Q: Meredith, I'm a newly divorced mom with three young children. A few months after the divorce was official, I went on a first date with this guy I met and we instantly hit it off. He was 23 and I was 33 at the time. We've been together for a year exclusively now and get along great. We really don't talk much about the future -- he doesn't know if he ever wants to get married or have kids, and I'm not really sure what I want either. We are both just really happy in the present. His parents are not happy that we're together. He is very close with his family and sees them a few times a week. I have never met them, although we all live in the same town. I have asked a couple of times and he tells me that they are not interested in meeting me and that they're very closed-minded. I have also been excluded from family events and it hurts my feelings.
I understand their concerns because I too am a mother and would not be thrilled, but I would also want my children to be happy. My parents have met him several times and don't seem to care one way or the other. They say he's a nice guy and leave it at that. I don't know why, but this really bothers me because they haven't even tried to get to know me. I've told him how important it is for me to meet them and know that part of his life. They don't have to like me but at least meet me and acknowledge that we're together. He says that he can't force them to meet me. So am I making a big deal out of nothing? Also, is the age difference a huge deal? Sometimes I ask myself, "What am I doing? Should I look for someone older, more mature -- maybe someone with kids?"
When it comes down to it, we are both extremely happy with each other and I don't think the grass is always greener. Also, I am a long-time fan of your advice and a fan of the commenters and am ready for them :)
– Does Family Really Matter? South of Boston
A: This all goes back to your sentence about not knowing what you want, DFRM. You may not know whether you want to get married and have more kids with this guy, but you do know that you want to be a part of his community. You know that you want him to be thinking of ways to keep you in his life.
You probably don't want to hear this, but it's time to ask your boyfriend about the future. As in, "If we're still dating in another year, how will we deal with your family?" Or, "Would you ever truly commit to someone your parents refused to meet?"
The age difference is certainly something to think about, but your problem is really about what happens next. You want to know that you're an important part of his world even if his family doesn't approve. You want to know that his family's opinions about the relationship won't stop him from sticking around. You want a plan, right?
It's OK to admit some of this stuff and to ask big questions. He's been around for a year. He knows it's coming.
Readers? Is the age difference a deal-breaker? Will he stick around? Should he be standing up to his parents? What should the letter writer do? 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.