“It’s Been Nine Months, and I Still Haven’t Met His Kids”

I have been dating my boyfriend for nine months. We get along great and I am head-over-heels in love with him. I have very minimal baggage if any (no kids, I own my home, I have a great job.) My friends and clients always tell me I have my shit together. He, however, has all the baggage. He comes from a home that had men coming in and out of it all his life. His mom had three kids all by different men, and he is the product of a drunken one-night-stand. He met his now ex-wife in high school. They dated for a few years, broke up for a year, got back together and were married for almost 18 years when they divorced. He has been divorced for over two year, and has two boys, ages 8 and 10. He was blind-sided by the divorce. She was having an “emotional” affair with an 18- year-old from the gym his boys went to, and she wanted to see what else was out there. She does not work. She lives off his alimony and child support.

I was his first online date (eHarmony) and he never expected to find someone like me right away. He thought he would date for a few years before he found a “good one.” I have not met his boys yet, and he has no idea when I will. He also has not told me he loves me. He does not want to meet my parents. He feels that by meeting my parents, saying he loves me, and my meeting his boys, he has to propose in the next week. I feel it’s just the next step to take in our relationship. I know he is into me, and he tells me everything except “I love you.” He initiates contact and makes most plans and pays for everything. He wants to spoil me because that’s what his ex-wife expected, but I just want to be with him.

He is still very close to his ex in-laws — very close … uncomfortably close for me. I have told him this, and he is spending less time with them. However, he continues to stress that they are the only solid family he has had in his life for the past 20 years, and they have been good to him. One of the boys is having a birthday in August that I will not be a part of, but all of the ex-family will. He wants to see his boys on their birthdays, but that means dinner with the ex-wife and in-laws.

His ex-nephew is getting married in September out-of-state. He told me I would not be going with him because his boys will be there. But so will the whole ex-family and his ex-wife. I already have anxiety building, and he knows this. But he is still going without me. No one in the ex-family knows about me. They have their suspicions, but he has never confirmed them. He says it is none of their business. He is a very, very private person. I sometimes feel like a dirty little secret. I have met his one and only friend. He says he and his ex lived in a cocoon their whole marriage. They never went out, and they only associated with her family. We have plans all the time with my friends, and he loves all the adult time and things that we do together.

I want to stay with him because we are so great together and I know our future would be amazing, but is he ever going to get over the hump and let me meet the boys and become a part of his life that he is keeping separate from me? And when will he be able to verbalize he loves me? He has broken down in tears in front of me discussing how much his ex hurt him. And he knows he is the one with the issues. I’m not asking for a ring (right now) or to move in together, I am just asking to continue to move forward and strengthen the relationship. He says we are good and solid and are going to be just fine. I just want to push him over that hump, or ledge, so he can feel love again and let his worlds merge together. My heart says one thing; my mind is worrying about another. What do I do? — Dirty Little Secret

Well, you and your boyfriend do have one thing in common: you’re both living in a fantasy world. His fantasy is that the two of you continue your no-commitment, pseudo-relationship indefinitely so that he can have the benefit of your company without the pressure of investing himself and risk getting hurt like he was before. Your fantasy is that you have a boyfriend you can imagine a great future with. The truth is, you have no idea what your boyfriend’s life is like NOW, let alone what it may be like shared with you one day. How can you begin to imagine a real life with this man if you’ve never met his kids and have no idea what kind of effect they’d have on you and your relationship? How can you have a clue what a future with him would be like if you don’t know where his relationship with his ex in-laws is going and how you might fit into that dynamic? How can you “know” your future together would be “amazing” when there are so many shifting and uncertain variables (Does he want more kids? Will he have to pay alimony forever? If so, how will that affect your life together? Will his former in-laws always be part of his life? How will you fit into that dynamic? Are you willing to marry someone who will forever be so closely tied to his ex?)?

You don’t know that your future together would be amazing. You have no idea what it would be like, and the fact that you say you’d like to marry this guy without having a sense of what his life is like shows you either have an immature view of married life, or you’re so desperate to find your husband you’ve convinced yourself that this guy, who has so many unresolved issues he cries when discussing his ex-wife, is the one for you. Either way, this doesn’t spell “happy ending.”

