Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickies: “My Husband Flirts Too Much With Our Neighbor”

My husband is 80 years old and very interested in the beautiful and flirtatious 48-year-old lady next door. When we met this lady, I knew immediately he’d be very attracted to her. It’s a habit. (He’s been diagnosed as a narcissist, by the way). We recently moved from Florida back to the Midwest and away from two ladies whom he spent as much time with as possible. Although he was friends with their husbands, he clearly was embarrassingly attentive to these ladies, even visiting one or the other while the husbands were out of the state on fishing trips, etc. All three guys are friends.

I’m proud that I have a husband who is extremely handy and helpful to friends and neighbors. My troubles are his actions are inappropriate and hurtful toward me. He is in extremely good condition and very attractive. I’ve taken care of myself physically and emotionally to stay healthy and attractive as well. I am, however, 79 years old and feel so hurt by his vocal comparisons of me to this new acquaintance next door. She’s clearly very attracted to him and “jokes” about it constantly. I hate feeling jealous when I feel honestly hurt and like an old shoe. — Feeling Like an Old Shoe

Your neighbor lady — does she run around without pants on and drink lots of wine? And is her name Ramona? Just wondering. Regardless, I think you need to be very upfront with your husband about how much it hurts your feelings when he compares you to a woman over 30 years younger than you (or any other woman, for that matter) and that, while you are proud that he’s such a good neighbor and friend and is so attractive and in great shape, you need to feel like you are his top priority. You need to let him know how it hurts your feelings when he gives attention to other women that should be reserved for you and that, while you aren’t forbidding him to be friends with anyone, he needs to do more to assure you that YOU are the one he wants, now and forever.

And, you know, you may need to step things up, too, and give him more attention and assurance that you find him attractive and impressive so that he’s not as eager to find that attention elsewhere. If you’re able, more frequent quality time together — date nights, weekend getaways, and longer vacations — away from the distractions of your day-to-day life would probably go a long way.

I have a question relevant to the upcoming winter holidays. I’ve noticed a few friends/acquaintances requesting on Facebook, with a link to a website, that others submit their name and contact information in order to receive a holiday card. My instinct is that, unless someone was diligent enough to keep an address book by hand and then they lost their home and all their belongings in a devastating house fire this year, it’s nobody’s job but theirs to decide who gets cards and then track down their addresses. I’m all about shortcuts, but this isn’t taking a shortcut — it’s passing on the burden to the receiver of the greetings. When I want to add someone to our list, I privately reach out to them and ask for their address. Am I being a total Scrooge by being annoyed by this or is it actually kinda tacky and contrary to the spirit of the holiday greeting? — I’m good without the card, thanks

 
Eh, I think you’re being a bit of a Scrooge. Ten years ago I would have found something like what you’re describing more tacky than I find it now. But life has changed — we move a lot more for one thing, making the keeping of addresses more challenging than ever, we have more demands on our time and energy, and we’re more dependent on technology and new media to maintain social connections and ease some of our organizational challenges. (Plus, who keeps contact info in actual address books anymore?!).

I think you need to appreciate this request for what it is — someone asking for help in expressing holiday greetings. It’s a modernized version of honoring a longstanding tradition where the only thing that is asked of a potential recipient is to share his or her address. It’s not like you’re being asked to send money or donate to a cause or forward a chain letter or any other host of mild modern annoyances that might be a greater imposition than simply opting in or opting out of receiving a card. If you don’t want to participate, then don’t. But I think there are other things more worthy of your side-eye than something as harmless as this.

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

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

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

22 comments… add one
  • kmtthat

    kmtthat December 6, 2016, 10:08 am

    I was immediately thinking pantless Ramona!

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      KrisBren December 6, 2016, 3:40 pm

      Me too!

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    K December 6, 2016, 10:13 am

    I actually keep a real address book (and an actual physical calendar) – I just prefer it that way 🙂

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      K December 6, 2016, 10:14 am

      But yes, that person has no right to complain about something so small.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. December 6, 2016, 11:29 am

      Me, too. As a coder friend of mine once said: “Paper and pencils don’t crash.”. And I do find the Facebook thing a bit tacky. I guess I’m old.

