Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Topic of the Day: When Should You Have Known It Was Over?

Drew and I had a little getaway (sans kids) over the weekend – which, maybe, shouldn’t be the first sentence following a headline about when you should have known it was over, but stay with me here. We had a great time in Hudson, NY, disconnecting from our responsibilities (i.e. those aforementioned kids we left at home), hanging out, aimlessly wandering around, day drinking (my fave), and trying to solve a crazy mystery at our airbnb (you can check it out in the highlights of my insta stories). At one point, I was reminiscing about a party I went to in my 20s…

and how I got sick and went home early. I was recalling how two of my friends put me in a cab, and when I got home, my boyfriend, whom I lived with, was already asleep and I didn’t want to wake him up.

“He didn’t go to the party with you?” Drew asked.

“No,” I replied, “We didn’t really go out together that much.”

And that was true: For about four years in my 20s, arguably my peak youth, I dated and lived with a guy who was very sweet and loved me but whom I had about as much in common with as a houseplant. Consequently, we lived pretty separate lives (save for occasional Saturday afternoon trips to World Market in Evanston to pick out pots for our houseplants, and sometimes we would compromise on a movie to watch together afterward); we even had separate bedrooms.

Honestly, I should have known it was over when we moved to Chicago together and he had zero argument against having separate bedrooms. And I *really* should have known it was over when, weekend after weekend, I found myself doing most things without him (parties, book readings, brunch… I can’t even remember a single time we went to the beach together and I basically lived at the beach every summer in Chicago). I told myself I was independent and it was great having a boyfriend who respected and liked that about me. And it was! But still, I think of those years I didn’t have to pay a babysitter $20 an hour to enjoy time out with a significant other and I wince at all the missed opportunities.

Looking back, were there moments or acts in your past relationships that should have indicated it was over? Did you ignore those warnings or did you take heed and end things?

And sort of related: Have you ever lived with a significant other but maintained separate bedrooms?

22 comments… add one
  • Alex March 19, 2019, 8:22 am

    I knew, but ignored it, when I discovered he had taken another girl to the county fair while I was busy working. I spent years (3.5 almost) trying to make it work believing he was finally telling the truth after I’d catch him in yet another lie. Final straw that broke the camels back was when he took a solo trip to Europe for his 30th birthday and actually went somewhere else to meet up with a girl he met on a cam site. It sounds insane, because it was. But now I’m in a much better relationship and he is dating the girl from the fair (HAHAHA) it’s just so great how things work out.

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  • JD March 19, 2019, 8:24 am

    I for sure should have realized when he just wasn’t willing to progress the relationship in any reasonable time frame (10 years waiting total). He later told me it was because I didn’t make enough money than him. Well, I was 20 when we started dating and he was 29, so ya, he was going to be making more than me. By the time we split for good I made far more than him and he was wanting me back. After all that though, no thanks buddy. I should’ve been good enough with less money. We also lived pretty separate lives. Never lived together, generally did our own thing with our friends. We did enjoy doing things together but not with anyone else involved (friends, family). I should’ve caught on. My husband and I like doing most anything together, with the exception of pool on Monday nights as I find that very boring…but in fairness it is often boring for him sitting around waiting for his turn for what can be hours.

    I think what kept me with him was that we were just best friends. To this day I can say he was my best friend ever. We just clicked so well that way. We just never clicked in a more romantic way, in all areas.

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  • Daenora March 19, 2019, 9:11 am

    As of this past Friday (March 15) my 3 year long distance relationship was officially over, and in brutal fashion. About 4 months into the relationship I had noticed a change in him, but I had brushed it off thinking he was just sad that I wasn’t able to accompany him on an expensive trip. After that, the red flags began to pile up en masse. I won’t post it all here because it really REALLY could fill an entire post up on its own like a particularly bad episode of Jerry Springer. But yes, been there done that bought the t-shirt and made the movie.

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  • Miss MJ March 19, 2019, 9:19 am

    Before my husband addressed a medically-caused horrible snoring problem, we actually *slept* in separate bedrooms (or, rather, he’d go sleep in the guest bedroom), since I’m a super light sleeper. We’d still snuggle and have sex, etc. in “our” bedroom, but when it came to sleep, he was outta there. We don’t do it anymore, though, now that the snoring is resolved.

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    • JD March 19, 2019, 12:48 pm

      I almost went to the couch the other night since he was snoring but i didn’t want to get into that habit, plus my back wouldnt have been happy. He actually is supposed to get his sleep study results today so let’s see if we can control that snoring.

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    • TheHizzy March 19, 2019, 3:35 pm

      I hear you. It’s awful. Currently allergies have plagued our area in hard form and he’s spent the last 2 nights in another room since he can’t use his machine. I’m hoping the pollen will drop soon so he can sleep in bed again.

