Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Long time lurker, first time writer here.

I have been with my boyfriend “Mark” for one year, and we have a great time together. We have talked about wanting to have a relationship that progresses towards marriage, but we aren’t in a rush to do so immediately. He is 35, I am 37, and we have everything I was hoping to find with a partner, except for one major flaw: our communication. A lot of men I know have a hard time communicating their thoughts and feelings, and some have even told me in jest that they don’t even have thoughts and feelings. I don’t think that’s true. But Mark seems to struggle with talking about things that bother him, shutting down until the point that he’s overwhelmed and takes it out on me by being rude and insulting.

Examples of our communication breakdown: Friday night he came over, we made and ate dinner, and we watched a movie together on the couch. We didn’t talk much, but I figured that was because we were watching the movie. I started to get tired, so I said that I was going to start winding down for bed and asked if he was joining me. He mumbled “sure” and followed me to bed, but he just rolled over and ignored me; there was no cuddling, no goodnight, and no attempts at sex, which is unusual. So I asked if everything was ok and he said yes and that he was just tired. I couldn’t think of anything that had happened that would have upset him, but I sat there racking my brain until I fell asleep.

Saturday we met with our morning running group, but he still seemed “off” and wasn’t talking to me much. Again, my inquiring if everything was ok was met with “Yep.” We then had an uncomfortable breakfast that felt tense, and then we had to start preparing for a barbecue that we had been planning for a month. I asked him for his help with some very specific tasks to prepare for our guests and he seemed grumbly the entire time although he still pitched in to help. The barbecue went smoothly, but at the end of the night, after everyone had gone home and I was cleaning up, he started making insulting jabs, complaining about me being bossy and saying a lot of negative things about “this stupid party.” It was the first time he mentioned not wanting to have our friends over; he had been excited about it all week. I responded out of anger and told him I was not going to listen to him being a jerk to me after he had ignored me for the past two days, and I left to meet up with my friends who had gone to the neighborhood bar after the barbecue.

Sunday morning he came over and helped me do the remaining of cleaning and we stayed at home watching movies and recovering from the late night of drinking, but there was limited conversation and no mention of our argument. After he left Sunday night, I sent him a text and asked him if we could talk about what happened. He then apologized and attributed his two-day foul mood to work stress and not knowing how to deal with it and not wanting to burden me with it, but he agreed we should talk about it after work on Monday. I also apologized for my angry response to him and was looking forward to clearing the air on Monday.

This pattern has occurred four times in the last six months, and he always says it’s work stress and we never really talk about it afterwards, so I was thinking it would be important for us to figure out how to stop this pattern because it will start to be destructive to our otherwise very happy relationship. But when he came over Monday, he did everything he could to avoid the discussion. Even when I finally brought it up, he lay his head on my shoulder and wouldn’t talk. I told him what I thought and felt, and he just kept saying that he was sorry and he would not take out his frustrations on me again. I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable that he was shutting down while having this conversation we agreed to have: he wasn’t looking at me, was taking an almost fetal position, and his voice was very quiet.

Is it possible that this goes deeper than “men don’t communicate like women” and he is incapable of having difficult conversations? How can I make him more comfortable having those difficult but necessary conversations? How can I help him to open up and talk about those stresses like work, etc., before he becomes overwhelmed and lashes out? Is this something we can navigate on our own or do we need professional help navigating this? — Needing Better Communication

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This week in the forums we’re discussing:

This whole Trump situation just gets worse and worse everyday

My boyfriend won’t watch my kid

DNA Testing

Things that have changed since you were single/dating

He wants kids, I don’t

I’m hiding debt from my husband

She got with my boyfriend’s brother

Interfering Mother-in-Law

Plan B

Anyone going on awesome dates?

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.

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Trump colluded with Russia and the utterly unconscionable Republicans in Congress aren’t going to stand up to him. We have to force the Democrats in office to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. Specifically, please call on your Democrat senators to withhold unanimous consent until a special prosecutor has been appointed to the Trump Russia investigation. Here is what withholding unanimous consent means and does:
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Wendy’s Weekly Picks,” is a feature in which I highlight stuff I like or recommend in the worlds of fashion, gift ideas, home decor, makeup, websites, entertainment, and recipes. Of course, ​much​ of the stuff I link to will be affiliate products, which means I’ll receive a commission on any click-throughs or purchases you make through the affiliate links. As always, I appreciate your support! The theme of my picks this week is something you’re probably seeing everywhere right now (I sure am):

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s now been many months since we bought our Leesa mattress and I’m still loving it. It’s perfect, and when I do get sleep (Joanie, at almost two years old, is only finally starting to sleep through the night!), it’s the best, deepest sleep ever. Do you have a Leesa mattress? Do you love it, too? Use code SPRING100 (through tomorrow) and save $100 on a mattress.

