to move in with him and his mom–a boyfriend who treated her son like crap while he supported her through the financial mess she found herself in. “She had a run-in with identity theft a few years ago, and since then she has not used her social security number. Everything she has her boyfriend pays for or it’s in his name. She even works for him, and he pays her by housing her and feeding her. She has literally nothing without him.” The LW decided she didn’t want to move in until the mom moved out, but the mom wasn’t budging.

“This is putting a lot of pressure on our relationship, and I’m not sure what to do. Should I talk to her and tell her my struggles and that I feel held back in my relationship with her son? Do I just let her do her thing and hope to God she moves out soon? My boyfriend won’t push her out and I don’t want her pushed out if she’s not ready because she’ll just be back at his door a month later. I’m just hoping for an outside perspective.”

Keep reading to see what has happened in the fifteen months since she wrote in.

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I just finished reading this memoir by a woman who grew up biracial in the United States in the 70s and 80s, and I was surprised by her experience. She talks a lot about how different she felt from everyone else, especially being one of only a handful of kids of color in some of the towns she lived in and schools she attended growing up, and knowing hardly anyone from a mixed-race background. It wasn’t until she started college — at Stanford University — that she was finally able to connect with other mixed-race students and her journey toward self-discovery and self-identification really took off.

I guess I was most surprised by her story not because I couldn’t believe that someone who looked different from her peers (and from her parents) would struggle with identity, but because someone who is only a decade older than I and who grew up in and around college towns knew so few other mixed-race families. Granted, my own upbringing was a little unique. I grew up in and around military bases in Japan, Korea, and Germany and didn’t live in the states until I started college at 17. But my friends and close neighbors were mostly American, and so many — like, probably a quarter — were mixed-race families. Save for my college years, most of my life since graduating high school has been spent in big cities where, again, it is not unusual to see interracial couples as well as kids and adults who don’t easily fall into a single category of race. Because of this — and for plenty of other reasons — it wouldn’t seem weird to date outside my own race (if I were single). That said, I have not had a real relationship with anyone who isn’t white, and, of course, I never contended with the idea of having mixed-race children. What about you? What is your experience with dating outside your race? Have you? Are you currently? Are you the product of an interracial relationship? How has race affected your dating life and your relationship(s), if at all?

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I recently found an old boyfriend — “John” — on Facebook. We dated twenty-five years ago when I was a teenager and we always had a great connection, but for whatever reason timing never seemed to work out and we parted ways. I had thought about him over the years, many, many times, and tried to find him online but was unsuccessful until a couple of months ago when I found him on Facebook, I sent him a message, and we began texting.

Before I continue, I should tell you that I’m married (not happily) and until recently John lived with his longterm girlfriend. She recently moved out, but they are still in a relationship. He told me that being with me was wonderful and it brought back all of those old feelings we felt so many years ago. We decided to have coffee together and spent four hours talking. We agreed to have coffee the following week, but it never happened. I shared my feelings with him and he said we could not see each other any longer because of our history and because we were both in relationships. I still text him, and he always responds; he says he won’t know for sure what’s going on with his relationship until April when she finds out if she can have children. If she can, he does not want to and their relationship is over.

I am just wondering if he still may have feelings for me. Is this why he no longer wants to see me and is limiting our texting? I asked him if he wanted me to stop texting and he just said that he wanted to keep our conversations to a minimum. We always had a great connection and chemistry, and I would like more. I’m separating from my husband, regardless. Should I stop texting him? — Fanning an Old Flame

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Happy Friday, guys! Hopefully, a lot of you have a long weekend this weekend, in honor of the great MLK Jr. who is rolling in his grave over what has happened to and in our country over the past year, and especially over the racist remarks from shit-for-brains Trump yesterday (you have to check out the cover of the New York Daily News today). And hopefully weather isn’t too bad where you are like it was here last weekend, oh my GOD, was it cold. I was outside for a total of maybe fifteen minutes and my hands still hurt from how cracked and chapped they got during that brief window of time in 4-degree temperatures. (With gloves! Double-Layered! I ordered some Uggs gloves on eBay — similar to these, but a fraction of the price — to help save my hands the next time it gets that cold.)

What are you up to this weekend? We’ll be continuing nesting — getting stuff on the walls, ordering throw pillows, surfing Etsy for hanging planters and cool art. (I’m looking especially for something to hang above our couch as I’m kind of over the gallery wall of family photos we’ve done in the last three apartments.) Tomorrow night Drew and I are going to a 40th birthday party at a shuffleboard place. I’ve never been shuffle-boarding before. Have you? Jackson has a birthday party on Sunday, and he’s going to theater camp on Monday when school’s out (Drew is working, Joanie will be with our nanny, and I’ll be right here). Have a good one! Oh, and if you’re looking for something good to watch, Drew and I rented this and really liked it. Pretty much anything involving Greta Gerwig is bound to be good. Also! Dave Letterman’s new show airs tonight and his first guest is Barack Obama. Let’s watch and pretend it’s 2015 and that we don’t live in a post-apocalyptic dystopian society with a disgusting, moronic bigot at the helm.

Have a great weekend!

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