Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Like a Gender Fluid Person. Do I Have a Chance?”

I’m in high school and I like this gender fluid person (GFP). I’ve known them for a good three years and officially been friends with them for two years. They’re in a relationship, a tight one, and I am soooo clueless as to what to do! I definitely don’t plan to try to split them up at all, and I know, for that reason, I more than likely don’t have a chance with them. On top of that, today I found out that one of my friends likes them too, and the GFP likes them back and they used to date. So finding that out makes my chances even lower than they were.

Another thing is I am really bad at trying to not get emotionally attached because we hang out alllll the time. I go school with this person and we have lunch shift, Pre-AP Biology, Forensics, and Extracurricular Forensics together, so we kind of have to hang out. They also seem to flirt with me some, so I am really in the hole of confusion. Please help! — Do I Have a Chance?

Well, first, I want to say how much hope your letter gives me for not only your generation, but the future of our society. While people my age and older are fighting about whether anyone who isn’t cisgender even exists, your generation is like, “Um, yeah, duh, of course they do. Why is this even a debate? Anyway, let’s talk about what matters: Do you think they like me and do I have a chance?”

The answer is: maybe. But as you say, they’re in a “tight relationship” and you have no interest in trying to split that up (nor should you!), so you don’t have much choice but to see what happens. When and if they break up, you’ll have to assess how and whether your feelings for them have changed and if you have any sense what their feelings for you are. That would be a good time, if you want to pursue something, to ask them whether they’d ever be interested in transitioning to a more romantic relationship with you. In the meantime, respect that they’re in a relationship and try to accept that, although there may be potential for something to happen between you one day, there’s also potential that it won’t, or that they’ll be more interested in someone else if they even break up with their current partner.

In other words: If the thought of never being romantically involved with this person and watching them be involved with other people instead is too hard to bear, consider downgrading your relationship to more of an acquaintanceship, spending less time near them, and finding other friends and classmates to sit with and talk to and study with instead in class, at lunch, and after school. In life, there will likely be multiple people you develop feelings for who either don’t return those feelings, aren’t emotionally or physically available, or can’t give you what you want. Think of this experience as practice in coping with that position. Creating boundaries while also keeping your heart open to other possibilities will be the best course of action in helping you enrich your life with meaningful friendships and relationships.

My daughter is a country singer and was focused on her career and family until her boyfriend came along. He had a wife who fooled around on him before she left him for the other guy, and since he was (27) when his wife left him, he started asking my daughter to hang out and now all he wants is for her to help watch his kids and sleep at his place four times a week when he is alone. He wants nothing in his life to change — he has his kids, his work, and his life, and then he met my daughter and she does everything his way, changing her life for him while he changes nothing. I believe he is not wanting her to spend time on her career or her family, and he is kind of an asshole sometimes. He does not seem to care about the time he is taking up in my daughter’s life. What do you think? I am a single mom, always have been, and we always decided as a family she would not let anything interrupt her career! She spends too much time with him! — Mama of a Country Singer

 
Unless your daughter is a teenager — in which case, it could be illegal for her boyfriend to even be with her — it’s not your business or your place to decide whom your daughter dates and how much time she devotes to her relationship. I understand feeling concerned, but nothing you’ve said sounds like she’s in danger or being abused or anything that would warrant you butting in. She’s young and in love and it’s normal for there to be a shift in focus and energy in that role. Beyond that, you don’t get to live your daughter’s life or decide what or whether anything will interrupt her career. You don’t get to decide what her career will be, or even if she has a career.

I’m a mom, too — my kids are 3 and 7 — and I am married to their father, and even in a two-parent home, we make so many sacrifices for our children. I can only imagine the sacrifices and compromises one makes as a single parent, and how invested you get in their future (any good parent feels invested!), but there’s a difference between wanting your sacrifices and investments to pay off in the form of a happy and fulfilling life for your child and deciding what exactly will result in that happiness and fulfillment and wanting to never see your child veer from that path.

In other words: back off, mama. Let your daughter live her life and find her way. Trust that in the years you’ve devoted to raising her, you’ve given her the tools to make wise decisions, even if it may take a little time for her to arrive at the right decision and even if she may suffer some setbacks or bumps in the road on the way. You don’t get to decide her path in life or her direction or the speed in which she travels. And if you continue trying to control her life, you risk pushing her away, so let up and let go, and focus on loving her unconditionally.

