Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Lied to His Son About Me”

I began dating a great guy,”Frank,” who was recently divorced (four months) and I have been divorced for seven months. We both have children, but mine are in high school and his son is eight years old and in elementary school. He has joint custody which includes every other weekend and two days a week. We both are taking it slow and have no immediate intention of introducing our kids to each other.

The other day I texted him and mentioned I was going to a restaurant with a girlfriend. He texted back that he would like to join us and bring his son along. Well, I met the little guy along with my girlfriend in a relaxed state of mind, no stress, under the guise of friendship.

A couple of days later I got some tickets to a local football game for Frank and his son. He said he would swing by my house to pick them up. I told him I had a mutual friend over and to pop by and visit during the ticket pick-up, but he mentioned he had his son with him. Well, we waited for them on the steps outside the house for the ticket hand-off and it was brief and uneventful. The son stayed in the car and we did a quick ticket hand-off from the steps.

The next day, my boyfriend told me he had told his son that our mutual friend was in fact my boyfriend. He said he did this to cover up any “tales” his son might say to his ex-wife. Initially, I was taken aback and confused. I did not understand why he did not tell his son we were all just friends and why he fabricated a lie. To make matters worse, our friend is actually married to a wonderful woman, not me.

I texted him that I was uncomfortable with being lied about and certainly other arrangements could have been made for the ticket hand-off. At 46 years old, I don’t want to be anyone’s secret or lie. I have yet to hear back from my 47-year-old boyfriend with the exception of, “Wow, OK.”

Was I so off-the-mark? Am I missing something? I’m old enough to acknowledge if I was off-base and would appreciate some unbiased feedback. — No One’s Secret

No, you weren’t off-base, but this may be a case of moving more quickly than Frank is ready to move. His divorce was just finalized four months ago. Four months is a blink of an eye in comparison to what was probably around a 10-year relationship (assuming he was with his ex-wife a couple of years before his son was born). He’s adjusting to a brand new life, living alone, being a single dad, sharing custody with his ex-wife. It’s a lot to take on, and to add a new girlfriend into the mix, even before he’s maybe fully adjusted to the demands of his new lifestyle and the terms of his new relationship with his ex-wife… well, it would be a lot for anyone.

That doesn’t excuse his lying, and you have every right to call him on it, express your discomfort, open the lines of communication and discuss better options for introducing your kids in the future, but doing it over a text probably wasn’t the best way. Texting is great for finalizing a meeting place or meeting time. It’s good for a quick, “Thinking about you” message. It works well when you want to ask someone to pick up some milk on the way home. It isn’t the best means of communication when you want to address your new boyfriend’s lying and how to handle interactions with his son in the future. That’s a conversation that really should have happened over the phone, if not in person, when your tone could be better expressed. And if it’s a conversation you don’t feel comfortable having in person or over the phone, then your relationship probably isn’t serious enough to warrant introductions to each other’s kids quite yet anyway, even under the guise of just friendship.

What I would do now if I were you is: first, forgive Frank; second, slow things down and take your time getting to know each other and letting the embers of your respective marriages die down completely before jumping into something serious with each other; and third, discuss with Frank how much you want your kids — and your ex-spouses — to know about each of you, and how you’ll handle introductions in the future, especially unplanned introductions. Since you’re still new to single motherhood and Frank may not be the last boyfriend you have before your kids leave your home, this is a topic worth considering no matter whom you might be dating. At what point would you feel comfortable introducing a new partner to your kids? Assuming whatever they know about your dating life may get back to your ex-husband, how much do you want them — and him — to know? And what precautions do you need to take to protect your privacy?

Try not to be too hard on Frank. Four months is hardly enough time to readjust to single life after a marriage, let alone go from marriage to single life to being someone’s boyfriend again and figuring out how to navigate a relationship while balancing being a single parent to a young child. In the big scheme of things the white lie he told his son doesn’t really affect your relationship that much. I get that it may feel like a sign of disrespect to you, but if you two have staying power, there will be plenty of time for him to prove what you mean to him. He’s probably still figuring it out, along with all the other new roles in his life.

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

You can follow me on Facebook here an Twitter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

36 comments… add one
  • MackenzieLee

    MackenzieLee September 24, 2012, 9:10 am

    spot on advice as always. I think the texting part is especially universal

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    Alecia September 24, 2012, 9:24 am

    I text as on an as-needed basis. Aside from the fact it’s 10 cents a pop, it also isn’t good for maintaining clarity in communications.
    I agree with Wendy this is a huge life adjustment for Frank and for his son. He didn’t want to have to explain all of this to his son or his ex-wife. While I think he should’ve said he’d talk to him later about this- he did what he what he thought was best in the moment.

