Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Refuse to Go To My Boyfriend’s Daughter’s Wedding”

I am 41 years old, never married, and have been in a long distance relationship with a widower for four years. His wife died ten years ago. We are a thousand miles apart. I love him but we are still not in a committed relationship because we have not spoken about our future or where we are headed. He did not give me any assurance either that it is going to be “us” in the future. A few weeks ago, he told me that his eldest daughter, whom I met a couple of times, is getting married in four months and I’m invited to the wedding.

When I told him I could not come, that answer did not sit well with him. He wants me to attend the wedding because he said it’s a milestone for him. I told him that I am happy for him, but I can’t come because I’m not secure in our relationship. I’m just his girlfriend in a non-committal relationship, so what right do I have to attend his daughter’s wedding? (I am having some insecurities). I also told him that since we are not in a committed relationship, I don’t want his relatives and in-laws to meet me only to find out that my boyfriend and I don’t end up together. Also, I am worried that, if I attend, I will feel the insecurities that this boyfriend of mine does not love me enough to ask me to marry him even after four years together. His daughter and her fiancé are just in their third year together and now they are getting married in four months.

I really don’t have the self-confidence to attend this wedding because I am not secure in my status as his girlfriend. Please advise. — Four Years and Still Waiting

First of all, you don’t need to be in a committed relationship with someone to go as that person’s date to a wedding. If you want to have a serious, grownup discussion with your boyfriend about your future together, you need to stop acting like a child. You need to stop with the passive-aggressive behavior (i.e. “I won’t go to your daughter’s wedding because we’ve been together for four years and you haven’t talked marriage with me yet”), put on your big girl panties, and tell your boyfriend that you’ll be happy to go to his daughter’s wedding with him because you care about him, you want to celebrate this milestone in his life, and you’d love the opportunity to get to know his family better. Then tell him that, since you are continuing to invest time and energy in your relationship with him as well as in nurturing your relationships with the important people in his life, you feel it’s fair to discuss where things are headed between you. Tell him what it is you want. Discuss whether or not you’re ready to move or if you expect him to move to you. Tell him what you need in order to continue with this relationship.

The best way to get your needs met is to explicitly express what your needs are. The worst way to get your needs met is to try to turn a situation that is about one thing (in this case, you going to your boyfriend’s daughter’s wedding) into the thing you seem to have trouble talking about (in this case, where your relationship is going). One has nothing to do with the other. I get that you’re insecure and you want answers, but you have to ask the right questions to get answers. You aren’t even asking any questions, let alone the wrong ones. If you want clear communication, you have to be clear in your intention. Using someone’s wedding as a way to discuss the thing you are too insecure to bring up is childish. You are a 41-year-old woman dating a widower who is old enough to see his daughter get married. Act like the adult you are, and you’ll find much more satisfaction in your relationships.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

126 comments… add one
  • Budj

    Budj May 8, 2012, 9:51 am

    Self-fulfilling prophecy? I agree with Wendy…

    I respect that you are trying to protect yourself from dragging out a dead-end relationship, but Wendy is right and this passive aggressive behavior will just make this guy sure he doesn’t want to pursue anything further anyways. If you want to keep this thing going I would highly recommend changing your mind about going to the wedding.

    Another way to look at this is he could be testing the waters with you (and the idea of you) to his family and if this wedding weekend goes really well you might get him to start changing course. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend “waiting and hoping” here, but to talk to him about the realistic expectations as Wendy suggested. Just pointing out that this weekend could be something that moves this guys commitment level along and that not going means you shut the door on it – not him. I’d also add it says A LOT that this guy wants you at his daughters wedding.

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  • avatar

    Taylor May 8, 2012, 9:51 am

    Here here! **The best way to get your needs met is to explicitly express what your needs are.**
    This should be something that is taught in junior high health class … so simple, but such a novel idea if you aren’t used to it!

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    • Leroy

      Leroy May 8, 2012, 10:54 am

      +1 on the self fulfilling prophecy. She may have torpedoed her relationship w/ that move. You’ll notice that she’s still not going.

      It’s generally a bad idea to try to extort a commitment out of someone by exploiting their children.

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      • Leroy

        Leroy May 8, 2012, 10:55 am

        oops, that was meant for Budj.

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    • avatar

      Taylor May 8, 2012, 11:04 am

      Oops…I meant “Hear hear!”. Gah, typos.

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  • avatar

    MissDre May 8, 2012, 9:55 am

    Uhhhh…. most people would be upset if they WEREN’T invited to the wedding. This is a big milestone in any relationship. He cares about you enough to introduce you to the important people in his life. He WANTS you there by his side. Why the hell would you not want to go?

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    • JK

      JK May 8, 2012, 10:04 am

      I know! How many of those letters have there been?

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    • avatar

      amy May 8, 2012, 10:06 am

      Because she seems pretty narcisitic in thinking that everyone at the wedding will be looking at her and wondering why her boyfriend hasn’t asked her to marry him after four years.

      *eyeroll*

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    • FireStar

      FireStar May 8, 2012, 11:16 am

      Exactly. There are stages in a relationship – meeting family/extended family is one of them. Talk about sabotaging yourself.

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  • dabbler

    dabbler May 8, 2012, 9:56 am

    I’m just curious why/how, after 4 years, this conversation of where the relationship is headed has never come up?

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  • Amybelle

    Amybelle May 8, 2012, 9:59 am

    It’s hard to imagine why he hasn’t made a commitment, the LW sounds like a real joy to be around…

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    • avatar

      Caris May 10, 2012, 7:44 pm

      snap!

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  • katie

    katie May 8, 2012, 9:59 am

    …. i had no idea that going to a wedding with someone was a clear indicator of how commited they are…. arent a lot of wedding’s “plus ones” just random people that happen to be dating guests at the time?

    weird…

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    • FireStar

      FireStar May 8, 2012, 11:32 am

      Though the date the dad brings to his daughter’s weddings would probably send the signal that this woman is important to him …as opposed to I found her at the airport 4 hours ago.
      I had no idea that everyone is supposed to be on some special timeline with relationships so that the LW feels like she is in a race to the alter and is behind the daughter. Every relationship is different and progresses at it’s own pace. There are no rules for when you have to do what as long as both parties are on the same page…and that requires a conversation.

