Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Updates: “Crossed Boundaries” Responds

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 today. After the jump, we hear from “Crossed Boundaries” who was frustrated that her live-in boyfriend’s neighbor friend was always over at their place and they never had time alone anymore. After the jump, find out why her neighbor was over all the time and whether he’s still crossing those boundaries.

I have to say, I laughed like hell when I read some of the reader’s comments. Especially the “Oh they must be smoking pot and playing video games all the time” and “They’re having a gay affair” comments. Wow! I can definitely say that both of those theories are (thankfully) very, very wrong.The reason why we’re the ones to host is because Jim and his wife have two young kids and live with Jim’s MIL in a small apartment. So, its cleaner, quieter and less-cluttered at our place and it gives them some “adults only” time. Jim doesn’t get along at all well with his MIL either so its nice for him to get away once and a while.


I got home one night after writing my letter to find Jim was there once again. My BF knew just by looking at me that I wasn’t happy about it, but Jim had only come up to borrow something and was quickly on his way. My BF took this opportunity to fill me in on what had actually been going on. He apologized for having Jim over so much, he told me he meant absolutely no disrespect to me and wasn’t trying to hurt me at all. He felt really bad because he’d been put in an awkward situation; Jim has been coming over before I got home so he could talk to my BF privately.

It turns out that Jim and his wife are in the process of splitting up. My bf is divorced and has some experience with these things and Jim wanted his advice as well as just someone to vent to. Apparently he’s been coming to the door in tears and my BF, being the good guy that he is, couldn’t turn him away. By the time I get home, Jim’s usually done his venting and has been avoiding going home because of all the unpleasantness associated with the split. So the BF has been trying to balance Jim’s need to vent and my need for alone time.

So, my BF asked me to be patient, because Jim needs some support while he goes through this. I agreed that I would also lend my support to Jim just so long as it doesn’t interfere with our relationship. We both sat down and talked to Jim and told him essentially the same thing: we know that he’s going through a rough time and we’re here for him, but he has to respect our need for time alone. My BF told him that our relationship is first priority and everything else comes second. So from now on Jim has agreed to text or call the us before he comes over. He even made us dinner one night as a way of saying thanks.

As for Jim’s wife I haven’t seen her in probably a couple of weeks. At this point I’m not sure if I should go down to her place and talk to her or not. With the situation being what it is I don’t know if it would be awkward and since from what I’ve heard its getting kind of ugly between her and Jim, I don’t know if I should be getting involved. But maybe just to let her know that if she needs someone to talk to I’m here for her.

Thanks again for all your help and advice.

I’m so glad you reached an agreement and understanding with your boyfriend (and Jim). I guess if I were you, I might reach out to Jim’s wife some time and just tell her you heard what’s going on, you’re sorry to hear it, and if she ever wants someone to talk to, you’re available. But it would also be understandable if you want to stay out of it or keep your loyalty to Jim.

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

17 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Green_Blessings_Goddess February 23, 2011, 3:14 pm

    That is a tough one because the guy is breaking up and upset and wants to get away from it but they still need their time alone too.

    Sorry to hear that Jim is going through a tough time but it is good the boyfriend is setting boundaries and being respectful of the girlfriend too.

    I would hesitate to reach out to the wife because she is most likely angry right now too, if she wasn’t why would they be splitting up and she may get nasty with the girlfriend. I would stay out of it and be polite and respectful to the wife but not engage her, their actions are really setting the precedent for being loyal to Jim so I would stick with that.

    It is sad they are breaking up and there are children involved. It happens.

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    Amy February 23, 2011, 3:20 pm

    I think it’s an awfully hard spot to put yourself between two divorcing people. I’d be polite and kind, but I wouldn’t want the drama of providng support for both Jim and his wife. Your bf sounds like a sweetheart!

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    ArtsyGirl February 23, 2011, 3:31 pm

    Haha well I am happy that it got cleared up but it is too bad your BF didn’t come clean with Jim’s situation when you first expressed your frustration since it would have saved you some grief – I imagine he was being a good friend and keeping Jim’s situation quiet in case it all worked itself out. It sounds like Jim will have to move out of his place soon so that will probably cut down on his time spent at your place too.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom February 23, 2011, 5:53 pm

      Misunderstandings like this are why I think you shouldn’t expect a husband or wife to keep your secret from their spouse. I assume that if someone tells me something I can tell it to my husband and that it will go no further than that. If someone asked me to tell no one then I would tell them to say nothing if they didn’t want my husband to know. My marriage has to be my top priority with the understanding that my husband is both a good listener and can keep a confidence.