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      • Nookie

        Nookie December 6, 2016, 12:23 pm

        While I know I depend on it, it still bothers me that I rely on Facebook to tell me when friends birthday’s are

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        zombeyonce December 6, 2016, 12:39 pm

        While I don’t think the Facebook request to provide an address is optimal, it actually introduces a thoughtful kind of opt-in for holiday cards. I know some people send out newsletters and things like that for the holiday which annoy a lot of receivers (the tone can often sound like bragging or whining depending on the writer and they are so rarely actually entertaining to read), so letting people opt in to that sort of thing is a step up.

        I never like receiving holiday cards either, they always just pile up on the shelf and people don’t really do much more than sign them so it’s just a generic card. And how long are you supposed to keep them up before they go in the bin? Am I supposed to keep the photos of people’s kids? I have no idea but don’t really want any of that stuff. Man, I sound very Scroogey myself.

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    Holly December 6, 2016, 10:41 am

    The part about it being a burden to put in your address definitely made me laugh.

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    artsygirl December 6, 2016, 10:46 am

    LW1 – If you husband has been diagnosed as a narcissist then there is little you can do to curtail his behavior. By nature he is selfish, craves admiration (no matter how much he receives he always feels entitled to more), and cannot emphasize with your or anyone else’s feelings. While you cannot control his behavior, you can control yours. I would recommend seeing if there is a local support group for the families of narcissist and while most books are written for the children of narcissists, I would suggest Malignant Self Love by Sam Vaknin and Disarming the Narcissist by Wendy Behary. Good luck!

    LW2 – While a bit tacky, it is completely understandable since very few people now send out notices of change of address – people are very transitory now and might live at multiple addresses over the course of a decade. The holidays are actually when I update my address book and your Facebook friends might be doing the same digitally.

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      artsygirl December 6, 2016, 10:47 am

      ** empathize (damn you autocorrect)

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        golfer.gal December 7, 2016, 11:49 am

        Artsy, you are correct. I think Wendy’s advice is spot on if you’re dealing with a regular person, but if the LW’s husband has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder then this is an entirely different ballgame and the advice is very unlikely to get her anywhere good (I say “if” because it isnt clear, does the LW mean he’s been fully diagnosed as NPD or simply with narcissitic traits or tendencies?). NPD’s have very, very little in the way of empathy or concern for the way their actions affect other people, and the need for attention and approval is all consuming and constant. The LW expressing her hurt, no matter how calmly and lovingly she does it, is very likely to be met with anger, criticism and defensiveness because it will cause a narcissistic injury to her husband. The condition is also lifelong and permanent, and his behavior is very, very unlikely to change.

        LW, I suggest finding a therapist familiar with personality disorders and meeting with them regularly. They can help you navigate these issues and suggest some coping mechanisms. Again, if he has NPD you aren’t going to see any change in his behavior, so you’ll need to consider whether you can live with it for the rest of your life.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 December 6, 2016, 10:56 am

    LW1: So you actually had to move to Florida because your husband is constantly hitting on his friends wives? That doesn’t sound fun at all. I know this doesn’t help how you feel, but do you think the neighbor thinks of your husband as the cute old guy next door, and isn’t actually flirting with him, but kind of keeping him entertained because of his enthusiasm?

    LW2: I agree everything is online now, and it gets annoying, nobody wants to do any real work to get things like that done. I have so many friends that every single party they throw is a facebook invite, and then they request the other people to pass on the invite to people who aren’t on facebook. It’s like come on man, it’s your party if you want people to go find their info and invite them! But I think unfortunately you are probably going to be outnumbered and left out with that group of friends if you don’t participate.

