Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Made Thanksgiving Plans Without Me”

Thanksgiving

I’ve been with my boyfriend for over seven years. Thanksgiving’s coming up, and yesterday I asked about our going to a friend’s house this year as we were invited. He “joked” that he was flying to Portland instead where his sister and her family live. I was shocked since this was the first time I’d heard of it, and he said “he” was going, not WE. I asked what was up with that, and he said he was joking… and then said he wasn’t; his sister had already bought him a ticket and that was that.

I let him know I was hurt that he thought so little of me to not communicate any of this when the plans were being made. He said he “knew it would cause a problem with me and didn’t feel like dealing with that,” so he didn’t tell me. I’m broken up about this inconsideration. Why hide this? We’re not kids. We’re both 50! Am I wrong in feeling unimportant to him because he would not include me in his holiday plans? — Hurt About Thanksgiving


You’re not wrong in feeling hurt, no. Your boyfriend should have discussed his plans with you, but now that you know he didn’t, you can use this as an opportunity to evaluate and hopefully strengthen your relationship. First of all, WHY do you think your boyfriend failed to discuss these plans with you? He says he “knew it would cause a problem” and “he didn’t want to deal with that.” Your first step is to find out what he thought the problem would be. That you weren’t welcome to join him in Portland? That you were welcome, but he simply didn’t want you to go (and if that’s the case, why?), or he didn’t think you’d want to go? Or was is that he couldn’t afford his own ticket — he says his sister bought his — let alone two tickets, and he didn’t want to ask his sister or you to buy yours (maybe he thought/knew you couldn’t afford one either and thought you’d have your feelings hurt that his sister only offered to buy his ticket)?

Once you have an understanding of what the problem is (or problems are), you need to find out what it was he “didn’t want to deal with.” Obviously, there is something about you or your relationship that he wanted to avoid. Was it an argument he wanted to avoid? Feeling guilty? Upsetting you? Your trying to talk him out of his plans? Your inviting yourself to tag along?

Finally, when you know what both the problem was and what your boyfriend “didn’t want to deal with,” you should have a clearer idea of where you stand with him. If this is simply a matter of your both working on communication, you can commit to doing that (and can even seek professional help if you need it); but if this is a symptom of the relationship having run its course, it’s good to learn that now and MOA rather than to keep treading a dead-end path.

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22 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Moe P October 15, 2015, 8:10 am

    He should have talked it over with you before he made the plans, but I think my reaction would have been to ask calmly what had happened. Maybe this is just one in a series of similar stations and this is the last straw? After seven years, I would expect to discuss Thanksgiving plans with my partner, but I think if he had made plans without me, my initial response would have been to be confused and ask about it.

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    • avatar

      keyblade October 15, 2015, 8:35 am

      I agree. What else can the letter writer do? Thanksgiving is still a month and half a way so I would be surprised if the boyfriend has been “hiding” this plan for long. The most concerning part is that the boyfriend isn’t willing to have an uncomfortable conversation. It still has yet to happen. I can imagine a few reasons that might cause potential conflict. Does he feel like he needs some away from the letter writer (we all do need breaks)? Does his sister not like the letter writer? Could there be family problems for sis? Did he simply feel enjoying his sister’s family without having to worry about entertaining the letter writer? On the extreme, is he re-thinking the relationship?

      Several potential reasons make for difficult conversations, But it’s his unwillingness to have the conversation before committing to plans that indicates a deeper problem in the relationship, somewhere.

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  • avatar

    ron October 15, 2015, 8:42 am

    A little thing that highlights bigger problems. You think of yourself and bf as more of a couple than he does. You wouldn’t feel unimportant to him, simply because you weren’t invited to his sisters’ Thanksgiving, for whatever reason she chose not to invite you, unless you already felt that you were more committed to him than he is to you. This incident just amplified existing concerns. Is does sound like he can’t safely discuss things like this with you. He probably was caught up in the moment or didn’t think he could turn down his sisters’ offer and realized he couldn’t ask for a plus one.

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh October 15, 2015, 8:46 am

    I agree with what Wendy has said. There must be a reason for why he chose to do it this way. Do you all have such poor communication in general? I do wonder what was going through his head and what the plan was for letting you know finally.

