Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickies: “My Ex-Wife Is Still In Love With Me. Should We Try Again?”

My ex-wife had a hard week and she had no one else to talk to, so I asked her over so she could get things off her chest and feel better. When she got here, she had been drinking. She said that nobody would give her the time of day (her family isn’t very supportive), so I listened to her talk and gave her a hug because she needed one (I loved it because I loved supporting her) and she kissed me. It felt like our first kiss. She says she still loves me and I love her with all my heart, but she won’t entertain the idea of reconciling because she doesn’t want to lose herself in our relationship.

I’m so conflicted; I respect her decision, but I cannot shake the feeling that I’m losing the love of my life all over again. Long story short: I have a pretty terrible medical condition that leaves me without feeling from the knees down and I cannot speak very well all the time. When we were married, she played the nurse role a lot, but all I ever wanted was for her to be there and love me. I supported her in most of her decisions, but in the end what got us was the issues with the savior role complex and troubles with her family thinking I put her in that role. I miss her terribly and I don’t know what to do. I don’t think telling her that I want her back would help things because I am so proud of how much she has done since we separated. She is quite a remarkable woman. What do I do? — Still In Love with Ex

It sounds like you both have a bit of the savior complex, and that you both would do well to continue to forge your own lives and identities and independence. If this co-dependency was where your marriage faltered, a reconciliation isn’t going to be successful as long as neither of you has learned to be independent and happy without the other. I get that you find comfort in one another in multiple ways and that you love and respect and admire your ex, but that doesn’t mean that you’re right for each other right now. I’d encourage you to each get some therapy (especially your ex whom you say has “no one else to talk to” about her problems) and keep working on yourself and creating independent lives and, who knows, maybe one day you can try a relationship again. But it has to be because you truly, truly want each other and not because you need each other.

I’ve been dating my best friend for eight years. Five years ago his brother passed away from a heart attack. He left behind a wife, “Greta,” and two small children. Since then, my boyfriend has, in a sense, stepped up to the plate. He never had his own children, and he has been very active in his brother’s children’s lives. I’m very proud of this, but my question is how much involvement is too much? They all live next door to each other, and I know he spends more time with Greta and the family than he says. I have brought up my insecurities, and I am always told there is nothing to worry about. But they spend every holiday together, he’s active in both kids’ extracurricular activities, and I am never included nor invited by my boyfriend or Greta. She knows I exist! I feel like this is tearing us apart, so I have backed off. — Not Included

 
How is your “backing off” going to solve anything? You’re unhappy because your boyfriend is basically shutting you out of a big part of his life, and in order for you to feel like this relationship is on track, you need for your boyfriend to start including you in some of the time he spends with his brother’s family. Instead of framing your desire for such as “insecurities,” frame your desires as, you know, desires. Tell your boyfriend you want to spend more time with him, to feel like you’re an important part of his life, and to get to know the other people who are part of his life. If he tells you again you have “nothing to worry about,” tell him it isn’t about “worrying” but rather it’s about wanting to be included in the life of the person you love. If he still won’t include you — and, let’s be honest, if after eight years he’s still not including you in important parts of his life, then he probably never will — it’s time to MOA, honey. Eight years is about six years too long to give someone to prove you’re worthy of being a top priority in his life.

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost three years and recently I’ve put on about ten to fifteen pounds. Last night my boyfriend drunkenly admitted that my body kills his sex drive now. I started to cry and asked what this means, and he told me, “Sex isn’t everything to me” and then said it doesn’t change anything in our relationship — he was “just being honest with me.” Should I be happy that he was honest with me or hurt that he would say that?

I have noticed that personally I am not happy with my body anymore — like, I don’t like to look at myself in the mirror anymore. So I’m going to start eating right and working out. — Weight Gained, Attraction Lost

 
I mean, yeah, your boyfriend was a jerk to “be honest” in that way — telling you that your body kills his sex drive. That’s a super shitty thing to say to anyone, let alone someone you love and care about. But I suspect he didn’t even mean what he said. It’s more likely that, instead of ten pounds “killing his sex drive,” it’s your plummeting self-confidence that has truly affected the way he sees you. Confidence is really sexy — it can more than make up for an extra ten pounds. And when you don’t have confidence — when you feel so shitty about yourself that you don’t even look in a mirror – you have the opposite effect: you turn people off. Taking care of yourself by eating well and exercising is a great confidence booster. I suspect that once your confidence begins to soar, so will your boyfriend’s attraction to you, regardless of whether you even lose weight. The question then will be: Do you want a boyfriend who’d get drunk and tell you you’ve killed his sex drive? (The answer is no.)

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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.

5 comments… add one
  • avatar

    LisforLeslie February 5, 2018, 11:15 am

    LW 1 – Your wife may need to be needed, which is not healthy. If you were to get back together, the dynamic would likely be the same. You want someone who loves you, disability and all; you don’t want to be married to your care taker.

    LW 2 – If the wife and brother had divorced, he would have brought any new romantic partners around eventually. Certainly after 5 years. There is a weird dynamic playing here and your boyfriend is in complete control of it. You are either part of his family or you are not. If not, MOA, life is too short to be cast as the outsider.