Put the brakes on imagining your future together and, instead, deal with the present. Decide how important it is for you to have a relationship vs. how important it is for you to have a relationship with THIS GUY. If it’s truly a relationship you want and the sooner the better, MOA. It sounds like this guy has a while to go before he’ll be ready for the kind of commitment you’re looking for. But if you feel a true connection to this man and you’re willing to invest the serious time and patience necessary to wait around indefinitely while he sorts his shit out, then, by all means, hang around. But understand that the answer to your questions about when your boyfriend is going to profess his love and introduce you to his family and move on from his past is: “maybe never.” And unfortunately, short of breaking up with him and hoping that losing you will propel him through his grief a little faster, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

He’s on his own timetable here, and understandably so. He has a lot of “baggage,” as you say, and there’s lots and lots of unpacking to do before he’ll have the emotional space for the kind of relationship you want with him. It sucks, and I’m sure it feels unfair. But that’s life. Sometimes we meet the right person at the wrong time. Sometimes we fall in love with someone who isn’t emotionally available. Sometimes, the right person falls in love with us before we’re ready to open our hearts to him or her. This is what makes finding a long-term/ life partner so difficult. It’s not enough to find someone you click with and really like and are attracted to and share common values and goals and interests with. You have to be ready for that person at the exact same time that that person is ready for you. It’s almost like catching lightning in a bottle, which is why, when it does happen, it’s so very special.

But it just doesn’t sound like that’s what’s happened for you with him. Not now. Maybe never. If that seems like too indefinite an amount of time for you to continue investing yourself with no pay-off in sight — and certainly no happy ending guaranteed — I’d suggest you MOA now and make yourself available to someone who is ready for you.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter and ‘like’ me on Facebook.


  1. I couldn’t even finish reading this letter…

    LW- He is NOT ready for a serious relationship. He wanted to get out there and date and have some fun. He met someone he was into (you), and even though you’re comptible and you have fun and you love him, that’s not enough.

    At this point in your lives, you’re looking for different things. Timing is everything. He’s simply not ready to give you what you want, and it seems like he’s been pretty honest about that. As Wendy says, when someone tells you who they are (or what they want), listen!!!

  2. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

    You’ve only been together 9 months. Frankly I’m happy to here that he isn’t rushing you into his kids lives. Parents do that all too frequently these days. He does have baggage – meaning every decision he makes will have to be very well thought out. This should be a good thing unless you want to get married tomorrow. It might be bad timing, he might not be that into you, or he just might be putting his kids above you – which I commend. Also hearing about him spending a birthday with his in-laws – that makes me happy too. Blended families should get along for the kids because it is ALL about them.

    I guess if you want to get married soon than move on. But otherwise be patient and let him live his life and figure out this single parent thing on his own before he tries to make it a blended family. If you want to give yourself a date when you’ll move on go for it. But 9 months? You haven’t even experienced every season with this guy that has 2 kids and you want him to change his whole life for you? I think you should start having more girls nights. Take up a yoga class. Invest yourself in some long term personal goals like running a marathon or reading one book every month or whatever it is. Focus on yourself for a while.

    1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      Here hear! Ugh. It’s early – forgive my mistakes.

      1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Than/then. Really on a roll here people. Lets play where’s waldo – waldo is all my errors in this message.

      2. Or we could focus on what you are really saying and ignore the errors, since they could also be coming from auto-correct software? 🙂

    2. i totally agree that 9 months is not long enough to be integrated into this guy’s life- meet his kids, ect.. 9 months is not that long.

      1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        I take naps longer than 9 months.

      2. for the last like 4 years of my life, i havent even known where i would be living and working nine months out most of the time…

      3. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Seriously. It kind of irks me when people act like their relationship should be seriously because they’ve been together X amount of time. Time doesn’t make it serious. Having shared goals for the future is what makes it serious. And that should never happen in 9 months even if there aren’t kids involved!

      4. preach.

        so true.

      5. You’re also not middle aged or older.

    3. SpaceySteph says:

      I agree with you. All these things the LW things are problems I think are good things, and it indicates her emotional immaturity that she doesn’t see it that way.
      Can be at a wedding with ex-wife without causing a scene? Good thing.
      Close to the grandparents of his children? Good thing.
      Keeping his new girlfriend from meeting his kids before he’s sure? Good thing.
      Making up for the mistakes his mom made with her parade of men in a healthy and respectful way? Really good thing.

      This guy has his shit together. His life may not be perfect, but he’s handling it. The LW, on the other hand, has it all wrong. It’s the ex-wife’s nephew’s wedding… why should his ex-uncle’s new gf get to come? It’s wonderful the ex-uncle is invited and has a good relationship with these people even if the marriage fell apart.