***************

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​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

17 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Moe October 26, 2018, 8:41 am

    LW2: There are ways of respectfully sitting down with the daughter and talking to her about your concerns and listening, really listening to her. I am very close with my sister and if she felt that a relationship was unhealthy, I would want to her talk to me about it. It’s another thing to walk up to your kid and go, “He is NOT good for you! You need to break up!” It’s all a matter of voicing concern and then leaving it up to her.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros October 26, 2018, 10:01 am

    LW1: Wendy’s advice is good! I have nothing to say other than that. Good luck!

    LW2: How old is your daughter? Has she asked you for advice? Assuming she is an adult, you can decide things “as a family” about your kid’s life, but when they are an adult, they get to make their own decisions. They aren’t going to go through life making decisions about their own life with their family, unless that’s their choice. They also make those decisions as a kid or teen without the full context of knowing what adult life is like and with very heavy influence by parents who only look at their life in the frame of “this is my kid” or “careers are 100% more important than relationships!” Not that the parents’ opinion is wrong, but oftentimes, it’s along the same lines as “No dating until you’re 50!” Meaning, something that’s not realistic for an actual adult life. Anyway, if she asks for advice, you can give a watered-down version of your opinion, or if not, you maybe could ask some questions to see if she feels this relationship is what she wants. But anything more heavy-handed than that will probably push her away. All adults will make mistakes, no matter how much preparation or advice their parents give them. It’s just how life works.

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  • avatar

    ron October 26, 2018, 10:43 am

    My wife’s parents thought they had decided that she would not consider a serious relationship until she and the guy were in a PhD program. That was their parental agreement, not my wife’s, who really wasn’t in a position to push back to hard verbally against that plan, dependent as she was upon their signing the papers so she could get tuition $. Don’t assume, LW, that your daughter ever fully agreed with your plan that she would not let anything interrupt her career, or that you would decide important aspects of her life as a family. She’s an adult now. That means important things about her life get decided by her and she is free to change things that you and she decided together ‘as a family’ — you know, back when the power balance was tilted way in your direction. It is impossible for your daughter to be an independent adult and still decide things as a family with you. She has decided what is most important to her at this particular moment. That may change 6 months from now.

    Are you a ‘stage mom’ trying to live your life, only better, through your daughter?

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  • avatar

    va-in-ny October 26, 2018, 10:56 am

    Wonderful advice from Wendy, as always. My only input was something like this:

    “Damn, I wish I could have taken Forensics classes when I was in high school! So cool!”

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    • avatar

      anonykins October 26, 2018, 3:49 pm

      They could mean forensics as in Speech team (which I suspect because of extracurricular forensics). I don’t know why it is called that in some parts of the country.

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    • avatar

      GirlChris October 26, 2018, 4:15 pm

      Just want to make sure that you know Forensics in an academic setting typically means speech and debate. I was on my Forensics team in college and everyone thought we did CSI stuff, but nope. It was just debates and public speaking. Still cool, but not what people typically think of. The CSI stuff is technically “forensic science.”

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      • avatar

        JD October 27, 2018, 7:54 am

        Dang. I was about to go back to High School!

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  • meadowphoenix

    meadowphoenix October 26, 2018, 11:00 am

    #2 I mean, from what you’ve written, and lbr you’re probably biased, yeah the dude sounds like a user, but when people radically change themselves when new relationships enter their lives, they probably weren’t feeling fulfilled in some aspect of their lives to begin with. Let your daughter figure out what she really wants. You can’t want it for her.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros October 26, 2018, 1:11 pm

      Yep! And honestly, making a young person agree to put their career first is not going to be as effective as helping them to have a fulfilling life as a confident person. Not saying the LW didn’t do the latter, but getting them to agree to your idea of how their life should go is sort of a waste of time.

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  • meadowphoenix

    meadowphoenix October 26, 2018, 11:03 am

    #1: You’re young enough where the consequences aren’t usually drastic, so this would be a good time for you to learn how to manage your feelings, even when they feel uncontrollable. What makes you like this person more? When you’re with them? Then if you want to not get this emotionally attached, you need to spend less time with them. That means looking at their social media less. Making other friends more. etc. Fill your life with other things, so even if this person has a part of it, it’s a small part you can review again when they are single.

