Twice each week, on Monday and Friday, a Direct Answers advice column from Wayne & Tamara on Facebook.
Two of Wayne & Tamara’s most popular letters and answers:
I am a 21-year-old college senior looking forward to graduation in four months, pursuing a career and possibly my first love. So here’s the question…
I’ve been in love with my first boyfriend, with whom I shared my first time, since I was 15. I knew I cared about him then, but I thought it was puppy love. Although the relationship didn’t last long, we dated again sophomore year of college and began “hooking up” again five months ago.
We both dated other people in the interim. I’m beginning to realize I am really in love and thinking about a future with him. The problem is we go to school four hours away from each other. I’m 21, he’s 23. We also feel we deserve to “have fun” our last semester at college. The big problem is neither of us knows where we’ll end up after graduation.
Plus, I’m not sure he knows how very much in love with him I am. I’m scared he’ll find somebody else if I don’t tell him. But I’m also not sure how he’ll take it if I do. He doesn’t show his emotions much.
Am I insane in thinking everything will work out if I tell him? We’ve talked about it, and he’s never felt so “comfortable” with anyone before, but I’m not sure how he feels about a future with me.
I think he feels the same or we wouldn’t keep going back to each other. Either way, I don’t want to scare him away by confessing my love and my hopes for a future, but I need to tell him how I feel!
Kira, when we read your letter, we wondered what it was really about. Is it about nothing ventured, nothing gained? Is it about the power of first love? Or is it about something else?
Though we often tell people to be brave (ask the girl for a date, go for that job you want) we don’t think that’s your main issue. Though the “first time” can leave an indelible mark, we don’t think that’s the issue either.
Look, you two are hooking up and “having fun” with multiple partners. By definition, that’s not love. You say he’s comfortable with you, but we’d bet he’s comfortable with every woman he hooks up with. Comfortable enough to be having casual sex with them.
Near the end of the movie Up in the Air, a young woman is shown interviewing for a job in San Francisco. This will be her second job after college. When the interviewer asks why she took her first job, a dead-end job in Omaha, she answers candidly. “I followed a boy.”
That’s what your letter is about. “I graduate in four months; I don’t know what job I’ll have; I don’t know where I’ll be. Everything is unsettled and I’m scared.”
You are moving on to a completely different stage of life, and of course you are scared.
But this man doesn’t love you enough to say, “I’m not comfortable with you hooking up with other men.” You don’t love him enough to say, “I’m not comfortable with you hooking up with other women.” Sex with no strings attached is the opposite of a genuine relationship.
But at 21 with a college degree, all the possibilities of life are open to you. Don’t think about marriage and forever with a hookup.
Go on! Get your new life. Hightail it to your college placement office and schedule job interviews. Explore all the possibilities. Embrace this challenge. Above all, don’t become that young woman who has to explain a blunder in her life by saying, “I followed a boy.”
Wayne & Tamara
I met my now husband seven years ago. When I first met him, he was getting out of a tumultuous relationship with a woman who ended up pulling a gun on us one night. It was horrible.
Another night we drove up to his house and found a “box of love” that she left. In it was everything he ever gave her. I didn’t look, but he told me he bought her pearls and she returned them. I’m not sure what type of pearls, or if it was earrings, a necklace or a bracelet. He just said “pearls” and that he gave them to his mother.
Here we are seven years later, and I had my birthday over this past weekend. At my party, I received a beautiful pearl necklace, bracelet and set of earrings. I was extremely happy and they are beautiful. Twenty minutes later, it felt like a ton of bricks hit me. I thought back to the time this woman returned his gifts.
So I nicely said, “How did you do this without me knowing?” He said, “A little bit at a time.” You see, we share a bank account and we both keep an eye on it. So I just said okay, and let it go.
Today, for some reason, I can’t let it go and it’s making me feel like an unappreciative, selfish person. Maybe I am since I’m thinking this way! We did receive cash from his mom for Christmas, and he put that in a safe place in the house. I saw he deposited some of it in our account, and I believe I accounted for the rest after we used it on a trip.
Should I let this go and be happy with pearls that I’m going to make a family heirloom, to be passed down to my daughter and to her daughter? I don’t see any way of asking him, “Are these the pearls you gave so-and-so?” But should that matter?
Kirsten, in one Zen teaching story two monks, a student and a master, are traveling along a road. When they come to a stream, they see a beautiful young woman unable to cross, so the master picks her up and carries her to the other side. Then the monks resume their travels.
Later that night, when the student scolds the master for having intimate contact with a woman, the master replies, “I put her down on the other side. Are you still carrying her?”
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to put down and what to carry. There are reasons to think these are not the same gems. Would an ex-girlfriend return a set of heirloom-quality pearls? Would someone who pulls a gun be likely to think, “The right thing to do is give them back.”
But even if this woman once had them, after seven years the whammy has worn off the pearls. And if they are not the other woman’s, what a horrible thing to bring up to your husband.
We look at it this way. Pearls are assets, like bonds, Krugerrands or diamonds. It would be ridiculous to let something of great value go to waste, or to take them to a jewelry store and not receive full value. After seven years it is not regifting. After seven years, they are his.
Our favorite detective story is The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. In that tale, a gem is stolen from the head of an idol in India and, through treachery, ends up in England. But legend says the jewel will always return where it belongs, and in the end that is what happens.
Perhaps this incident is a sign to let this woman go as if she never existed. Even if she once had the pearls, they have returned to their proper place. They were meant to adorn the woman who is his wife.
Wayne & Tamara