      He will be forever intertwined with his ex wife by their shared children, so she needs to come to grips with him seeing her and her family and it not being all.about.her. Frankly I think the bf knows that the LW is too immature and selfish to enter into his not-so-perfect life and that’s why he’s keeping her out.

      1. Skyblossom says:

        I agree about inviting him to the wedding. It shows he has a healthy relationship with the ex-family and that’s important for his kids so it is a great thing. I think it also shows that the ex-family doesn’t in any way blame him for the divorce.

      2. artsygirl says:

        I agree with part of this, expect for the fact that he won’t tell him in-laws or ex that he is dating someone. He should at least acknowledge the relationship especially since it is a long-term one. To me that seems to indicate that he still wants to play family with his ex and ex-inlaws and the LW is just someone he hangs out with when not with his family.

      3. BeckyGrace says:

        Boundries he doesn’t have…. run away LW run away! All my ex’s have kids and ex wives. If a man doesn’t have good boundries with the ex you don’t want any part of this. It’s good he has a good relationship with the ex’s family except… there is no reason for him to go to that wedding. Is she sure he is divorced because everything in that letter tells me he isn’t.

      4. except, you know, to see his nephew get married…

      5. caitiebug says:

        I think it’s a sign that he is a good man since he is going to his nephew’s wedding, seeing his children’s grandparents, etc without fighting. Judging by the timeline she described, the boyfriend and his ex-wife were together for 20+ years. He could have been close to this nephew for his entire life. Why should that connection be severed simply because he and his wife broke up. This shows that he puts relationships he’s formed above disagreements (and breakups), which in my mind shows so much more maturity than cutting out family of 20+ years.

        A few years ago I had an uncle divorce my mom’s sister after 15 years of marriage and I literally never saw him again. I understood because it was a messy divorce and I wasn’t particularly close to him, but it is still weird to me to think that I am never going to see a man who was there for every major event in my childhood again.

    4. Sue Jones says:

      Very good advice. If you are dating someone with kids, it is an entirely different world with an entirely different timetable! The kids ALWAYS need to come first. He really knows that because he came from a mother who put HER needs first and he knows how crappy that feels.

    5. SiSisodaPop says:

      Re: Where’s Waldo? (I love this game, thanks for playing) ….
      kid’s / Also, / happy, too. / girl’s nights
      did I miss any???


  3. Great advice, Wendy. And I love this: “You have to be ready for that person at the exact same time that that person is ready for you. It’s almost like catching lightning in a bottle, which is why, when it does happen, it’s so very special.”

    1. SiSisodaPop says:

      I’ve never heard the phrase “catching lightening in a bottle.” Can someone explain it to me, please?

      1. SiSisodaPop says:

        NM I just remembered that google existed.

  4. artsygirl says:

    LW – It sounds like you need to have a long and serious conversation with this man because I think he is running scared.

    First I will address the children. It might be that because of his chaotic childhood and his surprise divorce that he is being overly cautious in regards to his children, but that does not give him the right to walk all over you. You need to tell him that there has to be date set where you meet the children. You can even help him plan an activity which would be family fun i.e. an amusement park or zoo where there will be things to engage with outside the new family dynamic.

    Also, it sounds like your BF doesn’t want the opinion of his ex-inlaws to change. If their daughter sought out the divorce because of her own infidelity then in their eyes he is most likely the innocent party and still part of the family. I imagine that he fears that as soon as he starts a serious relationship they will cut him off because he will have moved on and therefore not likely to need his support. They will likely think that he will not need to come to Sunday dinners because he has a partner to spend time with.

    Basically, you need to talk to him and try to get him to work past these fears. If he isn’t ready to commit to you, then this is obviously not the right relationship for either of you.

    1. I’m sorry, but I disagree. You said “…that does not give him the right to walk all over you.” In what way is he walking all over her? He’s taking things slowly and being very upfront about why he’s doing so. If that doesn’t work for her then she has every right to MOA. Your approach seems to be for her to strong-arm him into moving at her speed. Wouldn’t that just be her walking all over him?

      1. artsygirl says:

        There is a line here. I understand not rushing women into his kids lives but they are a long term monogamous couple. I know older couples that talk engagement after 9 months and he won’t even tell his ex and her family that he is dating someone. I am not saying that she has to meet the kids next week but there should be a plan in place of when and where it would be appropriate. I think the LW would feel better if she knew there was a time-frame for her to be included into his family.