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    • avatar

      Addie Pray October 15, 2015, 8:55 am

      Agreed, jlyfsh (and Wendy). I also wonder how this couple usually handles holidays. Was this out of character – for him and your relationship? I too would be really upset but it’s difficult to see where the problem lies without more information, info which only the LW has. But with this advice she hopefully has the tools to pinpoint the issue and hopefully fix it or move on.

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    • avatar

      keyblade October 15, 2015, 8:58 am

      He broke it to her as a “joke”. That makes me think maybe he was too scared to tell her directly? Which means he knows he broke the relationship etiquette and is making her initiate the awkward conversation of calling him out. He either doesn’t feel safe having a hard conversation, doesn’t know how to initiate one, or simply prefers to avoid the conversation. Reason three would be the most likely to be a relationship-ender for me.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh October 15, 2015, 9:18 am

        And only after she brought it up! Which maybe is what he was waiting for? Maybe he’s extremely non-confrontational. But, I can’t imagine this is the first time communication has been an issue!

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      • avatar

        CeeSea October 15, 2015, 9:52 am

        My Dad is a big avoider and I hate it. I grew up listening to my mother and him argue all the time and I realized that he hid things to avoid confrontation (my Mom is a hard and accusatory woman), but when my Mom found out whatever was going on, it would of course, lead to a fight. It’s a vicious cycle that perhaps the LW is caught up in. I would definitely MOA if this is the case, 50 is too old for him (or her) to change.

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      • avatar

        Brandy October 22, 2015, 11:39 pm

        My husband pulls this kind of crap all the time. Purposely doesn’t tell me things, because he knows I will get “upset”. Cause we all know, when ever a women raises her voice she’s an aggressive bitch. Well why are you doing it, if you know it will cause friction? We are 36 & 37, and I’m tired of it. I refuse to play that game. 50 is for sure too old for this passive aggressive game.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom October 23, 2015, 8:30 am

        Have you read the books by Dr. John Gothman. He has done lots of research on both men and women when they argue. He has hooked them up to sensors and what he found was that men will have their blood pressure sky rocket very rapidly in a tense situation. This probably goes back to the need for men to be able to fight at a moments notice. It doesn’t work so well today in our society. Men become flooded very easily and then can’t discuss the situation. If you didn’t shout it would probably work better. No one likes to be shouted at and if it rapidly raises his blood pressure and causes flood of his nervous system he either needs to fight or leave the situation. If he leaves the situation you will then be even angrier. It is an ugly cycle. If you could promise to not raise your voice and he could promise to tell you things then the two of you could probably get out of this cycle. As it is the method of communication you have isn’t working for either of you.

        About emotional flooding https://www.gottman.com/blog/making-sure-emotional-flooding-doesnt-capsize-your-relationship/?rq=flooding

        and

        http://portlandrelationshipinstitute.com/Artcl__Emotional_Floodin.html

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  • avatar

    PumpkinSpice October 15, 2015, 8:57 am

    If this didn’t come up now, would he have waited until the last minute to tell you? This does need to be discussed among the two of you. How have you done holidays in the past? Is this something he does often? Making plans without you knowing, then you find out later on? You need to sit down with him and have a calm conversation about this. All relationships need strong communication to thrive. Maybe this is something both of you need to work on. From his response to you, it sounds like he was trying to avoid an argument. Do your discussions usually turn into an argument? There is more to this story that you need to get to the bottom of. I would start by asking him why he neglected to tell you about his plans, and why you were left out of them.

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  • avatar

    ArtsyGirl October 15, 2015, 8:59 am

    When I was reading the letter I first thought the LW and her BF were likely just out of college especially when I read the bit about the BF’s sister purchasing his ticket. I did a double take when the LW divulged that they are both 50. Wendy’s advice is right on though I still think the BF might be operating on a 20 year old’s maturity level. To not discuss his plans and then to make a joke about it before admitting to the truth is just strange thing for an adult man to do.

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  • avatar

    laurahope October 15, 2015, 9:20 am

    I don’t know for sure (this could be a one time incident) but it sounds like he’s thinking “me” instead of “we”. Are you guys actually a “we” for him?