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    • avatar

      PFG-SCR February 23, 2011, 9:16 pm

      @ArtsyGirl: I agree – a bit of communication from her boyfriend would have prevented this from becoming an issue between them. I realize that Jim probably was speaking to him in confidence, and he may not initially have known he wanted out of the marriage, but her boyfriend could have said something as simple as, “Jim and his wife are having some problems, and he’s talking to me about them, but please keep this quiet.” Hopefully this will be a learning experience.

      @Skyblossom: I agree – not only do I assume that, but I assume whatever I tell my girlfriends will likely be told to their spouses.

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  • avatar

    Elle February 23, 2011, 5:07 pm

    I’m glad it all worked out, and that your boyfriend is a sweetheart.

    That being said, I wonder what role does the MIL play in all of this. In my world, the best MIL is the one that’s far, far away, not the one in the guest bedroom.

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    • avatar

      caramelpuff February 23, 2011, 5:37 pm

      That’s what I was thinking. I wonder if she might have driven a wedge between them and ultimately (and unfortunately) won. It’s sad either way.

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    • avatar

      Margaret February 24, 2011, 11:19 am

      Or the MIL could be the one paying the rent, all the bills and acting as a nanny on top of it. It’s easy to imagine the MIL is just way too much but it could easily be something else. I mean – if Jim is over at the neighbors all the time he’s not doing housework, reading bedtime stories and helping out with homework or whatever.

      Your assumption is probably right – but in this instance I’d want to be 100% sure before acting.

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    • Chicago-Dude

      Chicago_Dan February 24, 2011, 11:54 am

      This is a ridiculous assumption that, “…best MIL is the one that’s far, far away, not the one in the guest bedroom.”
      Do you realize how insulting, downgrading and disrespectful it is of mothers? It could be you as a mother-in-law someday who may have to live with your kids for whatever reason… (and since that’s your take… good luck when it’s your turn).

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      • avatar

        Elle February 24, 2011, 12:12 pm

        I didn’t mean to offend anyone, Chicago_Dan. My own mother, which used to see us once every two years, managed to turn my ex-husband and me against each other. I won’t go into any details why we only saw her so rarely, but once every two years was obviously too much.

        I did not mean to insult and disrespect all mothers out there, just my own. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify that.

        Thanks to my mom’s intrusive behavior, I hope I’ll be able to not cross any boundary into my offspring’s relationships. I learnt a long time ago to ‘never say never’, so only time will tell.

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      • avatar

        Elle February 24, 2011, 12:57 pm

        Oh, and you missed the “In my world” part. I used it as a synonym for “in my experience”. (Maybe it got lost in translation somehow – English is my second language.)

        If you’re so quick at defending the honor of all MILs, then I have reason to assume that your MIL is awesome. Enjoy! You have no idea how lucky you are.

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      • avatar

        SouthernGirl February 24, 2011, 11:36 pm

        Please realize that some of us have truly dreadful MILs. That these women are so bad their sons want nothing to do with them. I know because I have one. For a lot of couples, Elle is right. I love my mother, but I also acknowledge she’s a nightmare for my husband and make an effort to keep them apart most of the time. I’ve dated guys whose mothers I have adored, but the man I married’s mom is not. If we let either mother move in with us, I bet we’d be divorced in less than a year. (We have been together for 14 years and lived together for 11 of them.)

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    Margaret February 24, 2011, 11:14 am

    How do you know Jim is the person you want to be giving advice to and helping out? I mean – it could be that Jim is abusive, that he’s had an affair, that he’s got a gambling addiction or that he’s done something to make his so unsympathetic that you don’t even want him in your home. Or – maybe by giving Jim a place to ‘get away’ you’re just helping him avoid his home life and you are therefore standing in the way of any chance of a reconciliation.

    I think I would want to talk to the wife – this is one of those situations that you really want to know the other side of the story before you get involved.

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    • Chicago-Dude

      Chicago_Dan February 24, 2011, 11:47 am

      Here we go with the exorbitant assumptions again…

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      • avatar

        Margaret February 24, 2011, 12:20 pm

        But – I’m not making assumptions at all! I’m saying we can’t make assumptions and that the best thing to do, if you really must get involved, is get all the information you can before coming to any conclusions.

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  • Chicago-Dude

    Chicago_Dan February 24, 2011, 11:49 am

    LW – Good for you for coming to an understanding with your partner and being a friend (of sorts) to Jim. Keep up the open, honest communication and perspective outlook you seem to have for your life, your space and your partner.

    Best wishes.

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    • avatar

      Margaret February 24, 2011, 12:20 pm

      See! It’s you assuming Jim is being honest.

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