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      • katie

        katie May 8, 2012, 11:36 am

        yea i totally dont understand why she feels like she is in a race either. that just doesnt even make sense…

        i just literally see nothing wrong with her going to this wedding. i only see her being able to actually SEE her boyfriend, meet his family, and take part in a fun party. i mean honestly, even if she was just some random that he met at the airport, why would you decline an invite to a wedding?? lol there so fun!

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      • FireStar

        FireStar May 8, 2012, 12:02 pm

        I’m so with you Katie – I love going to weddings…I’ve been setting up my friends left, right and center hoping something will work out and I can eat some wedding cake down the road. There are zero weddings in my friend circle this year. Everyone is either married or very single. Not an engaged one in the bunch. But this LW should be happy to be included in such a milestone – it’s true – there is no downside here. I feel bad for the Dad.

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    • avatar

      Painted_lady May 8, 2012, 11:35 am

      Yeah, usually…although I wonder – not having been there myself – if maybe being the father of the bride and sole surviving parent might not mean whomever Dad brings will be way more significant than just some random date. My boyfriend’s dad passed away when he was 14, and his mom hasn’t dated a whole lot since, so if she brings a date to our wedding, you can bet it’ll be a big deal, at the very least to all three of her sons.

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      • katie

        katie May 8, 2012, 11:37 am

        ah that is a good point… your right!

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      • katie

        katie May 8, 2012, 11:40 am

        ok, but now that i thought about that, why is it really that big of a deal? i mean i get that he is only surviving parent, but that makes HIS role at the wedding a big deal. what if he had just started dating someone new and the wedding was coming up? he would probably invite the “new” girlfriend to the wedding, and everything would go along fine. i dont think that the fact that he is the only one puts pressure on the LW or on their relationship- on the father of the bride, yes, i definitely agree- but i still think that it would be totally acceptable to bring anyone he wanted as a date to the wedding, because thats just what people do…

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      • avatar

        Painted_lady May 8, 2012, 12:15 pm

        Oh, I’m not saying it makes sense or is even remotely fair. But it’s likely there’s been minimal dating, and therefore it becomes a WAY bigger deal anytime he does anything close to a date, much less for a wedding. When Painted Dude’s mom lets slip that she’s going out for coffee with some middle-aged divorced guy from church, seriously, there are more conversations in that week between the brothers than probably happen in six dateless months altogether. They’re all for it, really, but this is a serious event for them when it happens.

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      • katie

        katie May 8, 2012, 1:30 pm

        alright… yea. that i get.

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  • avatar

    amy May 8, 2012, 10:04 am

    What Wendy said.

    Act like the 41 year old adult that you are, attend the wedding, and have a conversation with your boyfriend about the status of your relationship. You can ask if he sees marriage in your future, or whatever, but ultimatums on a proposal date, month, or year, are a huge no-no.

    It doesn’t matter that the daughter has only been dating her guy for 3 years and is already getting married to him. For all you know, they could be divorced within a year. All that matters is the comfort, love, and trust in the relationship and you seem to be lacking in your relationship.

    Be a grown up and talk to your boyfriend about your concerns. Also be an adult and attend the wedding because it’s really petty (and narcisistic) to think that everyone will be looking at you thinking “well… jeeze… he’s been with her for four years and isn’t marrying her yet… what’s wrong with their relationship?” They will be focussing on the bride and the groom, not you, or the status of your relationship.

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    • avatar

      MissDre May 8, 2012, 10:21 am

      Yeah seriously. Hasn’t Wendy told enough LW’s that the wedding ISN’T ABOUT YOU!! That actually really helped me a lot when I had sort of hurt feelings over my boyfriend’s sister’s destination wedding. I just told myself, it’s HER day and it has nothing to do with him and I.

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      • avatar

        amy May 8, 2012, 10:28 am

        I had to get over myself just recently as well, thankfully I had some really unbiased and reasonable advice.

        My fiance’ is away (1500 miles and a plane or two away) for his masters, and he wouldn’t be able to come home for his sisters wedding. The sister decided to plan the wedding on that date anyway, even though her brother wouldn’t be able to make it for school reasons. I was so upset after I heard the hurt in his voice that I wanted to boycott the wedding. I took a few days to calm down, told my fiance’ that I will always be on his side, but that it would be best to go and not start some sort of war with my future in-laws. My fiance’ also told me to go. I was lucky that I had a few people to talk to and that I gave myself some time to calm down and just see the bigger picture of what would happen if I actually boycotted the wedding.

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      • avatar

        amy May 8, 2012, 10:30 am

        No I’m hoping she doesn’t see this hahahahahahahaha

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      • avatar

        MissDre May 8, 2012, 10:37 am

        Yeah, it’s tough sometimes to remember that other people’s decisions aren’t always about us. I had a lot of people give me the side eye when I mentioned that my bf was in the Dominican for his sister’s wedding. They’re like BUT WHY AREN’T YOU THERE???? And I’d try to calmly explain, it’s a family event. I don’t know her well, I’ve only met her twice. The event has nothing to do with my relationship, it’s about HER and her best friends and her closest family members. And then I’d get the whole “BUT HE SHOULD HAVE INSISTED ON INVITING YOU!” and I’d have to take a deep breath and remember that no, it’s not his place to dictate his sister’s guest list. The wedding is about HER and the groom. Not him or me. Sigh.

        Sucks about your bf’s sister’s wedding. I agree that she should have picked a better day so he could be there, but maybe in her mind she thought he should have been able to drop everything on his calendar for her. It’s a tough situation.

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      • avatar

        amy May 8, 2012, 10:49 am

        Exactly. Other people helped me see the side that he should try to be there if he can. Unfortunately it’s school, he can’t really drop everything and fly out. I’m hoping he can go, but he might not be able to.

