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Dear Wendy: “I Found Condoms In My Boyfriend’s Bag!”

This morning when my boyfriend was in the shower, I was going to surprise him by putting a note in one of the small section in his backpack. We’ve been going through a rough patch recently, so I thought it would be nice to give him it. When I reached in, I found two condoms in there which were unused. I was too surprised to process it, I just put them in his drawer and I forgot to give him the note. We’ve been together for eight months, so I’m trying to trust him but there’s a huge part of me that is wondering if I am being naive and stupid. I want to tell him what happened but I don’t want to sound like I’m attacking him or like I’m snooping. How do I approach him about this, if at all? — Should I Even Ask?

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Dear Wendy: When Exes Rear Their Ugly Heads

My ex, who I dated for all of six months about three years ago, wants to reconnect. After the breakup, he moved far away to a completely different state and I haven’t seen or talked to him since he horribly ended it by taping a note to my car window. We weren’t together for very long but when we were, everything just seemed right. When he ended it, I was devastated. Well, he recently called me on Christmas Eve to wish me “Merry Christmas” and to ask how I’ve been doing. I’ve been dating someone else for a long time and I consider my new relationship to be very serious. Since he’s called, we’ve exchanged emails and Facebook messages almost daily and have talked on the phone occasionally. He’s back home visiting family and has asked to see me before he leaves. I told him I’d meet him for lunch in a few days, but I’m nervous about seeing him again and I’m worried that my old feelings will come back. He keeps telling me that I’m the last serious relationship he’s had and, since I’m taken, he’s going to have to either wait until I’m “back on the market so he can sweep me off my feet” or be single forever. What do I do? Should I stand him up and take the guilt, or confront my past in all of its not-so-glory-ness? — Second Guessing

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Dear Wendy: Deployments Rock Relationships

I am a soldier currently serving a tour of duty in Iraq as an Army Reservist. I have also been with my girlfriend for about 16 months. We had it planned that when I got home we would most likely get engaged, move in together, and get married down the road. This all came at the preconception that I would come home and go active duty, taking her with me.

Well, during this deployment I have found that, utilizing the many programs offered to veterans, it is incredibly easy for me to stay close to home, go to college, earn a degree, and get paid to do so. I made this decision to take advantage of the opportunity, but my girlfriend seems to think that I made this decision without her and our relationship in mind. She got very upset and freaked out, saying I changed the dynamics of our relationship and she wasn’t sure whether I wanted to still get engaged or even continue our relationship and that she was “confused” about everything. She even brought up the subject of “ending it.”

In truth, I hadn’t considered all of this because, frankly, I thought she would be thrilled about not moving and having me closer to home. However, now that she brought it up, I’m not sure if she over-reacted or if I missed something important. I can’t help thinking that life would be easier if I got home, went to school, and didn’t have a relationship to worry about. I don’t want to hurt her because I do love her very much and I don’t want to lose her. I also can’t help thinking that continuing a relationship with somebody with whom I, apparently, am not communicating properly isn’t fair for me. I don’t know what to do with this and she expects an answer about continuing or ending. Please help me. — Iraq and a Hard Place

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Dear Wendy: “Should I Tell My BFF Her Ex Committed Suicide?”

I recently found out, through tracking rumors and calling people I haven’t talked to in years, that the high school sweetheart of one of my best friends committed suicide about three months ago. They broke up three years ago after a very tumultuous relationship, finally resulting in him hitting her in the face once, and her heading for the door for good. He had substance abuse problems, and a very difficult family situation, and would frequently contact my friend for the first two years following their breakup. He would be depressed, drunk, and trying to get her back. Every time. She cut off all contact with him, and I know that she doesn’t know about his death yet. The real issue here is whether or not I should tell her. On one hand, I don’t want to hide anything from her, but on the other hand, I’m worried about how she’ll react. She has dealt with severe depression herself, and has suffered some extreme hardships. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but worst of all, I think she will blame herself. Unfortunately she has never been one to handle these extreme emotions very well (not that I view that as a weakness, she’s just been through a lot), and depending on the timing, I’m almost afraid she’ll hurt herself. Even though he turned out to be bad news on the relationship front, remembering him from high school is a whole different story. He was, at least at some point, a wonderful person who was dealt many unfortunate hands in life, and part of me almost feels as though it would be a discredit to his memories if the love of his life remained unaware of his death. I’m so confused, and I’m not thinking clearly. Any thoughts? — Caring Friend

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Dear Wendy: “My Boyfriend’s Great, But I Don’t Think I Deserve Him.”

I’ve been seeing a guy since October. Although we haven’t put a label on our relationship, things have evolved and are progressively becoming more serious. He went home for Christmas, so I didn’t see him for about a week, but we did text during that time. When he returned on Sunday, he invited me over for pizza, wine and a movie—our usual lazy Sunday night routine. When I asked him about how the holiday went, he said he “finally got to make out” with his best friend’s sister, and that was the best Christmas present he could hope for. He said it like it was the most ordinary thing in the world, then kissed me on the forehead and carried on like nothing was unusual! How am I supposed to react to that? I can’t get it out of my head and I don’t feel the same around him anymore. At the same time, I don’t feel like I have a “right” to be upset about it, since we don’t have a label and he seems to think that’s totally normal. — Confused

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Dear Wendy: “My Girlfriend’s A Black Belt. Should I Be Worried?”

