At the beginning of our relationship we shared our dating histories. He is 55 and I am 48. His background of never being married was a little worrisome to me because I wondered if he was a commitment-phobic person. He has been completely attentive and committed to me, so that doesn’t seem to be his problem. What is disturbing to me is that over the past few years I have learned that he lied to me about his dating history. He told me initially that he had never dated anyone beyond six months, but then I learned that he had dated one woman for ten years and another for two. He told me about a month-long trip to China that he took with a group and his daughter, when his daughter was a teenager. Later I learned that he took a girlfriend with them, too. That was after he had told me months before that it was just he and his daughter on the trip.
We never fight, but, on the two occasions when I confronted him about the lies, he got angry with me and stormed out of my house. Then he texted me from his car, stating that he was done with me. Later he returned to tell me he was sorry for behaving very immaturely and that he had over-reacted.
He is still friendly with his daughter’s mother, and each year his family gathers for Christmas and she is invited. I was invited the first year we dated, and the ex attended. It was uncomfortable for me because his daughter is now 26 and her mother has been remarried for 15 years!! When I told him it was uncomfortable for me, he said that he understood and that she (the ex) should not be included, but that it has just become tradition. The following year, he invited me and told me that the ex was coming. I said that I was uncomfortable since I believe that, by this point in our relationship, she should not be included in such intimate family gatherings. (The gathering takes place at his house). I did not give him an ultimatum but said that I just did not feel comfortable with it and elected not to attend. He said “ok.” After a few days, he decided to dis-invite her, but he used a lame excuse that had nothing to do with the real reason. Why could he not just tell her that it is no longer appropriate for her to be included – she is long married to someone else and I am his serious girlfriend? Her husband never comes to these things, and I believe he probably is uncomfortable about them, too.
I feel very torn. On one hand, this man is very attentive, loving, and committed to me. We get along beautifully. On the other hand, I feel like I am one in a long, long, LONG string of girlfriends. He assures me that I am “the one” and he believes we could be married “one day.” I wonder if I am being strung along and will fall to the wayside like 50+ women before me, or if he is sincere about marrying me.
Thoughts? — One in a Long String of Girlfriends
I feel very torn, too. On one hand, I’m baffled about why your 55-year-old boyfriend would lie and tell you he’d never had a relationship longer than six months when, in fact, he’d had a couple long-term relationships. On the other hand, I’m baffled about why you are totally flipping the eff out over the fact that at 55 he’s had two serious relationships and that he took a girlfriend on vacation with him once. How does that equate to you being just one more woman in a “long, long, LONG string of girlfriends” or you “being strung along [to] fall to the wayside like 50+ women before” you? That’s just kind of crazy. It’s AT LEAST as crazy as lying about the length of previous relationships, if not more so.
You say your boyfriend is “very attentive, loving, and committed to you”? Then chill out. You’re going to lose this guy if you continue behaving like a jealous teenage girl. So, he’s had a couple of girlfriends before you. HE’S fifty-fucking-five years-old. Yes, it’s bizarre that he lied about it, but maybe he had a sneaking suspicion you’d freak out about thinking of him with another woman besides you. After all, look at how you’re behaving about his maintaining a civil relationship with his ex-girlfriend. They have a daughter together. How nice for her that, once a year, her parents can put aside whatever differences they had in their relationship and celebrate the holidays with her, together, under one roof, along with other family and friends. All kids of divorce/separated parents, grown or not, should be so lucky. This is a lovely gift that they’ve been able to give their daughter, and you are out of line to try to sabotage it. As you said, the ex-wife has been married for 15 years. Your boyfriend invites her to his Christmas gathering for his daughter’s benefit. It’s one occasion a year the daughter gets to have her whole family together, and why should she have to give that up because her father’s 48-year-old girlfriend can’t handle the idea of her boyfriend having previous relationships?
I think all of this boils down to the final few words of your letter: “(I wonder if) he is sincere about marrying me.” You feel uncertain or insecure about your future together, and you’re projecting that insecurity onto all these petty things. This isn’t really about your boyfriend remaining civil with an ex or withholding the fact that he took a former girlfriend on vacation with him to China over a decade ago. This is about whether or not there’s a future for the two of you. You need to feel like you’re on the same page. Causing a big fuss over whom your boyfriend invites to his family Christmas party this year isn’t going to get you the clarity you need. Obsessing over his past relationships isn’t going to get you the clarity you need. The only thing that will give you the clarity you desire about the state of your union, present and future, is to sit down and talk about it with your boyfriend. So do that. Ask him if he’s sincere about marrying you and, if so, when. Ask him why he’s lied to you about previous relationships. Ask him why he feels he can’t be honest and what YOU can do to make him feel more comfortable opening up to you.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.