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  • avatar

    ele4phant October 26, 2018, 11:45 am

    LW1 – I don’t think your crush’s gender identity really matters here.

    What matters is is that the person you like is in a relationship and not available (right? Unless they are in an open relationship, which I think you would’ve mentioned it).

    Which means Wendy is right. You are respectful of that relationship until they are no longer in it, and don’t pursue anything romantic with them at this point. If its too hard to be around them, then for your own mental health, you need to distance yourself so you can move on.

    If they do breakup with their partner and become available, or it turns out they are in an open relationship and therefore available right now, you’d pursue this just the same as you would with anyone who is CIS -gender. Which is to say, you’d tell them you like them and ask if they’d be interested in going on a date with you.

    That’s it. Still pretty simple.

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  • avatar

    Juliet October 27, 2018, 9:01 am

    LW1: I have to ditto Wendy in how heartening your letter was for me. Partly for accepting your friend in their identity, partly for the letter being a great example of using pronouns well in referring to a person with atypical gender identity (I need all the good examples of thatI can find to learn to show respect the way I want) and most importantly how you show acceptance for the tough emotions you’re having as a result of balancing your desires with your respect for them (them referring to the other person in this sentence, not referring to your desires). I feel like the spot you’re in is pretty normal for your age and place in life and it sounds like your instincts here are going to serve you well. Communicating this struggle to someone who can give you perspective is a great way to get more information to make a decision when you get stuck and cannot decide what to do based on the tug-o-war going on between your heart and your logical mind. Go You!

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  • avatar

    Oracle October 27, 2018, 10:53 am

    LW2 How old is your daughter? If she is over 18 then she gets to make her own decisions unless she is living at home. If she is living at home and you are supporting her then you do have a say. Your house, your rules. If she has totally dropped all career plans and does not have a full time job and/or going to school full time it is time that she does so. This applies also if she now seems to have put her career into half time mode. If she wants to have all the adult perks then she has to accept adult responsibilities which means she has to support herself. You are not going to be able to break these two up, you will only drive her further into his “arms”. But what you can do is tell her it is time to get a job and move out if she no longer wishes to pursue a singing career. If she wants to spend 4 nights a week at boyfriends, the same applies. If she is working full time and supporting herself she will see things more clearly. She needs to make dating mistakes to learn about herself and what she wants in a partner. But she gets to do this on her own dime as an adult.

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  • avatar

    ron October 27, 2018, 1:20 pm

    If the daughter is 18 or up, the she can simply stay at bf’s house 7 days a week rather than 4 and LW loses 3 days if daughter living at home.

    I’m curious what daughter’s folk-singing career consists of — just a shared mother/daughter dream or something factual? Does she earn enough to be self-sufficient Has she recorded and sold anything? Performed for more than pocket change? Written a song which somebody else recorded and sold? Just sings around the house and at her H.S. talent show? Had LW decided that her own job is going to be managing daughter’s career?

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  • avatar

    Oracle October 27, 2018, 3:09 pm

    Ron, she only stays at the BF’s house when he is alone (ie. when the mother has the children). He’s a user and the relationship is going nowhere. I would not be helping to enable this child(adult) spend time with this guy.

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  • avatar

    ron October 28, 2018, 5:54 pm

    We have only the statement of the mother, who seems very controlling. I’m not willing to conclude the guy is a user based upon that. The daughter apparently is happy with him. We don’t even know how old the daughter is. She could be 27. And, again, ‘folk-singing career’ is a very nebulous description. I’ve heard people use it who were unemployed, basically playing guitar and singing in their room, with very occasional low-paying or free gigs. The daughter may have already decided that her singing career isn’t going anywhere, but the mother just can’t let go of the dream. With the info we have, no way to tell.

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  • avatar

    Sue November 1, 2018, 7:55 am

    #2, If you are over-involved and controlling with your daughter, she will not develop the independence and confidence to make her own life decisions. Her jumping into a seemingly dependent relationship with this guy is the result.
    Wanting the best for her means helping her to learn and grow into a self-sufficient and confident young woman. Help her to develop those skills and then let her live her life. She will always want a loving and supportive Mom in her life but will likely rebel from a controlling and judgmental one.

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