Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“He’s Spending all His Free Time with Another Woman”

the-bull-ring-chippy

I’m in a situation where nobody seems to be giving me the right advice. So I hope you can help! My live-in boyfriend and I are a very happy couple. I love him so much and he loves me. We are both at a stage in our careers where we are working a crazy amount of hours and are hardly seeing each other.

Yesterday he sprung on me that he is staying with his best friend “Angela” for the night. Don’t worry–because I love her, she’s lovely, and I am not worrying about anything inappropriate between them. However, I am worrying as he didn’t tell me in advance and just kind of told me the way it was without considering me. And he is spending the whole next day with her as well as the day after that, which happens to be a day off for both of us, which NEVER happens.

I know it’s his day off and he can choose to spend it any way he likes, but I am upset that he didn’t even think of me. He gave me £10 and said, “Buy yourself a chippy,” and out the door he went without a backward glance. I just need help on how to talk to him about this without upsetting him. What do you think? — Unsatisfied with a Chippy

When you say that no one is giving you the “right” advice, I’m betting you mean that no one is telling you what you want to hear, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t think you’ll like my advice either. That your boyfriend is avoiding you by spending the rare day off you both have with another woman — and spending the night at her place, too (!) — speaks volumes about where his head is in terms of your relationship. And, honestly, you sound deep in denial, so it doesn’t surprise me that your friends — or whomever else you’re turning to for advice — are likely telling you to pull your head out of the sand.

You say you and your boyfriend are a “very happy couple,” but then in the very next line you say you both work such crazy hours you hardly ever see each other. How is a couple who hardly sees each other happy? Unless they don’t actually like seeing each other? And in that case, they aren’t happy as a couple — they’re just happy as individuals (who perhaps share an address and split rent).

Also, your boyfriend drops on you at the last minute that he’s spending the night at his (female) friend’s place AND spending the whole next day with her AND the whole day after that–and as a consolation he gives you £10 for some fish and chips and you’re worried about saying something to upset him? Really?! It seems like your boyfriend isn’t the only one disregarding your feelings and putting himself first.

Honey, it’s time to start thinking for yourself. Who gives a rat’s ass if you say something to upset your boyfriend about his obscenely inconsiderate behavior when he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about upsetting you? Get a backbone and stick up for yourself. Tell him that his behavior is hurting you and, if he no longer wants to spend time with you, maybe you need to re-evaluate the relationship. And ask him why he needs to spend the night at Angela’s house when he has a bed at your house. So many letters I get are from women who are irrationally jealous of women their boyfriends are casual friends with, but you are actually one of the rare cases of a woman who is irrationally trusting of a friendship between her boyfriend and another woman. There are two main reasons a man would sleep at a woman’s house when he has bed with his girlfriend in the same town: to get away from the girlfriend; to have sex with the other woman. I hope for your sake there’s some other explanation… but, from where I sit, it sure doesn’t look good.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

60 comments… add one
  • avatar

    joanna April 14, 2014, 9:06 am

    Do you maybe have an anniversary or special day coming up? Maybe he’s planning to surprise you with something.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow April 14, 2014, 9:11 am

      Ha! I think that is exactly the type of advice LW wants to hear.

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      • avatar

        joanna April 14, 2014, 9:13 am

        It was the first thought on my mind when I read it. Either that or he’s using “Angela” as a cover for an affair.

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    • LlamaPajamas

      LlamaPajamas April 14, 2014, 9:19 am

      I think the only thing he’s going to surprise her with is an affair.

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      • avatar

        AliceInDairyland April 14, 2014, 10:33 am

        LlamaPajamas, my mom got me a stuffed animal llama to celebrate getting through 3 years of veterinary school and starting clinical rotations in a month. I creepily thought of you…

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas April 14, 2014, 10:43 am

        Congratulations! You must be so excited to start clinical rotations! I have a stuffed animal llama and two stuffed animal alpacas. My fat orange cat has begun a torrid love affair with the stuffed llama in which he humps him for a good 20 minutes then cuddles with him. This happens pretty much daily.

