I was married for ten years to a great guy (we had 15 years total together). We have two beautiful children.
Recently, I decided I wasn't happy and met someone else much younger than me. He's 24, I'm 31.
He’s never had a long relationship (I'm his longest at eight months). He's accepted that I have children, I don’t expect him to play “Dad.”
Their father is in the picture and we communicate well when it comes to the kids.
I fell in love with this guy and he says he loves me too, but I haven't met his family.
He's only met the children, my nephew, and my mom.
Every time I ask him to meet my whole family, he always has to work. He’s trying to start his own business, and sometimes works all week with no time off.
He’s told me that his family would disown him if they knew about me… that they’ll see a 30-plus woman with two kids who works in a factory (apparently, it’s a dirty job, and not up to his parents’ standards).
But I met him there! (He no longer works at the factory.)
I feel like he's "stashing." He says people know he has a girlfriend but they know zero about me.
I haven't even hung out with his friends and him, though he’s come to my friends’ get-togethers.
Also, he’ll drive to see me after work, sometimes just to lay beside me and sleep. My kids adore him, we've had several disagreements on my parenting (we’re working on my downfalls).
When I tell him how I feel (about not meeting his family or friends) he says I'm over-reacting but I don’t think so.
Also, he’s always on his phone. He says he’s in “that phone generation" or "it's my ‘me’ time.”
He’s way mature for his age. But I want more and he doesn’t.
He talks about “our future” and building me a house someday, but if his family can't accept me now, when will they? I don’t know what to do.
Am I Loved or Stashed?
Stashing is the latest dating term for it, but basically, you’re being kept “hidden” in plain sight.
He’ll meet your kids, your friends, but you won’t meet his closest buddies and especially not his family.
He may chat vaguely about a future together, but there isn’t one.
The unspoken message of being stashed in today’s dating minefield is that the person (male or female) is unlikely to ever be considered a long-term partner.
The red flag is never being invited into the fold.
In your case, he’ll never introduce you to his judgmental family, because he truly fears that they’ll “disown” him. That matters more to him.
It’s not something you can fix.
Having married at 21 to the boyfriend you met at 16, and despite being older than him and a mother, you’re an innocent compared to his self-interested ways.
He won you over, and now has a welcoming warm bed to lie in when he chooses to see you.
This is not an equal relationship that will last. Instead, he’ll break your heart.
Protect yourself and your children from his ultimate rejection.
Work on your parenting skills without him, and try to maintain a good rapport with their dad, whom they need consistently in their lives, unlike this guy.
If you meet someone else, look for someone who respects you as a person, no matter your job.
FEEDBACK Regarding the grandmother who’s not being allowed to see her grandchildren (October 14):
Reader – “It struck a nerve, as I am in the same situation. A number of us grandparents are facing this exclusion. As a matter of fact, it has become an epidemic.
“The Alienated Grandparents Anonymous (AGA) started in Florida now has support groups across the US and in Canada and Australia. You can find them online.”
Ellie – I hear from many grandparents who’ve been denied access to their grandchildren, and I also hear equally from many adult children, who have serious problems with how grandparents deal with them and their children.
Both sides suffer emotional stress when there’s alienation from family.
Attending a support group is an excellent way to get a perspective on what’s caused the estrangement and how to try to deal with it, if possible.
Mediation is also sometimes helpful if the two sides will agree to it.
Tip of the day:
You don’t need to label it “stashing” to know when you’re being treated as second-class. Don’t accept it.