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 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 took the Metro-North from the city from New Haven to join my partner and two close guy friends for a jam-band show, (I’m more of an electronic music person but I can get down with the hippy stuff.) Apparently, my late decision to join (born out of some child custody confusion/dates) was very stressful for my partner as “I really want you to come and I love you and I’m excited for you to be here, but we had a plan and you’re changing the plan!!”

This was in response to my suggesting we get an additional hotel room so there wouldn’t be a bunch of people trying to crash in the same room after a night of partying. I wasn’t requiring that he sleep in my room, just that we have two rooms because I am an adult woman who would prefer to shower and sleep in a non-dorm like situation.

I got the feeling I’d Yoko’d the trip. He confirmed his feelings of Yoko-ness. Other dudes on the trip had an excellent time and were happy I was there and denied any Yoko-type vibes.

Of note: I wore couture gowns to the jam band show. (My friend hooks really cool stuff up at estate sales in Greenwich and I visited her on the way up.) As a point of clarification, he LOVES the way I look. But yesterday he expressed feeling like he looked lame next to me…..

Great night, great show, did not feel particularly close to him.

Woke up this morning TO ANOTHER FUCKING FIGHT ABOUT THE FUCKING SHIRT. Am over it, but…

My six-year old is in love with him and vice versa. Breaking it off will destroy him. I omitted this part because perhaps this is what I’m most ashamed of: that I brought this person into our lives and now I’ll be hurting him.

Can I save this thing?

Don’t stay with someone you’ve outgrown and no longer feel a connection with because you’re afraid of hurting your child by breaking up with someone he really likes. As a mom, I understand the inclination to prioritize one’s kid’s feelings, but in romantic relationships the feelings that are most important are the two people in it (or three, I guess, in cases of throuples). Obviously, I don’t know you or your partner, but you come across as someone who is mature, smart, and lots of fun. Your parter, through your description… does not seem the same. Maybe he is, but I don’t think *you’re* seeing him that way anymore (if you ever did), and that’s the problem. Your kid’s liking him is a big deal. It wouldn’t work out if he didn’t. But it’s not going to work out either if you aren’t really into your partner anymore. Are you?


  1. Avatar photo MaterialsGirl says:

    It just sounds like he’s super insecure and it’s coming out in all sorts of places; all of them directed at you.

  2. anonymousse says:

    Your son needs to see you model healthy relationships. He might miss him, but kids are resilient.

  3. LisforLeslie says:

    It’s time to move on. This is someone that can’t roll with the punches and can’t be flexible. And he can’t admit when he’s wrong. Somehow he’s making it your fault that he looks like a schlub. He doesn’t want to shop. He doesn’t want you to shop for him. He doesn’t want you to look fantastic because he looks lame in comparison.

    Do you have to pretend to be less intelligent? If you play a game do you force yourself to lose so he doesn’t get upset? Staying with this person “for the kids” is never a good reason. Your son will feel the loss, but you can help him get through it through kindness and being open.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don’t really have an opinion on who was right or wrong with the trip thing, and I don’t really think it matters, but it does really illustrate that you two are not like, synergistic, easy, on the same page, able to go with each other’s flow. And sorry, but another fight about the fucking shirt? Bye.

    Look, I get the sense there was a lot of logistical shit to overcome with you two getting together. That and moving him in with your son, right, it’s making you feel like you can’t easily extricate yourself from this. But I think you need to.

    1. This was me. Another thing, you’re older than I thought if you’re Gen-X (I think you said on the other post). So like comparable to Wendy and me in age, at least. I assumed this guy was a lot younger than that. Is he in his 40s or 50s acting like this? Like, the jam bands, the broken flip-flops, the crashing in a hotel room with a bunch of dudes, the picking fights, all of it just sounds so young.

      1. LisforLeslie says:

        A 40 year old dude having four sleep in a room – ok, no issue of people sharing beds but that bathroom! That will be a disaster.

    2. I tried commenting on the original post but was told I as posting “too quickly ” (?)….re: logistics, it almost sounds like LW is in love with the idea of this epic romance overcoming space & time etc. Speaking from experience, whenyore with the right person, there’s no need for drama. Get this guy out of your life – and your son’s. Do you really think your child will be in therapy years from now discussing this breakup? Isn’t it more likely that a volatile environment with two arguing adults will lead to that? Your partner sounds like a teenager (I.e. He values wearing clothes until they break down more than meeting your needs and reasonable societal expectations).

  5. Prognosti-gator says:

    I get the sense this actually isn’t rooted in fashion at all. (I find the fashion part tiring myself, as I DGAF about what’s trendy, but that’s not why I say this.)

    It feels like your BF is worried about people changing him, or having his desires subsumed by others. Whether it’s fashion, or messing with “the plan”, or whatever.

    This doesn’t mean it’s something you should put up with, on the contrary, it sounds like he isn’t ready for a relationship where the other person will also have wants and needs.

    But I don’t think it’s actually about the SHIRT. He just doesn’t seem to have the depth to talk about what’s really getting at him.

    1. “… it sounds like he isn’t ready for a relationship where the other person will also have wants and needs.”

      THIS!! Honestly, if you don’t end this relationship, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he ends it for you soon. He’s not where you are, relationship-wise, right now. It’s not the paisley shirt or the second hotel room he has a problem with, it’s you. He’s just too emotionally immature to vocalize it appropriately.

  6. ele4phant says:

    Since I got flack on your initial post for being too harsh on you and breezing past his numerous faults – so this time let me start with acknowledging that this guy seems like a hot mess. He sounds immature, insecure, unable to take responsibility for himself, emotionally volatile and incapable of talking through issues like an adult, and has a general disrespect for you and what you care about.

