It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Cold Feet” whose 44-year-old boyfriend of a year and a half still lived at home, had a massive amount of debt, and only worked part-time because he kept failing the bar exam and couldn’t secure a full-time job. “He wants to marry me and has given me an engagement ring, but I am having cold feet because of his debt. I don’t feel safe starting a life with him. I am not the type to go in 50/50. I think the man should be the sole provider.” Keep reading to see if this couple is still together.
After our two-year mark together and seven months of his being into his new job, I noticed a change in his personality. He went from being a sweet, caring, kind, respectful person to a non-present, disrespectful guy. I wondered why he changed. Was it all a facade? Were his true colors finally coming out? So I decided to break it off with him. I thought to myself: Why would I be with a guy who is 150k in debt, has minimal savings, and still doesn’t make enough money to move out, let alone support a marriage, AND, on top of it all, is disrespectful, too? I would have to be out of my mind. He suggested we go see a therapist so I agreed, thinking the therapist could aid in the assessment and our need to mutually break it off. The therapist recommended that we take one month off with no form of communication with each other and to not talk about it with our friends or family. He wanted his engagement ring back (probably because he got the vibe that I wasn’t happy with him and always lacked the safety and security a woman needs to feel with her man) and the therapist said to him to hold off on that until after the month of reflection.
We were supposed to go back to the therapist individually and then again together after the one month of no contact. I went to my appointment and the therapist said that he didn’t make his (as he had the appointment the week before mine). Long story short, I came to find out he suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage and was in the hospital. I was in total shock and grief. He apparently told his cousin about our relationship problems against the therapist’s recommendations and the cousin blamed me for what happened to him and didn’t allow me to visit him at the hospital. But I spoke to one of his uncles (who is very level-headed) and so I managed to visit him when the cousin wasn’t there. It was heartbreaking for me to see him like that. I was so affected I had to take off from work due to emotional distress. The uncle asked for the engagement ring back, so I returned it.
I understand this is how and when my story was meant to end with him, but so unfortunate that it happened the way it did. He is now in a rehabilitation facility. I think about him and pray for him daily to regain his health. I just want him to be well and live a life he desires. But he has a long journey ahead of him.
Another thing I forgot to mention is that he had accommodations for the bar exam (a separate room, laptop) and extra time (three hours a day for six days instead of the normal six hours a day for three days). It never occurred to me to ask why he got these accommodations until I recently researched it and came to find out that you have to have a disability in order for the California bar association to give you these maximum accommodations. So it made me wonder why he wasn’t honest with me about his mental and physical health, especially since he wanted to marry me. Isn’t that wrong to do? Not that it matters anymore, but, in retrospect, I see that he told me a lot of white lies.
I do believe in karma and that you reap what you sew, but I truly don’t think he deserved to get sick like this. I just wish he had been as open and honest with me as I was with him from the get-go. So here I am, two months out and back on the market for a meaningful relationship. I’m emotionally exhausted.
If you’re emotionally exhausted, I think you probably should hold off on jumping back on the market. Take some time to self-reflect. Continue seeing that therapist, and focus on how and why you ignored signs that your ex had some disabilities about which he wasn’t explicitly forthcoming. And you could think about why it’s so important to you to be financially supported, 100%, and why, if that’s the case, you agreed to marry a man who was $150k in debt and had never held down a full-time job. You need to take some responsibility in the choices you made, in the way you willfully ignored signs that perhaps this wasn’t a great match for you and that this man may have needed more emotional support than you were prepared to give.
His getting sick isn’t about “karma.” What on earth do you think he did to deserve being sick? What white lies did he even tell you? It seems to me the worst he did was withhold some information and you were eager to accept whatever he told you and not press for more because you were so desperate to believe he was the man you’d been searching for, despite very obvious signs to the contrary. You are as responsible in the demise on your relationship as he is. Own that, embrace it, and learn from it. Until you take ownership of your decisions and your behavior, you will not find the relationship you’re looking for.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.