        It is really hard to see sometimes that it isn’t about anyone else but the bride and groom.

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      • avatar

        MissDre May 8, 2012, 11:01 am

        Unless he has an exam that day, I think he SHOULD be able to make it. I know school is really busy, but he knows about it ahead of time. He can make sure to bust his ass to get his assignments done a day or two early because this event is coming up and if he has a really important class he can ask his classmates to take notes/record it. I’m sure he can talk to his teachers and say hey, I need to miss a day of class for my sister’s wedding, can I make arrangements to sit this test another time, etc. Teachers are pretty accommodating if you speak to them beforehand.

        Can he fly out the day before and fly home the day after? Weddings are typically on a Saturday, so that means he’d only miss the Friday. To be honest, if this is just about a school schedule and not about finances or anything, I do think he should put school on hold for 2 days and go. If I was his sister I would be hurt, especially since this isn’t short notice, he’s got time to plan and prepare for it. It’s her wedding, a big day and a once-in-a-lifetime event (we hope lol).

        I really do hope you guys can work it out 🙂 I’m sure he wants very much to be there and that she wants him there too.

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      • avatar

        camille905 May 8, 2012, 11:25 am

        Agreed! My wedding is in October on a weekday for a variety of reasons (financial, time, etc.) and my brother is in school as well. He said it would be better if it was during one of his breaks but that just didn’t work at all for us. But since he has more than 6 months notice, he will be able to arrange his schedule so that he misses a minimum of class while keeping on top of his schoolwork. Because he knows it’s REALLY important for me to have my family at my wedding. And he lives about a 20 hour drive away.

        So yeah- your bf should go if he can afford it. And if the wedding isn’t for months, that’s plenty of time to save up.

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      • avatar

        amy May 8, 2012, 11:35 am

        This was what I wasn’t thinking of when I heard him so upset. I told him that he needs to be absolutely sure that he can’t get out of school, otherwise he will regret not going.

        When you’re fired up, it’s really hard to see the bigger picture.

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      • avatar

        amy May 8, 2012, 11:29 am

        I think he does too. The problem is, the Wedding is on a Friday, and he has his thesis defense that week so it’s pretty much impossible to drop everything. As we get closer, I think we are going to see what the professors say etc.

        I wouldn’t want him to miss out 🙂

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl May 8, 2012, 11:51 am

        He should try to get his defense on Monday or Tuesday. My fiance just defended his dissertation last month, and did so on a Monday and then litterally took the rest of the week OFF. He did nothing school related for 5 whole days. Your BF will welcome the mini vacay from the stresses of school and sometime to unwind post-defense.

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    • katie

      katie May 8, 2012, 11:16 am

      yes! this wedding is not about the LW!! why do people always think that?

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  • avatar

    Addie Pray May 8, 2012, 10:07 am

    Wendy has been on fire lately! That’s all.

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  • avatar

    Suzannne May 8, 2012, 10:07 am

    Why is it you’ve never ddiscussed your future? Is it because you tried and he said he didn’t want to talk about it? That’s an MOA situation. Or is it because you are waiting impatiently for him to bring it up? Is there even a plan for you two to live in the same city one day? I would put the wedding discussion aside for a couple of days and go see him (or skype if that’s not possible) and tell him this wedding has got you thinking about your own future. You’d like to know how he sees it and, if you both want to spend it together (after four years you should both know the answer to that), its time to make a plan to move in that direction

    If you decide to move forward, go to the wedding. If not, don’t.

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  • avatar

    Maivie May 8, 2012, 10:09 am

    I’m worried your behavior is going to alienate your boyfriend. If you want to make things better with him, I think you should do the following:

    1. Tell him you are sorry for your reaction when he first asked you to go to the wedding!
    2. Tell him he is important to you, and you would love to be there with him on this very important day.
    3. Go to the wedding. Enjoy him and his family, keep the focus on them, but also enjoy the time with your boyfriend!
    4. Do not discuss the status of your relationship with him on this wedding trip!
    5. After the wedding trip, you need to bring up the status of your relationship again. And you need to do it in a non-confrontational way. No yelling, or blaming. If you love him, you need to take the time to listen and understand what your boyfriend is thinking and feeling. And you need to present your issues in a rational way.

    I wish you the best of luck!

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    • avatar

      AnotherWendy May 8, 2012, 7:42 pm

      Totally agree with this!

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  • avatar

    Ravage Maladie May 8, 2012, 10:11 am

    WOW, Wendy, this is the third time I want to high-five you today!

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  • avatar

    TECH May 8, 2012, 10:13 am

    You know, I kind of get where the LW is coming from. Deep down I think she knows this relationship is going to end — because of distance, lack of commitment, or never living up to the dead wife — and she’s afraid to be at this important event and meet all these people, only to have her relationship go up in flames shortly after. Being the significant other of the Father of the Bride is kind of a big deal, IMO.
    My advice would be to have a serious heart to heart about where your boyfriend sees your relationship going. He owes you at least that. And if you’re not on the same page, don’t go to the wedding, and don’t continue the relationship at all.

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    • avatar

      Muffy May 8, 2012, 10:57 am

      I agree with this. You need to talk to him about your feelings LW instead of just boycotting the daughter’s wedding. THAT will not get him to see your side of things – you’ll just end up looking like a selfish brat if you do that.

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  • avatar

    rachel May 8, 2012, 10:15 am

    Thank you Wendy. Seriously, how is it that a 41 year old woman has not learned how to properly communicate with a significant other? Or at least to try to communicate! This reminds me of when I would sulk in a corner because my high school boyfriend did something wrong, but I wouldn’t tell him what he had done.

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary May 8, 2012, 10:27 am

      I can think of many women over the age of 40 who do not know how to properly communicate to their SO. Hopefully the LW takes this opportunity to learn.

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    • avatar

      ele4phant May 8, 2012, 10:32 am

      Eh, just because you get older doesn’t mean you learn basic social skills.