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  • avatar

    TECH September 24, 2012, 9:27 am

    “In the big scheme of things the white lie he told his son doesn’t really affect your relationship that much. I get that it may feel like a sign of disrespect to you, but if you two have staying power, there will be plenty of time for him to prove what you mean to him.”
    It’s not a white lie. It’s a lie. To me, the definition of a white lie is concealing the truth so it doesn’t hurt any one. This “white” lie hurt the letter writer so much that she felt a need to write into Wendy. And “Frank” will probably, at a later date, have to explain to his son that is woman (the letter writer) is not who the son thought she was. The son will question his father about why he lied. Furthermore, Frank is putting his son in a position where he has to conceal the truth from his mother, which is a whole separate blog post about loyalty conflicts for children of divorce.
    I think the bottom line is that Frank is not ready for a relationship so soon after his divorce, and he shouldn’t have introduced his son to the letter writer at all. But a white lie this was not.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom September 24, 2012, 11:04 am

      I agree, it’s not a white lie. Also he’s showing you that he thinks it is fine to lie to hide things from people. So what will he lie to you about just to hide things from you. I learned the hard way that when you see someone lying to the people they love then they will lie to you to.

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      • avatar

        Oldie September 24, 2012, 11:32 am

        Agree that this is not just a white lie. It will complicate things further down the line if the relationship becomes serious, when bf has to explain to his son that the woman who was his friend’s gf is actually his gf now. Even at his young age, the son is going to realize that his father lied to him and LW was his gf all along. This will cause the son to think the worst of his father’s new relationship, because something pretty bad must have caused the lying. First conclusion to jump to: LW was responsible for his parents’ divorce.

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    tbrucemom September 24, 2012, 9:41 am

    Dating again after a long term marriage that produced children requires a lot of adjustment. I speak from experience here. I agree with everything Wendy said. He probably panicked for some reason and texting about something that obviously concerned the LW so much was not the way to communicate. I’m not saying to give him a free pass, a conversation definitely needs to happen but I don’t think this is a dealbreaker at this point. I also have to comment that the LW has only been divorced for 7 months herself and even though her children are older they still deserve the same consideration as far as being introduced to a SO and their subsequent feelings as younger children.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle September 24, 2012, 9:44 am

    That’s a pretty skeezy lie– I mean, I get why Frank would want his son to believe you’re all just friends, but extending that into “…she’s actually dating, uh, Tom!” was unnecessary. Especially if “Tom” (the mutual friend) is actually MARRIED. And Frank’s “Wow, ok” response when you called him on it seems to be an indication of immaturity. It’s understandable that he wouldn’t be ready for a relationship, but that’s where I stop understanding this guy’s actions.

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    • KKZ

      KKZ September 24, 2012, 10:57 am

      Immaturity? From a two-word response? I find it hard to draw that conclusion.

      Not to sound accusatory, but I think women tend to look for & find secondary meanings and hidden messages in men’s language and word choice, while men tend to be pretty direct in their language and say exactly what they mean (well, not including when they’re lying). That’s why women are often accused of, and sometimes guilty of, “reading too much into things.” It seems a bit much to say that a two-word “Wow, OK” response to her message is indicative of immaturity – it’s probably *exactly* what went through his mind when he read her text.

      “Wow” – I didn’t think this would be a big deal to you, and I’m surprised by your reaction.
      “OK” – I’ve heard you and recognize what you had to say, and I have nothing to say in response.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle September 24, 2012, 11:49 am

        I dunno, maybe “immaturity” isn’t a totally on-point description, but it was the first word that came to mind. The LW made it a point to state Frank’s age immediately prior to the “Wow, ok” bit, so maybe that’s why.

        Buuut regardless, to me, that response does sound very…teenage/college age-ish? The singular “wow” thing just comes off as…bitchy (for lack of a better word), & I don’t think that’s necessarily reading too much into it. People of both sexes often seem to type “wow” to convey annoyance nowadays, not just simple surprise. So that’s what I’m basing my conclusion from.

        I also don’t generally like the “he’s being a dude” argument. If she expressed that she was bothered (even if it was via text), I think she deserves more than a “Wow, ok” & nothing else. I could see that being a forgivable reaction if, say, he blurted it out in person, but he had time to flesh it out more. Or even offer to talk later? It just seems dismissive for somebody to send only two words in response to any variation of “hey, I’m not cool with the lying”

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      • avatar

        Eljay September 24, 2012, 2:18 pm

        I completely agree with this. I’ve gotten the “Wow, OK” reply before and in each instance I’ve been, at the least, put off by it – and at the worst, offended. I agree LW expressing her feelings/concerns should warrant more than a “Wow, OK.”

