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 “Over the Crisis” who wrote in a couple months ago saying she was sick of her boyfriend’s ongoing existential crisis in which he seemed undecided about what to do with his life. “My opinion,” she wrote, “is that he should go a more traditional, business-minded route that I think would make him (and to be completely honest, us) the happiest and the most secure.” Keep reading to see whether he’s still undecided.
I’m not going to go into how I didn’t particularly appreciate being called a gold-digger, because it’s the internet and there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.
Reading everyone’s responses to my letter made me see that I wasn’t being fair to my boyfriend and it got me thinking about what I needed to start doing in order to be a better girlfriend. I came to the realization that this existential crisis of his was beginning to suck up all of the air and space in our relationship and that I realized that my needs were being shuttled aside in favor of his. For example, when I would have a bad day and want to decompress, he would immediately tell me that my worries were not at all important, especially in comparison to his, or he would demand my full attention to help him deal with this crisis during moments when I was unable to do so, like in the middle of drinking my morning coffee, crawling into bed, or at the end of the day when I was just coming out from under my stack of reading for grad school and was looking, bleary-eyed, for a glass of wine and an episode of 30 Rock.
So, in the end, I realized that I was becoming resentful of him and his needs, and so I approached him and we decided on a system that would work better for both of us. I would agree to set aside time in my day when I could be fully alert and responsive and we could really talk about him and his problems, and, in response, he agreed to stop downplaying my issues as unimportant and to not spring big important discussions during moments when I’m unable to give him my full undivided attention.
As a result of these changes our discussions have become much more positive and I find that given this forum I am much more responsive to all of his ideas. I think that my desire for one career path over another was partially as a result to end the discussion, end the fighting and end feeling kinda shitty about how I was being treated; now that we’re acting more respectful towards one another, I’m far more open to different life plans.
I guess I’m less over it?
Thanks for the update and good luck with everything. If I could caution against one thing though, it would be this: be careful about compartmentalizing your life in such a way that you designate certain times in the day when you’re a good girlfriend, able to give your boyfriend undivided attention, and certain times when you need to be left alone. It’s fine to need time to study and decompress, but flexibility is essential. Perhaps you already have that and I’m just reading your update wrong, in which case, carry on.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at email@example.com.
temperance January 3, 2013, 12:23 pm
It sounds like It’s all about him. Your system is that he gets to whine uninterrupted daily, and you hqve to listen. He kept telling you that your problems weren’t big enough so he didn’t have to pay attention to you.
I hope that he is setting aside time every day to hear YOU out, uninterrupted, too.
kerrycontrary January 3, 2013, 12:24 pm
I hope this guy isn’t telling the LW about his problems and existential crisis every day. That would get old real quick.
JK January 3, 2013, 12:26 pm
WTH? You can´t listen to someone during your morning coffee?
This update just stank of selfcenteredness/selfishness to me (and I thin the stink comes from both you and your BF).
IMportantly, you left out if he´s actually made any progress,beyond actually getting you to listen to him whine.
lets_be_honest January 3, 2013, 12:30 pm
I’m stanky then too! I can listen, sure, but provide reasonable, clear headed responses to a conversation? Not happenin.
My crazy boss says not to talk to him until he’s had his coffee. He drinks decaf!
JK January 3, 2013, 12:32 pm
ok. As a non coffee drinker I thought it was weird. To be honest I think the expiration date on this couple is long past.
lets_be_honest January 3, 2013, 12:38 pm
Yea, I mean, regardless of who is right or wrong, if you have to schedule a time to deal with your SO, it’s probably time to just give up.
rachel January 3, 2013, 12:48 pm
It’s less about being a coffee drinker and more about him piling stuff on her when she is clearly not in the frame of mind to deal with it. I’m not a morning person, so if someone tried to come at me with complicated life problems when I’d just woken up, I would probably ask for some time to get myself together first. Similarly, when she has just finished working and needs to de-stress. It sounds more like a generic communication problem in that regard.
Though I do think that setting up a specific time to talk about his problems is a bit odd.
JK January 3, 2013, 12:52 pm
But I mean LW doesnt want to hear him in the morning. Or at night. Or in the afternoon.
rachel January 3, 2013, 12:55 pm
Haha, true. She does sound like she’s just generally over hearing about it. I wonder how productive their scheduled chats really are.
MsMisery January 4, 2013, 1:20 pm
I wonder if it’s like going to the shrink. After the hour is up, she says “I’m sorry, that’s all the time we have for today.”
Kate B. January 3, 2013, 1:37 pm
I have to say there are certain times of the day when I cannot/will not listen to anyone because I need to clear my head first. Like at the end of the day. If you want me to actually pay attention to what you’re saying, wait until after dinner. Before then, it’s all about the food.
kerrycontrary January 3, 2013, 1:47 pm
Agreed. My boyfriend needs 30 mins to decompress after work, so he generally needs to be left alone to play on his phone/internet (he doesn’t work a desk job) while I cook dinner. I can’t deal with loud noises right when I wake up. I don’t think the LW has strict rules for compartmentalizing, she just doesn’t want to be bombarded with a serious discussion when she’s brushing her teeth.
temperance January 5, 2013, 1:15 pm
My morning coffee is my time to relax. I can’t focus on things.
lets_be_honest January 3, 2013, 12:29 pm
Different stages of your life. If you resent him for much longer, I’d call it a day.
MissDre January 3, 2013, 1:18 pm
MissDre January 3, 2013, 1:18 pm
LW, I just want to say that I completely sympathized with your original letter. I did NOT think you were a gold digger. I know what it’s like to be around somebody who is NEVER happy or satisfied with life, no matter what changes they make or what you do for them. If he’s complaining constantly and minimizing your own issues, that’s a huge red flag. It doesn’t get better, it gets worse and you will resent him for it.