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      • avatar

        rachel May 8, 2012, 10:37 am

        No, I suppose not, though it seems pretty sad to me.

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        AnotherWendy May 8, 2012, 7:45 pm

        And many don’t get wiser either.

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    • avatar

      Muffy May 8, 2012, 10:57 am

      Have you ever seen the Real Housewives? They can’t seem to properly communicate with anyone!

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    • Brad

      Brad May 8, 2012, 11:59 am

      Sadly not all women stop doing this in highschool. I dated one of those a few months ago, so annoying. I do not have time for that nonsense!

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 8, 2012, 12:54 pm

        I think its an insult to high schoolers to equate bad behavior from women (and men) to them. There are some high school kids who are lovely, and they grew up to be lovely people. Often the people who are grade A bitches in high school remain so, forever. It doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with age and everything to do with the person being a crappy person.

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      • avatar

        redessa May 8, 2012, 2:15 pm

        No kidding, I have a 14 yr old daughter who is shockingly mature and pragmatic about relationships. She, and most of her friends, are not allowed to date until age 16 (it’s a religious thing) so she thinks it’s incredibly stupid to hear other teens going on and on about who they like and playing those little games of getting their friends to find out if someone likes them, or reading meaning into a guy loaning you a pencil or whatever it is teenage girls get all googly about.

        Her philosophy is, “I can’t date till I’m 16 so why bother paying attention to boys at all till then.” She’s focused on her studies, taking honors classes, art lessons, space camp (yes, she’s a nerd and proud of it) and other academic type stuff. I know things could change as she gets father into her teens, but I can’t picture her ever being one to turn into a drama queen – playing passive-agressive games and not saying what she wants or expects. She has no patience for it in other people now. I don’t imagine it’ll suddenly become appealing to her as she grows up and matures even more.

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      • Brad

        Brad May 8, 2012, 8:59 pm

        I’m almost 26 and I wouldn’t mind going to space camp… 🙁

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      • Budj

        Budj May 8, 2012, 9:13 pm

        I went to space camp 🙂 I remember being let down that it wasn’t a real space ship…..

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      • Brad

        Brad May 8, 2012, 9:36 pm

        But it must be more interesting than my desk job!

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      • avatar

        Caris May 10, 2012, 7:53 pm

        I pretty much thought it was stupid to hear my friends go on and on about guys, and thought it was completely useless to even have a bf up until I was 17 when I met my bf. They’d also always ask me why the hell did I not have a bf and why did I not want a bf and pretty much would tell me how weird I was cause I was not interested in guys. (Now,when I hear girls/guys talk about who they like it’s not annoying because it’s usually in a more mature way and they don’t play games to see if ppl find out and all those silly things, sadly some of my friends still act in a very immature way when it comes to relationships, sadly. ) But it was just because I was always like that, it had nothing to do with religion in my case.

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  • avatar

    Anna May 8, 2012, 10:15 am

    You should definitely go to the wedding. Perhaps inviting you to this important life event is your boyfriend’s way of telling you that he DOES see you as an important part of his future, but he’s more comfortable expressing it as an action rather than in words. If you decline the invitation, that is saying to him loudly and clearly that you don’t see him in your future (exactly the opposite of what you’re telling us).

    When it comes to the “We’ve been together longer than the couple getting married” jealousy bit, I’ve been there! Trust me. It doesn’t help to dwell on that during the festivities. What will help is to communicate to him directly that you need to see this relationship going somewhere in order to put any more effort into it. Wendy is right; to get what you want, you actually have to ASK for it.

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    • Lady_Red

      Red_Lady May 8, 2012, 11:21 pm

      Regarding the “We’ve been together longer than the couple getting married” jealousy bit – me too! At least 3 of my close friends met their husbands after I started dating my boyfriend. But although I was a bit jealous, I knew we just weren’t there yet. And now we’re getting married next month! Every relationship moves at a different pace, and it’s much better to get married when both partners are truly ready for it. Don’t rush things, but definitely make sure both of you know what you want out of this relationship.

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  • violingirl18

    violingirl18 May 8, 2012, 10:24 am

    There are a few things I noticed about this letter. You mention that part of the reason you don’t want to attend the wedding is because he has yet to mention marriage and you aren’t sure you would feel comfortable. I wouldn’t assume this was the case, but attending this wedding could lead to him discussing marriage with you. You’d be meeting his family and I can’t speak for everyone, but that is an important step for many people.I know my fiance meeting my extended family was an important step in my own relationship. I also noticed you seemed irritated that you’ve been in a relationship longer than his daughter has been her relationship. Comparing relationships is never a good idea because every relationship is different and what’s right for one relationship may not be right for another.

    I will say that declining the invitation is probably not the best way to get him to discuss a future together. If anything that might make him less receptive towards marriage. If you really want to discuss a future you should just ask him about it. Being passive aggressive about it will get you nowhere.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones May 8, 2012, 10:34 am

    I agree with Wendy here. Go to the wedding, support your love. It seems like you are doing a passive aggressive number here for a proposal or something. Relationships are dynamic and to not go will not bode well for your future with this man. Relationships ARE. Both people need to have their hearts open for it to grow. And if you need certain conditions in place to support your love, the father of the bride, then you do not deserve to be in a relationship.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B May 8, 2012, 10:35 am

    The fact that he invited you to share this milestone in his life says that you are important to him. I do wonder why the question of a future together has never come up. Four years in a non-committed relationship is too long for me. He sounds like a man of action rather than words. Give him a nudge, ask him.

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  • MackenzieLee

    ColorsOfTheWind May 8, 2012, 10:40 am

    Wendy’s advice is so spot on as always that I have nothing to add.

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    • avatar

      Taylor May 8, 2012, 11:07 am

      Love the kitteh! Is that a beret?

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 8, 2012, 12:51 pm

        More importantly, how did you get it to stay? My cat would’ve shaken that thing off so fast the picture would just come out a grey blur.

