“It’s Been Thirty Years and He Still Won’t Travel With Me, Give Me Birthday Gifts, or Even Bathe”

My significant other, “Chuck,” and I have been seeing each other for 30 years — yes, 30 years. It’s a long story but I will not go into that. He used to give me birthday cards and gifts and Christmas cards and gifts, but in the past nine years he has become uninterested in doing those things anymore. I have always gotten him a card or a gift or have done something special for him on his birthday. He doesn’t reciprocate anymore and I am getting fed up with it.

I went to Chuck’s house to make him a lovely prime rib dinner for Christmas after I had already purchased him a new Keurig coffee maker. I walked into his kitchen and it was filthy! Things lying all around. I had to clean it in order to prepare the dinner. Other issues: He doesn’t bathe every day, he doesn’t brush his teeth, and his
breath is disgusting.

I retired when I was 62 as we had discussed traveling and seeing the U.S. I am now 73 — soon to be 74–and we have not done that traveling. My bones and body are giving out on me. He has his own business but doesn’t retire as he has to keep his alcoholic/drug-addicted son working. I’m tired and I don’t know what to do as I do love him and he has helped me out when I could not pay for something. My heart is tired and it is breaking all the time. The other children (he has three) are worried. His youngest daughter called me one night saying her older sister, who is executor of their dad’s will, is mad that I have been put in the will. The older sister apparently said, “That fucking bitch doesn’t deserve a thing!” I told the youngest daughter: “Don’t worry, I’ll probably die before your Dad.”

Chuck’s oldest daughter has done some very terrible things to me, and Chuck doesn’t do anything about his deceitful, lying children. They are in their 40s. Do these people ever stop? Do they ever grow up? My two children (whom I’m so proud of, especially since I raised them alone) have always been respectful and kind and have always asked about Chuck. I have never seen a more dysfunctional family that his. I’m tired and feel so alone with everything.

What should I do? I’m so close and so involved I can’t see the light of day. — Bone Tired

You both sound depressed, and for as dysfunctional as you say Chuck’s family is, your relationship with him sounds just as dysfunctional. At this point, you’re probably with him out of habit and co-dependency more than anything else. You talk about loving him, and about his “helping you out” financially when you couldn’t pay for something, but these things — yes, even love — are not enough to sustain a relationship. You sound miserable, and so does he. What’s the point?

What’s the point in continuing this charade? So you don’t have to embrace being truly alone? Haven’t you felt lonely for a very long time already? Being lonely in a sham of a relationship is so much worse than being lonely but free of the shackles that have held you in a dead-end, unhappy, deeply unsatisfying relationship for decades.

You’ve been so dependent on this dead-end relationship that you apparently have suspended your dreams of travel for well over a decade. First, you wanted to wait until you retired (as if one can’t travel during time off from work while they’re younger and maybe in better physical shape and health…). Then, you retired but decided you had to wait for Chuck to be ready to travel before you’d go anywhere? All the years you’ve wasted, waiting! Waiting for what? For someone to hold your hand? For someone to book the tickets, read the map, drive the car, fill the gas tank? You raised your kids alone! You don’t have to have me tell you how much fucking work that must have been — what a daily struggle it is to raise kids, even with help, with a partner. And you did it alone. And you think you need someone to go to see Seattle with you, South Dakota, the Empire State Building? There’s a whole world out there waiting for you and you’ve already wasted so much time not seeing it.

Where are you friends? Why can’t you travel with them? What about a sister, a cousin? What about your kids? What about alone?! Who and what is your world outside Chuck, the significant other who doesn’t bathe or brush his teeth or buy you a birthday card? Have you also been denying yourself the joy of connecting with anyone else — even with yourself — when your partner of 30 years has denied you the joy of connecting with him?

