Happy Friday, everyone! How was your week, how was your Valentine’s Day? Drew and I celebrate enough other occasions in the year that I always ask him not to do anything for me for V-day and he complies. (And not to belabor the point or brag — ok maybe brag a little — but he’s an awesome husband all year long. He brings me flowers a lot and always puts a glass of water on my nightstand at bedtime and lies to me about how I look better now than when we first met; I don’t need him to get me overpriced chocolate on February 14th. …But I will take half-priced chocolates on the 15th!) We do get small gifts for the kids and help them give valentines to their classmates. And for Joanie’s preschool brunch yesterday I made mini egg muffins that stuck to the pan so then I cooked up some bacon instead and 36 hours later, I am still cleaning dried egg off the muffin tins, so that’s fun.
I did get great news re. my friend who was in the terrible car accident and has been in a coma and on life support since last Tuesday. Yesterday they brought him out of the coma long enough to ask some questions. He knew his name and his birthday and his brother’s name. And when the nurse asked who the president is, he said, “that bastard.” So looks like his brain may be ok! They’ve now removed the ventilator and the next step will be to remove the feeding tube when he’s able to swallow. We’re all starting to feel much more optimistic! (And if you’re in the mood to help out a stranger, here’s his gofundme; he has medical insurance, but that never covers 100% of everything, and missing months of work while he recovers will also be a big financial hit).
Tomorrow we’re flying out to visit my parents for the week. (I’m not going to drive to see my friend in the ICU, but I hope to make a separate trip once he’s moved to a rehab center maybe in a few weeks). Flight’s at 9 am and I still have to do like three loads of laundry and start packing for all of us. So, bye for now – have a great weekend!
My boyfriend, “Julio,” and I have been together for a year and a half. I don’t mean to sound selfish or ungrateful when I say this but I feel like Julio doesn’t love me as much as his exes. On Christmas he spent $30 on underwear and gave me a gift card. Sure, I was thankful but it wasn’t thoughtful at all, especially considering I went all out for him on Christmas and his birthday before that. We even discussed how important these holidays meant to both of us. Then my birthday came around, and he got me nothing! We even split the bill for dinner and I paid majority of it. Now it’s Valentine’s Day and he got me nothing.
I recently found out he’s done so many things for his exes, and he fights with me when I ask him about it. He’s told me he’s bought them roses and done other special things/ spent thousands on them (he knows how much I value meaningful gestures/ it’s not about the money). But with me he just says things like “Valentines Day is stupid” and then we do nothing or “It’s just a birthday.” I don’t understand why he gets so mad at me when I ask about his exes. Also, he only just stopped creeping his ex on social media maybe a month ago. I don’t want to be with someone who can’t make me feel special once in a while; he keeps saying he’ll make the next occasion special but I don’t see any promises and my trust is wavering. I feel like he’ll never love me like his ex. What do I do?? — Nothing For Valentine’s Day
If you don’t want to be with someone who can’t make you feel special and who ignores you on special occasions, can’t even be bothered to treat you to dinner on your birthday, and who pay his exes more interest than he pays you, break up with this guy and move on. This isn’t complicated.
My birthday is six days after Valentine’s Day and my boyfriend combined the presents this year. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, except neither of them were big gifts and I had to tell him exactly what to get me or he wouldn’t get me anything. I guess I’m just wondering if I’m being ungrateful that he’s doing this. I feel like when you get someone a present it should be thoughtful, and you should want to do it for them. In this case it wasn’t thoughtful and it feels like he only did it so he wouldn’t hear me complain. When I get him presents I never ask what he wants — I just guess and hope for the best and he’s usually pleased, so I don’t understand why I have to tell him what to get me in order for me to receive anything. I’m not questioning whether or not he cares for me, but I am questioning why he acts like it’s such a task to get a present for me. I feel like I’m getting cheated.
We’ve been together for nearly three years now and he won’t buy me two separate presents, and on top of that spent maybe $70 on them total, whereas when I buy him presents its always upwards of $100, once it was more like $600. So should I stop buying him such expensive presents knowing he won’t be as happy with them? Should I just accept the fact that he’s not as thoughtful about these things as I am? Or should I be upset that he’s doing this? I feel like I sound ungrateful and I’m not; I like what he got me, mostly, but at the same time I would prefer two separate presents and obviously something nicer for my birthday… and I don’t want to have to tell him what to get me either because I like to be surprised, but if I don’t tell him then he threatens to get me nothing. Please let me know what you think about this.
