It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Scared He’ll Be a Schlub,” whose update was actually a comment she left on the original post yesterday but one I’m highlighting here instead so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle (and because it’s also a call for advice, given some additional info). If you missed the original post last week, the LW is worried that her partner, who is style-resistant and unmotivated to shop for an outfit for an upcoming wedding of LW’s close friend, will show up looking like a slob. She bought him a shirt to wear, and he hated it and flipped out. Here’s a mini-update/question:
I would never say that the pandemic has been a blessing. It’s been traumatic in numerous and immeasurable ways, even for the luckiest among us whose loved ones have survived and who kept our jobs and homes and most (some?) of our sanity. But among the upheaval and the loss were some silver linings: [continue reading…]
My partner is stubborn and so am I. He tends to be a bit more defensive than I am and often lags with the requisite self-reflective capacity to admit when he’s wrong. I’m not sure that he’s wrong in this instance, but I also don’t feel that he’s right. I’m hoping you can give me some clarity.
We were invited to a good friend’s wedding that has been repeatedly postponed due to Covid. This is a very close friend and she and her fiancé honored my partner and me by accommodating us in one of two tiny farmhouse cabins at the venue (the other cabin is going to the groom’s best man and his wife). The dress code is pretty chill. Think of the vibe as “electro-hippy psychedelic chic.” I’m obsessed with sustainable fashion, something my partner loves/hates about me, and I have been ebay-shopping vintage dresses for the last month. My partner’s fashion sense, however, died with the dissolution of his marriage three years ago.
We live in New York and he takes issue with Brooklyn’s hyper-vigilant style-consciousness. I get it. “Brooklyn hip” can be a little over-the-top,and I’ve met plenty of transplants (myself included) who’ve spent time resenting it. My partner needs some new clothes because his are quite literally falling apart; however, he’s taken it as a point of pride to wear things that are beyond repair (e.g. broken flip flops, shredded, ill-fitting button downs, pants that no longer fit because of the Covid 15). I mostly avoid buying him new stuff out of respect for his history and perspective on all of this, but I was able to get away with gifting him boots and a winter coat for Christmas and his birthday.
So, the wedding….is it wrong for me to want him to step it up for the occasion? We had a discussion about it maybe a month and a half ago. The discussion turned into a blow-out fight with him exclaiming, “I hate weddings!” Fair enough, but he still wants to go. We came to a point of resolution where I thought we were on the same page that it was okay for me to buy him something, and so I did: a paisley print Paul Fredrick linen shirt. The shirt arrived, the shit hit the fan, and the shirt is now being returned with the assurance that he’ll find something appropriate to wear. The wedding is two weeks away and he hasn’t done anything.
We have since had more arguments and relationship-bending blowouts that, in his mind, are all my fault because I bought the offending shirt. Kind of like a childish “you started it” with a complete disregard for the nuance and content of our arguments. There is a lot of history on his end, which I appreciate: his divorce was traumatic and his ex-wife tried to buy him a coat when they arrived in New York; he has a fraught relationship with his sartorially-savvy father who apparently used to buy him shirts much like the one I purchased; and he’s a bit insecure about his under-developed fashion sense in a city that admittedly tends to judge people based on their style choices.
It’s not even about the shirt anymore, but rather about underlying themes in our relationship that I believe are navigable over the long-term. The short-term problem is the rapidly approaching wedding and the fact that he’s running out of time to find an outfit. I give it an 80% chance that he misses the window and a 100% probability that if he attends this wedding looking like a schlub, I will be so pissed off that not only will the shit again hit the fan, but also it will ricochet off it and rain fecal destruction upon our partnership. Can we survive it? Sure, maybe, but maybe not because I feel that the shirt is symbolic of our mutual stubbornness, and the odds ratio I’ve given him is emblematic of my simmering resentment that he’s pinning the blame squarely on me for “The Shirt That Launched a Thousand Ships and Broke the Camel’s Back.” What should I do? — Scared He’ll Be a Schlub
My boyfriend is 52, I’m 48, and and we have been together eight years. For the first four years we had a normal amount of sex that I was happy with. But for the last four years, we’ve had less and less each year. And now it’s maybe four times a year, always involving alcohol. I have asked all the usual questions, such as: Do you still love me? Is there someone else? Are you still attracted to me? And he always answers in the affirmative. But he has no answer for why we have no sex life. We are both in good shape and physically active.
To my way of thinking, we are basically good friends now. He never kisses me, and there’s no affection. But we get along great. I asked whether we are roommates/best buds now, and he became angry and said, “Of course not.” I’m not bragging, but men flirt with me all the time, and it makes me so frustrated and sad that my own guy has zero interest in me, intimately. I asked him politely, numerous times in the last couple years, about talking to a doctor. Maybe he has testosterone issues or something else. He said he would, but he never does. I’m running out of patience. I’m communicating and trying to be understanding. Now I’m imagining us breaking up. A male friend whom I’m mutually attracted to is flirting more and more. I’m feeling weak and emotionally and physically starved for love. — Starved for Love
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If you’re a new reader and want to get a feel for the kinds of topics we discuss or the advice I give, here are some examples from over the years: