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Talking about my boyfriend after the affair

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  October 22, 2013 08:37 AM

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Q: This is a question about both romantic and family relationships, as the two are a bit tangled up for me right now.

My two-year marriage was fraught with infidelity on both sides. After more than a year of feeling guilty, anxious, and distressed, five months ago I was finally able to tell my husband that I wasn't happy, we were not compatible sexually, and that we needed to move on from each other as amicably as possible. He grudgingly agreed to the divorce, and currently it is pending in the slow court system. However, after our initial talk, displaying (yet more) poor judgment, my husband went to my family and disclosed all the sordid details he knew about my affairs, including the identity of my ongoing affair partner. My family was completely aghast, dismayed, horrified, and enraged. They cornered me in my home, screaming horrible things about me and my lover.

Over the course of the last few months, I gradually have patched things up with my family, although tension over the subject remains. They know I'm still seeing my affair partner (now boyfriend) but it's become a DADT policy, with no mention of his name, queries about how I'm spending my weekends, or any acknowledgment of this relationship whatsoever.

My boyfriend and I (late 20's/early 30's) plan to move in together in a few months (where my mother is a frequent and welcome visitor in my home) and I have no idea how to handle this awkward situation with my family. Right now, I feel so cowed and afraid of upsetting the apple cart that I can't even bring myself to mention his name around them. But I love my boyfriend very much, we get along so well, and he makes me very happy. How do I go about broaching this sensitive topic?

– Disappointing Daughter, Boston 'Burbs


A: Your family wants you to be thoughtful about your life, so show them that you are. Talk to them about your decisions. Disclose your concerns about next steps. If your mom is a frequent visitor, she's also a friend. Tell her: "I want you to know that I'm enjoying my time with [boyfriend]. I feel awful talking to you about it, but I don't want to leave you out and I need you." Let her react. It's possible that she's had a million questions but has been afraid to pry.

But get ready -- because mom is going to ask you why you're moving in with your boyfriend. For the record, I'm asking that, too. I understand that you're really into him and that you've been with him for some time, but ... you're not divorced. You've barely had time to process all of these changes. And ... you didn't leave your husband for this man in particular. You left because you were unhappy. Are you really ready to get serious with the next guy? What's the rush?

You don't owe anybody explanations, but if you want to keep your family close, you have to talk to them. And it'll be good for you to say this stuff out loud. Sometimes when we say it out loud, it makes us more accountable.

Readers? What should she tell her family? Is it too soon for a move-in? How can she get her family to warm up to this idea? Help.

– Meredith



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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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.

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