Q: I am older, divorced for a few years, and in a wonderful new relationship. He and I have been together for five months now. We are in love and spend at least two evenings together with time on the weekend, too. He has been divorced for more than five years with three children between 16 and 20. I have a daughter who is 18.
Since getting together, I have introduced him to my friends and family and he has attended parties and get-togethers with them. He has spent time at my home in the presence of my daughter. She completely understands that he means a lot to me and is very welcoming and accepting of his time with me.
Conversely, it took quite some time for him to mention me at all to his family. I have yet to meet his parents or his children, by his choice. He says in a past relationship he did not introduce his girlfriend (of two years) to any other than his siblings, who I have met. It was my understanding that this was an issue about not upsetting his kids but I thought he would definitely come around. He has not.
He knows this upsets me greatly. The feeling of being on the sidelines, being an afterthought, it's horrible. He says his ex-wife has a boyfriend and he does not go to the family home, ever. I say that is all ridiculous and that it feels awful to be excluded from his life, especially as I have so readily, naturally, shared mine. He says she would make a huge fuss over it and cause discourse with the kids. I think he should man up and show his loved ones that there is a great woman in his life. He loves me and I love him. And I want to do everything I can to keep this relationship going.
What can I do? Give him an ultimatum? I've told him this is not any way anyone would want to be treated and that it is unacceptable to me. He says he doesn't want to rock the boat with his kids right now.
– On the Sidelines, Mass.
A: My questions for him would be:
"When do you think you'd feel comfortable introducing any romantic partner to your children? Eventually this will have to happen, so what is your timeline?"
"Would it rock the boat if I met your parents?"
"I'm enjoying this relationship and see a future here. Do you? What kind of future?"
The thing is, five months isn't a very long time. This guy obviously has some issues when it comes to bringing people into his life, but it's quite possible that you still feel new to him. He might not want to make these kinds of introductions until he's sure that you're not going anywhere. That's why the first question is so important.
I also have to wonder whether he enjoys having something that's just his. At the moment, you represent a lovely escape from many stressful things. Once you know the kids (and the ex), you're a part of his reality. And for him, reality isn't always pleasant.
Let's not get into ultimatums. Instead, focus on those questions, specifically the first one. He should be able to tell you when he'd feel comfortable introducing a partner (you or anyone else) to his kids. If the answer is "never" -- or he simply can't answer at all -- you might just want different things from this relationship.
Find out what you're working toward. And please, don't use the phrase "man up" when you have the discussion. It won't help.
Readers? Is it too soon to be thinking about this stuff? How can she move this along? What questions would you ask? Is she expecting too much? Do they have a future? 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 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.