Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickie: “Is He Selfish or Am I Too Needy?”

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I am a 46-year-old woman who has been involved with a 55-year-old guy, “Craig,”for the past two years. He has two gorgeous kids, ages seven and twelve, and was together with their mother for twelve years but never married. I was married for ten years and have a son who is in the last year of school. I absolutely adore Craig and miss him when I am not with him. However, he is either incredibly selfish of late or maybe I am just being too needy. He is continuously flying from South Africa, where we live, to the UK or other locations for three days at a time for car shows. That’s a helluva lot of money to spend, but it is his money and I suppose he can do what he wants with it.

I think my irritation stems from a number of other things as well and not just the money he spends. For example, I go out of my way to do what he prefers, so as not to upset him, and, if I get invited out somewhere, it’s expected that I always invite him, as he takes it personally if I don’t, or I am expected not to go. Then, he always seems to have a dig at my friends (and actually even his friends). Also, when he returned a week ago from London, he brought his kids a ton of stuff, which I didn’t mind as I really adore them like crazy. But I went out of my way to look after his house and dog all on my own when I have my own home and when the house next to his had just been broken into two days before he left, and he brought me nothing from London, not even a chocolate or lip ice. Finally, tonight he says he is again flying from Cape Town to England this week to attend a big racing event and, when I mentioned that I think it’s a bit extravagant to make a trip like this again after only two weeks, he said, as more of a statement than a question, “Well, what’s it got to do with you.”

I am not sure what to think. Am I being foolish, insecure, or just plain needy? — Too Needy?

Craig is a thoughtless dick — you watch his house and dog for him and don’t even get a token thank-you gift? He makes digs at your friends? And his friends? Dick. He is right, though, that the money he spends on himself isn’t really your business. You aren’t married; you don’t live together or have kids together or share expenses. But the fact that you feel like he doesn’t spend enough time with you or acknowledge your feelings is certainly valid. Have you expressed to him that your feelings are hurt? If not, try that and see if it gets you anywhere. But, honestly, it doesn’t sound like you’re much of a match, and the guy sounds like a jerk. I’d move on and let him pay a professional dog-sitter while he’s on on his many trips rather than use you to fill that role.

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22 comments… add one
  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom March 21, 2016, 8:12 am

    As frequently as he is going and the fact that he brought you nothing makes me wonder if he has a woman that he keeps meeting. Even if he doesn’t I don’t see any point in staying in this relationship. He is controlling when he is home and he is away a lot. It seems that you are more his dog/house sitter than his girlfriend. A lot of people would invite their girlfriend to go with them at least some of the time. I think the answer to what his trip has to do with you is that you don’t plan to be available to take care of this things while he is gone. Does he even ask if you can take care of the house and dog or does he just assume?

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 21, 2016, 8:48 am

      I’d like to add that expecting your boyfriend to treat you with dignity, respect and thoughtfulness is not needy. It doesn’t sound like he treats you the way you deserve. Even a girlfriend should be asked each time if she can take care of his house and dog. A girlfriend should be thanked each time for her help. Surely he would do those things if he had a friend take care of the house and dog and would probably bring back at least a token thank you gift. When we travel abroad we always bring back something for whoever took care of our house and cats. A thank you is the least you can do for someone who takes care of your things, especially pets, when you can’t. He should also be asking if you can take care of his house and dog before he schedule the trip. Does he assume you will be available and have the time or does he ask and coordinate with when you can do those things? Asking to be respect and treated decently is not needy. It is very basic to a lasting relationship.

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      • avatar

        JMac March 21, 2016, 5:53 pm

        “…expecting your boyfriend to treat you with dignity, repect and thoughtfulness is not needy….Asking to be respect and treated decently is not needy. It is very basic to a lasting relationship.”

        Yes!!! This a hundred times!

        It has always amazed me to see the number of women who will put up with being treated like garbage by some guy on the grounds that “He’s my boyfriend.” If he is your boyfriend, it is supposed to mean that he loves you and cares about you and therefore should NOT be treating you like garbage.

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    artsygirl March 21, 2016, 8:21 am

    LW – I think you need to unpack why the fact that you BF spends money on an extravagant hobby bothers you so much. You admit that you really don’t have a say in his expenses but since you mention it multiple times, I think that this might be a symptom of why you are dissatisfied with your relationship. Does it bother you because you feel he is not being financially responsible (are any bills left unpaid, has he saved for retirement, etc)? Do you think he is financially stingy when it comes to you (after all you mention he showers gifts on his children while you were left as a maid/house sitter/ dog walker without the actual financial benefit)? Or is it because he has limitless freedom to travel and spend money while he demands you stay at home if he is not included? Ultimately it sounds like the relationship is very one-sided. You have put out a lot of energy maintaining it without being able to say the same about your partner.