In the last couple of weeks, Jackson’s gotten into two games that we are having a lot of fun playing with him in the evenings before bed. This is one I suggested to my sister to get him for this past holiday season. (I can’t remember if it was a Christmas gift or a Hanukkah gift as we celebrate both, and so does my sister who converted to Judaism a few years ago.) Anyway, he loves it (and I think it’s a great modern twist on a classic we all grew up on). The other game is also a classic. I remember playing Memory with my mom all the time when I was Jackson’s age, and now he seems to love it as much as I did, which is really fun. This is the edition he picked out, because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I guess. But there are lots of different editions, for different personalities and interests. I think this will be my go-to gift for 5th and 6th birthday parties for a while. (I like the Ebboo brand because the themes and art are cool.)

Over the weekend, my bestie, Chad, came to visit from Chicago, bringing some gifts for the kids and for me and Drew, including this face cream from the hippie brand, Uncle Harry’s. It has an interesting smell that might not be for everyone, but I really like it, and the cream itself is pretty awesome. It’s thick and goes on a little greasy, but it’s absorbed by the skin immediately and is like a big glass of water for your complexion. I especially like to rub it into my neck creases and crow’s feet and watch them disappear.

Chad also brought along this sleek weekend bag for his visit — something that might be a great gift for the dad(s) in your life this upcoming Father’s Day.

We’re going on a beach vacation in a few weeks, and I’m looking for a new swimsuit to bring along. This one is not going to work for me or any of my big-breasted sisters who don’t want to accidentally flash everyone, but on the right body type I think it would be so timeless and hot. Use code SHOPNOW for 25% off at JCrew.

I may not have found a new suit yet, but I ordered this maxi dress that I thought could double as a cover-up at a post-beach day casual dinner with the family. Use code SOGOOD for 40% off your purchase at the Gap.

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My 2 1/2-year relationship with “Dan” ended about a month ago, we’ve had no contact since then, and I have no desire to get back together with Dan. My situation is a little odd, but I’ll try to keep it short: The entire time we were together, I was completely honest and vulnerable, fell in love gradually, and was very committed to a future together while Dan seemed to be very open and invested in the first one-and-a-half years we were together. I considered him my closest friend and soulmate. Then, he suddenly started ignoring me and treating me borderline cruelly for the last year or so. He also started isolating himself from all of his (and my) friends and not saying anything about what was going on. I did everything I could to understand what was happening (asking him, seeing a therapist, reading books, etc.), but he was no longer willing to talk to me or make an effort to stop hurting me while simultaneously stringing me along, telling me he loved me.

I tried to break up with Dan about six months ago after a particularly hurtful episode but then came back the next week because I still believed we could fix things. He started feeling more and more like a stranger to me. I felt miserable every day, and I started blaming myself. Eventually, I was able to open up to my friends and get some much-needed support. Dan broke up with me last month, saying that I couldn’t understand him, etc. I was completely devastated, but, with no contact, I’ve realized just how toxic our relationship was and how unhappy it was making me. It still hurts some days, but I feel ready to move past this now.

Meanwhile, I had a crush on his ex-best friend (XBF) before I met Dan. I pushed my attraction for XBF aside during my relationship, but since he and Dan were roommates I saw him frequently and we developed a platonic friendship. When the first breakup happened, XBF was there for me and held me, but I was still attached to Dan, so I tensed up and hurt his feelings. We’ve had a couple of other moments full of romantic tension that we’ve both kind of ignored. I liked him, but I was in love with Dan, and I’m not the kind of person to cheat. We’ve grown apart a little because of this, but we’re still good friends. With my new insights, I realize that I’ve had and still have feelings for XBF, but we’re graduating from college and he’s moving to a new state. I care about him a lot, but what can I do? — Scared To Lose Him

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