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      • MackenzieLee

        ColorsOfTheWind May 8, 2012, 2:21 pm

        I wish I could take responsibility for the picture but it’s not my picture or my cat

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle May 8, 2012, 10:45 am

    Kudos to Wendy for cutting through this LW’s bullshit (sorry, LW)

    It’s obvious from your letter that you’re turning this wedding into a milestone, not for your boyfriend’s daughter, but for YOU and your non-committal long-distance relationship. Your reasons for boycotting this event seem to have been conjured up as a passive kind of ultimatum for your boyfriend. He’s NOT going to be like “Oh wait, I didn’t realize I could only bring a date that I was 100% committed to marrying in the future. Silly me! Please be my real girlfriend?” Honestly, things will work out much better if you simply GO to the wedding, charm everyone you meet, and celebrate with your guy.

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  • avatar

    Muffy May 8, 2012, 10:50 am

    This makes me not want to have a wedding in case anyone I invite/don’t invite has a melt down. What is it about weddings that cause people to lose it!

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  • avatar

    EricaSwagger May 8, 2012, 9:59 am

    You’ve been a thousand miles away for 4 years and have never had the “when is this distance going to be over” conversation?
    Have you not read this? ??

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  • avatar

    SweetPeaG May 8, 2012, 11:33 am

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, so forgive me if any of this is repetitive.

    I agree with what Wendy said. You would be wise to listen to her.

    That being said, I can understand why you might feel a little awkward going to a wedding and meeting all kinds of family members, but being unsure of your title with your boyfriend. As a person who can lack self-confidence at times, I can empathize with you. However, put that out of your mind. There is little chance that anyone at the wedding is going to be rude enough to ask you detailed questions about the state of your relationship. If some old great-Aunt DOES ask a stupid question use the distance as an excuse. Tell them that eventually you may have the opportunity to move closer, but right now you are just enjoying the companionship and that you think he’s great. Then, change the subject… “Gee, the bride looks so gorgeous, doesn’t she?”

    Don’t use this wedding as a punishment/ultimatum. That’s not healthy. If you want to move forward with this thing, part of that is supporting your partner on big days like this. Have a BIG talk after the wedding. But, leave the two things separate!

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  • avatar

    Temperance May 8, 2012, 11:37 am

    Honestly, Four Years, I have been in a relationship with Mr. Temperance for 7.5 years. We are not married. I am 28. In the time we have been together, many couples have gotten together and married; many of them have also subsequently divorced. It used to really make me feel bad that we weren’t married and angry that we didn’t have financial help with wedding plans (since very tame weddings out here cost $20k). Then, I let it go, because their good fortune is not my loss. While I still am sad and bitter that I can’t have a nice wedding, I let that go, too, and I don’t let it temper other people’s experiences.

    Your boyfriend wants you there because it’s important to him. I’m not quite sure why you’re saying that it’s not committed, because he is your BOYFRIEND.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark May 8, 2012, 11:45 am

    Well, LW, if you wanted to ensure that you won’t ever marry this guy, you just did so. Congratulations… Time to go buy a cat.

    PS: Are you always this petty? No wonder he remains hesitant about your future.

    Reply Link
    • Brad

      Brad May 8, 2012, 12:23 pm

      What makes you think she doesn’t already have 1 (or 10)? 😛

      Reply Link
      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 8, 2012, 12:29 pm

        Truth be told, I am so NOT a cat person. So nothing is bleaker to me than being doomed to a life as a crazy cat lady… Honestly, talk about a fate worse than death.

        😉

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 8, 2012, 12:48 pm

        Its fine that you’re not a hate cat person so we’ll differ on this, but if my BF breaks up with me, spending the rest of my life with a couple of awesome cats is not a terrible consolation prize. I would just let myself become slightly deranged and be perfectly contented for the rest of my life.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 8, 2012, 12:54 pm

        Haha. I’m already the Crazy Cat Lady. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. 😉

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      • avatar

        MissDre May 8, 2012, 1:13 pm

        Me too! I have two and I am not ashamed to call them my soul mates 🙂

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      • katie

        katie May 8, 2012, 1:17 pm

        i love my kitties sooo much. when we finally got a place in chicago, my boyfriend drove out all of our stuff and my cats to the new place (i had been living in a hotel for 2 weeks), and i wasnt sure who i was more excited to see… my boyfriend or the cats.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 8, 2012, 1:22 pm

        Its okay to be (a little) more excited to see the cats. After all, you can call your boyfriend and hear his voice whenever you want, not so with the kitties. Its total black out if you’re not with them. It doesn’t mean you love them more, just that you can’t interact with them until you see them again.

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      • katie

        katie May 8, 2012, 2:17 pm

        try telling that to my boyfriend! haha..

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      • Brad

        Brad May 8, 2012, 1:48 pm

        Yeah I am very anti-cat, and not just because I’m super allergic (though that’s the primary contributor). I’m a dog person hands down.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 8, 2012, 1:55 pm

        Its funny how we can be so pro one, and so anti the other. For me, I think the majority of dogs are obnoxious assholes, and avoid them at all costs. Big ones, small ones, whatever, not interested in petting/playing with a dog that runs up to me.

        Why am I crazy about cats? I don’t know, I just prefer them. I don’t even have the excuse of allergies.

        I do however, like puppies. I like all fluffy baby animals.

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      • landygirl

        landygirl May 8, 2012, 2:34 pm

        I like both though we only have a dog. My husband has decided he doesn’t like cats.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 8, 2012, 2:38 pm

        Actually, I don’t know why it always has to be cats vs. dogs or cat people vs. dog people. I love both, but I don’t have a dog yet because it is not conducive to my lifestyles. I’m gone too much, they’re not allowed in my apartment, and I don’t have a yard.

        (I slightly prefer cats though. Dogs are too needy!)

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 8, 2012, 2:41 pm

        Oh it doesn’t. I lot of people like both. But, its funny how for some of us, particularly those that LOVE!!! one, we typically don’t like the other.

