Updates: “Fancifully Fretting” 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 “Fancifully Fretting” who was concerned about a relationship her boyfriend had with a close female friend of his, especially since he was hiding the fact that the friend was coming to visit. Find out if they overcame this issue and are still together in her update below.

A while ago you asked for an update, but I was gearing up to go on a month-long exercise with my unit. I got back this past Sunday and I’ll give you the reader’s digest version of how I went forward with the advice I received from your column.

Before leaving, I told Mark I was done. Given the upcoming events in our careers and a pending court martial at which I’ll have to testify against my assailant in a sexual assault, I told him I didn’t foresee my having the emotional energy to try and overcome the issue with Karen (and his dishonesty) in our relationship. He was upset but he understood, and then I left for the exercise. I really expected him to find his new house in the month I was gone, and I even felt that, when I came back, I would at least be willing to help him move. However, the house he wanted went under contract before he could get it and he was still at my home after I’d spent a month away.

Part of me wanted to turn a blind eye to his relationship with Karen, but your advice and the encouragement from friends helped me be confident in the fact that my suspicions were caused by his behavior. I don’t have to be in a relationship – and shouldnt be – wherein I am always suspicious, and it’s on him to earn my trust back. So I told him, “I dont think the time between now and when I deploy in January is enough time for you to earn my confidence back. I need you to move out because I don’t want to play house with you anymore. If you still feel strongly about me when I come back from Poland, maybe we can try again.”

Long story short, the last few days he was out my house really made me feel like we are compatible, that there really could be a future, and that maybe his “I love you’s” are true. But (always a “but” isn’t there?), I feel like this issue with Karen could not be resolved if I turned a blind eye, nor if he kept up his behavior.

I don’t believe ultimatums are good, but I wanted to give him a second chance and (selfishly) move things along before January, so I told him to please stop talking to her, ever, all together, to which he said the decision was easy for him and he said, “no.” We talked it over and he said, “we’ll find another solution,” but by his saying this, I felt he was disregarding everything I’ve been through, everything I’ve overcome, and how I was trying to take the guess work out of re-connecting with me given all the residual difficulties I have that my previous relationships (and assault) have left me with.

All over again, I felt like he was choosing a virtual connection with someone from his past over a real connection with me, right in front of him. He made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for him to make a sacrifice for. I want to believe that I’m crazy and I can get over it, and really it’s all ok but, as you know, I’ve been through it all before (tolerating my ex-boyfriend, James’, weird behavior) and your advice encouraged me to believe that I deserve better.

So he left, and I’m relieved because I feel like the anguish of decision-making and pressure to salvage our relationship was taken out of my hands. I’m a little sad because my hopes of having something (a future maybe?) with this great guy whom I was very compatible with were squashed. But he told me that I’m his third relationship that has been ruined by his thing with Karen… So I wonder if he will ever consider that maybe she’s the toxic person, or if maybe instead they will end up together. Who knows?

I would love your thoughts on my update.

You made the right decision for yourself, and I wouldn’t give Mark another thought, even after you return from your deployment and he’s still very interested in you. The ship has sailed, and if he’s let three relationships be ruined by whatever he has going on with Karen, he needs to figure out why that is. Either he has stronger feelings for her than just friendship, or he does a piss poor job of prioritizing his girlfriends’ feelings, making them feel important to him, and maintaining clear boundaries that are unmistakable to the people in his lives. He is failing at that, clearly, and, luckily for you, it’s no longer your problem.


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] 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. LisforLeslie says:

    I went back and read the original letter. You’re doing the right thing for you.

    This guy is not on the up and up. Part of me wonders if he is keeping Karen as a placeholder in case he is lonely. Or if he uses Karen to keep the women in his life guessing.

    From the letter before it doesn’t seem like Karen is trying to get in the middle of the relationship- it seems like this guy is keeping Karen hidden and setting up a dichotomy in which he has two women vying for his attention. Maybe he gets off on it. Maybe he’s got a “world colliding” thing… doesn’t matter. He wasn’t treating you like a partner.

    1. Allornone says:

      This. I was once a Karen, though I never intended to be. He’d date other girls, and be just nice enough to me so that I always stayed in the background. I had low self-esteem at the time, so his attention meant the world to me (and yes, when he wasn’t dating anyone, I was stupid enough to be a FWB with him). Fortunately, I (finally) wised up. He’s married now going on six years and still sends the occasional text trying to get me into bed. I’m in a relationship myself and not that stupid anymore, yeah, eff off, buddy.

  2. This hits way too close to home.
    My ex boyfriend and I broke up because of severe communication problems on his part, including a friendship with a married woman that was always top in his priorities.
    He lied and lied and lied a million times for her (and also lied to her). Telling me he didn’t talk to her, that he had told her to stop contacting him, that he never saw her, when, in reality, they had at least a weekly lunch meeting that I didn’t know of.
    Anyways, I applaud you because you did the right thing. And always remember to think or yourself first. Even if he had told you that he would stop talking to her you’d still be suspicious all the time and then would find out he never did stop. Been there, done that.

  3. You seem to be blaming Karen for his behaviour. It reads as if you still think he’s a “great guy” and only for Karen it would all be great. This is not true. Karen is not the problem; he is. He is not a “great guy” at all. Your desire for a knight in shining armour is blinding you to the fact he is a tosser in a tinfoil suit.

  4. I agree with Wendy and the other commentators that the LW ultimately made the right decision. But I am somewhat dubious about the way she got there.

    I don’t think an ultimatum to “to please stop talking to her, ever, all together” can be justified unless you are pretty certain that the other party is having a genuine, physical affair, or at least intense emotional affair, with the other person. And there is no evidence of that here – the LW does not even suggest she thinks that is true.

    What the guy did that was dodgy was to lie to the LW about plans to meet up with “Karen.” And yes, it is very dodgy and a reason to break up.

    But Karen is an old friend, at least as far as we know, and does not appear to have done anything wrong, again at least as far as we know. Frankly, asking that one’s partner never contact an old friend ever again is controlling – unless you have very good proof of mutual wrongdoing more substantial than a lie about plans to meet up. Further demanding that “Mark” promise this to show that the LW is “good enough for him to make a sacrifice for” is just not a healthy approach to the problem.

    Further, Mark’s suggestions that another solution be found instead was not unreasonable, because this was an unreasonable and unhealthy demand.

    The LW made the right decision because Mark had lost her trust through his own sleazy lying behaviour, but I hope in future she will refrain from making controlling demands like she did in this case.

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