      2. Yes, I agree that a time frame is appropriate but not necessarily a specific set date. From your original post, I was envisioning her saying, ‘next satuday we are going to do xyz activity with your kids and you’re going to introduce me to them….’ It seems more reasonable to me for them to decide a general time frame such as one year together or after some other meaningful milestone (which will take place on an actual timeline – not just a vague ‘when I know I love you’ milestone).

      3. Ok, I have to jump in here. I understand how everyone wants to commend him for taking things slow, but I have to disagree. Being generous (as in, adding a few years), this guy is about 45 years old and presumably the LW is too. They have been dating since October/November, and she still hasnt been intro’d (even in passing!) to his 8 and 10 year old kids, the mother of whom he was with for 23-25 years and he has not informed the ex-family about the LW, EVEN THOUGH THERE IS SUSPICION SHE EXISTS. Duh, WHAT?!?!?!

        Maybe I am reading it differenly from (mostly) everyone else, but 9 months and not even a chance meeting with ANYONE in the ex-family or the kids?!?! They are not 22 year olds! (Yes, a presumption, and if LW is quite younger than he is, then this changes my opinion.) If you are in the 40s age group, then I would think 9 months means you are pretty serious. (This coming from a 31 y.o. that knows what she wants, is presently single, and can identify MY red flags early on…usually haha.) I get it, I get it, the kids come first- OF COURSE. But being the Elephant In The Room when you arent actually IN the room? OUCH

        My advice? Talk to him about it. Refuse to be Persona Non Grata. This is either a serious relationship or it isnt. To find your voice…you need to USE it.

  5. I feel like this LW doesn’t have the empathy to connect any of the dots in this situation. Maybe that’s harsh…but. I don’t know. She seems to only be concerned with her own timetable, her “head over heels” feelings, & the relationship bubble she’s currently in with this dude? T

    Like– the letter clearly explains all the “baggage” the guy has– clear reasons why he’s moving slowly. As a child, he had men in and out of his life, so it makes sense he wouldn’t want to introduce someone right away to his two children. His ex-wife blindsided him with a divorce, so it should be understandable why he’s still reluctant to completely immerse himself in a serious relationship (with meeting the parents, saying I-love-you, blending families)

    It kind of rubbed me the wrong way that the LW is pressuring him to see his ex in-laws less. They’re still his children’s family! It sounds, to me, like he has his priorities straight & is being honest about them. LW, listen to Wendy– no matter how much you “love” this man, if what you want is a relationship without complications, then let him go.

    1. exactly- nothing he is doing is weird!!

      1. BeckyGrace says:

        OMG yes it is! is everyone nuts on here today? (said with a smile – not in a mean way!) This is not healthy! 9 months with someone is pretty close to a year! does nobody wonder why he isn’t willing to admit that he is dating? too involved with ex and her family. He either is still married or not ready for a new relationship at all and shouldn’t be in one until he creates boundries.

      2. Will.i.am says:

        I kinda have to agree here. I’m fine with being intertwined with the ex’s family, but the amount of time he spends with them is a bit exhorbent. I’m fine with the BF holding his feelings at arms length for a bit, but if he’s still treating her like this after 9 months, I get the feeling he’s just not ready to commit. He likes playing committed relationship, but there’s really only one person playing it, and that’s the LW.

        Like Wendy said, he is getting the best of both worlds. He has someone he can spend time with when he’s not with his kids or the ex’s family, and he can still spend time with the ex’s family. I’m absolutely fine with him not being ready to open himself up to her by brining his kids into the picture. I have no kids and I’ve lost out on a single Mom or two, because I refused to go on a kid friendly date. I just think it’s very irresponsible to introduce kids to random men that you haven’t known too long.

        Nine months could be too long for the BF to still be holding out on the kids, but he still isn’t comfortable, and the LW has to respect that or move on. I do have a little problem with how much time he’s spending with the ex’s family. It’s like the divorce is real on paper, but it’s not real in his mind! You don’t have to cut out the family, but I think it’s ok to trim some time back with them. Also, tell the family you are seeing someone. If you aren’t ashamed of the person, and ashmaed is the only word that fits here, you should have no problem mentioning that you have been seeing someoene.