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    • avatar

      Amy April 14, 2014, 11:24 am

      Ummm surprise her with what? An STD he obtained while chillin with Angela?

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      • avatar

        thatgirl April 14, 2014, 11:36 am

        hahaha, exactly the “surprise” I had pictured!

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  • CatsMeow

    CatsMeow April 14, 2014, 9:11 am

    I think it’s cool that you are trusting of his friendship with a woman, but… I might be annoyed with his behavior even if it were a man. “Hey, babe, btw I’m not gonna be home for the next 3 days because I’m hangin’ with my buddy instead. For three straight days.” What is his reason for doing that? I can’t imagine anything legitimate.

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  • avatar

    Kate April 14, 2014, 9:15 am

    Good advice. That Friday Links article about understanding men had a part about how men do things for pretty straightforward reasons, and about how women tend to overanalyze and make excuses, and miss the signs of cheating as a result.

    Whoever sent that article in, I thought it was really good! Here’s the relevant part:

    5. Men do things for really obvious reasons

    Men are simple creatures but, to quote one of our common complaints, ‘women overcomplicate everything’. So, for example, we leave our shoes in the hall rather than in the closet because we were distracted when we got home (and also we’re a bit lazy!), but you can overthink our motives into being disrespectful. You can also take something else from another part of our life – such as buying some expensive sports equipment for ourselves – bolt the bits together and build a cast-iron case to blacken our character.

    Dangers of ignoring this truth Not only can you catastrophise (such as turning being a mildly lazy sports nut into ‘not caring about anybody but yourself’), but your overthinking can also go in the opposite direction and mean you ignore the obvious – for example, that your husband is being unfaithful. Now you’re minimising his strange behaviour (like putting a pin number on his phone), making excuses for his bad behaviour (coming home drunk at 2am) and telling yourself ‘he’s not that sort of guy’. When you’re forced to confront the truth about his infidelity, your overthinking can conclude he must have been in love with the other woman (when actually he just wanted sex).

    How to use this knowledge Start by taking what he says at face value and, if it doesn’t make sense, ask rather than interpret. Good questions start with why, what, how and when. Nod to encourage more details or repeat the last thing he said – this shows you are listening and interested. Draw him out by asking, ‘Is there anything more?’ Don’t tell him what he’s thinking or feeling, as this puts men’s backs up. If it is something with a definite answer (for example, ‘Are you having an affair?’) it’s fine to press for a reply, but if it is more open-ended (‘Why did you have an affair?’), don’t get exasperated if he says, ‘I don’t know’. It’s possible he hasn’t come up with an answer himself. Give him permission to be confused: ‘It would help me if you could show me your internal workings, so I don’t guess and get it wrong.’ In effect, you’re helping him to listen to himself and take responsibility for his own feelings rather than outsourcing them and punishing you when you can’t mind-read.

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    • meadowphoenix

      meadowphoenix April 14, 2014, 10:49 am

      This whole things reads like a man who wants to tell women to coddle and mother the hell out of immature man-children. It’s so logically unsound.

      Men have straightforward reasons but sometimes don’t know what they are? That actually makes them not straightforward. Generally the problem with laziness is that it is disrespectful. Generally the problem with spontaneous and huge money decisions is that they are selfish. Don’t get exasperated when someone breaks your trust but doesn’t know why? Give him permission to be confused? Draw him out? Is this saying men are emotionally constipated? Children? Was this written tongue in cheek? This was written tongue in cheek, right?

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 14, 2014, 10:51 am

        I assumed it was tongue in cheek…

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      • avatar

        Datdamwuf April 14, 2014, 11:08 am

        I too assumed that was farcical

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      • avatar

        Kate April 14, 2014, 11:13 am

        Hmm, well, it was written by a man, and what I took from it was, if something is off or inconsistent in his behavior, ask him about it. Don’t try to rationalize and make excuses for him. If he’s suddenly putting a security code on his phone or sleeping over at Angela’s, and that’s weird behavior, don’t try to come up with excuses or rationalizations, just ask him, “what’s going on?” I don’t think this was meant as farce.

