Q: Hi Meredith. I've been seeing a woman for a few months and have felt very conflicted about how close she is to her family. From a removed standpoint I find this odd, given I've been actively seeking a smart, pretty woman who has strong family ties. She is all of these things. However, how close is too close?
Warning bells first started chiming when I'd find her talking/texting with her mother, father, brother, and sister on a rotating basis, numerous times, while on dates. When we took a road trip this past summer -- our first serious outing as a couple -- we spent an entire day with her younger brother and his friends. I knew the brother lived in the area and that we would see him, but I wasn't aware that we would share almost the entirety of the trip with him. That night I had to make clear to her that I wanted to spend time with her alone during the day. She obliged, but if I hadn't brought it up, the second day would've been a repeat of the first. Also during the trip, I found it odd how the brother never struck up a direct conversation with me, despite my overtures.
What made the alarm bell start screaming was when I learned that while in high school, she sometimes voluntarily shared a bed with her brother, who was in 8th grade. I'm positive nothing sexual happened, however I find the practice of teenage siblings voluntarily sleeping with one another really bizarre (it had nothing to do with cultural or economic circumstances either, purely choice). Not really sure how to wrap my head around this, and if it's indeed a deal-breaker.
– Younger Brother is Watching You, NY
A: I won't make judgments about whether your girlfriend's bedroom behavior was/is weird, YBIWY. My sister and I love personal space (we get two hotel rooms on trips, even if it's just the two of us), but my cousins have jumped on top of each other like wild things ever since they were kids. They're in their teens and 20s now. And I have plenty of friends who still share a bed with their siblings on family vacations and wind up talking all night like they’re at a sleepover party.
Your girlfriend's interest in her family isn't necessarily a deal-breaker. But the constant contact? The texting during dates? The assumption that you'd spend a weekend with her brother? That's not OK, at least not for you.
She sounds great, but you guys have different philosophies about family and boundaries. You can either bail now or talk to her about it. But if you talk, please focus on her behavior when it comes to you. You can't come out and tell her that her family traditions are wrong. All you can ask for is her undivided attention and respect.
If she can't put you first while you're together, you have to end this. And that's not the worst thing. This is why we date -- to see if we're compatible.
Readers? Is this weird? Is it weird that he's seeing all of this after just a few months? Should he talk to her about it or just end it? Is there hope here? Help.
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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 new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.