BeckyGrace January 4, 2013, 11:24 am
MissDre I agree with you 110%. LW I was with someone like this and it might be about his career now but there will ALWAYS be something. It is exhausting. Please MOA. Next it will be about a house, or kids, or something else. If I read the letters correctly it’s an every day or every other day “discussion session” you are having. Some people are okay with that but if you are writing to Wendy about it and having to make strict schedule rules I would say you need to MOA and find someone more compatible.
Lindsay January 3, 2013, 1:31 pm
Hopefully you found a plan that works for you guys. I see Wendy’s point, but it doesn’t sound like you’re only being a “good girlfriend” at certain times of day. You’re just setting aside certain times to talk about the future. Most people don’t need compartmentalizing, but it sounds like this guy might have some problems with boundaries in terms of knowing when not to spill the entire contents of his brain on someone else.
bittergaymark January 3, 2013, 2:00 pm
Eh, if I was in the midst of an existential crisis and my partner wrote in with an update saying it was all good now because I had finally stopped interrupting her morning coffee and wine soaked episodes of 30 Rock, I think I’d come to see what one of the sources of my stress was pretty damn quick and said partner would soon find their ENTIRE life free from such maddening interruptions…
Honestly, if you don’t want to hear about somebody else’s problems? Stay fucking single. Oh, and buy a vibrator for God’s sake. Hey, they rarely have any complaints or worries about the future…
lets_be_honest January 3, 2013, 2:06 pm
Mark, I’ve been waiting for you to log in to ask how excited you are about Kim Kardashian having a baby!
bittergaymark January 3, 2013, 2:12 pm
Eh, it proves once and for all that we’ve focused far too much time and energy on on making childbirth safer… I mean, hey, there was once a time where there was a decent chance that she’d fucking bleed out while giving birth, and we’d be forever free of her. Not gonna happy now though. Such a pity.
bluesunday January 3, 2013, 2:15 pm
I think there’s a world of difference between “I don’t want to hear about the same singular problem day in and day out for months on end” and “I don’t want you to ever express any sort of complaint, concern, need or desire”. I think most people fall somewhere in between.
theattack January 3, 2013, 2:42 pm
I think the problem is that we don’t really know how much he brings this stuff up. I’m more than happy to listen to my SO when he has an issue, and I definitely want to be a strong support system for him. But relationships are more than support systems. There should also be a time for 30 Rock in your pajamas and a time for sex and a time for a pleasant meal just enjoying each other and talking about the book you just read. Listening to someone’s problems a few times a week – fine and normal. Listening to them multiple times a day – exhausting and soul-sucking.
(P.S. – My work computer doesn’t update Dear Wendy content fast enough for some reason, so if anyone said this same thing before I got to it, sorry!)
lets_be_honest January 3, 2013, 2:50 pm
Mine too. So annoying. I’ll see there are 15 comments on a new letter, but when I click to see them, there are none.
theattack January 3, 2013, 2:55 pm
That’s exactly what mine does! But then I’ll refresh the page, and content that was there is gone. Entire posts from hours before will be missing. But of course I’m addicted to DW, so then I pull it up on my phone to see what I’ve missed. I wonder why it does that…
bittergaymark January 3, 2013, 2:58 pm
That’s beyond weird. That doesn’t ever happen to me on my ibook. Just chiming in so Wendy knows it’s not a problem that affects everyone… Interesting. Wonder what is causing that.
GatorGirl January 3, 2013, 3:02 pm
I don’t have that problem. I wonder if maybe there is some kind of blocker or something on your work network.
lets_be_honest January 3, 2013, 3:05 pm
I know there isn’t anything on mine. I can go on any website with no restriction.
lets_be_honest January 3, 2013, 3:04 pm
Also, if I’m on my phone and click the sidebar, it just brings me to the letter, not the comment. Not a big deal. But glad to hear everyone doesn’t have this problem.
the attack January 3, 2013, 3:08 pm
Same here!!!! That drives me nuts. I have to know what everyone says as soon as they say it! How am I supposed to wait to read important comments? So unreasonable
rachel January 3, 2013, 3:22 pm
Yesterday I was having problems like that, but when I logged in it stopped.
rachel January 3, 2013, 3:23 pm
Oh, just saw Paki’s comment below me too, haha.
Paki January 3, 2013, 3:16 pm
it happens to me if I am not logged in.
lets_be_honest January 3, 2013, 3:24 pm
Thanks. Maybe that’s my problem.
katie January 3, 2013, 2:02 pm
ok so i just went and re-read this letter…. has anyone here seen Monsters vs. Aliens? because some of the stuff we talked about reminded me about that movie where the jerk boyfriend keeps saying something like “a win for me is a win for us” but then he dumps her because she is Ginormica, but then when she saves the world he is like “we can be back together! for us! and ill get this awesome promotion if i interview you! and that is a win for US!!” and she totally sees through his bullshit that “us” just really means “me”.
i liked that movie…
Marcie January 4, 2013, 10:04 am
It sounds like he needs to go to a therapist. You sound like you are taking the place of one, and no one should be their SO’s therapist. If he’s whining every day I can understand how you are over it. I don’t think you are being as selfish as everyone else says you are.
Boosker January 5, 2013, 4:16 pm
It would be really, really frustrating to have the different versions of the same conversation multiple times a day. I don’t know if scheduling is the answer. If this has been going on for a while with no end in sight, I wouldn’t blame you for putting a moratorium on the discussions or on the relationship altogether, particularly considering he seems to be sort of stagnant in life right now. You breaking up with him might be the catalyst he needs to finally choose a path and stick to it. But maybe I’m being mean, I don’t know.