Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Updates: “Caring Girlfriend” Responds

It’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 today. After the jump, we hear from “Caring Girlfriend” whose boyfriend of one year never spoke of his childhood or brother who committed suicide eight years ago. “I feel like I am missing a big chunk of who my boyfriend was and is by not knowing really anything about his brother.” She wrote. “I know some people may want to talk about their past but need some gentle prodding in the right direction. Any advice about this situation would be much appreciated.” After the jump, find out whether she’s learned more about her boyfriend, his brother, and his childhood.

I want to thank everyone for their input and advice. I especially want to thank the amazing commenters who shared their personal stories about losing a loved one and how they are dealing with that grief. I think I was just extremely overwhelmed with how to delicately approach anything that involved talking about his/our childhood. To people who told me to “butt out” and “stop prodding” I appreciated the input but I was not wanting to know the details of his brother’s death or anything, but more about my boyfriend’s life when he was younger (which would obviously include his brother).

I hadn’t been planning on bringing anything up about his brother/childhood but fate ended up intervening a little bit. About a month ago, I was invited to dinner at my boyfriend’s house with his mom and some family friends. These family friends actually babysat my boyfriend and his brother when they were really young. They ended up trading a bunch of stories about my boyfriend (some including his brother) about when he was younger. It was so great to hear about his childhood and I really enjoyed it. After dinner, I just told him that I really enjoyed hearing about his childhood and left it at that.

This gave me an excellent gauge of what childhood experiences to bring up. I have asked about childhood hobbies, experiences, and other things when I talk about my own experiences. Sometimes he mentions his brother and sometimes he doesn’t. I am completely fine with that, and feel much closer to my boyfriend now.

Thanks for the great update. Isn’t it funny how sometimes fate intervenes when we open ourselves to its help? Glad things are working out for you.

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.

9 comments… add one
  • Carolynasaurus November 3, 2011, 12:19 pm

    Glad to hear you now know your boyfriend better and have learned how to safely approach the topic of his childhood.

    Maybe I missed something though because it sounds like you did “butt out” of it until he and his family set the tone of the conversation and gave you a vibe of what they were comfortable discussing. I’m betting that’s what most of the commentors meant.

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  • JK November 3, 2011, 12:20 pm

    I´m glad things turned out so naturally, and that by the sounds of things your BF has opened up!

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    • Carolynasaurus November 3, 2011, 1:56 pm

      Totally random tangent, but it totally made my day yesterday (and it was a pretty crappy day so I really needed a win) when you complimented my blog. Thank you!

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      • JK November 3, 2011, 1:59 pm

        You´re more than welcome, I´m looking forward to reading more of it (and trying out those cookies!)

      • JK November 3, 2011, 2:06 pm

        Aw shucks, just read the latest entry. 🙂

  • MiMi November 3, 2011, 2:08 pm

    “This gave me an excellent gauge of what childhood experiences to bring up.”
    why do they need to be brought up by you? your continued agenda of digging into someone else’s childhood under the guise of intimacy is invasive and suspect.

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    • callmehobo November 3, 2011, 2:39 pm

      Wait- You aren’t allowed to ask about your significant other’s childhood now? Isn’t that normal to want to see the baby pictures and hear stories about the one time so-and-so accidently did that thing?

      I think what she meant is that she now has an idea of how to learn more about her bf’s past without drudging up painful memories for him. Which personally, I feel is really tactful. Maybe I’m wrong- but I gotta admit, I love it when my bf’s grandparents pull out the old VHS tapes…

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    • sia November 3, 2011, 3:13 pm

      The LW wrote in feeling like she had to steer clear of her S.O.’s whole childhood in fear of causing pain about his dead brother. She went out of her way to better understand him and what his family has been through, and to find ways to incorporate that understanding in her conversations with him. Wanting to know about rather large parts of your S.O.’s life is not invasive and suspect. I think you missed her intent completely here.

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  • SallyS November 9, 2012, 10:13 pm

    Yay!!! This is a happy update!

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