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  • avatar

    Kate March 21, 2016, 8:28 am

    First, Wendy, thanks for the Lip Ice product image. Never heard of it but their web sit says it’s ALWAYS been there. That’s a claim that a US CPG company would have a hard time substantiating, but hats off to them for using it.

    My aunt had this boyfriend when she was in her 40s and divorced. Dick Jones. He was a handsome and fun guy. They both had kids, both divorced, it was great. I was like 14 at the time so I don’t remember all the details, but the adults would joke around and call him “Dick Jones, CIA.” I think because his official job had something to do with parks or forestry and it seemed like a BS cover. Well, my aunt came to find out that he totally WAS a secret agent, in the sense that he had many different women who thought they were his girlfriend. His kid also got my aunt’s kid addicted to weed and probably other drugs. Turned out Dick Jones was a real dick.

    Anyway. What Wendy said.

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    • avatar

      rosacha March 22, 2016, 2:37 pm

      This comment on Dick Jones is hilarious and on point. There is always a Dick Jones somewhere.

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  • avatar

    laurahope March 21, 2016, 8:49 am

    From his perspective, there’s no “we” mentality. It’s all about him. And not even acknowledging your kindness with a small token gift tells you he’s not a nice guy.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 21, 2016, 6:34 pm

      I really .like this comment too! You are right, there is no we in his thinking and that sums up the relationship.

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  • avatar

    RedroverRedrover March 21, 2016, 9:13 am

    Am I the only one getting really, really sick of this question? Here and in the forums, it (or some version of it) is getting constantly asked. Am I too needy? How can I stop worrying about this? Am I expecting too much. And it always goes hand in hand with stuff like this:
    “For example, I go out of my way to do what he prefers, so as not to upset him”

    Why? WHY????? Why do women do this? In this particular case, she’s been with him for two years! At this point she should be comfortable being herself in the relationship. And if she’s not, the relationship is not a good one. The end. Why do women think it’s so bad to be themselves? To tell their partner how they feel? To show them when they’re upset? There are so many LWs here who think they have to hide it, to put on a happy face so that the guy sticks around.

    Bottom line, be yourself and be honest. If the guy doesn’t stick around, it’s because you’re not a match. And if that’s the case it’s better to know early on than to spend two years pretending to be someone else so that you don’t lose him. What kind of life is that?

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 21, 2016, 9:37 am

      This! Women, and men too, let themselves be manipulated and dominated. The best answer to him complaining that she was going out without him would be to say I”m sorry you feel that way, my plans are already made and I’m going out. If you don’t like that maybe we should rethink whether we belong together. If he assumes that she will watch his house and dog but doesn’t ask or asks at the last minute she needs to say that she is busy over the weekend and can’t do it. If he doesn’t thank her the next time she needs to say she won’t do it because he didn’t appreciate what she did the previous trip. If he only wants a woman who can be walked on she should know that upfront and find a different boyfriend. Someone can only treat you with indifference and take you for granted and manipulate you if you allow it..

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      • avatar

        wobster109 March 21, 2016, 9:50 am

        “The best answer to him complaining that she was going out without him would be to say I’m sorry you feel that way, my plans are already made and I’m going out.” <– This is exactly the right response, and LW should practice with a friend until she nails it. The friend can act the role of the controlling BF, protesting and arguing. LW, don't get dragged into details, and don't try to explain. Stick with "My plans are already made". Repeat, repeat, repeat.

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        saneinca March 21, 2016, 3:14 pm

        That was a very good response. But I would totally use his statement back at him – “Well, what’s it got to do with you.” Quid pro quo.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom March 22, 2016, 6:26 am

        I think that would be the perfect reply when she tells him that she will be busy the entire weekend he is away and when he starts insisting that she has to take care of his dog and his house she can say “Well, what have my plans got to do with you.”

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    • avatar

      Essie March 21, 2016, 2:38 pm

      Oh, my God, I don’t understand how there are still women who think like this in 2016.

      If you have to “go out of my way to do what he prefers” in order to keep him from leaving you, you are with the wrong guy, and you have no clue how to be in a relationship. Break up, today, and spend some time learning what a real relationship, with an adult human, looks like.

      AaaaaaaAAAAAaarrgh.

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    • Portia

      Portia March 21, 2016, 8:10 pm

      Totally agree. I’ve heard this plenty of times and I never get it. If you’re pretending to be something you’re not to stay in a relationship, then you’re not really in a relationship. You’re performing the relationship, acting a part, and no one can keep that up forever.

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  • findingtheearth

    findingtheearth March 21, 2016, 10:08 am

    LW, you are unhappy. It’s okay to be unhappy. But, waiting around pining for him is not helpful. Evaluate why you chose to stay with someone who clearly has other plans and goals for his life. You are his house sitter and dog sitter.