        I’ll freak the frack out whenever I see a random cat walking around the neighborhood, but purposely swing wide on a sidewalk to avoid dogs that are hanging outside in front of stores.

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      • avatar

        TheGirl May 8, 2012, 3:20 pm

        I have that same problem with random cats on the street – obviously pets, not feral cats. I can’t help myself! Every single one warrants the universal cat “pssstpsst” call and at least two minutes of stopping to say hello.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 8, 2012, 4:04 pm

        Dude ME TOO. I think they approach me because they know they can trust me. Like, I’m “one of them.”

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      • Leroy

        Leroy May 9, 2012, 1:41 am

        I hate to break it to you, but the only reason that they’re so friendly is so that they can infect you with microbes.

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      • Lili

        Lili May 8, 2012, 2:05 pm

        My Apartment only allows cats. I want a dog. I remain petless 🙁

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      • katie

        katie May 8, 2012, 2:16 pm

        my anti dog arguement is this: cats have been domesticated since atleast egyptian times, and are therefore, to me, more controlled and calm. more domesticated. dogs have been wild for a lot longer, and i always feel that those tendencies towards wild behavior is still there… dogs are harder to control (sometimes), they are much bigger then cats (usually) and can inflict much more damage on people then cats can (again, usually/sometimes)

        it doesnt help that i was bit on the head by a dog when i was little… 60- some stiches in my head… but, i honestly just think that dogs are just a little more wild then cats are.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 8, 2012, 2:24 pm

        For me it definitley has something to do with personality. I don’t know if its wild vs controlled, but dogs just seem so…needy all the time. And…energtic. Not that my cat isn’t playful or anti-social (we def have our cuddle times), but cats are just more interesting and independent than dogs. More variety in their personalities, I think.

        Besides, picking up a hot piece of poop with nothing but a thin plastic bag between you and the turd? No thank you. At least by the time you scoop out a letter box everything has cooled, been deodorized, and is an unidentifiable clump. Besides my cat hates the box as much as me – if he can he’ll go outside where I never see it.

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed

        LadyinPurpleNotRed May 8, 2012, 3:02 pm

        haha that’s funny because it’s about personality for me too. Cats are too….give me what I want and I’m not going to really spend time with you or show you my love. They seem too needy to me because you have to take care of them and they ignore you more often than not. At least dogs consistently show love…plus they help keep you active since you have to walk them! And dogs aren’t energetic all the time. After a good walk, my dog is chill for the rest of the day and he can amuse himself if no one wants to play with him.

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      • JK

        JK May 8, 2012, 3:07 pm

        https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=415897551773037&set=a.223098324386295.105971.205344452828349&type=1&theater

        I saw this the other day, and loved it. I´m more a cat person, but I only have a dog for now.

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed

        LadyinPurpleNotRed May 8, 2012, 5:20 pm

        I’ve seen that before…I love it. It amuses me greatly

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      • avatar

        TheGirl May 8, 2012, 3:15 pm

        That really does depend on the cat and how you treat them when they are kittens. My cat is the biggest lover of all time. Sometimes he drives me crazy with how much he wants to snuggle and be pet.

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      • avatar

        rachel May 8, 2012, 3:21 pm

        Mine’s the same way! I credit it to him living in a house with 6 people for most of his first year. He loves attention.

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        ele4phant May 8, 2012, 3:39 pm

        Mine was like that, at first. I lived in a house with roommates, we had people coming and going all the time. He also seemed to prefer boys to girls at first.

        But then I graduated, moved out and lived first on my own, then just with a boyfriend. Now he’s wary of people he doesn’t know, and seems particularly less comfortable around guys.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 8, 2012, 4:06 pm

        One of mine is like that too. Such an attention whore!

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 8, 2012, 5:11 pm

        My cat shows love consistently…but he also wants to be left alone sometimes to pursue his own agenda – like looking outside at the birds – without being bothered. We are quite similar, he and I.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 8, 2012, 3:49 pm

        Oh! I forgot, the whole having to train dogs. Talk about a bummer. I, obvisouly have no idea how to train a dog, so if I were to have one it would likely be a terror.

        I mean, if you’re Cesar Milan and can train your dog from puppyhood, awesome, but if you don’t its going to be a butthead. And someone like me will scowl at you when it licks them/jumps on them/bark’s it head off at them.

        Please, do not get a dog, particularly a high energy or physically intimidating dog, if you do not know how to get it to behave.

        Cats come ready to poop in the box and pay attention to you on their own terms. Easy-peezy.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 8, 2012, 4:07 pm

        My mom’s dog is untrained and she definitely has small dog syndrome. She jumps all over the furniture and all over people and licks faces and when you tell her “no” she barks at you! And my mom thinks it’s cute. “Let her give you KISSES,” she says. Uhh, no thanks.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 8, 2012, 4:20 pm

        I have several family members with dogs like this. Makes me not want to visit. Really, I just want to sit on your coach, have a conversation or watch a movie with you without constantly having to fend off Fido’s advances, or talking over their barking when they get ignored.

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      • Budj

        Budj May 8, 2012, 5:16 pm

        I agree. I love dogs, but poorly trained dogs make me want to go alpha on them…and the owner’s get offended when that happens so instead I just ignore those dogs and don’t give them the satisfaction of attention for poor behavior….their over-bearing owners give them enough of that anyways.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 8, 2012, 10:21 pm

        Hold up. Is this actually what you look like, Budj?

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      • Brad

        Brad May 8, 2012, 10:35 pm

        Down Mark… good boy

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      • Budj

        Budj May 8, 2012, 10:44 pm

        yep

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 8, 2012, 11:13 pm

        Uh, woof! woof!

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      • Brad

        Brad May 8, 2012, 9:29 pm

        I have nothing but bad things to say about Cesar Milan’s dog training style. What he does is akin to learned helplessness and abuse imho.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 8, 2012, 9:45 pm

        Oh. Don’t abuse dogs! I don’t want one, but that’s terrible. He’s the only dog “expert” I knew of. Please suggest a better, more human alternative.