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      • avatar

        Kate April 14, 2014, 11:19 am

        Oh, and, like, keep asking if you’re not getting satisfactory answers. Keep asking for more information. This approach has worked well for me when something inconsistent / sketchy seemed to be happening. Just stay calm and directly ask, “what’s going on with this?” and keep asking probing questions to get to the bottom of it. It’s better than putting your head in the sand OR immediately going ballistic. Anyway, those are the things I think were valuable in that article.

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      • lemongrass

        lemongrass April 14, 2014, 11:26 am

        What I got from it was: if a man is acting shitty it is always, somehow the woman’s fault. You’re asking the wrong questions, saying the wrong things, thinking the wrong things. It is your fault and not his that he is being shitty.

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      • avatar

        kate April 14, 2014, 11:31 am

        I guess you could take that from it, particularly the part about if he’s leaving his stuff around, he’s just lazy / distracted, not disrespectful… But I like the overall point about hey, if you’re going to negatively read into your guy’s motives when he does stuff like that, why do you then just ignore the signs of actual sketchy behavior, or try to rationalize them *positively?* And thus, instead of making assumptions in either case, ask what the heck is up.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 14, 2014, 11:35 am

        You can leave your mess around because you are lazy AND disrespectful.

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      • meadowphoenix

        meadowphoenix April 14, 2014, 11:53 am

        I don’t know. I don’t think I could bother trying to ~draw out, someone who won’t or can’t answer a simple question. It’s not about me complicating things. It’s about me expecting my partner to have a minimum amount of responsibility for himself and they way he conducts himself.

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      • Amanda

        Amanda April 14, 2014, 12:08 pm

        I agree with this…to a point. I think, eventually, the sketchy and/or unsatisfactory answers ARE the answer. If he’s not going to bother to be honest, there’s no point in finding out what’s going on. In a round-about way, he’s told you.

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      • avatar

        Kate April 14, 2014, 12:44 pm

        @Amanda, yes, I think that’s true. By directly asking the questions instead of just telling yourself, “he’s a great guy! He would never! He loves me!” , you either get to the bottom of what is happening, whether it’s cheating or not, OR you realize yes, something sketchy IS going on, he’s lying to me, and it’s not ok. Either way, better than being in denial or not wanting to confront it because he’ll get upset.

        I was involved with a guy long-distance years ago who said ALL the right things and I thought I had a pretty special connection with. But I would catch him in inconsistencies and untruths, and I’d ask him, “uh, why ___ xyz,” and wasn’t really satisfied with his answers, and eventually I just had to end it because I didn’t trust him and he wasn’t giving me answers. In other cases, asking the questions has helped me get to the bottom of something that actually wasn’t that bad.

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      • Amanda

        Amanda April 14, 2014, 1:13 pm

        Oh, absolutely. It clearly depends on the situation and length of time the sketchy answers have been going on. Also, the degree of sketchiness.

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      • Portia

        Portia April 14, 2014, 1:11 pm

        I didn’t bother reading that one on Friday, but just decided to take a look and laughed the whole way through. The fact that someone would believe this to be true means it must be excellent satire. The best satire usually has a bit of truth in it, to be fair, but it is still satire.

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  • Lyra

    Lyra April 14, 2014, 9:35 am

    LW you deserve better than this. There are so many red flags in here I don’t know where to even begin. Move on, you will find a better partner than your boyfriend ever could be.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 April 14, 2014, 9:35 am

    It sounds like you have a pretty shitty boyfriend. I don’t know anyone in a relationship who lives with their SO that would be ok with them handing them $10.00 and walking out the door to go spend a weekend alone with another women without even caring to talk about it. If I did this to my wife, and I was just going to one of my guy friends there would be a huge fight, and if I did it to go stay with another women friend or not, I probably wouldn’t be allowed home, or I would come home to an empty apartment.