You’ve wasted so much time, but it’s not too late to start living now. It’s never too late. But you aren’t going to do it with Chuck. Chuck is probably depressed and his kids SHOULD be worried. And maybe if you and he had a genuine relationship, you should be worrying too. But you’ve already wasted so much time. You’ve already given so many years of your life to this sham you call love. Love yourself. Give yourself the biggest gift you can and leave this relationship and start living. Start doing the things you’ve always wanted to do but told yourself, for some reason, you needed a man — you needed Chuck — to do with you. He’s never, ever ever going to travel with you. Spring will be here before you know it. I’ve heard that the cherry blossoms in DC are beautiful at the end of March. You have two months to plan your trip. Don’t waste any more time.

From the forums:

My boyfriend of three years made plans to visit on his own a city that I have been dreaming of visiting. When he told me, he was already done with his visa application and had made end-to-end plans without me. He said his intention is to revisit his past self for the last time. He wanted to do it so he could think of what’s ahead of us. He will be visiting friends he met online who share the same musical interests. I do not know them. He also expressed interest in meeting a female friend he met online. He’ll probably even stay with her. He said it was all platonic. And he is very certain about us. He just needs this one trip on his own.

I feel so hurt and dismissed. I planned for this trip over and over again last year, and was wanting to materialize it this year with him on his birthday so we could see this place for the first time together. Now, he’s invited me to join him in his final week there as a resolution. I couldn’t bring myself to accept the invitation. I know the whole process of getting there is going to remind me of how he actually planned for this trip for himself only.

It seems like no matter the talking or resolution, I will always be on my own feeling hurt and sorry for myself for being completely dismissed in the beginning. What do I do? — Feeling Hurt

You wanna be 70-something years old still waiting around for your significant other to show up for you, still waiting to travel to the places you’ve always dreamed of traveling because you will only go with your partner and he’s already gone by himself and doesn’t really want to go with you? Pardon my language, but fuck that shit. This guy doesn’t care about you. I mean shit, I feel bad even watching a TV show without my husband if it’s one he really wants to see, and here’s your guy completely planning a vacation without you — and in secret! — to a place he knows is the number one spot you want to visit, with zero intention of including you at all. AND! AND! He’s going to stay with a woman he’s met online!! Oh, fucking HARD NO.

What do you do? What do you do?! Tell the motherfucker to have a nice trip and a great life and MOA. Do it now — don’t waste another minute.


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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.


  1. LW1, start living. Now. Today. This morning. Start planning something you’ve wanted to do. Go on trips, by yourself, with a family member, with a friend. Go see a movie. Go out to dinner. Do every damn thing you’ve been holding back on because of Chuck, and start right now.

    Stop waiting for Chuck and LIVE.

    1. I love you all for opening a door to a lot of insight. When one is so involved with the heart and life matters it seems impossible to sort it out. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your very intelligent/heartfelt responses.
      As for traveling on my own or with friends, I lost the majority of my retirement with AIG leaving us with no recourse to recover any part of it.
      Once again thank you and have a great day.

      1. Sandy – I know you are retired but pick up a side hustle. If you have enough for a coffee maker for this jerk then you can scrape together a trip to Yosemite . Believe in yourself. Start selling plasma. get on a budget and scrape to gether the cash to achieve your dream. It isn’t too late.

      2. LisforLeslie says:

        Sandy, even if you can’t travel, you still deserve better than you are getting from this guy.

  2. LW1, start living. Now. Today. This morning. Start planning something you’ve wanted to do. Go on trips, by yourself, with a family member, with a friend. Go see a movie. Go out to dinner. Do every damn thing you’ve been holding back on because of Chuck, and start right now.

    Stop waiting for Chuck and LIVE.

  3. Juliecatharine says:

    WWS. LW1 you deserve more. Chuck will be fine, spend your energy on someone worthwhile—-your own damn self!!!

    There are many trips designed for seniors so please don’t worry about physical limitations or going alone if solo travel isn’t your thing. There are tons of people out there living life and seeing the world. Don’t stay shackled to some (literally) dirty old man who can’t even be bothered to go to the dollar store and buy you a birthday card. That’s a really low bar and he isn’t even close. Dump him. Today. Don’t look back, you’re not losing anything worth having.

