Ask Wendy

Am I a Rebound to a Widower?

September 23, 2016
Hey Wendy,

I have met a really terrific guy. He is a widower. His wife passed away one year ago, a year after being diagnosed with an illness. His grieving process started well before the end. He thinks he's ready to start dating.

I don't want to be just the rebound. How early is too soon? And should I assume we should take it very slowly before sex?

I really don't want him to cry after (or God forbid) DURING sex.

Judy B. — Orange County, CA

Hey Judy,

No one wants to be a rebound, and as annoying as this is, there’s no way to predict how things will unfold. Some dive into a relationship and then bounce right out after they’ve hit something deep, while others have staying power.

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How Do I Form Meaningful Relationships with People? 

July 7, 2017
Hey Wendy,

I saw your Facebook Live video on how important it is that the dating adventures not be lonely and to reach out and create a support system of friends, pets, etc. 

It was the moment you said this to me that I realized, all my connections with people are 'fake'.  By 'fake' I mean the relationships I form with someone whether it be a friendship or an attempt at something more start off with small talk... and they never progress far from there.  So, it feels like I know a ton of people but never really formed the actual connection to call them a good friend. 

My question for you is, how do I form more meaningful relationships with people?  I mean, the moment this ugly realization slapped me in the face I realized, okay so if all I do is form these acquaintance type of relationships with people, then no one will ever know me for who I am, or want to spend the rest of their life with me... I think I just figured out a reason why my 'dating' life is not working in my favor.

I hope you can offer some advice.

Linda T. — San Jose, CA

Hey Linda,

What a good question! The basics of what you need to do are all demonstrated for you in that Facebook Live you watched, and that is you need to be willing to look bad while still having grace.

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How Do I Ask My Boyfriend to Do His Part Before He Moves In?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Hey Wendy,

My boyfriend wants to move in, and my concern is that he's not going to be carrying his own weight if we move in together. Not just on a financial level, but really everything else, like running errands chores and things like that.

Any time I try to talk about this though he either gets upset or tries to change the topic. His response is usually something along the lines of, "love will figure it out". I just don't know how to have this discussion.

Caryn R. — Orlando, FL

Hey Caryn,

It sounds like you’ve already tried to have this discussion. This doesn’t look so good. The next time he brings up moving in if I were in your shoes, I’d respond with, “Yeah—that’s not going to happen until we can have an adult conversation about division of costs and labor. Love doesn’t magically figure this out, we do. Are you ready to talk about that now?”

(more…)

Can I Trust My New Boyfriend?

June 30, 2017
Hey Wendy,

When I met the guy I’m dating I didn't expect anything would come of it, then BOOM we're falling for each other. We’re both in our late 30’s. He's handsome, intelligent, generous and really into me. I'm on cloud nine. As is standard in dating these days I googled him, and I learned that he's a registered sex offender!

I read that when he was 18 there was sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old. I was nauseous and disgusted. When I confronted him, he explained that when he was 18, he was dating a girl who said she was 17, and it turns out she lied about her age, and her parents turned him in to the authorities.

I've gotten over my disgust and am looking at this as a horrible time in his past. I believe he is the man in front of me and not the man of 20 years ago. But (social implications aside) is this naive of me? I don't want to involve myself with a pedophile. I can't settle my thoughts.

Ginger W. — Colorado Springs, CO

Hey Ginger,

18 dating 15 is not pedophile territory—that’s a high-school-aged boy dating a high-school-aged girl within a reasonable age range.

Unfortunately, how things are reported on sex offender lists varies from state to state. So, you may or may not be able to get all the facts from public records.

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How Do You Love Someone & Remain Detached?

Reprinted from September 20, 2016
Hey Wendy,

When getting serious and moving from dating into relationship, how do you open to adoring someone and also remain detached?

Meredeth F. — Davis, California

Hey Meredeth,

I don’t. And if you want an intimate relationship, you don’t either. Romance is tricky business. You actually have to be vulnerable. That’s where the magic happens, and nothing deep will ever develop if you’re working at being detached.

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How do I Deal with My Boyfriend Meeting My Crazy Mother?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Hey Wendy,

I’ve met my boyfriend’s parents multiple times, but he has yet to meet mine, and it’s about to happen and I’m freaking out. Here’s why:

My family consists of my mother and uncle, and they are coming for a visit next week. My mother is a tinfoil-hat-wearing-crazy-lady. Literally. She stuffs tinfoil into a baseball cap. She also wears tinfoil body armor, never bathes, and doesn’t wear her colostomy bag. Yup, that’s mom.

Boyfriend knows about the tinfoil but not about the other stuff. I'm freaked out because I feel like it’s one thing to hear about this stuff, it's a whole other thing to actually witness it in person and realize this could be your mother in law. Also there's that old saying that I've always hated, "If you want to see how your girlfriend will turn out, look at her mother." I'm afraid he'll take one look at her and run for the hills.

Also, I lied about his job. My family asked about his job and I panicked and said he worked at the museum where I first met him. He’s actually a driver. I don't know how to tell him that I lied about his job. I don't know how to tell my family about his job either. They are old school and think the man should be the primary breadwinner and that I should marry rich. I don't want to hurt his feelings, but I know my family is going to judge him for his job and judge me for dating him.

