Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Only Wanted to Be Friends, So She Found Another Man”

I’m a 44-year-old man and have been platonically seeing someone I dated years ago. For the past two years, we have been having lunch and watching an occasional movie together. We understood our status was simply good friends. I was not attracted to her like I wanted to be, but at my age sexual interest has waned some. The drive to procreate has diminished. So what’s left was a really good friendship which could have been a relationship if I allowed it to be.

The other day she told me she is seeing someone. Our relationship is now forever changed. She is a gem and I know she loved me. Now that this has happened, I wonder if I should have gone against my concern of attraction and not been so picky. It’s an odd sensation losing someone I never had and couldn’t commit to. She has been the only person I have spent time with outside of workmates and there is some sadness. I do wish her well; she deserves to have a great relationship. — Lost Her

She’s moved on — rightfully so; you weren’t attracted to her and didn’t want to be more than friends — so you need to move on, too. No, you should not have “gone against your concern of attraction” by dating her. First of all, that’s really selfish; you’re only thinking about your own needs (in this case, your need for companionship) and not the needs of this woman who you say was a good friend for the past two years. Surely you recognize that she deserves to be with someone who’s at least a little attracted to her and doesn’t have to talk himself into dating her? Also, YOU deserve to be with someone who excites you. At the very, very least, you should be exploring women outside someone you aren’t attracted to for companionship and potential relationships.

It’s concerning that you have limited yourself so much in the past few years — that you seem to have no social circle outside workmates and this one woman you didn’t want to date. It’s concerning that, at 44, you seem to have written off a sex life or at least tied it to a diminished desire to procreate. Something is not quite right here. Maybe you already know this. Maybe you simply don’t know how to make it right. I would start with expanding your life a little by adding some hobbies, classes, and extracurricular activities to your schedule. Start dating again! Tell workmates and family you’re on the market if anyone has someone to set you up with. Maybe try a dating site or two. And it wouldn’t hurt to talk with a therapist about what looks like on the outside as an avoidance of close relationships and an inability/lack of a desire to commit. You are so noncommittal hat you didn’t even commit to a question for me. But I think I know what it was anyway, and my answer is: let yourself love and be loved. Your life will be much richer for it.

Bill and I have been married for forty-one years. We had four children and now have eight grandchildren who all live close. About two years ago Bill lost a large amount of weight. He took up intense bicycle riding, challenging hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and a few other sports that he has been interested in. He hasn’t worked in ten years, and I am still working. About a year and half ago he started going out four or five nights a week saying he was just getting a drink with his new sports friends. He has never asked me to attend any of these nights out. (We haven’t gone out together in a very long time.)

Quite by accident I found out he has been taking tango lessons. He had been taking these lessons for six months and never intended on telling me or including me, which has hurt me very badly. He said I wouldn’t fit in. He takes lessons two nights a week and then he practices tango for hours afterwards. There also are festive dances that go late into the night. Participants are told to dress up, so some of the women have those slinky, barely there dresses on. It is a very sensual situation and I have been so humiliated — “hurt” isn’t even the word I would use because it is so much more intense. He quite often comes home after 2, or even 4, a.m.!

We have fought about this and he doesn’t want to hear it. He says he wants his freedom to go wherever and do whatever he wants, including tango. They had Christmas parties at each other’s homes – I asked to go to them and he wouldn’t allow me to go with him. I insisted that I was going to one of them and, instead of taking me, he stayed home and was miserable, angry and blaming me for missing this huge party.

I cry many times a day, even having anxiety attacks and severe depression over this. I am on anxiety meds and four antidepressants. I had a breakdown and my doctor had me go to a Partial Day Hospitalization program at a local psychiatric hospital for two weeks. We also tried couples counseling and were dismissed because there was nothing to work on. He sat there and said he wanted his freedom to have his own social life without me and wants to go and do whatever he wants without my having an opinion. He also said he doesn’t find it necessary to divorce. He swears he doesn’t have a girlfriend. He has done a number of things to enhance his appearance and his ability to perform. He moved out of our bedroom.