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    • avatar

      SweetPeaG September 24, 2012, 12:43 pm

      As someone who probably does read too far into things “Wow, ok” is a response that would drive me bonkers. I had an ex that would often say “Whatever” when we were having a serious discussion and he didn’t like my opinion. I sort of see “wow, ok” as something similar. And I agree that it seems slightly immature.

      I do agree that this guy may have been under pressure/anxiety when he told this fib… and that can be forgiveable. However, if he isn’t willing to discuss these little things when they come up, that’s a red flag (or at least a yellow one). Although… do not have said discussion over text messages! Maybe his “wow, ok” was meant to be something completely different.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ September 24, 2012, 3:25 pm

        I guess I’m used to really short answers – my husband and I use Google Talk to keep in touch during the day instead of texting, and there are many times where I write him a paragraph of deep, intense thoughts (LOL) and he just replies with “Right.” Which doesn’t even mean he agrees with me or sees my point – it means he read my message and doesn’t really have a response.

        It does frustrate me sometimes because it can be like… “Well come ON, don’t you have anything to contribute?” But he’s not actively withholding an opinion or trying to be spiteful or anything. It’s akin to “No comment” – which, ironically, is something else that gets WAY overanalyzed whenever someone says it.

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  • katie

    katie September 24, 2012, 9:46 am

    WWS all the way!

    i do wonder though if his divorce has actually been finalized yet. maybe the 4 months is only from when the decided to go through with it, or when they physically seperated… because if that is the case, and they are still going through court stuff, he definitely doesnt want the kid to tell the mom that there is another woman… that can screw him over in court. maybe thats what it was.

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    • avatar

      Lindsay September 24, 2012, 10:39 am

      Good point. If they’ve only been separated for four months, it really wouldn’t look good to be dating already. It’d be hurtful to the wife, but also would likely make people wonder if he’d been cheating with the LW.

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  • avatar

    MiMi September 24, 2012, 9:51 am

    I also find the lie something that should not be glossed over – because it speaks so clearly to this man’s confused and struggling state. He’s clearly not confident in this new, changed relationship with his child, anxious to reassure the little boy at the LW’s cost and therefore not totally onboard with the LW yet. He’s a bit of a mess really. And I think “Wow, OK” and no further communication tells you even more, LW. Go live your life and forget about his potential – he’s not ready to deliver anything solid right now.

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  • LK7889

    LK7889 September 24, 2012, 10:03 am

    I’ve always heard that you’re not supposed to start dating until at least a year has passed since a divorce. Frank’s divorce has only been for four months! Obviously everyone is different but I think Frank has proven that he’s not ready for a relationship with his actions.

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    • avatar

      Eljay September 24, 2012, 10:57 am

      I waited almost two years, and still didn’t feel completely ready to date.

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  • avatar

    lemongrass September 24, 2012, 10:05 am

    This guy is not ready to be dating again. I don’t think much good can come of a relationship with one person who isn’t ready to be in it. Dump him so he can work through his shit and look for someone more emotionally available.

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  • avatar

    j2 September 24, 2012, 10:11 am

    My answer would be, “It depends.” Here are a few Qs that I think are relevant:

    1) What is the true nature/personality of the ex-wife? Vindictive? Accusatory?
    2) What is the man’s relationship with his son? Fragile? Vulnerable?
    3) How far along in emotional adjustment is the man? Has he completed MOA? Is this only rebound?

    The man may suspect that his ex could cause trouble. He may fear he will lose his relationship with his son, either by the son seeing the LW as competition or the ex’s actions while she has him all the rest of the time.

    We do not know the above answers. The LW may not know them. Heck, the man himself may not know them.

    Be patient, but also be cautious. Nonetheless, I advocate LW telling him that anything other than the truth is disrespectful to LW. If LW catches him at it again, MOA, the man is not ready and may never be ready.

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  • avatar

    Bossy Italian Wife September 24, 2012, 10:23 am

    There is a huge difference between expressing your dislike of something Frank did and just blowing it out of proportion. For this reason, you should have conversations like this face to face and the conversation should include a beginning, middle, and end. Texting becomes so impulsive and impersonal and if you care for someone deeply and are expressing something that is important to you, texting, in my opinion, is rude.

