Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Quickies: “My Boyfriend Hung Up a Big Picture of His Ex-Wife in Our Garage!”

I volunteered to help out at first grade field day today — I’m running the “chill station” (double dutch, hula hoops, and sidewalk chalk, oh my) — so I have time for only a couple quickies this morning before I run off to the park. Related: Anyone have any double dutch rhymes they remember from childhood? I taught Jackson “Cinderella Dressed in Yellow” which made me think of the clapping chants I used to do, like “Miss Suzy Had a Baby,” which I remember almost every word of even though it’s been almost 35 years since I heard it. Anyway, today’s quickies:

My boyfriend has been divorced for about a year. We met online shortly after it was finalized. He is 62 and I am 55. He was married for ten years, and I’ve been widowed for the same amount of time. We lived in two different states. He retired and bought a house near me because I had a good job. We moved in together in April. Before we met, he went on several bike trips with friends, including his ex-wife. He has several pictures of these trips hanging in our garage, which include pictures of him and her together. He tells me it’s part of his passion. He also had a blown-up picture of the two of them hanging up but has covered it up with a towel until we can get a picture of the two of us together to replace it. He says he does not want to get rid of it because he paid a lot to have it framed. So we have this covered-up picture of the two of them in our garage. He also continues to slip and call me by her name.

Am I reading too much into this or is he not over her? We both have made drastic changes in our lives to be together. I guess I just can’t figure out why he wants to keep these pictures up in our home even if it is in the garage. I have not considered, and would not consider, hanging any pictures of myself with past significant others. Are men simply different? — Not In the Picture

You’re not reading too much into it. It’s really odd — not to mention incredibly rude — behavior to move in with a girlfriend and hang up a big, framed photo of you and your ex-wife. The fact that he continues calling you by her name further suggests that there are unresolved feelings here, but, really, I would not have even waited for that blunder; hanging the photo of his ex-wife and then throwing a towel over it would have been enough for me to send him packing.

He was barely divorced when you started dating, and then you moved in together after less than a year of long-distance dating. You guys moved way too fast. He hadn’t processed and grieved the end of his marriage, and you two barely knew each other. Maybe you filled in the gaps of what you didn’t know about him with a fantasy of what you hoped he would be. Maybe it was easy to believe the fantasy because you felt lonely. But now you’ve got a guy living with you who’s hung up on his ex-wife and is happy to advertise it. Send him and his pictures packing, and next time be much more cautious about making drastic life changes to be with someone. And don’t date anyone who’s been divorced less than a year!

Related: “My Husband’s Ex-Wife Just Posted Their Wedding Photos on Facebook” and “My Boyfriend is Going on a Pre-Planned Vacation with His Ex-Girlfriend”

My best friend and I did not know each other for long before we became best friends. We are both straight, but I feel like we had started getting very close to each other and doing things that perhaps a couple would do. In fact, our friends called us a lesbian couple one time. But we both agreed that we are just affectionate people and feel comfortable around each other. When we are drunk, we text each other about how much we love and miss the other person.

However, we live in different states now and recently she stopped texting me as much, which she attributed to her being busy with school and work, which I understood. However, when I would go on social media, I saw that she was out drinking with another friend. When I asked her why she did not have time to text me but she had time to hang out with her other friend, she got mad at me. This happened multiple times and I felt like she kept coming up with excuses. Then she began having issues with her boyfriend and leaned on me while her other friend was out of town. As soon as her friend got back into town, she stopped communicating with me as much. I told her I was hurt and I said some awful things that I did not mean because I felt like I was being shunned by her, the one person who used to tell me everything and who would text me all the time. She asked for a break after I said those things to her.

It has now been three months since then and she has not acknowledged my apologies and has blocked me. Now I see that she is doing things with that other friend that we had discussed doing together and it hurts to see that she is treating me like I do not exist and as though I mean nothing to her.

Am I foolish to remain optimistic that she will talk to me again? I know I need to work on myself and become more secure, but it really hurt to see her treat me this way when she had once told me that she was so grateful I was in her life. — A Hurt Best Friend

Yeah, she’s moved on, and by blocking you and ignoring you and asking for a “break,” she has been as clear as she possibly can while trying to spare your feelings that she is no longer interested in pursuing this friendship. She probably felt like you fell in love with her — it sounds like you fell in love with her — and she wasn’t interested in that. Or maybe she was until she wasn’t. People’s feelings change all the time. Or maybe it was genuinely a super-close platonic friendship and she got turned off by your possessiveness and neediness.