He said I am blowing it all out of proportion — I am crazy, I am causing all this anxiety myself. He will not take any responsibility for where we are now. He is more like a roommate and hates it when I am home. I am overweight but lost 20 pounds recently. I asked him if he could tell, and he said, no, that it’s not noticeable. I am not athletic and have had knee and hip replacements. I never dreamed I could keep up with him in sports, but he never asked me to go to these lessons and kept them from me. Perhaps I wouldn’t fit in…

What can I do? It is making me sick watching him get all dolled up and smelling nice (with an aftershave I found on my credit card for $100) to be with other people including women. He touches other women more than he touches me! Please advise me what to do. — Untouched

 
I think it’s time for a divorce. You have completely separate lives, you don’t seem to like or respect each other, and your husband has completely moved on from you and has no interest in sharing any of his new life with you. Indeed, he is downright belligerent at the thought of integrating you in his life in the smallest ways (like taking you to a party with his a go classmates). He says divorce isn’t necessary because he doesn’t want to pay for it. Instead, he can continue living under the same roof as you, in a different bedroom, living a completely separate life, “having his freedom to do whatever he wants,” getting angry when you’re home, and treating you like total shit.

For your emotional and mental wellbeing — which sounds very precarious with the daily crying, depression, anxiety, large amounts of meds, and at least one hospital stay so far — you need to leave your husband. You’ve already tried counseling and it didn’t work. Your husband has zero interest in making it work. And, frankly, I don’t feel much love from you for your husband either. It sounds like codependency, fear, and the desire to control this part of your life that has kept you in such a loveless marriage for this long. It’s not going to get better. Your husband is not going to start being your husband again. He’s already gone. Reclaim your life. Reclaim your home. Reclaim your dignity. File for divorce and MOA. You have work, four children, and eight grandchildren to keep you busy. I’d also suggest taking your husband’s lead and adding some new hobbies to your life to take the place of the time spent obsessing over his whereabouts. He was able to create a new life for himself — one in which he says you don’t fit in. Now it’s your turn to create one for yourself in which you do fit in. If he could do it, there’s no reason you can’t.

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

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

22 comments… add one
  • juliecatharine

    Juliecatharine March 30, 2018, 8:25 am

    Oh LW2…honey you need to take your power back. There is no reason for you to put up with this nonsense. You should have laughed in his face and packed your bags when he trotted out the ‘I do what I want’ bullshit. He is not your husband anymore, get a good lawyer and make it official. Who cares if he thinks it’s necessary?! Stay in therapy, mourn the marriage you hoped to have, and move on to a life you build to suit nobody but yourself. It feels good, I promise.

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    LisforLeslie March 30, 2018, 8:47 am

    From my post in the forums –

    LW1 I’ve spent the last 3 months living in a community where the average age is 72. The folks here are ridiculously active and those who are single date a lot, so I don’t buy your “desire to procreate has waned” nonsense. The women around here haven’t been able to procreate for 30 plus years but they are getting laid regularly. Either by their husbands or their dates.

    Find friends, men and women, who are not interested in a sexual relationship.

    LW 2 – There is a Japanese movie, then made in the US with Richard Gere, about a man who starts taking Tango lessons and in the process falls in love with his wife all over again. This is not that story. That he said “you wouldn’t fit in” means that he is embarrassed by you and doesn’t want to include you. He’s made this decision unilaterally. He is a dick head.

    Take care of yourself. Find the strength to move on. Do not put up with someone who tears you down and excludes you from his life.

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      SpaceySteph March 30, 2018, 9:35 am

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        LisforLeslie March 30, 2018, 9:41 am

        Oh yeah. I’ve had this discussion with my mom. She knows the risks. I explained that if she gets syph now, she won’t live long enough to get swiss cheese brain but peeing fire is not fun.

        What I did not expect to learn was that osteoporosis & sex can result in a broken pelvis (not my mom!)!

