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Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy
I recently signed a lease with my partner, “Liz.” Initially, this was my idea. She had to move out soon anyway due to her current lease ending, so I thought why not do it together? However, since signing the lease, all I feel is dread and severe anxiety. I tend to do this – I never think things through properly. I romanticise things and only think more deeply and logically when it’s too late.

I know I love Liz, but I’ve had doubts in the past about whether I’m in love with her – two different things. I used to ignore these feelings because she’s such a good, kind, and attentive person. I used to tell myself I was being silly: How can you not love her? But this experience is making me over-analyse everything and I can’t shake the constant sick feeling in my stomach that I’m making a mistake – I can’t eat, sleep, or focus. Liz isn’t anxious or doubtful at all, which makes me feel like such a bad person, especially as I’m the one that pushed this.

I can’t back out now as the lease has been signed and the deposit paid for. But I’m scared I’ve set us up for failure and that I’ll be miserable and regretful. I can always go back to my parents if it doesn’t work out, which is a comfort, but Liz won’t have anywhere else to go, which makes me feel worse, and she wouldn’t be able to afford the apartment on her own. I feel so guilty and I hate myself so much for putting myself, and her, in this situation. I don’t want to mess up her life or break her heart down the line. I can’t talk to her about it either as it’s already a done deal and I don’t want to upset her. So what can I do to help these feelings? What does all this mean? — Regrets Signing That Lease

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I know you aren’t regularly updating your site, but I wanted to send a request for advice, in case you feel any interest in responding. I am really struggling with how to manage my relationship with my mom as an adult.

I recently became a parent, and as I’ve been reflecting on what kind of parent I want to be, I’ve gotten angry sometimes with how my mother treated me. A few examples:

– She slapped me and my siblings as kids. This is actually pretty common in the cultural community we’re from, but the other day she denied she had ever slapped me. (Her exact words: “What are you going to accuse us of next? You’re going to say Dad raped you?”) She would also pull my hair and push me to the ground.

– I once answered a trivia question in public incorrectly. She berated me for months on end, telling me how embarrassed she was of me and how stupid I looked to everyone else. I was eight.

– When I got homesick the first time I went to sleepaway camp, she told me how embarrassed she was that she was the mother of “the girl who cried.”

– She gave me the silent treatment on my wedding day because she thought I had taken too long to get ready for a wedding event the day before. Her exact words were, “I don’t want to wait for the stupid bride.”

– When she found out I was sexually active as a teenager, she told me I was disgusting and she was “sick of me.”

I could go on and on, but those are just some examples. The thing is, she wasn’t 100% cruel. There were lots of things she did that were really great:

– She never hesitated to use my father’s and her money to support me as a kid. She paid for private school and an expensive activity (think something like skiing) I wanted to do. I graduated with no debt from college or graduate school. This was obviously huge, and I was very lucky to have parents willing and able to support me.

– Even now, she pushes hard to keep the family together and plans lots of family vacations to cool places. My family is constantly getting together. My husband, who doesn’t come from a close family, loves hanging out with my family because he feels like he’s finally part of one.

I have two siblings who are much better about dealing with my mom – they essentially only talk to her about neutral things, accept she’s not going to change, participate in all family activities, and in general have a thicker skin when it comes to her. (My dad kind of goes along with whatever she says and always defends her.) And I’ve really, really tried to let things go. But I can’t seem to stop giving her lots of power over my emotions, and I’m struggling to imagine what healthy boundaries would look like (Skipping some family events? Hanging up when she says cruel things? Letting her “win” arguments – e.g., she didn’t slap me – just because I know it’s fruitless to argue?).

I don’t want to be an ungrateful kid; I sometimes think she was abusive in some ways, but maybe that’s dramatic? Your letter here makes me worried that I’m being some spoiled daughter who doesn’t appreciate the sacrifices my parents made.

Do you have any advice on how to handle this? Or how to cultivate a thicker skin?

Thanks so much for any advice! — Needing Boundaries with My Mother

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8 comments

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