Shortcuts: “My Boyfriend’s Mother Sniffs His Boxer Shorts”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great that being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

My boyfriend is 34 years old and his mother goes in the bathroom when he is taking a shower and sniffs his boxer shorts and bed sheets. She tells him he’s only allowed out till 10:00 PM, runs me down behind my back, and told us to use protection so we don’t get pregnant. She said that, if I do I get pregnant, I have to get rid of it. She listens to us behind the bedroom door when we are sleeping. We can’t get our own place as don’t have the cash. I’m pregnant. My boyfriend has had enough, and it’s breaking my heart. Please help. — Pregnant and Over His Mom

Your boyfriend’s mother sounds like a creep, I’ll grant you that. But it seems like she’s probably right to worry about her son. If you’re 34 and can’t afford your own place, how are you going to afford to take care of a baby? And where do you live in all of this? Unless you have a home that is a healthier environment than the one your boyfriend lives in and you have the emotional and financial support of at least one sane and loving parent/friend/family member, I’d suggest you seriously consider not keeping this baby. Raising a kid in a home where Grandma sniffs boxer shorts and neither parent has money to move out sounds like a nightmare.

Last June I moved from my hometown in CT to Texas. I don’t have family here, but, after I got here, I started dating my cousin’s boyfriend and we have been together ever since. There used to be a group of people I would hang out with, but we sort of went our separate ways. My boyfriend still sees them when he goes to his sister’s house, and I am left here in my apartment alone with nothing to do. I really miss my family and decided that I want to go back home. I am having major anxiety here. I fear that my boyfriend will not want to come back to CT with me even though we both have all of our family there. I mentioned that, if I were to ever have kids, I would want to be with my family, and he said that, if he were the father, he would end up paying child support because he wouldn’t be moving with me. I fear that he will not want to come with me. My lease is up at the end of May and no progress has been made to look for a place here. Either way, I need to be with my family back home and not be alone here in a place with no one. Thank you for any advice! – Ready to Go

Um… your boyfriend told you he wouldn’t move with you, so you saying that you “fear he wouldn’t move” is like saying you fear there’s going to be a bill at the end of your meal when you go out to a restaurant. Quit living in denial and quit being so passive. If you aren’t happy in your life, freakin’ do something about it instead of sitting around your apartment feeling sorry for yourself. Seriously, this is an MOA situation in every sense.

I would like to know what you would do if your boyfriend told you that he was dating another girl and that he wanted to take a break with you and and that he doesn’t want to talk to you over the phone anymore, he only wants to Whatsapp you? I still love him. — LW3

I’d Move On Already.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. LW1: FFS, what are you doing? Why are you pregnant in this terrible living situation??? Do you want a child exposed to this insanity? Please, please, PLEASE consider adoption for your child. At least give them a chance for a better life than this.

    LW2: He said that he didn’t want to move to CT. There is no mystery here; he told you directly. If you want to move to CT in the future and you know that your boyfriend will not move there ever, then MOA.

    LW3: MOA

  2. I think my brain short-circuited.

  3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    So many questions?!?!?!

    How does one date their “cousin’s boyfriend”? Isn’t the cousin dating the boyfriend? Huh? What? I need coffee…

    1. I had to read that a few times. First I thought maybe it was a typo. But I’m not sure. And now my head hurts. I think I’ll finish my Mr. Pibb and eat some Skittles and try again later.

    2. YES! Also, how is his “whole family” in CT as well, if his sister lives close enough to him in TX that they can visit? (I get it, by “whole family” she might have meant most of their families, but still — I’d say proximity to a sibling makes a place feel a lot more like home.)

    3. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

      I’ve had coffee and I still don’t get it either.

    4. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      I’ve had half my coffee, a bagel, and juggled almost $250,000 at work and I still can not for the life of me figure the first two letters out. How do people even have lives like this???

    5. Simonthegrey says:

      I wanted to know why Wendy didn’t say something about that!!!!

  4. From LW2: ” I started dating my cousin’s boyfriend and we have been together ever since.” Did she mean ex-boyfriend? Or platonic boyfriend of her cousin? Or is there even more going on here?

  5. I just can’t even.

    Moa. Lw3 gets a pass because she sounds 13, but the rest of you… I just can’t even.