Sonya R. — New Orleans, LA

Hey Sonya,

Okay, wait a minute…you’re telling me you’re freaked out about Tinfoil Mama judging your boyfriend’s job? Umm, what now?

(more…)

Why Does My Husband Watch Porn?

September 16, 2017
Hey Wendy,

My husband says he’s happily married to me, and he’s faithful, so why does he need to watch porn?

Olivia I. — Chicago, IL

Hi Olivia,

This is a hard issue for many women. We often don’t find out that our partner/husband/boyfriend uses porn until we’re living together and we stumble upon it. And there’s a predictable response many women have (anger and hurt feelings) which causes a predictable reaction from men: they stop watching it. No! That almost never happens!! What really happens instead is they go on the down-low. And this is not what you want, because it will cause distance and a lack of intimacy in your relationship if he feels he needs to hide things or lie to you.

So if you can’t stop it, and if you’re hurt by it, let me see if I can give you the “why” and also help to reframe it to see if you can live in harmony with your porn-viewing man.

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Why Won’t She Take My Name?

September 13, 2016
Hey Wendy,

My fiance is refusing to take my last name. Why would the woman who says she loves me not take my name?

Troy T. — Boston, MA

Hey Troy,

What’s your last name? Hitler? Dick? Crapper? These are real possibilities, ya know.

Maybe she loves her last name. Maybe she hates yours. Maybe she’s built a long-standing career around her name. Maybe it flows better or is easier to spell. Maybe she’s rebelling against convention (and there’s not one thing wrong with that!).

I beg you to consider that this issue has nothing to do with her love for you. And I’d like to give you a history lesson for perspective.

(more…)

How Do I Deal with His High Sex Drive?

Friday, June 23, 2017
Hey Wendy,

I am three months into a new relationship and my boyfriend has the highest sex drive of anyone I have ever dated. We have sex six days per week, and out of those six days there are at least 2 days where we have sex more than once in the day. The one night out of the week when we don't have sex he wakes up the next morning frustrated with me. I feel like on those days I have failed him.

I don't know what to do. I feel like we’re having a ridiculous amount of sex, but it’s still not enough for him. I want to address it, but I don't know how. I would like to not feel inadequate and like I’m failing him.

Wendy F. — Seattle, WA

Hey Wendy,

Wow. That’s a tough spot. Addressing it won’t be the most comfortable conversation you’ve ever had, but I recommend you spell it out directly all the same. Say, “Love, it seems like our sex drives are incompatible. Based on our history, you need sex every day, while I would like to have sex (your number here) times per week. This isn’t going to work for us for much longer. I feel put upon to have that much sex, and when we don’t, I feel your frustration, which in turn makes me feel like I’m failing you—that doesn’t work for me. Can we talk about this?” Then see what he says next.

(more…)

How Important is it to Have Things in Common within Your Relationship?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Hey Wendy,

How important is it to have things in common? I am motivated by things that are quite intellectual and academic, and even though my boyfriend tries to be interested in the things I find fascinating he struggles as it’s not his thing.

I'm trying to get past the fact that I can't have in-depth intellectual conversations with him about things like the nature of power/politics.

I love him and his kindness and warmth with every fiber of my being, but I miss that intellectual connection. Can this work?

Sandy O. — Minneapolis, MN

Hey Sandy,

“Can this work?” is a question only you can answer, but you can gain some clarity with this query:  I hear that you love him, but do you respect him? If his lack of knowledge/interest in intellectual topics cause you to lose respect for him, you don’t stand much of a chance together.

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Who Initiates Communication Between Dates?

September 2, 2016
Hey Wendy,

I'm dating but I'm confused... Who initiates communication between dates? 

Malinda I. — Baltimore, MD

Hey Malinda,

After a first date, I would initiate contact. I’d write a quick email thanking him for the time we had. I did this to send the unspoken message it was safe to ask me out again if he were so inclined. These emails were always short; here’s a sample: “Hi Sean! I had a lovely time with you today. Thank you so much for taking me to the Legion of Honor Museum. I love that place! But my favorite part was sitting on the lawn getting to know you. You’re interesting. I hope you have a fun week ahead. Wendy”

Ball tossed squarely over his fence to pick up or leave behind.

(more…)

How Long is the Courting Phase Supposed to Last?

September 2, 2016
Hey Wendy,

How long is the courting phase supposed to last?

Linda T. — Atlanta, GA

Hey Linda,

This is a trick question because there isn’t an end date. I do, however, want to speak to the courting phase, so thanks for bringing it up! There’s a universal consensus about what the courting phase means:

  • Everyone’s on their best behavior.
  • It ends, you’re committed, and while you’re not going to fancy restaurants all the time anymore, it’s okay to wear sweatpants.

No!

May I create a new framework for daters to think about when they think “courting phase?” Permission granted? Okay, thank you, I will. (more…)

Are We Compatible?

Friday, March 31, 2017
Hey Wendy,

My husband and I have been married for almost 5 years. We have 2 kids and one on the way. We are great friends and genuinely love each other. But the longer we’re together we’re realizing how opposite we are.