P.S. We’re in a long distance relationship so spending time with one another isn’t an option, and he doesn’t want to Skype or talk on the phone either, which, to be honest, is really all I want — for him to want to do something outside of texting me on “special” days. — Spending Time Together Isn’t an Option
Your problem isn’t that you have a thoughtless boyfriend or that your Love Languages aren’t a match. Your problem is in your P.S.; your long distance boyfriend doesn’t even want to talk to your on special occasions? Not on Valentine’s Day or your birthday? The cheap thoughtless gifts are a symptom of what essentially breaks down to this: your boyfriend is over you and he’s just waiting for you to do the breaking up because he’s too lazy or doesn’t want to be the “bad guy” or whatever. Give yourself a Valentine’s gift this year and MOA. And then give yourself a separate birthday gift by buying whatever it is you want, minus the middleman who always let you down anyway.
Let’s be honest — Valentine’s Day kind of sucks for a lot of us. There’s the disappointment of being let down, the pressure to measure up, and all weight of all unmet expectations and the baggage of crappy Valentine’s Day pasts. Plus, this year there aren’t even conversations hearts! But fear not, friends! There is wonder — or at least a coupon for good take-out — still to be had, even if this isn’t your favorite day of the year. Below are 14 things to tell yourself on Valentine’s Day if you hate Valentine’s Day.
1. At least your coworkers won’t surprise you with cake and sing Happy Valentine’s Day to you.
3.Chocolate will be half off starting tomorrow.
4. Red is SO your color.
5. Won’t be long now and you’ll be enjoying all those sweet, sweet President’s Day sales.
6. Valentine’s Day is just a stupid, fake Hallmark holiday anyway that means absolutely nothing.
7. Except that no one loves you.
8. Just kidding! You are very loved.
9. And you have wonderful cats.
10. And eight episodes of Queer Eye to watch later that you haven’t seen yet.
11. And a 10% off coupon from Yelp for the new Thai restaurant in the neighborhood.
Chances are you probably know someone in a polyamorous or open relationship. You may not be aware that you do, but you probably do. And chances are, unless you are the someone in a polyamorous or open relationship, you may not know as much as you think you do about how such a relationship works and what some of the biggest benefits and challenges are. Below, five different women discuss their experience with polyamory and open relationships (they aren’t necessarily the same thing), and some of the biggest misconceptions people have about the lifestyle. For example, jealousy is NOT generally the biggest challenge people in polyamorous relationships face. Find out below what is.
In a poly marriage of four years. She also has a boyfriend of almost a year. Her husband has one other partner he has been with for 18 months. He and his other partner of a year recently broke up. Jill’s boyfriend has no other partners; her “metamour” (husband’s partner) has several other serious and casual partners.
Currently single, but dating a man in a polyamorous (hetero) marriage, and also seeing a man who is not poly (“I have not discussed exclusivity with him yet.”). Earlier this summer, Jill was seeing both the same man in a poly marriage and also another friend who was in a poly relationship.
Currently in a monogamous relationship with a man but was in a poly marriage with her ex-husband. They dated for a year, were married for five years, and were open for five and a half of those six years.
She is currently single and looking. She dated a polyamorous man for about a year and a half, ending the relationship last fall.
In a poly marriage with her husband of five years.
People have different reasons for adopting a polyamorous lifestyle (or dating someone who is polyamorous)
For Kacie, it was a way to experiment with her newly-realized queer identity without cheating on her husband:
“The spring of 2016, I realized I was queer. I talked to my husband and expressed my anxieties related to cheating. He asked me if I wanted an “open marriage.” I told him I didn’t even know what that would look like, and wanted to explore the idea together for at least six months, before jumping into anything. For those six months we read books and blogs and articles, we met with my therapist, and the two of us talked. And talked. And talked some more. After months of this, we decided that I only wanted to date/sleep with women while my husband had no interest in dating outside our marriage.