        I’m sorry, but if I had been seeing someone for 9 months and I was still a mystery, I would be pissed at myself for allowing myself to look like a fool for so long. Nine months is plenty of time to get to know someone well enough to mention that you are seeing such and such. If you aren’t willing to do that, then you are either ashamed of the person or you are just not ready for that commitment. Either way, you need to tell the other person, so the ball can be in their court and they can decide what’s the next decision THEY need to make!

      3. 9 months with a new girlfriend.

        18 years with the ex-wife and family.

        I’m not all that surprised he’s still close to them. The relationships with his ex-family-in-law have much deeper roots than his new relationship with his gf, no matter how in love they are, especially because the guy’s home life growing up was so unstable and they were welcoming. Who would want to leave that behind for a new, not-even-a-year-old relationship?

        And honestly, whether or not he’s dating again isn’t any of the ex’s family’s business, so if he doesn’t want to fill them in (I mean, come on, awkward…), that’s his prerogative. If my husband and I broke up today and I stayed close with his family, I would not feel compelled to inform his mother when I start dating again, much less introduce her to the new guy.

    2. SweetPeaG says:

      I agree that his ex in laws will probably be in his life forever. That is pretty understandable. And she shouldn’t pressure him for that to stop.

      HOWEVER, things like not being his date to a wedding? And not even telling people she exists? That’s fairly hurtful. His girlfriend of 9 months shouldn’t be his dirty little secret. I think she is not being unreasonable there.

      IMHO 🙂

      1. just to play devils advocate- if she has never met these people, which would lead me to think they have never spoken, how does she know that they dont know about her? how does she know that it is a dirty little secret situation vs. a moving very slowly for the sake of his sanity and his children…? she has no way to know.

      2. Will.i.am says:

        To me, it’s dating. Maybe she wants to hear from him that he shared something about her to the ex’s family. The LW is not a mind reader or a fly on the wall. Her anxiety is high, because she feels insecure and very vulnerable and I can’t blame her. She doesn’t want to let the man out of her life, but she feels that he’s keeping too much of himself at an arms length. It’s kinda understood that if you accept a date with someone, you are ready to date. Yes, you may not want to date a particular person, but if you met the right person, you would be ready to date them. This is where the LW is having all her insecure feelings. On paper he seems very open to commitment, but his actions are showing a different side all together.

        Once again, I’m not going to be someone’s mystery date. After so much time, I kinda want to meet your friends at least. I can hold off on family, but why can’t I meet anyone that is so vital in your life? This guy may not be the type of person that shares details like that, but for the LW’s sake, letting her know that more than one person knows she exists would be some weight lifted off her shoulders. She won’t get everything she wants immediately, because that will just take time, but to ask to be known about, is not hard at all!

      3. Will.i.am says:

        One more thing. To seriously nail this home. If someone is not introducing you to other people, then don’t you feel that you really aren’t dating? Even Napoleon Dynamite introduced his “Glamour Shots Girlfriend” to Pedro! haha

        In all seriousness, I feel really bad for the LW. I’ve been in her shoes of kinda being this mystery and no one knows who you are. It does make you feel very insecure and you do act “crazy”…..

      4. Moneypenny says:

        Oh man, I just have to say I love the ND reference!!

      5. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Or what if the guy just doesn’t share certain personal details with them because he is trying to renegotiate and set new boundaries with his relationship with them? Honestly 9 months is not that long. Everyone acts like they’ve been together 5 years. I mean they haven’t even gone through football season together yet. I didn’t tell my parents I had a new boyfriend (now husband) until we’d been together almost a year. I know some people are more open and talk about intimate details of their life more freely – but just because someone doesn’t doesn’t make it a red flag. She’s met his friend.

      6. Also, I think it’s different when you have kids and you start dating again after a divorce. It’s not like you go shouting from the rooftops that you’re dating someone. He’s being discrete for the sake of him family.

        Also, it’s very clear that he’s not as serious about her as she is about him, so why would he even bother to tell people about her?

      7. caitiebug says:

        Agree with this x100

        Just because he is maintaining a relationship with the ex-family doesn’t necessarily mean that he is maintaining a super-close-tell-them-every-detail-about-his-life relationship. Though I’m sure they have accepted the divorce after 2 years, why would you want to walk up to your ex-in-laws and tell them you have a semi-serious relationship? That seems like such an awkward conversation.

