Q: Dear Meredith,
I have been with my boyfriend for five months now. He is wonderful, consistent, loving ... and I could not be more attracted to him. It is hands-down the best relationship I've ever been in. He is significantly older than I am, but age has never been an issue for me (my parents are 17 years apart and very happily married for over 25 years).
Here's what's been bothering me: My boyfriend’s daughter (let’s call her Carrie), who is 21, pays her own bills, and has a toddler, is now dating his best friend. Having met my bf's best friend (who is his age, and let's call him Steven) several times very early in our relationship, I was pretty shocked when my boyfriend told me Carrie had asked his permission to date Steven. I was even more shocked when my bf told me he had (reluctantly) given his blessing. He said he felt he had three choices: estrange himself from his daughter, estrange himself from his best friend, or deal with it because Carrie and Steven are presumably "gonna do what they're gonna do."
From the moment my bf told me about this, I've been uneasy. I know …. none of my business, right? Except that Steven is my boyfriend's best friend, and best friends usually spend a lot of time together. That means I've been spending a lot of time on double dates with him and Carrie and Steven. I can't pinpoint where my discomfort stems from exactly (I am no prude by any means), but it makes me painfully uncomfortable watching Carrie and Steven touch each other, especially when they whisper intimately to one another while my boyfriend is out of the room and they think/don't care that I can hear them. I want to be clear that Carrie's young child is usually in the room when this happens.
I love my boyfriend with all of my heart and I couldn't be happier with every other aspect of our relationship, but this is very uncomfortable for me. I've considered a bunch of different reasons why this may be the case: me being protective of my boyfriend and his own discomfort with the situation, projecting my own insecurity about our age difference onto Carrie and Steven's relationship, or maybe I am worried that my boyfriend has boundary issues? I don't want to burden him, but I don't know what to do? Or should I just suck it up?
– Anxious In The City, Boston
A: You're right about why you're feeling uncomfortable, AITC. You're worried, you're projecting, and you're being protective. All of your feelings are totally understandable. This is a creepy situation. I flinched quite a bit while reading your letter.
Your best bet is to make sure that you're having enough alone time with your boyfriend. It’s only been five months, so you're still getting to know each other. Occasional double dates are OK (and I hope you're having them with your friends, too), but you need to be with this guy one-on-one. I fear that these group outings are making it difficult for you to focus on the right person. Carrie and Steven are a distraction and a bit of a spectacle.
If you're not getting enough alone time, please ask for it. You can reevaluate how all of this makes you feel in another three months. Try to stay focused on the most important couple -- you and the boyfriend.
Readers? Is it weird that her boyfriend has been so accepting of his friend's relationship with his daughter? What does that say about his own dating philosophies? Can the letter writer ask to spend less time with Steven and Carrie? Thoughts? 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.