This lasted a few months. I had a few experiences, ranging from mediocre to great. Through this, we landed on the conclusion that we were both more “polyamorous” than just non-monogamous (less about sex, more about meaningful relationships). Around this time, I had a girlfriend I was seeing seriously, and my husband and my best friend (who also happens to be married to HIS best friend) started to have romantic feelings for each other. We tried hard to make that work, but in the end our friends decided being poly was not for them. At this point, my husband and I jumped feet first into the dating world (mostly online) where I met my current boyfriend and he met his partner.”
For M.R., dating a polyamorous man for about a year and a half after ending another relationship allowed her to be involved without being monogamous with anyone or have what she felt would be a “full on” relationship.
For Jill, opening herself to non-monogamy was motivated by wanting help communicating, setting boundaries, and overcoming anxiety, after a few mildly traumatizing relationships:
“I was also tired of selectively dating men one at a time, because when it didn’t work out I would be irrationally crushed. My friend mentioned she changed her profile to “open to non-monogamy” and began seeing a poly man. I was curious. I figured people in sustaining poly relationships are more likely to be adept at open communication.
Therapy helped, but I wanted practice. I also thought it would be a great way to try dating multiple people without leading someone on. I changed my profile, too, and within a month was chatting with a man in a poly marriage. ”
There are a range of benefits
“Our marriage has benefitted greatly. There is no longer the pressure to be “everything” to each other, and we have other partners we can rely on for emotional support. My husband and I are much closer than we have ever been. When he went through several really hard break-ups, I was there to support and love him through it. I have learned so much about myself. There is so much more love and happiness in my life. My husband and I have mismatched sex drives, and having multiple partners alleviates that. With the seriousness of our relationships as well, we have become slightly more financially entangled, and four incomes no kids means we are doing well in that aspect. Same thing with chores!” — Kacie
“The biggest benefit has been the fact that it essentially forces you to learn how to clearly communicate with your partner, while also being open and honest with yourself. Being able to recognize my feelings, boundaries, wants, and needs and express them well has helped me in every relationship in my life.” — Michelle
For Christine, who identifies as a swinger (as opposed to polyamorous), the biggest benefit has been spicing up her marriage: “We have been together for eight years and that is a long time to stay spicy. When we are with other people (same room, full swap), we enjoy watching each other and enjoy each other’s pleasure. Then when we are alone, it is hot to talk about it.”
Jill says: “It’s also made me a kinder and more understanding person to the men I date. Before I would want it to work so badly that I didn’t sit back and get to know HIM, and I didn’t check in with what my real feelings were. My interactions with me are a lot more authentic now and I appreciate the individual in front of me, not the potential boyfriend. Also, having great sex without the strings attached is pretty nice too.”
The biggest challenge across the board tends to be managing logistics
“It’s a lot of people’s schedules and needs to juggle (google calendar helps!). I’m an extremely organized person, and that makes it smoother. I think a lot of m/f couple experience emotional and social labor imbalance, and sometimes I feel that even harder. Reminding my husband about his relationship with his partner (like did you buy a Valentine’s Day card for them?) or planning meals and social engagements for four people at a given time can be exhausting. But we both make steps to ease this.” — Kacie
“My biggest issue in the relationship was time. Besides the fact that he was seeing other people, he was very social. After the initial ‘honeymoon period’ wore off it became very difficult to find time to spend together. We’d have to plan dates a month in advance.” — M.R.
Another challenge is “coming out” to people (family, friends, co-workers) or keeping it a secret:
“I’m a high school teacher, and my husband also works in education, so there can be some potential pearl-clutching. I am blessed to work in a school whose whole mission is about personal freedom, expression, and diversity so when I am out with my boyfriend or husband, I act the same, without worry about “who sees.” It has led to some awkward situations, but I am happy and open to set the record straight with anyone and everyone curious.
We are also out to our families. This was a necessity since we live very close to my in-laws and did not want them to think someone was having an affair. Again, at first it was awkward, but we’ve attended functions and meals with my in-laws and our other partners, and it’s usually a pretty chill time. My own family lives 1000 miles away. I told them over the phone. It hasn’t gone super well, and my dad has made it his personal crusade to let me know he disapproves of “My Lifestyle,” but I am old enough and independent enough to set strong boundaries with them.” — Kacie
“Keeping it a secret is hard as only other lifestyle people understand. I feel like I lie to my vanilla friends and family.” — Christine
Here are some common misconceptions:
Misconception: It’s all about selfish sex, lack of boundaries and “free love.”