Our differences often leave me feeling pressured and him feeling unloved.

Ever read 5 Love Languages book? I like words of affirmation and receiving gifts. He likes acts of service and quality time. We read “When Your Sex Drives Don’t Match” and I’m a "Disinterested Lover" Meaning sex isn't a priority, but when it does happen is fairly enjoyable. He’s a "Dependent Lover” meaning he likes to use sex as stress relief and an escape from the day. During sex, I like romance, while he enjoys lighter, more playful sex, trying new things, positions, experiences, etc. A hiccup in the "system" can ruin the mood for me.

Because he likes acts of service, he goes out of his way to love me the way I want to be loved: Flowers, candles and small jewelry. Telling me he loves me and complimenting me.

He says I don’t return the same "service" type of love, and that leaves him feeling unappreciated. And I feel like I’m doing it wrong. Help?

Kira N. — Phoenix, AZ


Hey Kira,

Books are great, aren’t they? They give us useful ways of relating to each other, they uncover blind spots, and they definitely help us see other people’s points of view. I think books are so great I even wrote one. However, the things you’ve discovered in these books are not immutable qualities or hard-and-fast rules. This is not science. These are not unchangeable differences you are stuck with or must overcome. And your sex dynamic? Yeah, that’s the exact dynamic I’m working within 90% of the couples’ counseling I do, which makes you…normal. Yep, totally normal.

So let’s back down from, “he’s this one way and I’m that one way,” and instead look at how knowing each other’s preferences and defaults can help you be great for and with each other instead of set you further apart.

The five love languages book was designed to help readers be more effective with their partners. What does that mean? Well, if your love language is gifts and his love language is acts of service, then don’t do gifts for him; do acts of service instead. He’s the one in charge of gifts because if he enacted acts of service for you, it would be lost on you—it wouldn’t hit your radar, right?

I’m not trying to pigeon-hole the genders here, but I have never met a man who didn’t have acts of service connected to feeling loved. I’m not saying those guys aren’t out there—I’m just saying I’ve never met them. And I have literally asked thousands of men the question, “What makes you feel loved by a woman?”

You might think, “acts of service, ugh,” and I get it—most of us are already doing a lot in our partnerships and in our lives in general. Acts of service can be draining, so pay attention to which acts are easiest for you and give you the most points with him. I used to iron my husband’s shirts while I watched All My Children on VHS after work. (Yes, I’m that old.) It was soothing, semi-mindless, and helped me unwind, and it made him feel loved and cared for. What acts of service do you like doing or that cost you little that he might love a lot?

This is a two-way street; what gifts can he give you that means the world to you but don’t break the bank or totally stump him? Red roses on Fridays? A new pair of earrings? A piece of fancy chocolate? Or perhaps something completely different? What would do it for you? He won’t know unless you talk with him about it.

Now let’s talk about sex. And when I say, “let’s talk,” I really mean you two talk. Since sex is more like an occasional treat for you and a needed meal for him, make sure he’s fed, but you don’t have to do all the cooking. In other words, take it easy on yourself. Make deals around the time of day or days of the week, learn what he needs during times you don’t want to make an effort and see where you both can comfortably compromise, and shoot for a balance of both romantic and experimental. Maybe when the creative, new stuff happens, it’s at a time when you’re rested enough that it’s not taking anything out of you to enjoy your intimate time together, and/or maybe when you’ve already had your needs attended to in the ways you need from your partner.

You two have preferences that aren’t the same because you’re unique humans, and this by no means spells out hopelessness.

Good luck!

What is the Perfect First Date Spot?

August 30, 2016
Hey Wendy,

Where is the perfect first date spot? I don't want to go to coffee places.

Anna B. — Denver, CO

Hey Anna,

Paris! Did that help? 

Okay, so the real answer is wherever the two of you are together that’s safe and comfortable. It’s fine to meet in a café, a city park, or somewhere easy-breezy. No need to make a big production out of your first meet-and-greet date.

A good friend of mine once said, “But I want our first date to be special. I don’t want to tell our grandchildren we met at a Starbucks!” then she went on to several dozen more first dates trying to make each and every one of them uniquely memorable so she could have that romantic story to whip out. Perfect, she was exhausted and ended up quitting dating for a while. (more…)

How Much Should I Say About My Ex?

Friday, June 16, 2017
Hey Wendy,

I’m dating this guy and I like him a lot. He’s asked me what happened with my previous marriage. I started to tear up as I talked about it and he could see I was about to cry going back over the memories and events. I really think I made him feel bad.

The divorce was very hard for me, nine years and he drifted away because of how much we worked away from each other (military). I don’t think I'll ever be over him but each day gets more manageable. So, what do I tell this guy without giving off this vibe that he will be the second place?

Kelly M. — Las Vegas, NV

Hey Kelly,

I don’t usually dole out advice to wait to date, but in your case, you may want to step back and ask yourself if it’s time or if it’s too early for you to put your heart out there. Right now, it sounds like your heart’s kinda not in your possession—your ex is still holding onto it.

(more…)

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