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        Kate March 30, 2018, 9:44 am

        Oh yeah, I had a neighbor in his 80s who I walked dogs with, and he spent winters in the biggest seniors community in Florida, so big it has 47 golf courses. He said they’re all having lots of unprotected sex. He’s married, but when he’d go to his softball league or whatever, he’d get hit on.

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        SpaceySteph March 30, 2018, 1:31 pm

        It sucks because you’re old, you don’t need contraception, but you still need to wrap that penis to keep from getting the clap.

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    K4d March 30, 2018, 8:52 am

    Kick him out. Don’t pack. Make him. Or better yet, pack for him and change the locks.

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    Rebecca March 30, 2018, 8:55 am

    “44 year old man…at my age sexual interest has waned some…”

    *stares in horror* Oh. Honey. Get yourself to a doctor.

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    TheOtherOtherMe March 30, 2018, 9:39 am

    LW2: He is probably having an affair (or two), and he is definitely gaslighting you. If you don’t know what that means, look it up. It’s time to move on. When a relationship is so bad that’s it giving you a nervous breakdown and forcing you onto multiple psychiatric medications, it’s time to leave. Husbands who are real partners and stand-up guys don’t do things that cause their spouse so much mental pain.

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    • juliecatharine

      Juliecatharine March 30, 2018, 9:50 am

      This. All of this. LW you can believe his actions or his words. His actions are all that matter. Run girl.

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      bondgirl March 30, 2018, 11:07 am

      Yup, first thing I thought reading this letter was “husband is gaslighting her.” Guy is being a grade A douche canoe. Divorce this ass already. And some therapy for yourself to deal with the aftermath.

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    Displaced Hoosier March 30, 2018, 10:09 am

    My heart goes out to LW2, but Wendy is right. MOA. Your husband is a jerk.

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    dinoceros March 30, 2018, 10:10 am

    LW1: I’m concerned that you seem to be surprised by this turn of events. If you choose not to be with someone, then they will likely go be with someone else eventually. I’m not sure if you have health issues or depression or what is causing you to no longer want sex, but many other people do, so they aren’t going to be content with having essentially an “exclusive” friendship with someone who isn’t attracted to them. If you’re going to write off sex, then you need to not put all your eggs in one basket and have just one friend who you spend all your time with. But I think going to a doctor may be good because it’s not a normal thing at your age to have that much of a sexual decline.

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      dinoceros March 30, 2018, 10:12 am

      LW2: You’ve basically agreed to be his mom. You work and support him while he goes and plays around and then has tantrums like a spoiled brat and about having free time. I think you want a way to wish the problems away and just have your husband back, but you can’t. You need to get a divorce and stop mothering this guy.

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    Northern Star March 30, 2018, 11:24 am

    LW: Good lord. If I ever heard a case for divorce, this would be it. What in the world do you gain by staying married to your husband? File for divorce from this asshole immediately. Good luck—and remember, you don’t deserve to be treated like crap by anyone.

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    aimee March 30, 2018, 12:17 pm

    LW1: My boyfriend is 44 and he still has a healthy sex drive. That your sex drive is “diminished” may be a health issue, in addition to the emotional/psychological issues Wendy mentioned.

    LW2: I’m so sorry. Your husband has moved on with his life and didn’t include you. You deserve better.

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    csp March 30, 2018, 1:22 pm

    LW2 – I think you should really think about what YOU want out of your life. How will you spend your days and weeks and how does your husband fit into that. It is time for you to take control of your narrative. It sounds like your husband made a radical change and you need to see where you want to fit.

    For example, do you want to go to the tango party because you want to be part of his life and his interests or because you want to scope out the other women he associates with? What do you want to do and how do you want to fill your time? What do you want your retirement to look like? I would write down everything on a piece of paper and then come back to that piece of paper in a week and see how you feel about everything and how your marriage fits into that.
    Look, no two marriages look alike. You guys can create your own rules. I think your problem is that you feel left behind and don’t know where your next step is. If you want to stay in this relationship , then what do you want it to look like? Not everyone needs to do dramatic things but I think you need to feed your soul and life with more joy. Find that in yourself then think about how your husband fits into that.

