Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickies: “My Partner Took A Job Working For Her Ex and I’m Jealous”

I have lived in a common-law marriage with a wonderful woman, “Darlene,” for 10 years. We have had a solid relationship…or so I thought. Two years before we met, Darlene had an affair with her older, married boss while she was a summer intern and single. He broke it off, but they stayed in touch with the odd call and text over the years, usually not more than once or twice a year according to her. She has talked about him several times during our relationship and about how he broke her heart.

Recently she had become unhappy with her job, and we were struggling because of this. Then her former boss called her up and offered her a job – her dream job – out of the blue. For the first week, she started a diet and all I heard was all about “Steve.” I’m jealous. I creeped his Facebook and we even look alike. Was I just a replacement for him? I need help deciding what to do. Should I confront her? Encourage her to quit? She seems so happy when she is talking to him on the phone. — Common Law

If you believe that Steve just happened to offer Darlene a dream job truly out of the blue and at the exact time she was feeling especially unhappy at her job and it was a big coincidence and not at all as a result of continued communication and feelings between them, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Darlene is not being honest with you and your relationship is not solid. You two weren’t struggling because she’d become unhappy with her job. You need to talk to her and find out the real reason she was unhappy and the real reason your relationship was struggling. This isn’t about work; this is about feelings and commitment, and there are very clear signs that her feelings don’t lie exclusively with you and that whatever commitment you believed you shared with each other has been and is being threatened. Absolutely talk to her about this, express how troubling you find her behavior, and if she cannot assure you in a way that leaves zero doubt in your mind that her feelings and commitment are exclusively for you and your relationship, then it’s time to MOA.

From the archives (this column was originally published in March, 2014)

My boyfriend and I met each other 10 years ago, and we got together a couple times then. Four years ago he finally asked me to be his girlfriend. We have now been living together for three years.

The problem here is that he says he doesn’t want to marry me until I am responsible enough. The thing is, I do everything in our house: I get up an hour early to make his lunch for work that day, run his bath, make him coffee, and then wake him up for work. Then I start getting myself ready. I make dinner every night, and it is ready when he walks through the door. If I don’t cook, I organize take-aways. I clean the house as well — every day — and spend one day of the weekend doing a full-house clean-up. I go and watch his cricket matches on the weekends, which last from 7am to 7pm. I wash his clothes, iron them, and hang them in his cupboard. His ONLY two jobs are: feed the animals and take out the rubbish bag every morning (which he doesn’t always do).

What am I missing here? He says I’m not ready to be a wife or a mother because I don’t have any responsibility. What should I be doing? Is the problem me or him? — Wife Material

My response, here.
***************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.

31 comments… add one
  • brise August 20, 2020, 8:22 am

    I differ here: reading this post, I was thinking “Well, she is happy because she found her dream job when she really needed it”. If she had an affair with him 12 years ago, as a young intern, I think that she has moved on. I personnally would be totally uninterested in old flames, especially a boss who broke my heart. I think that she enjoys the excitement of the new job, which is always filled with emotional investment, desire to please, and so on.
    I wouldn’t make a fuss. Express concern, yes, but mainly, boundaries about her enthousiasm and availibilty towards this boss she owes much. No call in the night, on the week-end, and so on.
    He should show satisfaction for her to be happy at work.
    But now, I can be completely mistaken and this woman is perhaps lying to the LW. May be. I would first try the confident, trusting option – the best option anyway in case of romantic rivalry in my opinion.

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    • VanLH August 21, 2020, 6:05 am

      Uh, she went on a diet? For her dream job with the guy she had an affair with? The LWs days are numbered. She is going to dump him unless her affair partner has turned into a jerk.

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  • brise August 20, 2020, 8:28 am

    And this older boss is now 12 years older…. not so sexy at some point.
    A grandpa.
    I would ask her wether she has and has the intention and capacity to develop a healthy work relationship in her new workplace, respectful for you as her partner.
    See what she answers.

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    • anonymousse August 20, 2020, 9:18 am

      Umm, everyone in this story is 12 years older. That doesn’t mean that he’s not sexy anymore.

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        Bittergaymark August 20, 2020, 9:50 am

        EXACTLY!!! Oh — And who’s grandpa is 12 years older than them anyway? ???

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        Bittergaymark August 20, 2020, 9:53 am

        Whoops . Okay. That post makes no sense. I can’t read and/or do basic math!

        Clearly I should not try to be witty BC. *

        *Before Coffee.

  • Miss MJ August 20, 2020, 8:33 am

    I read the headline for LW1 and thought “oh, here’s another insecure LW threatened because their SO didn’t go salted earth in their ex”, but after reading it — yeah, Darlene is being super shady here. I don’t know if she’s actually cheating with this guy yet, or if she is just unhappy with her life and putting everything in place so that she “accidentally” sleeps with him, but you need to have a serious discussion with her. Sorry to say, it probably won’t go well.

    I keep getting an error message for the second letter, but my gut reaction is OH, HELL NO!!

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      Dear Wendy August 20, 2020, 10:24 am

      Sorry about the error message! The link is fixed now.

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      • Miss MJ August 20, 2020, 5:14 pm

        Thanks!! I wonder if we’ll ever get an update from this LW/maid? (Or maybe even nursemaid – what grown ass man needs someone to draw his bath every day?)

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    Bittergaymark August 20, 2020, 9:45 am

    To me the big red flag here is that the LW discovered he is basically a physically younger clone of the older boss… just Yikes!

    That is VERY suspect.

    I’ve seen so many men do this. Hell — One acquaintances new wife looked so much like the original wife my first words to then at a party was rather disastrously: “Oh wow! You guys are back together?! That’s so great! Somebody told me your rebound was kinda a bitch!”