    My guess is this isn’t the only thing this guy walks all over you with, and that is why you are afraid to talk to him about it, because you are just a pushover, and don’t like conflict. You really need to stick up for yourself here, because we all know, no matter how much you say you live his friend Angela, you really aren’t even ok with him staying their whether he asked or not.

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  • Amanda

    Amanda April 14, 2014, 9:37 am

    Oh, hell no. He’s spending the night and the next few days with another woman and gave you some money for a chippy as a consolation prize? I can’t even begin to put into words how not okay this is. Please dump him and move on.

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  • LlamaPajamas

    LlamaPajamas April 14, 2014, 9:37 am

    I think you should buy that chippy, then find a new apartment and a new boyfriend.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest April 14, 2014, 9:38 am

    I feel like there’s details left out. WHY is he spending 2 days/nights in a row with her? There must be a reason, like a weekend festival or conference or something, idk.
    Anyway, I actually doubt he is sleeping with her, unless he just can’t even be bothered with lying. If I were cheating, I wouldn’t actually be saying I’m spending the weekend with my friend Jim, in his bed, ya know? I’d make something up.
    All that said, none of it matters. He’d rather do whatever he’s doing with her than you on your one day off together. Unless there’s a really important once a year thing or something that they have to attend together that requires no advance notice, he’d rather spend his time with someone else. If this friend were a dude, it wouldn’t make a difference to me. I’d be upset that my boyfriend would rather spend his little time off with someone other than me.

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    • Stonegypsy

      stonegypsy April 14, 2014, 10:33 am

      Well look at the way she responded? I’m guessing that he knows by now that he doesn’t have to lie. He can say “I’m going to spend the next few days with Angela, see ya” and she’ll spend the whole time he’s gone trying to figure out how to bring up that that was maybe not exactly cool in a way that doesn’t upset him.
      Guy would think he has a free pass to do pretty much anything if this is the way she reacts.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 14, 2014, 10:37 am

        Yea but at the same time, maybe that’s why he sees nothing wrong with hanging out with friends all weekend instead of her. She makes it seem acceptable.

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  • avatar

    quixoticbeatnik April 14, 2014, 9:43 am

    WWS. Something is fishy here, LW. Your boyfriend shouldn’t be spending the night at a female friend’s house without a good reason, and he shouldn’t be spending the one day you both have off with her. You need to talk to him.

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  • avatar

    bethany April 14, 2014, 9:44 am

    You asked how to talk to him about this, so I’m just going to address that part. You simply say “It hurt my feelings that you chose to spend all your time off with your friend. I would have liked to have spent some time with you. Next time can you please make spending time with me a priority? Thanks”

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  • avatar

    artsygirl April 14, 2014, 9:57 am

    I am so confused by the locations here – so does Angela live in the same city as you? Is your BF traveling to see her and if so where is he spending the second night? Basically I have so little info to go on that I am having a hard time deciding if your BF is simply an inconsiderate douche or a grade 4 mega douche. No matter what, you need to sit down and calmly say why you are upset such as you laid out in the letter. For starters he is a) spending 2 days and a night with a friend b) on one of the rare days you both have off and c) told you he in an offhanded manner and handed you cash when he dismissed you. Seriously, I find the cash thing so weird. That is something my parents would have done for me when I was a teenager.

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  • veritek33

    veritek33 April 14, 2014, 10:19 am

    My ex did something very similar. I went out of town and he spent the night drinking with his female best friend and thought nothing of it, even when I told him it made me extremely uncomfortable.

    I found out after the breakup that rumors of those two hooking up have been going on for years. I naively thought they were “just friends.’ He spent the night with her the night before he broke up with me too.

    LW – this doesn’t look good or feel good. I think you need to MOA from this guy.

