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 “Not Into Her New Man” who was worried that her friend was being taken advantage of when she began dating a man 25 years her junior who “lost” his bank card and was letting the LW’s friend pay for everything. “I’m worried that, if I say something negative about him, she’ll tell him and he’ll find a way to get me cut out of her life.” Keep reading to see if the guy is still in the picture and whether the LW has warmed up to him at all.
Thanks for answering my original letter. Here’s the scoop on what’s going on now. I can’t think of a better way to address everything than a list:
1. Several commenters wondered about the “drinks a lot” comment. By that I meant that he’ll put away a half-pack of beer by himself, in one evening, on the regular (as in 5 out of 7 nights a week), or a bottle of hard alcohol (by himself) in one night. I drink, but I consider the amount he does drinking a lot.
2. Jealousy: I’m not jealous of my friend! I want her to be happy; I love her, and I was sincerely concerned that she was following a pattern I had seen before, i.e., hooking up with a user who at first seems sweet but eventually shows his ugly side.
3. So what’s going on now is that they’re still together. My friend is very happy with him and reports that he treats her well, and he’s hinted at marriage. She does kvetch that he still (after all this time) hasn’t found a job. He works in an industry that’s seasonal, and every time there’s been a job opportunity he somehow has an excuse for why he can’t make it. He’s been unemployed since I wrote you almost six months ago and doesn’t really show signs of actively going after work. She is paying for everything, including all of that booze, and is constantly short on money, even though she has a good job and makes better-than-decent money. (We live in an expensive city, and the money she makes should be enough for her to live comfortably, save for the future, and pay her considerable debts). She has been reprimanded at her job for not fulfilling her duties, because she’s blown them off to do what he wants to do. In general, I’m still worried about his lack of interest in contributing money to their household and in how much she’s taken on his preferences to her detriment; they are together, by her account, 24/7, and she won’t even watch TV shows she likes anymore if he doesn’t like them. Everything she does has to be checked in with him.
4. Still, I took your advice, and the commenters’ advice, to heart and have butted the heck out. If she wants to complain to me about his lack of desire to work, I’ll validate that complaint, and, if she says something like, “I can’t do x because my boyfriend doesn’t like it,” I’ll challenge that statement, but otherwise I plan girls’ nights out with her and don’t see them together. I’ll be there for her if things go south. I still don’t like what’s going on, but he’s giving her something she obviously needs, and so far he hasn’t done anything overtly alarming.
P.S. Shortly after I wrote you, they both came over to my place for a hot tub, and after that we went to a bar. At the bar, she was fairly drunk, and she began railing on his seeming lack of interest in getting a job. He said something like, “You’re crazy, X,” and I said, “Well, she’s right — this city is damn expensive and most couples can’t make it on one income — there are plenty of jobs in (your field), and you oughta go after one because X can’t keep paying for everything indefinitely.” After that, he stopped telling me he loved me or saying “hi” when she talked to me…cold. I haven’t heard from him in 4 months — he used to say “hi” every time she talked to me, which is daily — and she stopped suggesting that we get together as couples anymore. She won’t IM me if he’s sitting next to her because she says he reads over her shoulder, which I find bizarre. She won’t say to him, “Hey, I’m talking to my friend here, do you mind?” Instead, she just tells me he’s next to her and she can’t talk.
Well, I guess that was one way to get him out of your life! But, seriously, kudos to you for butting out and remaining in your friend’s life as best you can given her limitations. Hopefully, if/when this relationship ends, she’ll know you’ve got her back and will love you all the more for staying by her side and biting your tongue when you could have said so much. Thanks for the update!
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.