  6. always, always, always, when you have a problem with a MIL or sort of MIL, you actually have a problem with your partner. period.
    ” I fear that he will not want to come with me” — im sorry, but thats hilarious. you “fear” it, LW? like its still up in the air, or you still might be able to talk him into it? come on, join us here in reality. your life will be better, i promise!
    what the heck is “whatsapp”??

    1. It’s an app that makes texting (even international texting) super-cheap. Facebook recently bought it for 19 billion dollars.

      1. Isn’t texting just automatically included in phone plans these days?

      2. I think international texting is an add-on.

    2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      Apparently it’s an app that lets you text? I don’t get it…why do you need an app to text? I feel so old.

      1. It’s not just free internationally, it’s just free overall, and by free i mean it uses internet so if you pay for internet on your phone you don’t pay additionally for every text you send so it’s way cheaper than normal texting. Here in Argentina everyone uses it, unless you are like me and have a really old phone that can’t even have internet :).

      2. It’s free to text internationally! I use it all the time because I have friends in the UK, Germany, and Australia.

      3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Okay that makes a tiny bit of sense. LW3 is your boyfriend (ex?) in another country?

      4. He might not be. One of my English friends lives here in NYC and most of the time texts me on WhatsApp from her UK phone just because that’s what she has on hand. She usually tells me if she’s on her US phone because she uses it that rarely. And in Europe I found a lot of people use WhatsApp for “normal” texting just because so many people have it and it’s easy.

      5. ok, international texting is cool- so why would this LW and her boyfriend need it?

      6. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

        Maybe cause the other girl he wants to date wouldn’t see the messages on whatsapp so it’s “safer” for him than normal texting

      7. ohhh i like this theory!
        (to LW) “hey, i mean, im dating this other girl, but its cool- we can still talk… just only over whatsapp” (to other girlfriend) “oh yea, i just have whatsapp from when i went the mexico that one time. i never even use it anymore”

      8. This is what I assumed.

      9. Also, when traveling internationally it’s how I communicated with my friends because I couldn’t use my US phone. I just needed to be in a place with wifi.

    3. I was about to ask what “whatsapp” is. I must be officially old because I can no longer keep track of what all the kids are up to these days.

      1. I didn’t know either, but I don’t even have a smartphone, so I am not up on all the apps and whatnot. I’m THINKING about getting one, though. *SOSCARY*

  7. Avatar photo LlamaPajamas says:

    Why is everyone focusing on LW2 dating her cousin’s boyfriend when LW1’s boyfriend’s mom SNIFFS HIS UNDERWEAR?!?!

    1. Avatar photo LlamaPajamas says:

      I mean, how do they know the mom sniffs his underwear and sheets? Have they caught her or did she tell them she does this? What, pray tell, is she sniffing for? And how do they know she listens outside their door at night? And why does the mom let the LW stay (or live?) there if she’s so opposed to them sleeping together?

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        ahhhhhh my brain can’t handle this!!

      2. …Make sure they’re clean? Maybe that’s how she gauges how much laundry she has that day.

      3. Avatar photo LlamaPajamas says:

        Ah, I see I’m doing laundry the boring way. I’m going to start sniffing Mr. LP’s undies when I’m ready to do laundry instead of just asking him if there’s anything he wants me to throw in. 😉

      4. im gonna tell jake he should start doing this. ill be like “no its legit i heard about it on DW”

      5. I would tell my husband to do this… but we have teenagers and their stuff is really gross so I wouldn’t want him to accidentally die from sniffing their stuff.

      6. I was guessing she sniffing for sex smells…she TOLD them not to get pregnant, so duh! 😉

      7. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        This is what I also guessed. Now I’m fighting off the urge to vomit.

    2. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me it skeeves me out. And I really don’t want to think about it. Especially since it’s Friday morning and I have a donut. And I would like to enjoy my donut.

      1. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        It makes me feel nauseous. My gag reflex is suspiciously active after reading all of these, and not just because of the underwear sniffing situation.

      2. I’ll take your donut if it’s become a burden to you.
        I’ll just keep it here for you. I swear.

      3. Aww, thanks! I appreciate the offer, but it’s chocolate frosted with rainbow sprinkles. I’m sure I can muster up the energy somehow.
        Although, it is suspicious because I found it on my desk. Which means it’s either a bribery donut or a proactive apology donut…

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        What’s that saying? Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth? A donut is a donut. I’d eat it even if it was a World Will Implode If You Eat It Donut.