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      • JD March 19, 2019, 9:26 pm

        Ya I am back to walking around with Kleenex in my pocket. Just figuring out what allergies I have that come up here as I was only here for a small part of last season. Trying to do the local honey thing they recommend.

  • Copa March 19, 2019, 9:31 am

    My first serious/long-term boyfriend didn’t visit me in the hospital. I was admitted for emergency surgery and was there for I think three days. It was right around the holidays, he was about a 30 minute drive away and couldn’t be bothered. This was obviously a bad sign that I chose to ignore and I tried to get over it, but I didn’t. Then like six months later he didn’t invite me as his +1 to his friend’s wedding (so he could pursue the MOH, which I did not know until later). We broke up after that. These were the two major moments that stand out in my mind, I’m sure there were smaller “offenses” (on both sides) that I can no longer remember because it was a long time ago. Those last six months were pretty bad, but by that point we were living together and ending things seemed so scary. So we stayed until there was nothing left.

    I can’t believe I stuck around! It’s embarrassing, but know I wouldn’t now that I am older and wiser. I heard he got married this past summer from mutual family friends and that it all happened very fast, and all I could think was, “Who on earth would *marry* him?”

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    • Copa March 19, 2019, 9:40 am

      Oh, and I found out after we broke up that he skipped out on my graduation dinner to be with the MOH from the wedding! I haven’t thought this stuff for such a long time. It’s all coming back and I’m cringing hard. He sucked!

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  • Allornone March 19, 2019, 11:07 am

    This probably doesn’t count since he had already broken up with me and was dating another girl but- one Thursday we were hanging out (we were trying “Let’s be friends” thing) and the jerk was lamenting about how much he missed me and how bad his current relationship was going. While I wasn’t dumb enough to sleep with him (no doubt his intention), I was dumb enough to still be in love and leave that night with renewed hope. The following Tuesday, he told was getting married. That Saturday. She was Canadian, and they found out she was about to be deported, so it had to be fast. To top it off, we wanted me to be his best (wo)man. I declined and was instantly, completely over him.

    That was seven years ago. They are in the process of divorcing and he’s been reaching out lately laming attempting to pull his old games. Fortunately, I’m madly in love with my boyfriend of five years, so, ew, no.

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    • Kate Avery March 19, 2019, 11:20 am

      I realized I misread the question. So I guess I SHOULD have known it was over when he actually first dumped my a**. This story was what it took for me to finally realize it. Ah, your 20s…

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  • Kali March 19, 2019, 11:13 am

    Wait! There are beaches in Chicago????

    My ex-husband gave me reasons to leave from the first few months of marriage. They were interspersed with moments of great times and loving attention. Plus I adored family. It took me 20 years to kick him out and by then he was spending most of his time at his various restaurants. He’d also given our daughters special pager codes to use so he’d know it wasn’t me calling him. Then it took 5 more years to get him to sign the divorce papers because he wanted me back. So many lessons learned.

    And sweet revenge too – my boyfriend now is younger, sweetness itself, a standup guy with great morals who makes a great living and supports me through my cancer journey. It’s been nearly 20 years together and I couldn’t ask for a better person with whom to share my life. And I’m still close to my ex’s family who hate his new wife.

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  • ktfran March 19, 2019, 12:04 pm

    Re: Chicago.

    29 beaches in fact. And 26 miles of open lakefront. The only reason I have that info. is because we write about it in proposals.

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  • TaraMonster March 19, 2019, 12:17 pm

    I should have known it wasn’t going to work with my ex like a million times, but that *special love* is a helluva drug. We were best friends in college and eventually started dating, together for 8 years. His “ex” (of like a month; I’m not sure that even counts) had always sensed the chemistry between us, even if we were in denial about it, and she did not handle it well when we got together. It was a small campus, and she was always popping up having emotional breakdowns and he “had” to be there for her. I let this go on for too long bc I felt guilty that her intuition had been right and I guess I was putting myself in her shoes and thinking how much that must have sucked. But that’s because I was 19 and dramatic with bad boundaries lol (ah youth)! Eventually, I put my foot down about it and it stopped, but this dynamic played out in other ways for the rest of our relationship–he put me second to everyone and everything else. He was crazy about me, I never doubted it, but he had (and still has) serious commitment issues.

    I used to be really bothered by the fact that I let him treat me in ways that were so clearly unacceptable. One time I even wrote to Wendy about it and she concurred haha. For a long time I was really mad at myself for missing so many red flags and wasting so much of my twenties with him, but I really had to live through it to gain that wisdom, including the wisdom to be compassionate about the fact that I’m a human and made mistakes/didn’t always act on things when I should have. And the relationship was so formative that I can’t really regret any of it. We are still best friends, 7 years after our breakup (tip to everyone: no you can’t be friends right away, have a nice long stretch of no contact first, ya dummies). I’m now in a very healthy and happy relationship because I learned what I did and didn’t want from a partner from missing all those red flags and ignoring my intuition way back when. You live and you learn, ya know?