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    • Lyra

      Lyra April 14, 2014, 10:50 am

      Yeah my friend who is in the crappy marriage says that her husband literally texts his friend “Beth” every time they’re eating dinner together at home. Before I could say something she said “it’s totally cool, I’ve met her, she’s fun, and she has a boyfriend.” Red flags still go off for me because he should be focusing his attention on his WIFE during dinner, not his friend on the other end of the phone…

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      • avatar

        Marcie April 14, 2014, 1:42 pm

        These letters make me SO GLAD that my husband doesn’t have close girlfriends. He never has. Of course we have our issues sometimes, but it’s not this particular issue!

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  • Lianne

    Lianne April 14, 2014, 10:28 am

    WEES. This doesn’t make any sense at all…definitely speak up for yourself!!

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  • avatar

    TECH April 14, 2014, 10:35 am

    If I came to a guy with a serious relationship issue, and his response was for me to go buy some fish and chips, I’d run in the other direction.
    Ahhh, if only fish and chips could solve every relationship issue.

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    • FireStar

      Firestar April 14, 2014, 11:28 am

      I was hoping ‘chippy’ was slang for new boyfriend and the £10 cab fare to go find him.

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  • Crochet.Ninja

    Crochet.Ninja April 14, 2014, 9:39 am

    in this case, it doesn’t matter whether he’s staying with a male or female friend – the fact is that he doesn’t want to spend what little time you both have off together. big, flashing red flag. like, neon. you guys aren’t a happy couple. happy couples want to spend time with each other.

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  • GatorGirl

    GatorGirl April 14, 2014, 10:45 am

    Oh honey. My ex did something similar back in the day. He said he was going off to visit a female friend from his study abroad program for her birthday for the weekend. I naively said “have fun!” only to find out he spent the whole weekend hooking up with her. So, weather or not your bf is hooking up, none of us knows. But he’s clearly making his time with this other person more important than his time with you, and that’s not okay. I’d just MOA, and find someone who does make you a priority.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo April 14, 2014, 11:02 am

    This letter broke my brain. I can feel the place where it fractured throbbing, the jagged edges rubbing together. Look, LW, whatever you do, don’t say anything to upset him. Your controlling behaviour has brought things to a crisis, and I can picture a day when he will no longer lovingly toss you a tenner for a nice evening out at the corner chippy before he goes to visit his “friend.” That generosity depends on you having some respect for his needs. If you really want to make your relationship work, i’d suggest saving the cash to buy HIM some chips, and have them piping hot and ready when he gets back. He’s bound to be hungry by then. If there was an issue with your relationship, I’m sure he’d mention it. He’ll let you know, probably by moving your stuff out onto the sidewalk.

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    • LlamaPajamas

      LlamaPajamas April 14, 2014, 11:08 am

      Excellent advice. In healthy relationships, one must avoid upsetting one’s partner at all costs because that’s just rude! When I have a problem with Llama Guy, my preferred method is presenting the issue to him in the form of a puppet show. You can’t get upset during a puppet show! And if he scoffs at my concerns than I can tell him it wasn’t really me saying those things, it was Puppet LlamaPajamas. Crisis averted.

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      • Diablo

        Diablo April 14, 2014, 11:17 am

        Oh, be practical. The puppet show might work as a temporary bandaid, but it’s no substitute for pushing your feelings way down deep until they become a cold hard kernel of hate that can be directed not only at a long series of men she blames for her unhappiness, but also at herself for being unworthy of love, as demonstrated by the way the men in her life have treated her. Honestly, without self-hatred, how would women even get through the week?

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas April 14, 2014, 11:19 am

        We wouldn’t! Honestly, without self-hatred, I wouldn’t even make it through the work day. Tee hee, hair twirl.

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      • avatar

        DesiDad April 14, 2014, 2:08 pm

        I kind of get the sarcasm here but worry that the LW may not get it, seeing as how she is not getting some other pretty black-and-white issues…

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      • Diablo

        Diablo April 14, 2014, 3:53 pm

        Sarcasm? ME?

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      • rainbow

        rainbow April 14, 2014, 11:53 am

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      • Diablo

        Diablo April 14, 2014, 11:59 am

        I love SMBC!

