Update: “Scared He’ll Be a Schlub” Responds

updatesIt’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 boyfriend didn’t like the paisley shirt she bought for him to wear to her friend’s “electro-hippy psychedelic chic” wedding. They proceeded to have big blow-out arguments “that,” she wrote, “in his mind, are all my fault because I bought the offending shirt.” She continued:

“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?”

I reached out to her recently and asked whether he ever found something to wear to the wedding and how they were doing today. Her update:

Yes, yes, he did find something to wear, and that is a story unto itself. I can do an update: We are still together… Should I include the part where I took myself to Iceland for my birthday, slept with someone else – we are semi-open – returned with the intention of breaking up permanently, and then went to Arizona for a San Pedro journey where I was certain that the mescaline would tell me to END IT but instead got the message that my boyfriend is an idiot, and will always be an idiot, but that fundamentally he is good for me and that I, too, am an idiot? Kidding, that would be too long, but you get the idea.

I get the idea and I want to hear more.

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
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  1. Bittergaymark says:

    Talk about a bad trip. ?

  2. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

    No, no, OP, we do need a longer update! Please share. 😉

  3. Yes, unsatisfied, lol. not sure how much of the update was a joke? More questions than answers arising from this for me,anyway!

  4. Sounds healthy! Tell me more.

  5. Sally E Stryker says:

    I think woman seems like a complete PIA. I mean, just a terrible person. He should break up with her. Let her travel around on her vision quests and going to hippy weddings wearing whatever she needs to. But, just yuck.

    1. drspaceman says:

      sally this is so on point. i risk my life and liberty every day just to fuck around with toxic positivity and culturally appropriative vision quests.

      i am super-curious, though, does PIA stand for “Pain in the Ass?” i 100% cosign and further celebrate the agency and assertion with which you evoked this acronym.

  6. drspaceman says:

    you guys, i have pervasive, untreated ADHD and unless you message me directly to get an update (and remind me with passive-aggressive texts), i will forget to tell you what happened.

    suffice it to say, everyone was right, i was deluded and i am also a total asshole and lots of psychedelics were involved.

  7. drspaceman says:

    How has it possibly been this long since I wrote this most recent email blurb to wendy…….oh, right, COVID. And denial.

    Ugh, we broke up today. For real, thank god.

    I’ll try to write an interesting synopsis but honestly? (I’m looking at you, Sally) It’s pretty fucking beautiful in terms of approaching the breakup with gratitude–sincere gratitude–for how we were placed in one another’s lives at a time when we both needed a particular sort of love and support to move forward.

    He’s sleeping on the couch, snoring with impunity and already I miss him infinitely. Love is freedom, liberty and letting go in order to live. Love is giving as much as you’re willing to die on a hill for a stupid fucking shirt, only to follow it through to the end when you can both empathize with the inanity of the initial argument and its origins and how you can move forward, with or without one another.

    Love is also “accidentally stealing” this excellent t-shirt he left in my laundry bag…..xx

    1. Love certainly is a lot of grandiose things if you want it to be, though I hope someday you can get to a point where you don’t feel the need to run off to Iceland or hit the mescaline in order to continue doing it. Like, most sensible people would probably cut it off if they get to the point of needing a vision quest (is that what it’s called?) to figure it out.

      Sometimes there’s a lot of relief in a bit of stability and some of the routine it brings. Cheaper than international travel too.

  8. We never did get the story of what he wore to the wedding.

    And I’ll believe you broke up for good when you send a future update. This one is unconvincing.

  9. drspaceman says:

    You guys are amazing. Truly, thank you for remaining curious as I can now type out a response and process all of this instead of sitting in my bed under the covers crying about Ukraine.

    First let me address psychedelics: they can be powerful healing medicines and have demonstrated remarkable success rates in clinical trials: (https://maps.org/ and https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/psychiatry/research/psychedelics-research.html). They can also be recreational party drugs or navel-gazing, narcissistic sinkholes. I’m a clinical psychologist and a big advocate for legalization of MDMA for PTSD and psilocybin for a range of debilitating mental health conditions. I’m also a person who tries and sometimes fails at using them to heal myself.

    The wedding and the shirt: I backed off and let him do his thing after he assured me he’d find something appropriate for the wedding. I put the offending shirt back into its original packaging with the return label affixed because I had a feeling he would wait until the last minute, and…he did! To his credit, he went into Manhattan to try to find something and came to the rude awakening that Century 21 no longer exists and H&M is just an overwhelming shitshow for someone who doesn’t like to shop. While he was learning these things, I went to fedex and sent the original shirt back. Within fifteen minutes of doing so, he called and asked if I had returned it yet and could he please stop shopping, come home and concede defeat. We laughed and it was sweet in large part because nope, the shirt was on it’s journey back to Paul Fredrek.

    Next day (the day before the wedding) I escorted him to some local stores in our neighborhood and he had a fucking field day at I.D. Not only did he find hip, acceptable shirts but he also tried on pants that made his excellent butt look even more fantastic. Have you ever seen the 30 Rock episode where Liz Lemon finds a pair of jeans that just totally flatter her ass? But she can’t ethically buy them because they were made in a sweatshop? It was like that except for the exploitation of child labor. He was prancing around the store like a shiny pony trying on EVERYTHING and loving it. I, however, was seething outside because after a month and a half of mind-bending, displaced rage about a shirt (a shirt!), it was a little too much to watch him undermine his own argument that indeed, clothes can be fun and can give you a boost of confidence regardless of how vapid that may sound.

    The wedding was gorgeous but a part of us had been too injured by all the fighting. To this day, and during our final breakup conversation, mention of the shirt induces stifled rage. He admits that it’s baggage from the demise of his eighteen year relationship and I have so much compassion for that, but I guess that’s the point: we were both coming off breakups when we met and as much as we moved mindfully in assessing our capacity to enter into something new, neither of us was truly ready.

    I love him so much and this is incredibly painful, but we need to set one another free. He needs to find himself and I need to address a myriad of issues related to my own fuckery. It’s one of those things where you look into each other’s eyes and cry and beg and hope that you will find one other again–when everything is healed–but you just know that the pleading and hoping is nothing more than a delusional attempt to avoid the finality of things.

    To add a bit of levity: at the wedding he was standing in a circle with a small group of sharply dressed guys, all of whom dejectedly conceded that their girlfriends and wives had dressed them for the event 🙂

    1. Oh you’re a psychologist, that explains a lot!

      I don’t think this was just bad timing. Normal people don’t have rage at all, let alone for months / years because one presumed to buy the other an article of clothing for an event. You know that can’t be explained or excused by baggage from a previous relationship. Maybe to be triggered by it and momentarily get upset. Not to flip out and seethe with rage for any period of time. That part is about him being a fucking weirdo and you two being a horrible couple. This is not like, if you met years later or earlier that wouldn’t have happened. I am certain if you ever tried to give it another go, you’d have the same issues.

      1. Also, what a BABY!!! Honestly, what a little brat. You were the mommy in this situation from the beginning when you bought him a shirt to the end when you took him shopping. Are you familiar with the parent/child dynamic in relationships? There’s probably a clinical name for it but idk what it is. But I mean, does he have a history of being a pouty little tantrum-throwing nightmare of a toddler in his relationships and was he seeking out the same here with you? Is that your thing, to be the mommy, or you’d rather be the child or not have this dynamic at all?

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