I’ve been dating a man for 19 months, we’re both divorced, and have raised teenage daughters.
He met my daughters briefly, and my close friend. We talk about the future together, more travelling together, etc. Neither of us wants to get remarried or live together now.
I’m concerned that he’s not told his younger daughter. He said that when he separated from his ex five years ago, his youngest took it hard.
Should I believe that he’s concerned about his daughter? Or is he hiding me and doesn’t consider our relationship important enough to share with her?
I’ve also not met anyone from his inner circle. His parents know that we’ve been dating.
How do I handle this?
Am I Being Hidden?
You mention only his youngest daughter, which suggests you’ve met an older one. But you don’t say that.
I suspect that, similarly, you haven’t spoken up about your concern.
You have to say – though not harshly – what his “hiding” you means.
Explain that, as a mother, you understand his thoughtfulness about not wanting to upset his daughter.
But, since she must know he’s dating someone (her sister would’ve told her, or even her mother), he’s handing her emotional control over his life.
What’s needed for father and daughter now is counselling, to reassure his unceasing love for her. And that dating someone doesn’t weaken their bond.
Professionally-guided counselling is crucial to bring out the girl’s fears and for him to comfort her while still being entitled to his adult choices.
Explain that you think he’s doing both his daughter and you a disservice by not being open and honest.
He may not agree right away, but he’s wrong not to, for the girl’s sake.
However, only wait a limited time for him to get it - that you feel demeaned by his shielding his daughter from your presence in his life.
The same goes for you meeting his close friends.
My best friend, both of us early-20s, lives in a different city from me.
We see each other once a month, text daily, etc.
Lately she’s upset because her boyfriend always has friends at his house (which he owns).
He lost his mom a year ago so she understands the closeness and importance of his friendships.
But it limits their time together. And sometimes he picks friends over her.
His recently-acquired roommate started dating our other friend, which means she's also always there, even if the other friends aren’t.
I listen to her vent, try to give thoughtful advice and understanding. I've suggested trying to plan dates outside the home, and that they share a “signal” for when they want to be alone.
She never takes my suggestions, which I accept. But I’m getting very tired and annoyed at hearing these same struggles.
How do I gently convey that the only thing left to this conversation/situation is her doing something, and that I’m tired of hearing the same thing daily.
I don’t want to hurt her.
Frustrated Best Friend
You gave good advice.
But you were blocked from creating change because your friend doesn’t want to help herself.
She’s insecure in the relationship – no wonder, since there are always friends in the way.
While you’re assertive and solution-minded, despite being still young, she’s afraid to speak up (especially since he already sometimes chooses his friends first).
You don’t have to be mean, just straightforward.
Tell your friend that it’s up to her. Nothing will be different unless she makes it so. Then change the subject.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who wants her boyfriend, an only child, to move from his 80-year-old parent’s home (March 19):
Reader – “OMG, she wants to farm out this parent (who’s able to cook and clean but her boyfriend doesn’t want to leave alone) to a retirement home.
“Or, for the couple to buy a house and stick his parent in the basement.
“She wants her “own place and independence." As you wrote, she should move somewhere on her own.
“In many cultures, adult children live with parents short- or long-term with partners, to save money and also be there for aging parents.
“It’s still a generous offer to live somewhere rent-free, or at below market rent.
“This woman won't be too far behind when the parent dies and her boyfriend’s inheritance is being counted.
“She should remember that our generation’s children watch and learn, and will treat us, in our old age, in a similar fashion.”
Tip of the day:
When a partner “hides” your continuing dating relationship, it demeans you.