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Q: My boyfriend and I have been dating for a little over six months and we have a very loving and trusting relationship. We both recognize the long-term potential in this and have started the discussion of getting engaged and moving in together. After a long marriage with five wonderful kids, he got divorced a few years ago. I am also divorced with a young son who adores my boyfriend. Although there is a 15 year age difference between the two of us (I'm younger), we have proven compatible so far in all the important areas of our relationship. Our friends and family have all been extremely supportive of us, and we have both fit comfortably in each other's circles, with one exception: he has not introduced me to his children (except for the eldest).
My boyfriend tells me that the other children know that he has a girlfriend, and that the eldest has been supportive of our relationship in front of his siblings. But I would still like the opportunity to meet the other children in the near future and begin working on having a relationship with them. (They live with their mother.) My boyfriend says he doesn't want to confuse them. I trust his judgment and know that he wants what is best for all parties involved. But I feel like he has two different lives right now: one with me and one with his children. It makes me sad at times when I'm not included in activities with them.
I am trying to be gentle with broaching this topic again with my boyfriend because I know he feels pulled in a bunch of different directions. I just wonder whether his reluctance to introduce me to his children is a sign of his insecurity about our future. Are we moving too fast? Shouldn't I meet the children before we move in together? Do I even have a right to influence this important decision?
– I want to be part of the family too, Newton
A: You should absolutely meet his kids before you move in with him, but it just might be too early for any of your big plans. Sure, you're talking about long-term goals, but it's only been six months. Do you really need to do these things right now? Maybe he wants some time to enjoy you and this wonderful, fun phase of your relationship before he begins to deal with a more complicated reality. Once you meet the kids (and the ex-wife), it becomes a different kind of partnership. When you talk about getting engaged, do you mean right now?
My advice is to tell him what you need, as opposed to telling him how you think he should deal with his kids. You can say, "I'm just not comfortable moving in with you until I've met the kids." You can say, "I respect that you're not ready for me to meet your family, but can we come up with some ideas about when and how I should introduce myself?"
My guess is that as happy as he is, he's overwhelmed by the next steps. I don't blame him. I would talk to him about his timeline and ask questions about how he feels. (As in, "I imagine that this introduction will be scary for you. How do you feel about it?") Be clear about your needs and ask him about his. Understand that even after you meet the kids, you won't always be a part of these family activities.
And … enjoy all of the great things that happen at six months. It's fantastic that you're serious about each other, but six months is six months. You need to have a conversation with this guy about whether your long-term plans should be called just that.
Readers? Should he be coming up with a timeline? Should marriage be on the table? How can she manage her expectations? Should they be discussing these big things if he's not ready to introduce her to his kids? 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.