Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Afternoon Quickies: “Will His Halloween Party Be Awkward?”

Pumpkin

My boyfriend and I have been together for five years and are very serious. We’ve always seen ourselves as a married couple, but it’s hard to define that to others. He has a son, nine years old, who lives with us. The child has been invited to a kid/parent Halloween party for his soccer team. My boyfriend asked if I’d like to join them, but I mentioned it possibly being awkward and he agreed that it might be. I only said that in hopes of his believing otherwise, but, now that it’s been said, I feel like he just doesn’t want me to go or that I will ruin his so-called “rep” as a single dad. I don’t know many people living in a situation such as mine and his; I have many questions left unanswered about (unmarried) step-parenting. Am I crazy for thinking that he just really doesn’t want me to go? — Pseudo Stepmom

If he didn’t want you to go, he wouldn’t have invited you! YOU were the one who made things awkward by suggesting it might be awkward if you went. How would you feel if you invited someone to do something and that person was all, “Well… I don’t know… it could be awkward…” Yeah, NOW it might be. Tell your boyfriend you were being irrationally insecure and, of course, you would like to go to the Halloween party because you are part of this family (I mean his son lives with you!), and you are grateful to be included in these family activities. Then, use this as an opportunity to have a heart-to-heart with your boyfriend about your role in his son’s life, both now and in the future. And consider whether getting married might make “defining” your status to outsiders, as well as to your boyfriend’s son, a little easier, and if that might make it worth it to you guys to take that step.

I am a 45-year-old male who’s been dating a great woman for 10 years. Recently I wanted to move to a warmer climate. My girlfriend was hesitant to join me due to her closeness with her family, including four children and grandchildren. We made the move in February of 2012, and she has not been happy since. She does enjoy the area where we moved, but she suffers extreme homesickness. She already left once for two months but recently returned, still with the same issues. I don’t want to move back into cold and isolated winters, but I also don’t want to be without her in my life. I feel selfish. Any advice? — No to Cold

 

If you have a lifestyle that allows it, you could winter in the warm climate (either together or on your own) and spend the rest of the year in your girlfriend’s home town. Or, you could have a long-distance relationship until one or both of you retire and/or can have more lifestyle flexibility where you can winter in one place while retaining a home base elsewhere. Or, you could change your relationship to a friendship, thereby keeping her in your life but freeing each other to pursue the lives that bring you the most joy (you in the warm climate, and she close to her family). If none of those options work, you really have to decide what is most important: warmth in the winter or being with the one you love.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

7 comments… add one
  • avatar

    MsMisery October 28, 2014, 1:20 pm

    Do single dads have a “rep”? For some reason now I’m picturing men in Members’ Only jackets holding babies in slings with 1% patches on them.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. October 28, 2014, 2:36 pm

    I heard this from a friend of mine: “It will only be awkward if you make it awkward.” Seems to apply to the first situation.

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes October 29, 2014, 11:59 am

      YES! Nothing makes a situation awkward (or more so) like pointing it out.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. October 29, 2014, 3:31 pm

        This friend of mine is brilliant. He has a way of cutting through the bull to the simple facts. I love him.

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  • avatar

    Wendy_not_Wendy October 28, 2014, 8:12 pm

    I don’t think the unmarried/living together/raising a kid situation is nearly as unusual as the LW seems to think it is… at least where I grew up, very white/working class area. If the three of you are comfortable with the situation, “That’s my dad’s girlfriend”, “That’s my boyfriend’s son, he lives with us”, and “I’m Johnny’s dad, this is my girlfriend” will do just fine. If that doesn’t sound serious enough, rest assured that people will take your appearance at a family event as a sign that things are serious. And I totally understand not wanting to get married, but I do wonder if you’ve thought through your rights/responsibilities relating to your “pseudo” stepson. If your boyfriend were sick or in an accident–or just not available when his son needed a parent (for instance, a broken arm lands him in the emergency room)–things will go much more smoothly if you’re listed as stepmother than as “dad’s girlfriend”.

    A suggestion: stop playing games like making statements just so you can hear him disagree. Communication will be better all around.

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  • avatar

    mango October 28, 2014, 10:53 pm

    LW1, I’m confused. You’ve been together five years, have always seen yourselves as a married couple, and your BF’s son lives with you. Haven’t you been going to four or five years worth of soccer games? Is this party for his soccer team really the first time you are going to meet these people? You mention your BF’s rep as a single dad, does anyone even know he has a serious girlfriend? I feel like these people should already know who you are. And if they don’t, then that seems like a much bigger problem than having to answer awkward questions at a Halloween party.

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes October 29, 2014, 12:06 pm

      Agreed. I dont know who these (presumably numerous) people are that you have trouble defining your relationship to, because nothing says “serious” like a 5 year live-in relationship with the BF’s 9 y.o. son living there.
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      When I first looked at this, I assumed there would be more info about the BF being shady with other women in the past or something. Because you get a single dad “rep” by ACTING like one…or TELLING people you are one. If you two consider yourselves married to one another, but he has some “rep” with the other kids parents…then there is a conflict. For instance, he has then NEVER brought you up or used your name or anything to the other parents, who then presumably think he lives alone…. Aaah, that is all I have to say, because I just.dont.get.this.

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