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      • Brad

        Brad May 8, 2012, 10:33 pm

        Ceasar Milan will use techniques like kicking a dog and choking to force certains behaviors–I have serious objections to methods like this.

        Ceasar choking:

        Notice how the dog is behaving until he pulls the leash into a choke and only then does the dog jump on him (I don’t know about you but I’d lash out against someone choking me too…)

        Ceasar kicking:

        I don’t even have words for these clips …

        Techniques like this will work in getting your dog to do (or not do) specific behaviors, but for the wrong reason. These methods motivate a dog to behave out of fear of punishment, not love. This is no different than the guy that beats his wife/gf to get her to behave/act submissive. Abuse is abuse. You can’t brand it under cutsie names like “tough love” and think it’s OK (I’m speaking to people like Ceasar here not you). I want my dog to love and trust me and listen to me for those reasons, not because it’s afraid I’ll kick it, shock it, or choke it if it doesn’t.

        As for good trainers, I don’t know of any off the top of my head by name, but I like the clicker aka marker training advocates. This a a positive reinforcement training system that teaches the dog to pay attention to you and be on the look out for your que (mark/click) of behavior that you like so that it gets a reward. Far more humane and effective in my opinion. This youtube user does a good job of demonstrating the technique.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmhGsDl0OWI

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrbA7cyp6K4&feature=relmfu

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 8, 2012, 7:51 pm

        Um, the Egyptians also kept dogs, I believe…

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      • Brad

        Brad May 8, 2012, 9:27 pm

        Umm Nerd Alert: but dogs were domesticated first. I even did a quick google search to double check. Experts dispute exactly how far back it was, but humans began domesticating dogs and wolves 15,000 or more years ago (some estimates say as far as 100,000 years ago). Cats by comparison are generally assumed to have been domesticated by the Egyptians roughly 5 thousand years ago, but some argue that humans have been domesticating them for almost 10,000 years based on some recent grave discoveries from the Neolithic era.

        And I don’t think dogs are any more wild compared to cats, they both can have strong prey drives (especially depending on breed). I hear of cats killing small birds and rodents more than I hear about dogs catching squirrels for example. I think the reason you feel dogs are more wild is because dogs are more hyper I think, which probably comes from their hunting style. Dogs are pack animals and high energy & barking is how they communicate and was evolutionary advantageous for survival (high energy = ability to run for longer and catch food). Cats are solitary predators so they’re more reliant on stealth, so they’re not going to be as hyper as a dog. I realize that this is probably an argument of semantics now but … well … I couldn’t help myself…

        As for you getting bit as a child, I blame the owners for not properly training and socializing the dog a lot more than I blame the dog itself. There’s no excuse for dog biting. A properly trained, socialized, stress-free, and happy dog isn’t going to bite people.

        Sources:
        , ,

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 8, 2012, 5:16 pm

        Dogs RULE!!!

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      • avatar

        evanscr05 May 8, 2012, 2:43 pm

        That’s exactly how I feel about dogs. Ugh, no thanks.

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      • avatar

        Pinky May 8, 2012, 11:25 pm

        That is only because you haven’t met MY cats.

        Now I feel the overwhelming urge to talk to talk to Mark in kitty baby talk. “Whooza good BOY, Mark? Yes you are! Yes you are!”

        I can feel you twitching from here. Mwahaha!

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    • avatar

      rachel May 8, 2012, 2:36 pm

      I just want to go on record as saying that both cats and dogs are awesome.

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  • avatar

    Jazzmine May 8, 2012, 11:58 am

    Am I the only one who thinks that you just GO to weddings? It’s what people do in couples. I’m currently going through that now, since it seems I’m at that age where everyone is getting married – next will be baby showers. It doesn’t mean anything or how significant your own relationship is. That comment about meeting in-laws if you won’t end up together bothered me; meeting family is part of a healthy relationship, but it’s not the cincher to being together forever. You’re his date! You get to meet some of his family! You get to support him! But otherwise, the day is about his daughter and her groom.

    Secondly, I can understand the “jealousy” since weddings (especially if you’re involved in them OMG) bring up wedding brain, and if you’re not married, you start wondering if you’ll ever be, what kind of dress you want, ceremony requirements, will you take his name?, etc. However, it’s not about that. People aren’t going to ask why you’re not married; they’re there for the bride and groom! There may be a sly comment here or there (“so when you gonna ask, bub?”) but it’s wedding brain and everybody who goes gets it if they’re not already married. And as soon as it’s over, it’s all forgotten anyway and all people remember is what happened with the bride and groom.

    I’d have a serious talk with your boyfriend about where your relationship is headed (who’s moving, is marriage on the horizon, basically everything everybody else said up top), but not surrounding the wedding. I’d go, spend some awesome time in a hotel room, eat food that they’re paying for, and do a lot of dancing. You’re his date, but you’re not this woman’s mother; if she’s still around, she’ll need to do mother of the bride festivities. It’s her role as the bride’s mother, and your boyfriend will have to participate in father of the bride festivities. For example, my friend’s parents are divorced, but his father’s date waited at the table for his father to come back after he walked out and was introduced with his ex-wife. Again, it’s about the bride and groom!

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  • avatar

    Lindsay May 8, 2012, 12:02 pm

    Wendy’s answer is perfect. There’s nothing wrong with going to a wedding with someone you aren’t seriously dating. But the wedding isn’t the issue. You need to figure out what’s going on with this relationship first. Obviously, if it’s been four years and you haven’t talked about a future together, then I can see why it seems like a dead end. But wouldn’t attending his daughter’s wedding with him be a sign of some sort of commitment? Or at least a step in the right direction? I guess what I’m wondering is how you guys ended up in this relationship to begin with. Do you ever see him in person? How can you (either of you) expect the relationship to move forward without stuff like this, like spending time together or with each other’s families?