  4. Bittergaymark says:

    Ladies, both you… it is time to embrace the pleasure and bliss of simply being alone. Unencumbered by obnoxious and not so great useless assholes…

    1. Allornone says:

      as much as I love my current relationship, I have to say part of me misses just being able to do my own thing without consideration of another. I spent A LOT of years alone, and while at times, I was lonely, I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. It really allowed me to learn about me, figure out what I wanted and needed out of life and put me in a much better position of going out and obtaining it. I love my boyfriend, but he does not define or complete me. Only I do.

      Listen to BGM, Wendy, and everyone else, go out and live NOW and live for you alone. Find your bliss.

      1. Here here! People got on me for not even attempting to date for a long time. I had a great apartment, decorated exactly as I liked it, a great job, went out with friends often, disposable income (plus no one to even care what i spent it on), and could walk around naked eating crackers whenever I wanted. My house was always clean, since no one but me to mess it up. I’d wake up and do whatever I wanted on the weekend. I loved being single. Frankly I didn’t even want to be in a relationship when husband asked me out. I liked him enough that I did anyway and am very happy I went for it, and truly love being with him, but I would not trade that experience. My mom is finally in the same boat now, semi retired, new house paid for, doing as she pleases and she says she loves it too.

  5. One question I have is…What happened nine years ago? Could he be having mental or physical issues? Have you ever, you know, talked to him about how worried everyone is about him or just got angry he isn’t healthy? Get him evaluated rather than raging about him! If he refuses or has not interest in changing or discussing it, THEN leave.

    1. Let him get himself evaluated. Do not pour one more second of your energy into him and his problems. Leave NOW.

  6. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

    LW1- Traveling alone can be a daunting idea, but it’s so worth it. Take the energy you’re putting into the relationship with Chuck and put it towards a relationship with yourself!
    Travel tip: if you belong to AAA, check into their guided trips. They have excursions all over the country (and world) that are all-inclusive so you won’t have to worry too much about hotels and food and sightseeing. 🙂

  7. To both LWs: this really is your own damn fault. You should have MOAed long ago. You need therapy to find out why you put up with this crap. You are both beyond desperately clingy and dependent. You don’t seem to have an ounce of self-esteem or independence between you. Both of you would be better off being single. If you are so desperate that you are willing to tolerate crap just to be in a relationship, then crap is all you should expect and all you will ever get. You are the one who draws the line on what treatment of you is acceptable. You both drew that line in the gutter.

  8. LisforLeslie says:

    LW 1 What is this guy giving you that you would put up with this nonsense? There are tons of lovely older women who don’t have partners due to divorce or widowhood. One of my moms single 70-something friends is currently in South Africa with a group of her friends using a guided tour.

    Stop waiting to live.

  9. Northern Star says:

    I think both of these letter writers are beyond help.

  10. LW #1 You may be able to get some money/property if you leave-depends on the laws where you are,if you have lived together etc. Talk to lawyer. GO and LIVE LIFE!

  11. LW2: Wendy, I too feel bad about watching a TV show by myself if my SO really wants to see it. But I would be fucking pissed if instead he went to watch that TV show with a girl he met online! WTF

  12. dinoceros says:

    LW1: Sure, Chuck and his family are dysfunctional, but you’ve spent the past 9 years in a relationship with someone who treats you like he doesn’t care about you anymore. That’s pretty dysfunctional too. Even more so, I’d say.

    I’m going to make an analogy that might seem silly, but I think it fits. I live in a place where people ride right on your bumper, even if you are going 5-10 over the speed limit. I’ve been in the right lane, had someone tailgating me, and the left lane was totally and completely clear. I could see them in my rearview mirror getting super angry and everything. I just sit there and think, “Why on earth are you not just passing me? Why spend all this time being angry and worked up when you could have passed me and been long gone by now?”

    This is what you’re doing. I’m pretty sure after 9 years, this is what he’s like now. I think you could have been pretty confident this was the new normal like 8 years ago, but here we are. Stop wasting more time with him.

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