“For an open relationship to be successful there has to be plenty to thoughtful communication and agreement on both sides.” — Jill
Misconception: People in poly relationships will have sex with anyone
“[When I was in my poly marriage,] I got propositioned by a lot of men who could not understand that I could — and even would — say no; my least favorite men were the ones in monogamous relationships who would argue their point by saying “come on, you cheat on your husband.” That’s another misconception (that we’re cheating). Each poly relationship has it’s own rules, so it is possible to cheat on your significant other, and that’s why communication is especially important in poly relationships.” — Michelle
Misconception: Poly couples feel superior toward couples in traditional relationships
“Poly couples are prone to the same feelings and make mistakes as we all do. No one touts the “right” way to approach relationships, except jerks.” — Jill
Polyamorous relationships generally exploit women and benefit men
“UGH. This annoys me the most. Women have full agency in good poly relationships, as they do in good monogamous relationships. I’m as feminist as they come. I’ve met my partner’s wife before, and I’ve listened carefully about their life when it comes to dating, family obligations, chores, children. They seem to have a more solid understanding of household equality than most.” — Jill
* If you would like to contribute to future Women Discuss posts, shoot me an email at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com with “The Hive” in the subject line. If you want to share your age, marital status, where you live, and whether you have kids, that would also be great. And if you’d just like to share ideas for topics you want to read more about, feel free to pass those along, too. Thank you!!
I have been with my boyfriend, “Ted,” for over a year and we now live together. Our relationship started in an iffy manner as I was just getting out of another relationship and I told Ted that I would have to wait a couple months before I could officially call him my boyfriend because I didn’t want people to talk. Later I found that during this time he was not only flirting with an ex but telling her the same things he was telling me (that he loves her, wanted to be with her, and so forth) and sending her nudes. When we started dating, he stopped flirting with her but never told her about me until she asked. After that they stopped talking completely.
Our relationship outside of that seemed perfectly normal and great until I realized he had been on occasion commenting on other girls’ photos — things such as “damnnnn,” “wya,” or “dang, you look really good.” I found out about this, we had a talk, and it stopped…for a while. Recently I began to snoop through Ted’s phone and saw messages with another girl where he called her cute, asked her on a date (she was busy) and asked her for her snapchat. When I talked to him about this, he said he didn’t know why he did it and didn’t ever really intend on meeting up with her.
Our relationship has been so great in every other way, but this feels like an ongoing battle. I truly love him and I can tell he loves me. I don’t know what to do or think anymore. — Tired of the Ongoing Battle
It took me more time to Google what “wya” means — “where you at?” for my fellow olds — than it did to figure out what “you should think.” You should think this guy is kind of a scumbag and that you should MOA (move on already, for those not in the know). Why did you move in with someone who had been telling another woman the exact same things he’d been telling you? You didn’t trust him then — hence the phone snooping — and it sounds like he’s done nothing to earn back any of your trust. Not only does he tell other women they “look really good,” but he’s also asking where they’re at, which everyone knows is code for “I’d like to cheat on my girlfriend with you.” And if you needed further proof he is so not committed to you, you found a message where he asks another woman out. And you don’t know what to think about that? Really?! I don’t know what to think about you not knowing what to think about that. Actually, I do. I think you’re in denial and I wonder if you’re simply afraid of being alone.
Please, do what you should have done the last time you broke up with someone, and take some time to be single and to be alone with your thoughts for a bit. Usually, not knowing what to think when the answer is really pretty obvious is a sign that you aren’t used to listening to and acting on your thoughts. It won’t kill you to be alone for a bit. Quite the opposite – it will empower you to make better decisions going forward. When you cultivate your thinking skills and start paying attention to that thing we all have called intuition, you will find that the power was inside you this whole time.
Surely if you’d listened to intuition earlier, you would not have moved in with a guy who flirted with his ex while pursuing you, and you wouldn’t be in the position you’re in now – living with a man who isn’t committed to you, who seems to have as much confusion over why he asks out other women as you have over not knowing what to think about his asking out other women. It’s time for both of you to grow up, quit being zombies just moving through life, and take some personal responsibility for your actions (and inactions).