      5. Oh, it’s already been devoured. My coworkers know those are my favorite.

      6. WHAT IF IT WAS A FLOOR DONUT?!?!?!?!?!

      7. Then someone is losing a finger.


    3. Wait…what? Are you implying that sniffing underwear is NOT normal?

      1. I know, they’re all just crazy. I mean, it’s not like she’s sniffing strangers underwear on the bus while they’re still wearing them so it’s completely cool.

  8. I don’t think I can even muster the strength for a response to any of these. Oh wait- all 3 of you, please get an IUD (LW1- AFTER you figure out what the heck you’re going to do with your current pregnancy…)

      1. I must have dyslexia because I first read that as “hooray for DUIs!”

      2. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

        Well, that’s how I stay in business, so I guess hooray for those too?

      3. Hey, that’s how I stay in business too 🙂 Except I process the cases and refer charges and once they’re in court I no longer care about them anymore.

  9. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

    I have a hunch that LW1 isn’t 34 but much younger than him. This definitely seems like she feels that she is powerless in the relationship and that power imbalance can definitely stem from a big age gap. LW, please do whatever you can to get out of this situation. Move back in with your own parents if that is a healthy relationship, contact your local food bank or other resources that would be able to help you start up on your own and please consider whether you want to be a single mom, give your child up for adoption or terminate. This relationship cannot and should not last so please focus and do whatever you need to get your own life settled out.

  10. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    I read GGuy just asked me to smell his jeans. I feel like I’m in some alternate universe today.

    1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      IDK where “I read” came from…

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Yes. They smelled like jeans.

      2. Well that’s a relief. If they smelled like… well anything other than jeans, that would be weird!

    2. Sue Jones says:

      My husband has zero sense of smell due to a chronic sinus condition. He is always asking me to smell his clothes to see if he can get one more wear out of those pants, etc. But that is marriage, creepy when it is your mom and you are 34 years old!

  11. LW1…Have YOU sniffed his boxers? Cause there is apparently something there worth sniffing…I dunno…

    LW2…I LOVE CT…but I love Texas too…Just thought I would share!

    LW3…I would stalk him, and normal text him, and call him incessantly, and force this “other girl” (whoever the fuck she thinks she is) back where she belongs…in hiding, seeing your bf behind your back like a decent cheater!

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      See, now that’s thinking outside of the box thatgirl! Is it possible he has some magic in his boxers that gives you x-ray vision when you smell them?

      1. ………….that doesn’t happen when you smell Peter’s? I feel so sorry for you. I never have to pay to see movies anymore, I just stand around outside and watch them through the walls.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        hahaha. I can see you now just staring at the wall in the lobby.

      3. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

        “Ma’am, can I help you?”
        “ssssh! I’m trying to watch the movie!”

  12. lets_be_honest says:


  13. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

    Yay facepalm Friday!

    1. Indeed! Eww, Yuck, and “you’ve got to be kidding”!

    2. Sue Jones says:

      Facepalm Friday Indeed!

  14. So we’re just gonna glaze over the fact that you’re dating your cousin’s boyfriend, LW2? That’s how we’re gonna play this? Ok then.

    1. Both LW1 and LW2 are queens of burying the lede. LW1: sniffs boxer shorts…listens at bedroom door…34 and lives with mom…I’M PREGNANT.

      LW2: He doesn’t want to move to CT, no desire to have kids with me other than paying child support….IS DATING MY COUSIN?!?

      1. Avatar photo LlamaPajamas says:

        Dear Wendy, I really like llamas and would like to own a llama farm one day and… I’ve poisoned every woman my fiancé has ever talked to because I don’t want him to cheat on me.

      2. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

        Dear Wendy,
        I’ve been thinking about moving to another city, and last week I hit someone with my car and just drove away, but my husband doesn’t want to move with me! How can I convince him?

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        haha, you guys are funny!

      4. Simonthegrey says:

        Dear Wendy, I met this guy from the North, but no one in my small southern town thinks he’s right for me. They keep saying he will never marry me. I bought arsenic and gave him some last night, but do you think he has any intention of marrying me in the future?