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    Lisa March 30, 2018, 2:43 pm

    LW1 you are now attracted to this lady for one reason and one reason only, she has rejected you. If you expressed interest and she expressed it back, your attraction would disappear. I suspect being at your age and never married, and continuing in a platonic relationship for so long, you have a very serious fear of committment and it has nothing to do with this woman, or even how she looks or physical attraction. It has to do solely with your own fear. She was available you did not want her, now she’s not and you do. Leave her alone, and get yourself some counseling. Oh and it is not normal at your age to have no sex drive, my fiance is 47 and has plenty of one.

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    wobster109 March 30, 2018, 3:45 pm

    LW2 – I ballroom dance as a hobby, and let me tell you, you would fit in fine at Tango. Every studio I’ve seen has a huge range of ages and skill levels. From
    a business perspective, what studio would reject a potential customer? And people who really love a hobby want other people to love it too. They want to spread the joy. Just like if I love Star Wars then I get excited when someone hasn’t seen it, and I invite them to a movie night.

    Like your husband, there are some people out there who would say “no Star Wars is not for you, you’re not a Real Fan”. And like your husband, these people are using Star Wars to represent some part of their identity. It has nothing to do with how you’d fit in. He just wants a secret life from you.

    (Also like your husband, these people are bad for Star Wars. Fewer fans means less interest, less money, and less reason for producers to make Star Wars stuff. Your husband is bad for the studio and the dancing community.)

    I know you have a long history, and you’re sad to give up on a 41 year marriage. That makes sense, and I’m sorry that you have to make this choice. But if I’m guessing right, you’re mid 60s. Do you want to spend the next 20 years crying daily? Don’t think of it as “all a waste”. You got 4 beautiful children and 8 beautiful grandchildren out of it. You probably had some happy years too. So, like with an old bicycle, thank him for the good times and say goodbye.

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    carolann March 30, 2018, 3:54 pm

    LW1-Since when is 44 old? My husband is 45 and he still chases me around the house. Same as he did when we were in our 30s. You probably should see a doctor. Eat foods with zinc. I agree with Lisa that you are only interested in your friend because she is interested in someone else. It is natural to be drawn to someone when they are pulling away.
    LW2-You need to go to the bank and close your accounts and open new ones. Block him from all the money you are working hard for. Why should you be paying for tango lessons and after shave? You need to grow a backbone and send him packing. I know it is hard and you have been together a long time, but there is still time for you to have a life. You will be glad you did.

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  • Cleopatra_30

    Cleopatra_30 March 31, 2018, 10:26 am

    My parents are in their mid 50’s now (holy crap!), and my dad has been active since he was a teenager, like crazy active. However, my mom was usually included when she could in his hobbies. We would join him for a weekend on one of his triathalons, or she would camp out with him at the 24 hours of adrenaline. She was involved in some way or another in his hobbies and activities, as were we as kids. Your husband has unfortunately found a new life and has clearly shown he does not want you in it. Do the same to him, present him with some divorce papers, sign yourself up for some tango classes, and find some hobbies for yourself as well. See the silver lining as getting your own social life back, and discovering hobbies you didn’t have a chance to embrace prior to this.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy April 2, 2018, 5:32 am

    From LW2″

    “Thank you for your response to my plea for help. I have always gone to him with big decisions that I felt we needed to do together. This is a huge decision and I needed others thoughts to reassure myself that my thinking wasn’t off.
    I wanted you to know that I do love my husband and have always respected him. I admired him for the weight loss and his renewed interest in the sports he has wanted to do. I just didn’t expect that I would be collateral damage or dispensable.
    If I didn’t love and care about him then I don’t think I would be so lost and upset. This is absolutely killing me. It’s been hard to be grieving for him, for our marriage and our family will never be the same.

    I will take everyone’s advice when making this decision. I do plan on getting counseling for myself but that always takes time to get and appointment with someone good. I have already made a call to a lawyer.
    I am just waiting to hear back from him. Thank everyone for all their help and the time they took out of their day to respond. “

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