I am currently in a bit of a “don’t know what to do next” moment and was hoping for some advice. I’m due with my first child this summer and I am so incredibly excited to be a mother. The father and I dated for almost three years; he was my best friend long before we started dating. I was so happy and in love for every moment we were together. I thought, “this is it,” and never had doubts…until one day I found him at another woman’s house and my world was instantly crushed.
Through the summer we were separated but still hanging out and, well, doing other intimate things as well. I found out I was pregnant in the fall, and we decided to work things out and be together. We wanted to support each other in raising this child. Here is my dilemma: The more time I spend with him, the more the pain of being cheated on is tearing me up inside. I think about it all the time and even wake up almost nightly with dreams of it. I am trying to let go for myself and for this baby. But am I being naive? Can I really move past how broken the trust is between us? And if it’s possible, where do I start? — Mom-to-Be
Yeah, I think you are being naive. You don’t just “move past” being cheated on because you want to. The person who cheated has to work to earn back your trust, and you don’t mention anything your boyfriend has done to do that. It’s like, you got pregnant, and, boom, you decided you and your boyfriend should be back together, and now you’re back together. Of course you can’t move past the broken trust here. There’s literally no reason you should, right? A pregnancy doesn’t erase broken trust. A pregnancy doesn’t substitute for real work to earn back trust. (And just so I’m crystal clear here: It’s your boyfriend’s job to do the work to earn back the trust.)
I don’t understand what it is you’re “trying to let go of” for yourself and your baby. That your boyfriend is a cheater? That you can’t trust him? That you probably wouldn’t have gotten back together with him if you hadn’t found yourself pregnant? And while we’re on that topic, that isn’t a good reason to get back together with someone. If you have unresolved problems BEFORE you have a baby, you’re still going to have those same problems AFTER you have a baby, plus all the challenges of raising a child on top of managing a very broken relationship.
Raising a baby is a lot of work. Managing a broken relationship is a lot of work. Do yourself a favor and cut one of these problems out of your life and dedicate yourself to the other one. You don’t need some cheatin’ boyfriend supporting you in parenthood. Yeah, it would be great if your boyfriend is there for his child — if he steps up and acts like a responsible parent. But he doesn’t need to be your boyfriend to do that. And you certainly don’t need him to be your boyfriend in order to step up and be a responsible mother. And your first act of responsibility should be ditching the dead weight that is currently your boyfriend.
I’m a little late on the weekend open thread (posting it Sunday morning), but here it is if you feel like chatting! What are you all up to this weekend? This past week marked 10 years since Drew and I got engaged and to mark the occasion we took in a Broadway show Friday night (which was also my Christmas gift from Drew). We saw True West with Ethan Hawke (who gave an incredible performance). Today we’re taking the kids to a puppet show performed by a group from Spain at BAM. Other than that, we’re taking it easy — I’m doing some mid-winter organizing, Joanie is watching cat videos on YouTube, Drew is building fires in the fireplace, and Jackson is indulging a sudden interest in learning songs on his keyboard.
This was a hard week and I’m glad for a chance to unwind a little (I mean, as much as you can when you’ve got two kids at each other’s throats around the clock). It wasn’t necessarily hard for me, necessarily, but a very hard one for close friends, and I’ve been worried. One of my best friends had to put her beloved 7-year-old dog down on Monday when she was diagnosed with a wildly aggressive form of cancer that spread in a manner of days after initial symptoms presented themselves. She’s devastated, obviously. And on Tuesday, while I was assisting another friend whose daughter sprained her ankle at the playground, one of my oldest and closest friends from college was in a terrible car accident on an icy road outside Kansas City, driving home from an audition. He remains in critical condition, in a medically-induced coma and on life support, and with very serious internal injuries. Every day, I keep praying for some good news.
Anyway, I hope life for you – and your loved ones — has been a little less dramatic and that you’re enjoying your weekend. If you have some good vibes to spare, would you send some my friend’s way in Missouri? Thanks!
This year, I set a goal for myself to read more books, which is a goal I make every year and fail at. But this year I did something different… and it’s working!