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray April 14, 2014, 11:36 am

    That he would just casually say “oh, I’m sleeping at (friend-who’s-a-girl)’s house, byeee” is weird. Is there more to this? Like, is she an old friend from high school who lives 2 hours away and tomorrow, on his day off, it’s their class reunion and, I dunno, it’s located even further away so he’s getting a head start on that road trip by sleeping over at her place? I’m hoping for your sake there is. You didn’t mention anything like that so I’m assuming it really was as random as you make it sound. I don’t know if that means he is sleeping with her; my guess is someone who cheats would prefer to keep the whole rendez-vous secret. But it certainly means he’d rather spend time with her. All in all: I’m getting bad vibes. … What advice did your friends give you? I’m dying to know.

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    • avatar

      thatgirl April 14, 2014, 11:48 am

      While the desire to keep it all a secret is certainly a reasonable assumption, I have been learning (unfortunately) recently that being open about the “friendship” and assurances of “if it was bad, would I do it in front of you?” is really a ploy to throw the innocent party off track….a particularly harsh form of gaslighting…

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray April 14, 2014, 11:50 am

        Oh that makes sense. See? I’d be a lousy cheater. … thatgirl, I’m sorry if you are going through something similar!!

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      • avatar

        thatgirl April 14, 2014, 12:42 pm

        Yeah….it sucks in the worst way…I would be a horrible cheater. I am the worst liar on the face of the planet! I can only lie if I have a lie ready, with a whole back story in my mind so I can be convincing…otherwise I am deer in the headlights, looking dumb!

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  • avatar

    thatgirl April 14, 2014, 11:43 am

    LW, the only way to bring this up without upsetting your boyfriend is to lay all the cards on the table. Be upfront about how you are OK with opening up your relationship (on his side only, of course) and make sure you provide him plenty of protection for the weekend. Also, don’t forget to pack them a snack…they may be so busy they forget to eat, and you don’t want him coming home weak from hunger!

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  • Jess

    Jess April 14, 2014, 11:59 am

    OK, wow. Yeah.

    Sometimes I just go fishing around looking for benefit of the doubt. So I’ll do that here (even though I realize that Wendy’s interpretation is the most likely one).

    I’m intrigued that LW notes this friend as someone harmless and friendly. I want to know… Has he slept there before? Is there a logical reason for spending the night (like she lives far away and they have plans in her area early the next day?)? Is the friend a lesbian? Is she his grandmother’s age? I don’t know. I just feel like we are missing a part of the story there. Why is LW convinced nothing will happen? In fact, it doesn’t even sound like she’s upset by the sleepover but bothered more about her BF being unavailable during their day off (and not consulting her). And if we strip away the weird female friend sleepover, the latter complaint about poor communication/time management is pretty common.

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  • avatar

    Banana April 14, 2014, 12:09 pm

    Isn’t the best that any of us can expect from a relationship a free chippy?

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    • Jess

      Jess April 14, 2014, 12:19 pm

      It’s lunchtime, so I’m with you. Fish and chips sound pretty good to me right about now. Or…. at least the chips 🙂

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    • veritek33

      veritek33 April 14, 2014, 3:51 pm

      There’s a place down the street that does amazing fish and chips. They start serving food in an hour. I MIGHT NEED TO GET SOME CHIPPYS

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  • avatar

    Lucy April 14, 2014, 8:24 pm

    I feel like this is a great situation for “Let’s Pretend.” So, let’s pretend your bf is staying with his male best friend. Would it then be OK for him to avoid you one one of your rare days off together? I am guessing it wouldn’t be. The fact that she’s a woman is potentially a red herring; the fact that he’s neglecting your relationship is pretty inarguable.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones April 16, 2014, 2:46 pm

    How about while he is gone, you hire a moving company, load all of his things and put them in a storage locker, change the locks to the apartment you share and leave an envelope with a key to his storage locker at his work (since he is never home) and a “Dear John” note? That should get the message across.

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