    You might be upset about it, but don’t take it to a level that it doesn’t belong at. The point is, he TOLD you about it. He didn’t have to. He could have let you go on in total bliss. Personally, I don’t find it entirely appropriate for you to meet his son at all only four months after his divorce is final. That’s just me. Because it’s HIS dating life, and not his son’s and he was entirely spot on when he said that it could get weird between him and his ex wife. You also being divorced, you should understand that…. your kids are in high school, not eight years old. Think of his child in this situation!

    Pipe down, say your piece, and for god’s sake, slow down a bit if you want the relationship to last. Being in a relationship is all about being able to bounce back after a disagreement, after all.

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  • Budj

    Budj September 24, 2012, 10:52 am

    If I was dating someone with an 8 year old and they said that another woman and I that he (the child) barely knows were “dating” to potentially save themselves a nasty situation with their freshly divorced husband I do not think I would care. I would also probably not date someone 4 months out of a divorce because I wouldn’t trust their feelings / moving on…

    Regardless, Wendy’s advice is good – you guys need to talk about this stuff so you both are comfortable with how it is handled in the future.

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  • avatar

    redessa September 24, 2012, 11:19 am

    I don’t know. I get not wanting to tell the son exactly who the lw is. But now the little boy has met her and thinks she’s married to someone else. So if they do get serious and go to meet each other’s kids as bf/gf, what’s Frank going to tell the kid? Will he make up another lie about her and the friend she’s supposedly married to getting a divorce? Will he admit to his child that he lied when they met the first time? Or is he hoping his son won’t remember exactly what she looks like and he can pretend she’s someone entirely new.

    There really doesn’t seem to be a good way out of this and that would bug me a lot if I were the lw.

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    • avatar

      Sasa September 24, 2012, 11:29 am

      Yes, and the fact that he introduced someone else as her boyfriend could indicate he doesn’t see this relationship as having longterm potential. If she is only a rebound, it doesn’t really matter that the son got the wrong information because he will never have to clear it up. Just a thought.

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    • Kate B.

      kate B. September 24, 2012, 12:52 pm

      Yeah. Lies have a way of coming back to bite you. I can see telling the child that the LW is his friend, because that would be easier to explain than telling him she is married to someone else.

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  • avatar

    Michelle.Lea September 24, 2012, 12:03 pm

    I totally feel this one. I was a bit of a ‘secret’ for closer to a year. my now husband only said one thing once to his older son that i was a bit hurt by. one of my shirts ended up left at his house, and his son saw it. now, the kid didnt ask, but dad said ‘oh that must be yours!’ (i was a lot smaller then heh). i just told him i’d rather he just not say anything vs lie, but i did understand at the time. that might be something to discuss. if you’re referred to as a friend, really there’s nothing wrong with that.

    it’s a big responsibility to be in a relationship with someone who has a child from a previous relationship. Make sure you and your bf have the communication lines completely open about everything.

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  • Miss MJ

    MISS MJ September 24, 2012, 12:05 pm

    This guy was dumb for lying to his son about the LW being married to someone else because kids aren’t stupid and sooner or later he’s going to figure out that the LW and his father are dating (unless they break up), and he’s damaged his kid’s trust in him, which is a parenting fail, particularly in such an emotionally uncertain situation for his kid. (I speak from experience here. My father did much the same thing to me after my parents got a divorce, albeit on a much grander scale – I didn’t find out that I had a stepmother and half-sister until my dad’s mom let it slip one day that she had “3” grandchildren, not 2. I was 9.)

    That said, he obviously doesn’t want to get involved with any drama with his ex, probably wants to keep his kid out of it, too, and telling his kid the LW is married to someone else will effectively shut down any questions his ex may be asking the kid about “who are daddy’s friends?” or, more innocently “what did you and your dad do today” and such, which, sad as it is, happens more likely than any of us like to admit, even between parents who don’t intend to get their kids in the middle of their business. And, he doesn’t want to get into any drama because he’s been dating the LW for at least no more than 4 months and he’s not really all that committed to it right now – “taking it slow” and all.

    So, I’d advise the LW to let it go for now, but also to not spend any more time with his kid until she and this guy are more established and are comfortable enough with their relationship and their relationships with their exes so that lies about what they’re doing, who they’re doing it with and the marital status of their “friends” are not necessary.