        Signed, Emily.

      5. Dear Wendy, I’m having an issue getting my boyfriend to share in the housework and his wife stole our dog in the middle of the night last week. Since we moved in together 3 months ago, he hasn’t done laundry, swept, or done the dishes even though I ALWAYS cook. Should I ask him to help around the house more? -Nobody’s Maid

      6. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

        Dear Wendy,
        My boyfriend and I have been talking about moving in together, but we’re having a hard time agreeing on how we’d share the budget. He’s still married and his wife doesn’t know about us. How can we come to a compromise?

      7. Dear Wendy,

        My boyfriend’s mom says that the fact that my raccoon has hepatitis means that I’m not mature enough to care properly for our baby. How the hell did I give birth to a raccoon?

      8. Dear Wendy,

        I was Google searching myself and I came across an article about me, which is fine. However, people had posted multiple comments about how much they dislike me. I can’t help it that I do everything better than everyone else and everyone’s jealous of my conscious uncoupling!

        Not Gwyneth Paltrow

        P.S. I don’t need advice. I’m just telling you.

      9. I have a career related question. Two years ago I moved to Orlando for a new job. Now I think I’m in love with my boss because he has the best tan I’ve ever seen. Would it be unprofessional to ask him out? I really like him and and his tan, which is better than his brother’s tan. I’m pregnant with his brother’s baby, but this baby might be less tan than babies I could have with him.

      10. I love this! You guys crack me up. And after these awful letters, I needed a laugh. Especially the first one, I just…. no. Not good.

    2. I’m still into this guy I dated briefly two years ago, but the timing wasn’t right. He’s moving back to town, but he has a girlfriend already. What should I do? Just FYI, I’m also Keyser Soze.

      1. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

        The greatest trick the LW ever pulled was convincing the world she didn’t exist.

      2. Dear Wendy, I’ve been fighting a lot with my dad lately. He doesn’t believe in me or any of the things I want to do — he’s a really old school, pre-feminist kind of dude and he thinks I should just shut up and stay in the background. Also, I slept with my brother and we’re trying to take the Iron Throne.

      3. Marry me.

    3. NO! I have too many questions!
      If he’s still your cousin’s boyfriend does that mean you guys share a boyfriend? Like when you were kids and you had to share your toys, except now you’re sharing a penis? Does your cousin hate you for stealing her boyfriend? Does your cousin KNOW you stole her boyfriend? Did your cousin’s boyfriend move to Texas with you? If your cousin’s boyfriend was already in Texas and you don’t have any family in Texas how did he come to be your cousin’s boyfriend in the first place? Does the family you want to move back to include your cousin? Because uuhhh I think she’s probably pissed at you!

    4. Oh, and do you have comprehension problems? Because your cousin’s boyfriend clearly stated he doesn’t want to move away from Texas. It’s not a bad thing, when you think about it, though! Hear me out! Your cousin will totally hate the crap out of you if you return home dating her boyfriend, but if you return home NOT dating your cousin’s boyfriend she might hate you slightly less. Good luck!

      1. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

        Or maybe she stole the cousin’s boyfriend and the cousin actually does live in Texas and is friends with the boyfriend’s sister, and that’s why she and the group of people she used to hang out with have ‘gone their separate ways’?

    5. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

      This whole thread has just made my day. I want to thank you all for that.

    6. I like how LW2 talks about how family is so important but glosses over the fact that she stole her cousin’s boyfriend. Unless they’re sharing him…

  15. Wow, #FacepalmFriday doesn’t disappoint. Did I misread, or did LW2 steal her cousin’s boyfriend?

    1. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

      Yeah, that’s the question I think we’re all asking 🙂

  16. I’m gonna give the mom in the first letter the benefit of a doubt. My guess is the LW saw her sniffing things ONCE, in a “ugh, when was the last time he did laundry?” kind of way. He is 34 and living at home, which, I know, happens more these days, but it doesn’t sound like he has any plans to try to leave, so I sort of get a man-child vibe from him. I agree with the mom that he shouldn’t be having kids. Also, I love how the LW acted like the mom was crazy for suggesting birth control, and then was like btw I’m pregnant.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      If my 34 y/o was living at home with their boyfriend and no money, I might just be crushing BC pills into their coffee.