    Honestly, why are you keeping him around?

    I acknowledge your son has formed a relationship with him and disrupting that would be hard on your child and upsetting for you to see, but it seems like you want to shoehorn this guy into someone he’s not (that is, an adult, reasonable partner that respects you and behaves reasonably). You can’t change him (although absolutely he SHOULD change…just saying it’s not possible for you or any other women to do that for him, he has to do it himself), so…I’d cut him loose.

    Go find someone who will not only be open to letting you buy him a paisley shirt, but that will treat you with a baseline of respect and that can have a self-aware and respectful conversation with you when he’s upset about something.

    I don’t really see what you’re getting out of this relationship. It wouldn’t be a failure or reflect poorly on you to just call it already.

  7. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

    This guy is kind of baffling to me. As in, LW really hasn’t done anything unreasonable here in this update. Sure, childcare stuff can be complicated, but that happens sometimes. And she dressed up how she liked, nbd! And wanting to get another room to spread out the number of people crashing doesn’t strike me as unreasonable either. It’s his reaction to these perfectly normal sounding things is what is the problem here and he needs to get it together. I would not want to have to put up with this behavior, where you are practically walking on eggshells.

    1. Bittergaymark says:

      I agree. This guy is a mess. He constantly created needless petty drama. It is exhausting to read about… so it must be way more exhausting to live.


      Trust me. Your kid will get over it. Trust me.

      1. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        Exactly! It just sounds so exhausting.

  8. Yes to breaking it off. IMO you two as a couple are not compatible. The simplest things seem to be a struggle and a fight with this guy. He seems immature, selfish and unreasonable. He flips out and over-reacts when you would least expect it ,over things that should not be this dramatic. I feel he just tosses you crumbs here and there, to placate you, but you don’t ever get the “whole loaf”. It sounds sad and tiresome.
    As far as your son is concerned, this makes it harder. But also remember you two fight often because of this guy’s idiocy. That is not great for kids to be around. You can explain to your son that people can be good people but do not always belong together as they don’t want the same things. Make sure he understands it has nothing negative to do with him. Good luck, I think you will be a wonderful S.O for the right guy. One who will make your value to him obvious. I don’t think this current guy is capable of that.

  9. You’re not compatible. Your son has a relationship with him, but kids have lots of adults who come in and out of their lives. My son forms a huge attachment to his teachers and then they’re gone in a year. Your son will be fine. He’s only 6, you can’t stay in a dud relationship till he goes to college. Your happiness matters too

  10. I agreed with (and still do) all of Bitter Gay Mark’s comments from yesterday.
    And yeah move on. So he has “fashion trauma” because of some “trauma” that happened to him — everyone has stuff happen to them. But many of us rise above that and don’t use whatever it was to hurt others in the present. He sounds manipulative and passive aggressive AF. And needy and critical and lots of work!! He’s too special with too many past issues to dress courteously for a wedding?!?( Thank God you are not married to him. When you wrote that “he” will be destroyed by the breakup, I couldn’t immediately tell whether you were referring to your child or to this supposed grown ass man. Your not staying with someone who is not right for you means that he is not right for your child. And your leaving someone who is not right for you (doesn’t treat you right, is too special for that) is a good example for your child.

  11. The fights are not about the shirt. If I had to guess? They’re about his insecurity and shame spiral, and projecting all that on you or burying it in an argument about fabric.

  12. OMG get rid of this man child already. This person is not relationship material.

  13. So the wedding is in 3 days, right? Does he have an outfit that’s acceptable to wear?

  14. Teri Anne says:

    Not everyone wants to wear a paisley shirt. I am also not fond of paisley. But a mature man will calmly ask you to please exchange the paisley shirt for a shirt he does like. A mature man will not start a huge argument that lasts for days, just because you misjudged his taste in clothes. It was hard for me to read this letter, because the boyfriend reminds me of my late husband, who would become angry and yell over the smallest things. We were married 20 years before he died, but I should have left him years beforehand. Your son will be sad when you leave him, but he will suffer worse having such a poor example for a father figure.

    1. Right, he can just say, thanks so much, I don’t love the print but I like the shirt. Were there other patterns in shirts like that? Or, thank you but I already bought a shirt I’m going to wear! ?

  15. anonymousse says:

    I think your son likes him because you do but he won’t really miss him too much after he’s gone. He will realize you feel less stressed and happier. You will spends much less time second guessing what you did wrong to set him off again.

  16. Ach such silly vanity. Agree with others that it isn’t the shirt. If he was so bothered he could have taken the time to find something he could live with that meets the requirements. But noooo he wanted to leave it to you then pick a fight.

  17. I’m exhausted just reading this, it reminds me of a truly terrible relationship I used to be in. Do you really want to spend the rest of your days with endless drama about trivial matters? Do you really want to teach your son this is what relationships are supposed to be like?

    Honestly, I’m sure there’s a better man out there for you. But even so, it sounds like you’d be better off with no relationship rather than staying in this one. Good luck xx

  18. The child will absolutely get over it. Seriously, how many different ways can you say don’t stay together for the kids? And do you want your child to think it’s okay to be with someone meh? The disillusionment will come for him, too, because you’re going to continue to be unhappy.

    Where do you want to be in 5 years? Still wondering why you’re with someone who’s all about the drama and with whom you don’t connect?

  19. Never ever stay with the wrong person “for the sake of the kids” , instead model the life you want for them, to them. Show them to expect a good relationship with someone who respects them.

    1. – and if that means no relationship at all, that’s also a great thing for kids to learn, that you can be enough just yourself if you so want.

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