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  • othy

    othy October 15, 2015, 9:28 am

    If you can’t talk about plans (or if he’s unwilling to talk because he ‘doesn’t want to deal with it’), there are bigger issues in your relationship then Thanksgiving. Is this a consistent problem or is this out of character for him? It just seems very strange.
    .
    Also, I do think as long as you’re communicating and have valid reasons to spend the holiday apart, it’s not the end of the world. Last Thanksgiving, my husband and I spent it apart. My parents and I were traveling to NYC for a football game the Saturday before Thanksgiving, so the three of us drove to my grandparents’ house in CT for Thanksgiving. We looked into getting plane tickets for my husband to come too, but since he couldn’t leave until Wednesday due to school, flights were just too expensive. But, rather than me just abandoning him, we talked about the plans. We looked at flight costs together. And we jointly decided that we could spend one Thanksgiving apart (that and he really doesn’t like my dad’s crazy conservative brothers so he was thrilled to avoid them).

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  • avatar

    Texas T October 15, 2015, 10:33 am

    After seven years together, you may as well be married. He should consider you two a unit as should his family. From everything I have heard your boyfriend is an immature child. He doesn’t consider you in his plans. He jokes about it and then says PSYCH! I really am going. He didn’t want to talk to you about it because he didn’t want a problem. REALLY? It sounds like middle school drama my 13 year old tells me about. -_-

    If you didn’t have the money for another ticket and he didn’t want to ask his sister for one then he should have talked to you about it BEFORE she even bought his ticket. “I would like to see my family this holiday? My sister can only afford one ticket and I know we are strapped now. Will you be ok going to see your friend/family this year without me? This is important to me.”

    Maybe you two need some counseling for your relationship. He needs to go separately too for his own growth in the upward direction.

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ October 15, 2015, 11:16 am

    I’d probably take this as a really bad sign. It’s not so much that he’s going to his sister’s alone for T-Day. Or that she bought him a ticket. I can see situations where that might occur. It’s that he didn’t mention it to the LW because he knew it would upset the LW and he “didn’t want to deal with” her feelings. Anyone who does something behind your back that they know will upset you and then doesn’t want to “deal with” your feelings when they have to tell you about it just isn’t someone you should bother spending time with. I’d MOA.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom October 15, 2015, 11:21 am

    I’m wondering if this is a one way ticket or two way? Has he told which day he leaves and which day he comes back? Is this a way to breakup without telling you?

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    • Diablo

      Diablo October 15, 2015, 12:49 pm

      I was thinking the same thing – is this a REALLY slow fade, 7 years and counting, and he’s just now getting to the point where you are noticing his “hints”? Is there a conversation in the future where he says, “So, uhh…, I actually got married this past September, but, uhh… i kinda knew it would cause a problem and didn’t want you to make a big deal about it, you know, like you do.”

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  • avatar

    dinoceros October 15, 2015, 12:07 pm

    You can ask him those questions, but I don’t think the result is going to be good. This signifies a lot of issues. He may not see the relationship as serious as you see it. He is bad at communication. He puts his head in the sand. He is willing to risk his relationship and hurt you for the sake of avoiding awkwardness (which is not avoiding so much as postponing). Just the lack of logic here — knowing you’d find out eventually, and that waiting makes it worse. Those are really bad things in a relationship.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark October 15, 2015, 10:39 pm

    This letter is too vague to really get a clear idea of what is going on… Maybe he just needs to get away and KNOWS you would flip out. So here’s the hard question. WOULD you have flipped out? If so, can you see why this would give him strong reason NOT to be more upfront? Is he broke? Do YOU get along with HIS sister? Have you and his sister had issues in the past — which is something I strongly suspect is in fact the case here.
    .
    And honestly? Fellow commentators, as somebody who FOUGHT hard for marriage equality… just FUCKING dating for seven years? Um, so not the same as marriage. Not even fucking close.

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    • avatar

      Texas T October 16, 2015, 1:54 pm

      If boyfriend means dating then you would be right about it not being close to marriage.
      But if she and he and like me and mine, who have been living together for two years and not married, then YES, it may as well be marriage.
      A piece of paper doesnt change the amount of devotion and love you have for your partner. If it does then you are seriously skewed.

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  • avatar

    anon October 16, 2015, 2:22 pm

    More idiotic support for the BF without any facts.
    If someone you have been dating for 7 years is making plans for holidays secretively, (whether with family or friends) then it is time for a serious re-evaluation of your relationship. Also if at 50, someone else is purchasing your ticket, then your are not fully adult and as such undatable.

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