    Anyway — yeah. Team Wendy on this one all the way.

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    • katmich15 August 20, 2020, 11:50 am

      Egads, no backing out of that one, ha ha! It reminds me of a friend of mine who asked the woman in line in front of him when she was due . . . and she told him she wasn’t pregnant. He said it was the longest wait in line he’s ever had and now he won’t comment on a woman’s pregnancy unless he can see the baby emerging from her body!

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        Bittergaymark August 20, 2020, 3:07 pm

        It was not a great moment. Although I was able to avoid them ALL night as it was a HUGE party.

  • brise August 20, 2020, 11:15 am

    About the ressemblance: everybody has a type. It is not uncommon to date the same physical type as your previous partner’s. Sarkozy, the ex-French President, married a woman – Carla – who looks similar, in her type, to his previous wife Cecilia. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love Carla. I think he does.
    What would convince me more of a possible closer communication that announced is the coincidence of the job offer, as Wendy pointed. Perhaps she asked this ex-boss for a job or spoke to him of her dissatisfaction at work.
    Anyway, it is also possible that she is just excited. Similar situation, similar emotions, but she is more mature, she is not the naive intern anymore, she won’t necessarily repeat the past. But she has to change her attitude with her enthousiasm about “Steve”: I understand that it creeps the LW.
    Both theories are possible: a secret relationship, or not. He should definitely speak with her, though. But not in an accusing way. I personnally don’t find it so damning.

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  • Kali August 20, 2020, 11:28 am

    LW1: The Myth – There is a common misperception that if you live together for a certain length of time (seven years is what many people believe), you are common-law married. This is not true anywhere in the United States.

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    • Rebecca August 20, 2020, 12:04 pm

      That is incorrect: Seven states currently allow it, and six others recognize ones entered into before it was outlawed, see the National Conference of State Legislatures webpage on the same.

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      • VanLH August 22, 2020, 6:25 am

        No, he is correct. While it is true that some states in the United States recognize common law marriages (before I retired I practiced law in one such state) the time you live together does not establish a common law marriage. In that state, for example, you had to agree to be married. You could live together for 50 years and legally be nothing more than roommates.

      • Rebecca August 22, 2020, 10:44 am

        Yes, of course, an agreement to the relationship from both parties is what constitutes the relationship; I simply meant that proximity and duration are components, and that CL marriages do exist, which is the opposite of what Kali’s comment implied.

  • katmich15 August 20, 2020, 11:57 am

    “For the first week, she started a diet and all I heard was all about “Steve.””

    Not to make a big deal about starting a diet but the timing does seem suspicious. She probably either wants to start up with him again or just wants him to eat his heart out! I’d probably go with the former though.

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  • anonymousse August 20, 2020, 12:40 pm

    As for the second letter….who knew baths were controversial? I love baths.

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    • Fyodor August 20, 2020, 1:02 pm

      Also the author sounds like she’s from the UK where baths are a lot more common as a regular way to stay clean (not that there’s anything wrong with people doing it here too if they want)

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    • Kate August 20, 2020, 1:18 pm

      Omg those frickin people…

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    • Ange August 20, 2020, 3:05 pm

      I’ve said it many times over the last few years but the rest of the world is BEGGING America to realise there are other countries lol

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      • Fyodor August 20, 2020, 4:59 pm

        Surely you meant “realize”

      • Ange August 20, 2020, 7:06 pm

        I’m telling the queen

      • Fyodor August 20, 2020, 7:59 pm

        she’s many thousands of kilometres from me

    • ktfran August 21, 2020, 6:42 am

      Baths are my only refuge during this pandemic.

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      • anonymousse August 21, 2020, 8:17 am

        Me too. I nearly take one everyday.

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    Bittergaymark August 20, 2020, 1:11 pm

    Hah. My response to LW2 was pretty damn epic. Have no memory of posting it. But reading it now gave me a good chuckle.

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  • Betty August 20, 2020, 1:48 pm

    LW1: I would not be so concerned … you have ten years together, many people have a “type” (and sometimes it can be incredibly specific). Obviously there is something that Darlene likes about you or you wouldn’t have been together so long. So she started dieting before going to work … that’s a trope before high school reunions and other get-togethers … it doesn’t mean you want to bang the whole marching band. Talk to her honestly about your concerns, go to couples counseling if you aren’t on the same page.

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  • golfer.gal August 20, 2020, 2:02 pm

    Ever since Monica Lewinsky’s “comeback”/the change in conversation around power dynamics and coercion in situations like this, I have become extremely skeptical of men who behave like this boss. A 20 year old is an adult, yes, and responsible for their behavior. But a man who takes advantage of his direct authority over a young student, leveraging his power and their complete naivety and lack of professional experience, is a fucking creep and an asshole and has no business in any sort of leadership position. I’m not saying she needs to see herself as a victim, but the fact that she’s kept up with this guy and is willing to work for him again is a giant red flag. What if, while she’s working for him, she sees him sexually harass an intern who isn’t as, um, receptive as she was and lacks the experience to know how to escape the situation? Is she willing to watch a young woman’s early professional life and confidence get decimated by this guy? Does she have no reservations about the type of person he is? Does she really believe he can make fair and unbiased decisions about her and his other staff? I agree with the others that something is very wrong here, and I would absolutely be questioning her own integrity and motives. An ethical person would run screaming from this guy, but she’s running towards him. Why?

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    Phoebe August 24, 2020, 10:34 am

    I want updates. Mostly for the confirmation that the LWs realized that these guys were first-rate jerks.

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