Yes, okay, work on yourself and become more secure, but start with accepting that friendships change and it’s not cool to get mad at someone for not being as invested or as available as you want them to be or as they once might have been. Accept changes gracefully, learn to take a hint, and don’t confuse abiding devotedness from someone you’ve only just gotten to know as genuine love or the foundation of a strong friendship or relationship. When that level of devotedness comes on that quickly, it’s usually a red flag. Sounds like she recognized that; now you need to learn to recognize it, too.

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

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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.

20 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Fyodor June 5, 2018, 7:04 am

    Re field day, I love how basically all the schools give up during the last week or two. SoF’s school had a field day last week and this week they are having a day of water sports and swimming.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy June 5, 2018, 8:17 am

      Well, here in NYC, public schools still have THREE more weeks to go, and everyone pretty much threw in the towel a couple weeks ago, it’s ridiculous. Families are ready to get their summer travel started, teachers are seriously burned out and running on fumes, camps are ready to start making their moolah. And yet, here we are with field day all day today (I’m finishing my coffee and heading out in five), no school on Thursday for “anniversary day,” no school on Monday for some other made-up day and then no school a few days after that for Eid al-Fitr (a muslim holiday). It’s like, come on, let’s just call it a year already and get on with our summers!

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    ktfran June 5, 2018, 7:37 am

    I still know the Miss Suzy song! I’ve sang it to my nieces. And yes, I remember every word. Cinderella was the first that come to mind too… Sorry, I’m of no help. Oh, the other one I remember is…

    Great big globs of greasy, grimey gopher guts
    Mutilated monkey meat
    Chopped up parakeet
    French fried eye balls
    Swimming in a pool of blood
    Eat it without a spoo oo oon

    Yeah, that one is gross.

    Have fun!

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      AttacKitten June 10, 2018, 9:33 am

      Oh my dog! I was actually just trying to remember this one a couple of weeks ago (I have no idea on earth why that would be)! Thank you! Although I think we sang the last line as “And I forgot my spoon!”

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    anonymousse June 5, 2018, 7:50 am

    Miss Mary Mack!

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      ktfran June 5, 2018, 7:54 am

      Oh, duh! I love this!!!

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    Moe June 5, 2018, 8:44 am

    I am a lesbian so I speak from that perspective as I reply to the second letter. She writes, “My best friend and I did not know each other for long before we became best friends.” I read it several times, confused and weirded out. Being “best friends” is not like getting married where you enter into a commitment to stay together in a close capacity for the rest of your lives. Even dear friends we love and cherish move away and flow into and out of our everyday thoughts over the years. I think what she really meant is that she because very close and co dependent very quickly. It is hard when a good friend moves away, but I would be totally uncomfortable if I had moved away and the person was somehow made that I was hanging out with new friends there! I would have blocked you too.

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    SpaceySteph June 5, 2018, 9:18 am

    LW1, yeah its weird. If it was just pics of the bike trip with ex-wife and other friends, then maybe understandable. But the big framed picture is strange. And even more bizarre the towel thing and the “paid a lot to have it framed” excuse… what good is it to have an expensive framed photo under a towel?
    Also…Walgreens will print photos really quick from their website for you to pick up in the store, so dig one out and get it printed already if you need a photo to replace that one. .

    LW2, you were way out of line and basically accused your friend of cheating on you and behaved super weird and like a jealous lover. She’s allowed to have other friends. And honestly, its way different to have local vs long distance friends. Who can you lean on when you get a flat tire or are too sick to get out of bed and need someone to bring you food? who do you have dinner with on your birthday? Not your long distance friend. Many of my dearest and oldest friends live far away. When we’re together we’re bffs and pick up like always, but keeping up on regular contact is difficult while also trying to maintain the local friendships that form your daily village. Its just life.

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    JD June 5, 2018, 10:02 am

    LW2: Agree you are way out of line. You are acting like a stalker to your friend. She cannot hang out with new people? Good grief.

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    dinoceros June 5, 2018, 10:29 am

    LW1: You moved way too fast with this guy. His behavior is odd in a sense, but at the same time, I would assume it’s probably fairly regular behavior for someone who has been divorced for such little time. The thing is that most people aren’t moved in with someone by the time that person has only been divorced for a year (unless they were having an affair, which it sounds like you weren’t). So who really knows?

    The name thing — I mean, he probably said her name multiples times a day for ten years. My stepmom calls me by the cat’s name. I think that’s irrelevant. The picture thing — I could see someone saying they didn’t want to toss a photo because it represented a large part of their past, but a blown-up photo exists solely for presentation. If you don’t plan to present it, then who cares about the money spent on framing? I mean, the money is going to be wasted whether the photo hangs with a towel on it or is tossed. I guess I wonder if he is holding out in case there is reason to put it up again — aka, in a home with her? Or in his own home alone?