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  • avatar

    AndreaMarie September 24, 2012, 12:08 pm

    I don’t know. Like Wendy said, 4 months divorced is not a long time. And divorce is complicated and emotional. The LW didn’t say if his divorce was messy. It’s very possible that the BF is still walking the tight rope of settling this with his ex getting things smoothed over, especially custody. Maybe he panicked and feared that if the boy went back and told Mom that he stopped by Dad’s GF’s house or a female friend of Dad’s that the Ex might have started fuming and possibly attempted to screw with the custody agreement or other agreements out of anger. Not only specifying that LW was a friend but married had nothing to do with protecting the son and everything to do with the Ex. We all know a married female friend is far less threatening than a single female friend.

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  • avatar

    ktfran September 24, 2012, 1:01 pm

    First of all, he did not say the LW was married to the friend. He said they were dating. The friend is married to someone else. Which makes this a really shitty, stupid lie. If he wanted to ease things over with the son and not upset the ex-wife, this dude should have come up with a better explanation. We’re all friends should have sufficed and nothing else needed to be said.

    In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think this lie was that big of a deal, however stupid it was. This guy, and you, LW, are newly divorced. I imagine it takes time to figure things out and react appropriately. I would put this in the category of a mistake, but talk it out and work through it.

    Which brings me to my next point. You are both in your mid to late 40’s. You should know how to comminicate with people by now. So, do it. Both of you share your concerns. Your feelings. Whatever. No relationship will be healthy unless you communicate regularly.

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  • avatar

    Matcha September 24, 2012, 1:41 pm

    I don’t know. I wouldn’t be okay with that kind of lie. However, I do agree it seems to be too soon after the divorce to consider serously dating. I would take a break.

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  • avatar

    spark_plug September 24, 2012, 1:58 pm

    First, why ok the world would you date a man four months put of a divorce and assume you were anything but a rebound?

    Second, text, really? What are you 19 texting your bff?

    You want this guy to have the emotional courage to admit to his ex wife anc child hes moved on do quickly. Yet you don’t have the same self control to keep your feeling in and discuss them rationally when you see him. What do you expect? Like attracts like…

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark September 24, 2012, 3:11 pm

    Frank has EVERY right to lie here. He’s barely divorced and you two are barely dating… Oh, excuse me, just began dating… HELLO! He’s protecting his kid, here! Honestly, it pisses me off to no end how many people fuck up their kids by introducing every casual date to their them… Only to then have that person simply later vanish when — surprise! surprise! — it doesn’t work out. Seriously. You’re both on the fucking rebound… How serious can either of you truly be? Eight years old is wayyyy to young for this highschool he’s-going-with-me-now bullshit. LW, grow the fuck up. If you’re this needy and pathetic and insecure, well, then that certainly solves the mystery of your last divorce…

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    • avatar

      DMR October 1, 2012, 5:20 am

      What Mark said.

      Get over yourself, letter writer. The guy wasn’t ready to tell his son about you. he solved a tricky situation as best he could.

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  • avatar

    *HmC* September 24, 2012, 4:15 pm

    I’m so glad Wendy brought up the texting thing. Texting is not for passive aggressive comments, aggressive comments, or anything emotional! Using texts to have serious conversations is just asking for hurt feelings and miscommunications, and you’re also in my opinion not learning to confront others in a healthy way. I feel like an old curmudgeon every time someone talks about some serious conversation they had over text message… like, this is the direction society is going, and I need to just get over it already. But thank goodness, I don’t feel so alone now.

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  • avatar

    *HmC* September 24, 2012, 4:22 pm

    I don’t understand why introducing the LW as a “friend” is a totally acceptable lie while introducing the other guy as her boyfriend is a totally unacceptable lie. If it’s lying you’re not ok with, why is one ok and not the other? If you’re in a position where the only comfortable way to introduce you is through a lie about being a friend, maybe you need to wait on the introductions altogether? You’re both so fresh out of divorces anyway, what’s the rush to become enmeshed in the family dynamic? If you guys have real staying power past being rebounds, then you can make the introduction at a later time when neither of you need lies to make it a comfortable situation.

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  • avatar

    kizzy September 24, 2012, 9:49 pm

    Completely agree Wendy. Also, there is nothing more annoying than people being too chickenshit to have a conversation in person. Not saying that LW is like that at all, but this whole texting thing hits a rough spot for me. I just left a man who would never have a serious conversation in person or even on the phone. He would run out of things to say to me about whatever issue was brought up, and then leave or hang up. Every single time, I’d get some sort of passive aggressive text. I dumped him a month ago and I’m still getting the same shit. I love texting as much as the next twenty something, but I do not for the life of me understand having any sort of serious conversation in a text message. Too much room for error and misunderstandings.

    Ok done with my stupid little rant…

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  • avatar

    ricky September 25, 2012, 7:25 am

    Agree with Wendy, 100%

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