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  • FireStar

    Firestar March 21, 2016, 10:41 am

    I imagine it is far more convenient to him to have you in his life than to pay a dog sitter and house sitter. Were you intending to be just a convenience to someone? No? Then you have to leave – there is nothing for you here.

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  • avatar

    Ron March 21, 2016, 12:46 pm

    You thought you were in a serious relationship. It is clear he doesn’t share that view. Hence the comment what business is it of yours how he chooses to spend his money. Having to constantly do what your SO wants in order not to upset him/her, which really comes down to constantly walking on eggs, describes the reality of a truly horrible relationship and one in which there is a total imbalance of power/caring. It hurts, but I think the truth is that he sees you as totally disposable and replaceable. He feels no true connection to you. Yes, he sounds selfish, but you sound more than a tad desperate to allow yourself to be taken advantage of to this extent. You need to MOA and find a healthy relationship.

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  • avatar

    T March 21, 2016, 12:56 pm

    Since they’re not even living together, I’m not so worried about the trips, money, and house-sitting. Maybe he’s enjoying the newfound freedom of being retired/closer to retired and only having his kids part-time, and finally letting himself go on trips and take his hobby seriously. Good for him. (Although LW, if someone who’s away quite a bit is truly a deal breaker for you, then by all means dump him. But it sounds like this isn’t the real problem.) Even the house and dog-sitting, in a good relationship where both partners do nice things for each other and don’t feel the need to keep score, would not be a big deal. LW, I suspect instead of it being these specific things, you have a general feeling that he does not do much for you, this relationship is a one-way street when it comes to effort, and you’re trying to find something specific to pin that feeling on. You don’t need to find a specific example of selfishness to justify exiting a relationship; a general sense that he’s not giving as much as you are is enough.
    .
    Where I really hear alarm bells going off is with respect to the control issues. He gets to do whatever he wants and berates you for commenting, yet he wants to completely control your life and where you go. I have seen a friend be in this type of relationship, and this unequal power dynamic has resulted in her essentially never having her own voice and him always making the decisions, and in a way seems to be some type of sick game for him to always have her under his thumb. It’s not healthy. If any of this strikes a chord, I suggest immediately getting out of the relationship. If you’re not ready to get out quite yet, why not try an experiment? See what he does when you ignore his whining and demanding, and start making your own social plans (don’t always invite him). Either he’ll let go of some of the control and you’ll be happier (and from a state of more confidence you’ll probably end up wanting to leave him anyway), or he’ll get angry and you’ll have your answer.
    .
    Side note: if you’re not living together, I don’t see how he has this type of control anyway. Does he still try to control your plans when you’re not even with him? Or do you see him every single night when he’s in town, and then you feel abandoned when he suddenly is away? If either of these is true, that is indeed selfish and manipulative on his part. But it’s your responsibility to look out for yourself and insist on living your own happy life. Start seeing him less and doing whatever you want on the days you don’t see him. Then the three-day trips might not seem like the problem.

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  • call-me-hobo

    call-me-hobo March 21, 2016, 1:11 pm

    As someone who is married to a car guy, unless you are prepared to be with someone who dumps lots of time and money into a hobby- stay away from people who are part of the car scene. It’s more of a lifestyle, to be honest. It’s definitely not for everyone.

    That being said- this guy sounds like a real dick. Anyone who makes you feel bad about going out with your friends is not someone worth being around. Don’t settle for the crumbs of a relationship.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros March 21, 2016, 1:25 pm

    It concerns me that he’s running the show and you’re just doing whatever he wants, without regard for what you want, and you think that might be you being too needy. Yes, he sounds selfish. But by continuing to date him, you’re saying that you’re OK with this set up. If you’re not, which I don’t think you should be, then you need to break up with him.

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  • avatar

    Moi March 22, 2016, 7:09 am

    I have a different take on this(I wish some guys would tell me if I am wrong). My husband is a car fanatic. He has asked me to go with him and I have been bored out of my mind. We agreed that he feels guilty for having fun while I am bored and I feel guilty for interfering by making him feel guilty. Sorry about that sentence. So now he goes to these car things alone or with another fanatic. I get a day to myself. Win/win. If you have made a doormat of yourself by volunteering dog sitting etc. he is going to let you do it. It does not make him a bad guy, he is just oblivious. Your relationship fits him to a T. It does not fit you. Do you have the desire, or ability, to go with him? I can tell you that these meetings are about cars, cars, cars. Boooorrrring! There are usually pretty young women there to see if some guy is willing. There are groupies anywhere there are guys and money. He may be indulging, or not. All this needs to be talked out. I don’t need as much attention and nurturing as some women. You might. If your relationship makes you miserable more than it makes you happy you have your answer.

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