    But that’s neither here nor there. I think it’s too late to really determine if he’s over her or not because everything is already so complicated with you two living together. I think this is a situation where the only good solution is to go back in time and not move in with him. (Though you’re lucky that random guy you met on the internet and moved in with quickly only turned out to be potentially not over his wife, rather than maybe a con artist or a serial killer.)

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      JD June 5, 2018, 11:35 am

      Ya the name thing isn’t as huge. My ex and I both do it to each other now and then. I mean we said that name for 15 years. It happens. We usually just call each other babe though so that’s not too hard to mess up. Or Pooh Bear but I’m not allowed to say that one in public.

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        RedBlue June 5, 2018, 2:08 pm

        Funny. I’ve been remarried for over 10 years and still call my wife by my ex’s name when we argue and my wife refused to acknowledge that my point of view might be valid too.

        It usually breaks the tension and we have a good laugh.

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        dinoceros June 5, 2018, 2:26 pm

        Yes! It’s like when kids inevitably call their teacher “mom” or something.

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        JD June 5, 2018, 4:00 pm

        That’s the best. She has a point. I must admit it usually happens when I am bitching about something. I will run through a list: Jeff, Brad, Mike…who the heck are you?

        Much like the mom who is yelling for her kids because one is in trouble and she just starts listing them until she gets to the right name.

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    K June 5, 2018, 11:42 am

    I think we did hand clapping to Miss Suzy but it was Miss Lucy for us. Did anyone hand clap to “When Pebbles was a schoolgirl…?” or “The Spades go two lips together…”?

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    dinoceros June 5, 2018, 2:33 pm

    LW2: I’m not sure if you’re including the details about acting like a couple because you do have feelings for her or are just illustrating how close you were. Something that most people have to learn the hard way is that when you move (or a friend moves), the friendship changes. I have moved multiple times and my friends have moved multiple times, and zero of the friendships I had are the same. Some people I talk to more, and by more, I mean we exchange texts a few times a week or emails once a month. Others I speak to once every six month. Others I don’t talk to anymore. It happens. You can’t get around it, and you have to just learn how to accept it and not expect to stay as close.

    The truth is, most people will put more time into their in-person friendships because they are more rewarding in some aspects. Making time to hang out is not the same as making time to text. If I had finite time, of course I’d choose to spend it doing a fun thing with a live human being rather than hunched over my phone.

    In the future, you need to either accept that the friendship has changed or move on. It’s fine to tell someone you miss them and make an effort to talk more, but if they can’t or won’t, you have to decide if it’s more important to you to blow it up and show them how angry you are (like you did with this friend) or accept the new friendship.

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      dinoceros June 5, 2018, 2:34 pm

      Also, the idea that she can’t do things that you two once talked about doing, despite the fact that you don’t even live near here is WAY over the line.

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  • meadowphoenix

    meadowphoenix June 5, 2018, 3:54 pm

    LW2: You sound young and like you need friends where you live, so you leaned on this friendship a little too much. It happens. Next time when you feel someone pulling away, and that’s consuming your feelings about the friendship, that’s a sign you need to get more invested in the other parts and people of your life.

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  • avatar

    carolann June 5, 2018, 5:50 pm

    @K it was Miss Lucy for me too.
    LW1- I call my younger daughter by my older daughters name all the time and she hasn’t lived with us in almost 3 years. The photo thing is strange though. I would back up a bit.
    Did he move into her house or did she move into his? She said he bought a house when he moved near her, so…if I were her I would get my own place and kind of rewind the situation a bit.
    LW2- I can kind of sympathize with my best friend (now deceased) and I were really really close. Friends for 25 years. So close in fact that it made both my husband’s jealous. My first husband actively tried to separate us, it worked for a while, but not for long. Were we lesbian’s? NO not even a little, but we did love each other in a very deep way. (I am almost in tears writing this, I miss her so much) There were times when both of us moved to other states and made new friends and there was some jealousy there on both sides, but we just kept in contact and when we moved back it went back to how it was. I lost contact with her for several years while she was in College in California and I was in Georgia. (We met in GA, but both of us lived in CA and GA on and off, she was from NYC originally) but reconnected when she returned to Atlanta. I married twice and had children. She never married or had any kids. She wanted to, but the right guy never came along.
    I think if LW had chilled out a bit the friendship would have survived. As it is I would back off completely and maybe the friendship will eventually fire back up. If it does she should never let it go there again or she will ruin it.

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  • avatar

    Autumnrose June 6, 2018, 12:51 am

    LW1- I’m not a big fan of people who jump into relationships rather quickly, so I will agree with others that this was too fast. And I will also agree that pixs of his ex on display are strange. Calling you by ex’s name is also strange unless he has congantive issues.

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