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  • Cleopatra Jones

    Cleopatra Jones December 6, 2016, 11:07 am

    RE #1:
    I disagree with Wendy on this. LW stated that her husband has been diagnosed as a narcissist, so telling him that he’s attractive or having more date nights is NOT going to fix their situation. He’s a Narcissist, the whole world exists for his amusement. No matter what the LW does to work on the relationship, her husband is going to continue to live as he wants even to the detriment of the LW.
    .
    I think that if the LW were younger, we would be encouraging her to DTMFA. Honestly, I still think it’s a good idea to move on from this relationship even at their age. I know a lot of people who would just ride this out because they are both older but I’ve seen this relationship in real life, and it sucks. What if the husband lives another 10 or 15 years? Does LW want to continue living in this miserable state? If so, more power to you but it won’t get any easier from here.
    .
    Also, Wendy didn’t address that LW’s husband has a history of being inappropriately attentive to other women, and what that means to their relationship. Yeah, it’s probably because he’s a Narcissist but it still doesn’t lessens the impact to LW’s self-esteem. LW should get into therapy so she can fix the damage that he’s done over the years, then she can decide if she wants to stay.

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    • juliecatharine

      Juliecatharine December 6, 2016, 11:23 am

      I agree with you but I think that at 79 years old there are financial and physical realities that are likely to make divorce/separation impractical.

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    Wwndy_not_Wendy December 6, 2016, 11:37 am

    I think those “submit your address” things are great! I don’t really care about receiving holiday cards, so I never put my name in, though when people do send them to me I enjoy them. I figure I save people time and money by not responding when they don’t mean that much to me. And as someone who moves a LOT, it just makes sense, as Wendy said. People are often two or three addresses behind for me. I don’t see the websites as putting the burden on me–it actually reduces the burden because I don’t have to respond to emails asking for my address. I can either not bother putting my info in at all, or fill out the form, which I find less burdensome than responding to an email.

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    saneinca December 6, 2016, 12:25 pm

    LW1, even if he is flirting, I doubt any 48 year old woman is really interested in a diaper wearing 80 year old. (unless she is mercenary and he is ready to croak). I also doubt you could change the behavior of a 80 year old man either. Do you have children or a pastor who can sit your husband down and tell him how inappropriate his behavior is ? Also do you think he has dementia of any sort ?

    LW2, I personally would not want to post my address online which could be hacked at any time. It will be an open invitation for identity theft.

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      Jen December 6, 2016, 10:49 pm

      Agree on the 48 yr old not being attracted to the 80 year old. Bet that’s just playful flirting not real.

      You do know the address thing doesn’t matter anymore, right? Privacy is dead in today’s world especially if you use facebook. It is now trivial to find someone’s family’s names, property you’ve owned including not just address but sometimes prices, phone number etc. If you don’t believe me try aggressively googling yourself.

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        Jen December 6, 2016, 10:50 pm

        Also, I found out a lot about you (religion, marital status, kids status, age, hometown) just googling your username….

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    Lucy December 6, 2016, 1:21 pm

    Going to chime in and add to the “don’t feed the narcissist” chorus. Giving the narcissist more and more attention and reassurance is exhausting and ultimately futile. There is no such thing as enough for them; they’re emotional vampires. LW1 needs to be in counseling, def individually and also with her husband. He can’t be fixed, and at this late date his behaviour probably won’t change, but she can change the way she responds to it.

    In her place I might also consider telling this woman a version of what she told Wendy: “my husband is a diagnosed narcissist, he does have this bad habit of seeking attention from many other women, and I hope you’ll tell me if he ever does anything inappropriate or offensive.” Not sure I’d do it, but I’d think about it.

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    bondgirl December 6, 2016, 2:28 pm

    I can kinda get why people ask for a mailing address for Christmas cards; people move around, some might not be doing cards, etc. My only beef with doing this on facebook is that some people just post their address right on the status. Idk, maybe I’m paranoid about people knowing where I live, but sometimes I wonder how people don’t think to privately message that information…you don’t know who could be using that info and for what purpose.

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      Jen December 6, 2016, 10:50 pm

      Wake up. All of your information is already trivial to find

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    dinoceros December 7, 2016, 12:05 pm

    I thought I posted, but I guess it didn’t take. If the LW doesn’t want to give her address, then just don’t give it. I think this is not worth whining about. It comes across as very critical and jerkish.

    Though for those who are saying it’s unsafe and hackable to send your address, unless you’ve taken great care not to be listed in various public records, anyone could probably find your address on the internet eventually. I was digging around for my friend’s brother’s ex-wife who left him without telling him and moved across the country, and I found her address (not that I want it, but it’s there).

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