    LW 3 – Is your boyfriend’s name Summer’s Eve because he is a douche. I’ve been in your shoes and it is awful. Bodies change. Hell, bodies can change a lot. In this case, the best way to rid your self of unwanted pounds is to dump the boyfriend .

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    dinoceros February 5, 2018, 11:26 am

    LW1: Getting back together with someone because you two kissed as a result of them having no one else to talk to, drinking, and having a bad week is a seriously bad idea. It sounds like you both are feeling sorry for yourselves, so you are finding enjoyment in the familiar. Unless the kiss conveyed to you that all the problems you had while you were together were solved, then try to set better boundaries.

    LW2: Your boyfriend essentially created a new life without you, and you’ve been putting up with it for several years. To the point where when you tell him it bothers you, he dismisses you — with no concern for your feelings and no concern that you might leave him. Why? Because he either knows you won’t leave him no matter how much he excludes you or because he doesn’t care if you do.

    LW3: What Wendy said. I think it’s unlikely that 10-15 pounds would make or break this situation. Even if he were turned off by your low self-esteem (which is usually a lot more mood-ending than 10 extra pounds), the fact that he handled this so poorly reflects really badly on him. He could have communicated issues kindly when he wasn’t drunk, but instead bottled it up and then say something insulting. (Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is having health or other issues that are affecting his drive and he’s trying to take it out on you.)

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  • avatar

    Lisa February 5, 2018, 11:38 am

    LW3 you boyfriend is a total jerk. You put on 10-15 pounds in three years? Come on now. If you had put on 50 pounds, okay I get it, but not 10-15 that’s nothing. Wendy presumes that you were always insecure about your body, I beg to differ. I think the insecurities came up after he said that he felt your weight gain was a turn off, or at the very least he has turned you down for sex and that made you feel insecure. Clearly the sex has slowed down per your correspondence. If all it takes is a minor weight gain for him to lose interest in sex with you, then this will never work, he is far too superfical and you need to move on. I will say that I would wonder if he is watching a lot of porn and satisfying himself. Often partners that do, are only stimulated by porn stars and start to be overly critical of their current partners. His low sex drive has nothing to do with you or your body. Leave this man. I mean seriously if he put on 10-15 pounds would that bother you? You don’t want to be with a man like this for the long term.

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  • avatar

    Ali February 5, 2018, 1:03 pm

    LW3: I don’t usually comment. But after reading your letter I feel compelled to respond. I have gained probably 25-30 lbs in the 7 years since my husband and I have married (Mostly post-baby weight that is hanging on after 4 years). This has really begun to bug me over the past year and whenever I would say something to my husband about how I felt I looked or how fat I was… his reply was always the same: “I find you sexy no matter what. Yes you did put on a little weight (and this concession was usually after I pushed him to admit that I gained weight), but you are still very sexy and attractive to me.” But I couldn’t believe him, because I didn’t see myself that way and my confidence was terrible. His follow-up response when I would tell him he was lying was that “you being so down on yourself is the only unattractive thing lately.” I started this year with a renewed commitment to eat healthier and go to the gym one day a week. I’ve lost almost 8 pounds as a result of cutting out a lot of (not all) the sweets I would eat each day. I feel so much better and after losing the first 5 pounds, I noticed my pants fit a little nicer… and I felt great! My husband noticed my change in demeanor and has commented on how nice it is that I am happier with myself again. This is long. But I guess my thoughts are that gaining weight can change how we feel about ourselves and that negativity can be un-sexy. But having a supportive partner helps you get on the right track, rather than making you feel even worse about yourself. Only you know if your boyfriend is supportive, but really crappy in the way he expresses himself, or if your boyfriend meant it the way he said it and is only serving as an extra 150-200 lb weight himself that drags you down. If he’s an un-supportive jerk, this is likely not the first time he’s said or done something to make you feel bad about yourself. Lose weight if you want to feel better about yourself, not for him or his sex drive.

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  • avatar

    kali February 5, 2018, 3:14 pm

    LW #3 – 10 to 15 lbs is barely noticeable unless you are super petite. You and he may think otherwise but wait a few years, after a few kids maybe and see if I’m not right. I’m 62 and I weigh a lot more than when I started college. I had a knee injury that ended my athletic career and I couldn’t really exercise so I gained more weight. Then I got cancer. And you want to know what really changes your body? Cancer. Cancer gives you scars, bags under your eyes and yes, I lost 60 lbs in 3 months but not on purpose. And not in a way that made me look better. I lost my hair, my eyebrows, my eyelashes, my nose ran constantly. It wasn’t pretty. I wasn’t pretty. And my boyfriend never said one thing about my weight (before or after cancer) or my looks and he never, ever considered leaving although right after my diagnosis I told him I wouldn’t think any worse of him if he did bail.

    If your poor boyfriend can’t handle an extra 10 to 15 lbs, or hell, even an extra 50 lbs, he’s not worth keeping around. Ditch him and find someone who’ll love you for you, no matter what you weigh. You are beautiful and you are worth so much more than some schmuck who’s erection is tied to your weight.

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