What I did differently this year was to give myself a number of books to read — 25, which seemed both mildly ambitious given that I’d averaged only about 10 a year for the past seven years or so, yet doable. And I figured reading 25 books in a year would require some change of habits, which was also a motivating factor for me (less screen time, for example). The other thing I did differently this year was to write a list of books I wanted to read, by researching and comparing around a dozen or so “best books of 2018” lists from sources I trust (like NPR, for example). Then, I went to my library’s website and looked for any of the books that might be available for immediate check-out (there were two or three out of my initial list of 27 or so books). From there, I added several to a hold list and then went to the library and checked out the ones that were already available. Since then, it’s been a successful cycle of reading a book and then getting a notice that one of my holds is available and waiting for me, so that I’ve had a continuous stream of books to read, which makes it so much easier to stay on track towards my goal. I love libraries!
Anyway, I started my #25InAYear challenge in the final few days of 2018 and have so far finished five and just started my sixth (I guess, technically, I have started a sixth and seventh, but I put this one aside because it’s a loan from a friend that I can return at leisure, whereas the other is a library book that is due back soon). Part of my challenge is to read only women and gay men authors, and since there has been some interest in what I’m reading (here and when I post on my Instagram stories), I thought I’d share the titles I’ve what I’ve read so far, along with some brief thoughts.
1. His Favorites
My favorite so far! It’s a petite book (160 pages), but each page packs a punch. This is a suspenseful novel that explores the vulnerabilities of young women in a #metoo world.
This is a novel about a middle-aged gay man on a trip around the world in search of himself. It’s ultimately a love story, and while it took me much longer to get into the story as I would like, I stuck with it and I’m really glad I did; the end is so beautiful!
3. And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready
This is a memoir about pregnancy and the first year of motherhood and it gave me a little PTSD reading it, to be honest. It was well-written and honest, and I probably would have enjoyed it more in the earlier months of my own motherhood journey, but at this point in my life, I am happy to sort of put those days behind me and not re-visit (or re-live) them too much. I’d recommend for a first-time mom (or mom-to-be) though – especially one who might want affirmation that she’s not alone in her struggles.
4. Little Fires Everywhere
Ooh, this one was a page-turner! It’s a “riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.” It leaves the reader questioning what makes a mother — and, really, what makes a family. Really engaging storytelling with rich, complicated characters you can’t help but root for, even when they stupid stuff.
5. Look Alive Out There
This was an entertaining book of humor essays from Sloane Crosley, who’s been compared to everyone from Dorothy Parker to David Sedaris, and I’d probably hate her a little bit for all her success if she weren’t so likable and self-deprecating in her writing. Her essay about her obnoxious neighbors and how she got revenge on them is worth the price of the book alone (especially if you check it out for free from the library like I did).
What are you reading these days? Anything I should add to my list for this year?
A reader sent me a link to this advice column, where the LW vents about her partner of 20 years going vegan. She says:
“There are worse problems than a vegan partner, but I am not handling it well. I go through periods of avoiding eating and cooking with him. I don’t want to offend him, and I don’t want him to offend me. I don’t believe veganism is a good choice for personal or planetary health, and I feel healthier on a low-carb diet; we both realise we are not going to persuade each other to change diets.
He has lost lots of weight and looks great, and is happy with his choice. But I feel sad that he may never cook another delicious chicken dinner for me, and I am seething underneath that he immerses himself in vegan “propaganda” and has withdrawn from the family culinary traditions. To be fair, I lack a love for beans and avoid starch, so he isn’t left with much choice except withdrawal. […] I really miss connecting over a good dinner and wish he would go back to being an omnivore.”
It got me thinking: How does your partner’s diet affect you? Would you “seethe” over something your partner going vegan if you’re a meat-eater? Personally, I think this LW sounds selfish and petty. “There are worse problems than a vegan partner”? Yeah, no shit! I mean, it just doesn’t seem like something to “seethe” about. Maybe feel a little inconvenienced? Ok, sure. A little sad that maybe some family culinary traditions might come to an end or change? Fine. But, how about creating some new traditions? Or – gasp – learning a little about this new diet, embracing the change, trying out some recipes that the whole family might like, and appreciating the benefits from this new lifestyle that are already apparent?
Have you ever had a significant other make a major dietary change? If so, how did it affect you (if at all)?