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 now. Today we hear from “Mr. Max” who wrote in last month because he was frustrated that after eight years with the same woman – and even living together! — she refused to put a label on their relationship and wanted to remain “uncommitted.” He wrote: “It’s taking a heavy toll on me emotionally and I’ve started to think that she probably doesn’t love me and I’m not sure if my love is enough to keep us together anymore. I’m on the verge of leaving her for good this time. What do you think?” His update below.
One of the things you mentioned is that I treat Jane as some delicate creature that needs saving and you were absolutely right. But there are several reasons for it. One of them is the fact that she came to this country as a refugee after she lost both of her parents as a child and she was raised by her aunt in the US. And even though she has done incredibly well for herself, she doesn’t talk much about her childhood or her family. I’ve always viewed her avoidance of dealing with the subject of her past to mean that she is still affected by it, and I wanted to help her through it if she only opened up to me. I can see now that I probably exaggerated the weight or sensitivity of her emotional baggage (and of course saying things like “I want to protect her” in my previous letter didn’t help my case much).
Another reason is the fact that -and you’ve called this one correctly- I need her more then she needs me. She really didn’t have any problem walking out on me in the past. She’s a bit quick at getting rid of unwanted people in her life and she doesn’t seem to appreciate relationships. I guess I ended up taking more of a passive role because I didn’t want to scare her off.
Anyway, we finally discussed our relationship in-depth. She tried to avoid talking about it at first, but I insisted and we ended up arguing on and off for several days. I took your advice and I was completely honest and vulnerable with her. We had many difficult conversations and, even though she hasn’t opened up to me about her past yet, I’m very pleased with the outcome. We acknowledged our relationship and we discussed the possibility of marriage in the future. I believe we’ve reached a huge milestone and I feel more secure in my relationship with her, which is something I’ve never felt during the last eight years. So thank you.
That’s wonderful – I’m glad to hear it, and I sincerely hope the trust continues to grow between you. I can’t imagine the weight of her past — losing her parents and coming to the states as a refugee — but I am certain the experience is something that will always “affect” her, of course. In time, I hope she sees in you a kind of emotional refuge, and that you will be a source of comfort for each other. Best wishes!
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.
Bittergaymark December 20, 2018, 1:09 pm
I don’t know. I worry she only told you what you wanted to hear and you gleefully heard it as you desperately wanted to hear it. She sounds very much emotionally unavailable… unless you see REAL improvment you should perhaps MOA.
JD December 20, 2018, 1:11 pm
I would at least give yourself a mental timeline. My ex told me we’d get married, every 6 months, for about 8 years. I was the idiot here but my ass stopped buying it at the 10 year mark. She could likely be saying it to basically stop the discussion right now.
Rebecca December 20, 2018, 3:12 pm
Oh good heavens to betsy. Why are you so hung up on someone who doesn’t seem to like you that much or care if you’re around?
Bittergaymark December 20, 2018, 3:18 pm
Harsh. But my thoughts exactly.
Rebecca December 20, 2018, 4:09 pm
Okay, but seriously the sentence “She really didn’t have any problem walking out on me in the past.” has no business whatsoever being said about a relationship someone’s currently in that they’re continuing to view through rose colored glasses.
I have a history of poor romantic choices, which I’m rectifying in the present by mostly being single, and that’s a bridge too far even for *past* me.
ron December 20, 2018, 3:56 pm
Also, LW, you are her bf, not her therapist. I don’t understand why you are so insistent that she open up about her childhood with you. She wants to leave that in the rearview mirror and has a right to choose to do so. If you strongly believe that this will cause insurmountable problems, then perhaps suggest a session with a therapist, which you are not.
Still, she seems stronger and more independent than you do, so you should give up on the white-knight-male-savior schtick, I’m sure she finds it galling and emblematic of your inability to treat her as an equal.
She had an awful childhood. She likely will never be a super-open person and will carry childhood scars forever. You either accept that that is who she is and you can live with it or you MOA. This is advice usually given to women on this site, but it fits you perfectly: love someone and want to be with them for who they are today, not for how they will be after you successfully fix them. You can’t fix them You have the whiff of a guy hanging on for dear life over a deep desperation that you won’t be able to find anyone else.