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  • avatar

    Mel May 8, 2012, 12:19 pm

    I know someone has probably already said this, but what does his daughter getting married have to do with anything? Are you actually jealous of his daughter getting married after “only” 3 years? It doesn’t sound like you want to marry your boyfriend, it sounds like you just want to get married period. That’s not good.

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  • avatar

    stilgar666 May 8, 2012, 12:41 pm

    omg, just go to the wedding already. Tell your boyfriend what you want.

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  • avatar

    AKchic May 8, 2012, 12:47 pm

    Halfway through this, I thought: “get the fuck over yourself”. Seriously. You sounded like a petulant child. You’re supposed to be in your 40s.

    I’ve been married (and divorced) twice. The guy I’m with now, we’ve been together 5 years this June. We have always kept our relationship casual. He’s never been married before. I am the longest relationship he’s been in, and the most serious (we have a child together). We finally discussed marriage at the beginning of the year. Not for romantic reasons. Financial reasons (he really does need medical insurance, and my insurance is awesome).

    How the hell can you expect to be “official” if you don’t discuss it? You are dealing with a widower here. Widowers don’t exactly have up-to-date dating/relationship skills, usually. You’ve been “unofficial” for four years and his wife died 10 years ago, meaning she was gone for 6 years when you two got together. Was he dating before you, or mourning? If you want something to happen, you need to effect the changes yourself instead of sitting on your ass waiting around. Men aren’t necessarily psychic (unless you’re dating Charles Xaiver).

    You can go to the wedding. Holding out for a proposal is stupid. Apologize for your outburst. Explain that you’d like some sort of definition to your relationship and you’d like to know where he sees the relationship going.

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    • avatar

      Jubietta May 8, 2012, 1:26 pm

      Missed your sage words, nice to “see” you.

      Reply Link
      • AKchic_

        AKchic_ May 8, 2012, 6:43 pm

        Been busy as hell. Still am, but honestly, I’m burned out and I NEED a break during the day to cope. I’m actually considering finding a different job at this point, which I didn’t think would happen. *sigh*

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl May 8, 2012, 2:16 pm

      “Men aren’t necessarily psychic.” Amen. You aren’t going to get what you want with out sharing it with your partner.

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  • avatar

    Jubietta May 8, 2012, 12:48 pm

    LW this is an opportunity to stop playing lose-lose in your relationship and learn to start playing win-win. I have a strong impression that you feel like you’re losing (he won’t talk about the future, his daughter’s been in her relationship less time but they’re getting married) and so you want to make sure your BF doesn’t win this one (he wants me there but I have the power to say “no” and so I will). Win-win is healthier: to compromise, to find a path which delivers something you want and something he wants…it builds trust, strengthens bonds and fulfills needs. Viola, an adult relationship!

    And don’t misunderstand lose-win for win-win. Being a martyr by giving up your needs to meet his ain’t gonna cut it in the long run. You have to be honest with yourself about what your needs are and find the inner strength to communicate them. Sure, that’s a test of any relationship. But, really, what are the chances of someone who loves you (in an honest and healthy way) not wanting you to have everything you need to be happy and well. Saying yes to the people I love (if it doesn’t cost me something critical) is one of the greatest joys of my life. And when I can’t say yes, we look for middle ground until we find a win-win.

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  • avatar

    tbrucemom May 8, 2012, 2:12 pm

    I agree that the LW is wrong not going to her BF’s daughter’s wedding and is way overdue for a talk about where her own relationship is going. Since her BF is a widower and obviously older I think marriage isn’t so “in your face” as it is when you’re younger. When you’re younger you want to get established, start a family, etc. When you’re older and have been married before it sometimes takes longer. You’ve been there, done that, and there isn’t the “rush” to have kids, etc. Also, I know it’s been 10 years, but it probably has taken him a while to get over his wife’s death and even think about opening up his heart again. Now, I have to mention that I have been with my BF for 3 years and we haven’t explicity talked about marriage even though we’ve achieved other important relationship milestones (and we’re both older, me divorced after many years of marriage, he’s never been married). When my son told me after 2 months of dating his now wife that he was getting married, I couldn’t help but think I’ve been with my BF for (at that time) 9 months and he hasn’t told me he loves me yet and here my son is getting married after 2 months! My point is, even though I think the LW is wrong and needs to talk to her BF, I can somewhat understand the mentality of comparison. However, I definitely went to my son’s wedding!

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie May 8, 2012, 6:12 pm

    He’s putting out a feeler for seeing where she wants to go with their relationship. Holding out for a commitment before the affair is immature. MAKING A COMMITMENT TWO WAY STREET! Back off from your ultimatum, buy the couple a nice gift and go the frigging wedding.

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  • Lady_Red

    Red_Lady May 8, 2012, 8:56 pm

    I think you’re going about this all wrong, LW. If you want to be in a more secure relationship, you need to act like you. This isn’t like middle school where you ask someone out, and you’re suddenly “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” without even really knowing anything about each other, or ever going out on a date. If you want a committed relationship, you need to show each other that you care enough about each other to be in one. Like Wendy said, going to his daughter’s wedding shows your boyfriend that you care about him, and his family. Why would he want to be with someone who seems to not even care about those he cares about?

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  • avatar

    Pinky May 8, 2012, 11:44 pm

    Dear LW,

    What is it about weddings that pushes everyone’s big red shiny emotional buttons? If you’re feeling insecure about your relationship, I can see how this might do a number on you. You have to buy a dress, get a rental car, then get on a plane with the TSA people groping you and the tiny seats and the cranky passengers. This is all for someone you’ve only met a few times and a boyfriend that you’re not sure of? The thing is, people don’t have to invite anyone they don’t want to invite. Furthermore, people don’t have to go to weddings that they don’t want to go to. Of course, you then have to deal with the fallout and the spite and the tears and the wailing and the gnashing of the teeth, etc.

    So, if you want to end the relationship, don’t go. If you want to stay in the relationship, go. I’m not saying you’ll get a commitment out of it, but you might have fun. Relax.

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  • avatar

    Caris May 10, 2012, 7:53 pm

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