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  • Ale March 19, 2019, 12:39 pm

    When his best friend called me stupid and said I was just “another girlfriend” but she would always be his best friend and a couple other hurtful things. And he brushed it off and said she was like that, and that he wasn’t going to get in the middle of us or try to fix anything and never defended me (turns out she was right). Or when she gifted him a trip to Cancun (with her of course, his married best friend) for his 30th birthday. Yes, we were all 30 year olds when this happened.

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  • honeybeenicki March 19, 2019, 1:28 pm

    With my ex, I knew it was over after a year. But I stayed with him for 2 more years! Mostly out of convenience. I didn’t enjoy his company. We still did things together, but only because we both enjoyed those activities. I would do things to benefit him and he was completely selfish.

    As far as separate rooms, I don’t actually have that but I know at least 3 happily married couples who maintain separate bedrooms for a variety of reasons. I actually think it can work to some people’s advantage. While I sometimes would love to have my own bedroom, I know I’m ultimately better off sleeping in the same room as my husband.

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  • Lucidity March 19, 2019, 2:36 pm

    When, four months into a high school relationship, I found sexually explicit emails between him and another girl. I should have left, but I had low self-esteem, believed his platitudes, and stayed. I then lost my virginity with him, and wasted the three and a half years of my life in that relationship. My grades fell and my friendships suffered because I was more focused on him and “us” than on myself and my personal goals. In the last 9 months, during my first year away at post-secondary school, he slowly pulled back, leaving me increasingly sad, lonely, and confused, until finally, at the end of the school year, I came home and discovered evidence that he’d been cheating. When I confronted him, he dumped me.

    That whole relationship was a big learning experience for me.

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  • Ange March 19, 2019, 6:12 pm

    Hmmm I was miserable because he’d never touch me and all he did was work (sporadically) and drink and fall asleep on the couch. I was eating my feelings due to it and he had the nerve to tell me all the former was happening because I’d ‘let myself go’. How dare he say that when he was the cause and he should have been so grateful I was willing to put up with what little he brought to the table, y’know? Done and done.

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  • anonymousse March 19, 2019, 7:46 pm

    I should have known when we separated into separate bedrooms.

    It got worse-he installed spyware on my devices to stalk me, I finally moved out for the second and final time, he swore off women forever and like two months later was engaged to a neighbor down the street from where our house was. Man, I am soooooooo happy I finally stopped trying.

    I still don’t really regret it, because it led me to my husband. We’re now about to celebrate our fourth year being married, and eight years of being together!

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  • allathian March 20, 2019, 3:54 am

    My first serious relationship lasted two years and three months, and that’s two years too many. In retrospect I was more in love with the idea of having a boyfriend than with him. The thing that really should have set my alarm bells ringing was that he wasn’t interested in sex, at least not with me. In those two years we had sex maybe five times in total, and every time it was at my initiative and he was so drunk he was barely capable… But I was 23 when we met and much less experienced than most of my peers, so I guess I didn’t want to give up on him right away.

    We nearly broke up after a year, and I stupidly took him back after a few weeks apart.

    We had serious communication issues; I’d rant and rave and he’d shut down and give me the silent treatment, leading to a vicious circle. We didn’t live together at any point, so we’d be apart for a few days and then go on as if nothing had happened, but without resolving any of our issues.

    Eventually I became depressed and as I was still a student at the time, I got a referral for therapy from the student health center because my depression was seriously affecting my studies. After a few months of therapy, I realized that for things to change I had to end the relationship; I had been trying to provoke him into ending it without success. In retrospect I’m glad, because if I had succeeded, my recovery would have been longer. I would’ve blamed him for the breakup instead of owning my decision.

    Pretty soon things changed for the better and I realized that I’d much rather live the rest of my life alone than spend another day in a bad relationship. I was single for about eight years with the occasional FWB, before meeting my husband.

    We sleep in separate bedrooms, mainly because I’m such a light sleeper that I really can’t sleep with anyone else in the same room. No doubt part of the reason is that ever since I moved away from my parents’ house at 19, where I shared a room with my little sister, I’ve lived alone for much of my adult life. I suspect that separate bedrooms have saved our marriage, because when I don’t get enough sleep, I’m not a nice person. Probably the main reason why we decided one kid was enough for us…

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  • keyblade March 20, 2019, 2:53 pm

    Unrelated: I think there might be an issue on the site. I think a thread disappeared unless I’m just crazy. Wasn’t there a thread by “to lie or not”?

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    • Kate March 20, 2019, 3:27 pm

      Yes. I deleted it. It’s a troll.

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