Q: Hello Meredith and fellow LL devotees,
I'm desperate for your advice, or at the very least, a reality check. Help a girl out.
I am in my mid-20s and have been in a wonderful, loving relationship for about a year and a half. (I always hate letters that start out like this -- my initial reaction is always something along the lines of "so shut up and be happy!") My boyfriend is in his early 30s and is everything I have ever wanted or looked for, and I'll spare you the nauseating list, but it stretches long and far. It has not always been smooth sailing for us, and we've had to navigate some tricky situations -- he has a child from a previous relationship and is a very involved father -- but we always seem to find a way around the difficulties. We both truly believe we were meant to find one another, and we are better people with each other than without.
The problem is not my boyfriend, but his female friend. She works with my boyfriend and was around long before I came into the picture. They carpool, she helps with his son, and she is a regular fixture in both of their lives. Although they do not usually socialize on weekends, she is invited to birthday parties and other family events, and on a couple of occasions she has joined us out with friends or to eat. All of this is A-OK in my book.
Where I begin to have an issue is her feelings toward me. It was made clear to me before I met this woman that she has long carried an unrequited torch for my boyfriend. When he broke up with his child's mother, this woman made a not-so-subtle effort to start dating him. He always politely refused her invitations for one-on-one socializing, and soon after, he and I met and began dating. The first few times I met her last summer she was cold, snide, condescending -- all of which I expected from a woman scorned. I realized it would take her a bit of time to get over the slight and that eventually she might come around.
Unfortunately their carpooling routine seems to have prevented her from getting over anything. She still texts my boyfriend constantly, even on weekends. She is still very cold to me, even going so far as to be upset with my boyfriend for not "warning" her that I would be stopping by his house when she was still hanging around after carpooling one afternoon. She said she was "caught off guard" -- well, considering that my boyfriend lives here, and I am his girlfriend, I find that to be a tad ridiculous and presumptuous on her part.
This has become a big problem recently, as my boyfriend just purchased a new home. I assisted him financially with the purchase and after his child gets settled in the new house, the intention is to have me move in with them. My name is not legally on the mortgage, but this was very much a joint endeavor emotionally. We see ourselves in this house for many years to come and expect my name to go on the legal paperwork a few years down the road. This woman has been around to help my boyfriend with the move, and despite my deep involvement with the house, she continues to request to receive a "heads up" from my boyfriend when I will be there. Also, after hearing me talk about "our house," she expressed to him via text message (no snooping -- we are very open with our phones and I saw her message) that she is concerned that I'm under the impression that it's my house too and started asking if I was planning on moving any of my stuff in. In my opinion, none of the above is her business. But my boyfriend's response was measured -- he told her that it is legally his house, but that since I am his girlfriend, that makes it partly mine as well. Which is true, but his response felt like a tiptoe around her attacks rather than the rebuttal I was hoping he'd give.
Mere, is it wrong to expect my boyfriend to put an end to her hater parade once and for all? Am I being unrealistic or catty? I've asked my boyfriend to say something directly, but he feels too badly about "breaking her heart" and thinks I should just have some sympathy for her and let it go. She is no threat to our relationship, but I'm uncomfortable and angry still.
Gah. I'm baffled.
– She Can't Stop Being A Hater, CT
A: You're right, SCSBAH. You're right about everything. Your boyfriend must set boundaries with this woman. If he doesn't, he's disrespecting your relationship and leading her on. I mean, how does he think this is going to play out? This situation won't fix itself.
She shouldn't be texting him all weekend. She shouldn't be around so much. She shouldn't be intimating you. And you shouldn't be expected to defend yourself to some woman who wishes you were out of the picture.
My guess is that your boyfriend doesn't want to be the bad guy and that he's trying to avoid alienating a woman who's been a help when it comes to single parenting. He's probably conflict averse in general after all he's been through. He's used to just saying what he needs to say to keep as many people as happy as possible. But it's time for some honesty. You're moving in and this woman deserves to know.
Tell your boyfriend that it's time to start disclosing to friends and family that you're preparing for cohabitation -- and that the house belongs to both of you. That should silence this woman -- or send her over the edge. Either way, there will be a change.
I don't think your boyfriend is capable of having a real sit-down with this woman about her bad attitude, but telling her the stuff about the house should send her all the right messages. Make that disclosure your one demand. For now. One demand isn't overwhelming.
Readers? I know the boyfriend is in the wrong, but should the LW have more empathy for this woman? Why isn't he saying what he needs to say? Will a disclosure about the house change things? Thoughts about the house and her contribution? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.