      1. No doubt.

      2. I don’t understand how people don’t use BC.

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        I don’t either, and I’m one of the people who didn’t. But seriously, I’m with you. I don’t get it. Selfishness? Laziness?

  17. So here I am about to take a bite of my morning cereal (soft and mushy) when I read that someone’s mom is sniffing his underwear. Ugh. Breakfast is over.

  18. I can only assume that mama sniffs BF’s boxers and sheets because she cleans his room and cannot otherwise tell whether things are clean or dirty. And, that’s all I can process from this today.

    1. My rule is if you’re uncertain enough about whether the underwear is dirty that you have to sniff it, it’s probably dirty. In my book, if the underwear isn’t in the dryer or my underwear drawer, I’m just going to assume it’s dirty and trust my instincts.

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Amen. I don’t mess with undie questions.

      2. Avatar photo LlamaPajamas says:

        For real. I wouldn’t sniff my *own* underwear if I wasn’t sure if it was dirty, and I certainly wouldn’t sniff my 34-year old son’s underwear. I mean, she knows he’s having sex because the LW sleeps with him in her house! And if she’s trying to assess whether his clothes need to be washed, maybe she should just let him do his own laundry.

      3. And because the LW is pregnant. No wonder mama didn’t want the LW to get pregnant. It’s just another set of undies for her to have to sniff.

  19. I don’t get LW2. Texas is so much better than CT in so many ways. The people are nicer, the weather is nicer, there are more things to do,

    1. That’s a weird thing to say. Plenty of people would prefer to live in CT, and the LW said she wants to move back closer to her family.

    2. Lived in both places…and I love them both…but dang, 8 “thumbs down”? Harsh!

    3. Lived long-term in both places, and I gotta disagree. If the water issues in TX ever get sorted, I might change my mind, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

  20. Wendys Dad says:

    Did I miss a comment? I’m wondering how the hell AP can miss out on commenting on these three train wrecks. Where are you, Addie?

    1. Maybe she’s actually working at work? (Unlike me)

    2. Maybe she just doesn’t have anything to add to today’s discussion. Bwahahahaha!! Even typing that with a straight face was hard. Obviously she is at her new place, trapped under a giant stack of magazines that tipped over while she was microwaving her breakfast burrito. Somebody in Chicago call 911! Hang on, Addie, we’re coming!

  21. feelingroovy says:

    LW3 is clearly a kid so that’s NBD… but the first two? Holy cannoli…

  22. WTF just happened?

    LW1: There has to be more to this story. You can’t really be two adults in this situation, it just doesn’t happen in real life.

    LW2: Really?

    LW3: Is your cousin dating your boyfriend in Texas?

    1. Ak, mind meld. If both of us think they’re embroiled in the same sprawling story, it must be true!

      1. Only way I can see it! Wendy must have broken one letter in to three parts to try and trick us! Obviously the letter writer wants to move home, because she is pregnant from her cousins boyfriend, who is 34 and still lives with his mother, but wont leave, because the LW refuses to sniff his boxers, because it’s icky, and now he has run back to her cousin, who is also his sister, well because Texas.

  23. I GOT IT, LW2! Your boyfriend doesn’t want to leave Texas BECAUSE YOUR COUSIN IS THERE and he’s addicted to sniffing her underwear. If it weren’t for that, they’d just conduct their affair via WhatsApp.

    1. People, think about it. It’s the Unified Theory of DW, kind of like the Unified Theory of Pixar.

      1. I bet the cousin is the pantless drunkie.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        My birthday plan is to be a pantsless drunkie. (have I sufficiently annoyed everyone talking about my birthday yet?)

  24. Yeah, I really hope LW1 is around 20 because otherwise there’s just no excuse for being so irresponsible about this. Stop focusing so much on his mother. You’re pregnant and about to be a mother yourself. But if I were you, I would strongly consider other options because it’s clear you have enough trouble taking care of yourself.

  25. lets_be_honest says:

    I just wanted to thank you all for the laughs this morning. I love you man!
    (I may or may not be buzzed.)

    1. happy friday before birthday weekend!

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        like like like like like

  26. Jessibel5 says:

    The first letter reminds me of those super creepy Old Spice commercials

  27. Oh lord, you guys cracked me up with your “burying the lede” mock letters

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