I have a great new girlfriend who is funny, positive, cute and very sexy. I am so happy with her and I wouldn’t want her to change. But there is one issue: she happens to be a black belt martial arts expert and works part time as an instructor in that area. So basically, even though you could never tell from looking at her, that beautiful 5’7” female body of hers is actually, for all intents and purposes, a lethal weapon. It’s absolutely great that she knows how to defend herself, but it makes me wonder a bit what she thinks about me. I mean, the guy is supposed to be able to protect his girl and this makes me feel a little insecure and inadequate. Is there a risk she thinks less of me because I can’t give her that? I also — and I guess this is a stupid male ego thing — think it’s a little embarrassing that my 5’7” 130 lbs girlfriend could easily kick my ass any time she wanted. I am 6′, rather strong, 185 lb guy, but I have absolutely no fighting experience, so of course I’d be toast if I was stupid enough to fight my girlfriend (I never would of course, but just knowing that I wouldn’t stand a chance against her almost makes me blush). Basically the guy is supposed to be the stronger sex in a relationship, but, because of her martial arts, in our case it’s the other way around. Could this be a problem for us? — Lover, Not A Fighter

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Dear Wendy: “How Long Should I Wait To Be Exclusive?”

Sometimes the advice for people who email me is so obvious I wonder if they just need to hear someone else say it to truly believe it themselves. Today’s column is dedicated to those individuals.

I have been talking to/dating this girl for a little over a year. We both agreed not to be exclusive, which was fine at the time. Now, a year later, I am ready for more. I told her that I am open to becoming more and her response was what I expected. She was not sure what she wanted. Over the last few weeks, she has made it clear that she is not saying no but that she is confused. Making comments such as “My friends think you’re great and that I am stupid, and I agree with them.” I understand she is scared of the commitment and I have no problem being patient, as I have told her. My question today is how long should I wait? I do not want to walk away from something I feel could be great. I know she wants to but is scared to make the “jump.” At the same time, I don’t want to put my heart on the chopping block. — Running out of Patience

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Dear Wendy: “Why Is My Skin Color Such A Novelty To Men?”

This past week I met a guy while out of town for a cousin’s wedding. After hanging out together and talking over the course of the week, we finally hooked up the morning before I went home. During our post-hookup cuddle he tells me that I was the first black woman he’s ever been with (he was white) completely without provocation. The thing is, this is not the first time this has happened to me. In fact, it seems to be a recurring pattern in both dating and casual scenarios alike. And it isn’t just white guys that are guilty. I have had other races (except black men) also randomly confess this to me. This has left me with two questions: 1) Are these men really just thinking “OMG I’m talking to a black chick” while I thought we were getting to know each other as individuals? And 2) why do they feel the need to tell me this, almost always after sexual intimacy? I am biracial and my partner’s race has never made a difference, nor does it even cross my mind when I date a man of a different race, let alone bear such a burden that I feel the need to tell them about it. So what gives? I’m starting to feel like men only see me for my novelty factor. — Colorblind

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Dear Wendy: “My Boyfriend Won’t Get A Job. ADHD Or Just Plain Laziness?”

My boyfriend and I have been together for a year. I have known him since I was thirteen, his family adores me, we talk about the future, and I am so happy when I am with him. However, we have a few issues. I graduated from college almost three years ago and work a full-time job. We’re the same age, but my boyfriend is still working on community college and lives at home and has no job. He knows how much I value an education, but not so much that he’s motivated and driven to succeed. Now, to be fair, he has severe ADHD, and schoolwork has never been easy for him, not because he isn’t bright, but because of his inability to concentrate. However, he doesn’t seem to WANT to do better. I think he gets nervous about failure, but at 24 years old he doesn’t seem to want to get a job, or accelerate his schooling any quicker, and I want to move on to the next stage of our relationship (not marriage, but just a more mature stage). I love him and don’t want to lose him, but I don’t know if I can handle a lifetime of this. Do I stick it out? Is it the ADHD or just laziness? — Motivated

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Dear Wendy: “I Think My Dad Is Cheating On My Mom”

My parents have been married for 26 years and have several kids together, but I’m wondering if my dad might be cheating on my mom. He’s always been a big time workaholic. Growing up, he was gone all the time. He recently started his own business and got a second cell phone, for what, I can’t figure out. He’s kind of a private person, so if he were seeing another woman, I’m positive he could keep it from the rest of the family easily. He’s in charge of all the finances, so it would be pretty easy to hide any telling expenses. He’s always going out of town and comes and goes at weird hours. Also, my mom is very pushy, she’s always nagging away at my dad. Honestly, if he were stepping out on her I don’t think I’d blame him. She’s not my favorite parent, for sure. Since he pays for her cushy lifestyle so she doesn’t have to work and she’s constantly finding faults with him, it wouldn’t be a stretch if he were pushed to do this. She’s gained a lot of weight recently, and that’s really changed her self image. She’s always buying him books on how to be a more romantic and sensitive husband, Christian propaganda, etc. My dad suffered a recent midlife crisis and has made some really dramatic changes. Also, my parents have hinted at some rocky times in their marriage lately and my mom claims to be depressed but she promised my dad she wouldn’t tell me and my siblings why (this seems to be the biggest indicator). If there were a situation like this going on, NO ONE would know because my parents are obsessed with appearances and looking like the perfect happy family. As far as I know he hasn’t cheated on her before … but it could have happened. Should I ask my parents what’s going on? — Concerned Daughter

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