      8. SpaceySteph says:

        It’s the ex wife’s family wedding!!! It’s quite lovely that he is invited to the wedding and being treated like part of the family. Why should the groom invite his aunt’s ex husband’s new gf to the wedding? A woman he’s never met.
        In the midst of planning a wedding I will tell you that the plus one debate is a disaster anyways. But in this case, I think it’s a pretty easy call. The LW has no business being mad she’s not invited to this wedding.

      9. Well, he may have been given a +1, and is still not taking her. So I can see why she’d feel bad about that, if that’s the case.

      10. SpaceySteph says:

        I can also see how, for the bf, introducing his new gf to the ex wife and her family at a big out of town family wedding would seem like not so great of an idea. Weddings already can bring out some family drama and, it being the nephew and his bride’s day, it’s not really the time to make it about you and your new gf.
        And if he doesn’t want her to meet his sons and they’ll be there, then that’s also a valid reason.

  6. SweetPeaG says:

    Wendy’s advice is going to feel very painful to the LW, I have no doubt. But, it is what she needs to hear.

    This guy has been hurt badly in the past and he has two children- so he is being understandably cautious. But, that doesn’t give him the right to string you along and make you feel like a “dirty little secret”. Guess what- WE HAVE ALL BEEN HURT. ALL OF US. He is not unique in that. But, we move on. And we don’t use it as an excuse to hurt others. If he’s not ready to really be with you, he shouldn’t be with you.

    LW, don’t you love yourself more than that? Like you said, you’re not asking to move in. You just want your relationship a little more legitimized. You just want to be his date to a wedding. You just want the chance to meet his children and learn a little more about who he is. That is not a tall order, my dear.

    I am sure it feels like such a punch in the gut to be told that this man you really like/love is bad news for you. That really sucks… I’m sorry. But, I think you deserve better than that.

  7. i just want to say that you need to let go of the idea you have that ANY person you date who has an “ex-family” should not spend time with them because of you. i am honestly shocked, very shocked, that you told him to stop hanging out with his ex-inlaws, shocked that he actually did cut down, and then shocked that you are feeling actual anxiety about him going to his own child’s birthday and a wedding with the rest of the kid’s family… that is really messed up on your part. those people are his family. they were his legal family for a time, a long time, and you just dont cut those ties. just because they are his ex’s family doesnt change a freaking thing. wendy’s advice about your actual relationship issues are great, and im sure others will have great advice, but i just had to point this out…

    1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      Thank you! I think it’s kind of offensive too. I’m sad he listened. Family is so important – and if this is the only one he has she should be thankful that they’re in his life. Don’t you want the people you love to be happy?

      1. yea. i am still very close to one of my ex’s mom… we talk pretty frequently, go to lunch, go shopping together, ect.. and if jake said i couldnt be friends with her just because she is an ex’s mom, i dont think i would be with him. im friends with her because she is awesome, she was a second mother to me for many years, and we have a lot of the same interests (seriously she would have made the PERFECT mother in law lol). it has nothing to do with my ex. it has everything to do with her.

    2. Yeah, seriously– that part of the letter boggled my mind!

    3. Thank you! That stuck out to me, too, but I didn’t quite know how to phrase it. I think it’s WONDERFUL that he still has a relationship with his x-in laws and goes to all the family functions. By doing what he’s doing, he’s providing a safe, secure family for his children. How dare you try to diminish that!

      1. That bothered me too.

      2. AnotherWendy says:

        I am extremely close to my ex-family. I was a part of all their lives for 20 years: births, deaths, marriages, teen angst, divorces, stalkers, crazy holiday times, fights, vacations,illnesses, bankrupticies, card games, bbq’s, remodeling, endless summer beach days…..everything that happens to a group of extended family over the course of 20 years. You don’t just walk away from that. My neices and nephews refer to me as Auntie, not x-Auntie and my sister’s daughter was so relieved when she found out my ex (her “ex-Uncle”) was coming to her wedding becuase he has been a huge part of her life since birth. LW needs to understand that when the person has been married a long time and was close to his ex’s family, that bond is going to remain. And if there are kids, that bond is even stronger. Them all remaining bonded is the absolute best thing for the kids.

        LW says he was married for 18 years, so he has been through family stuff with those people for almost two decades. LW has been in the picture for less than a year.

        This man is rightfully so on his own timetable for “moving on”and will do it in a way that works best for him and his kids. If you want more from a relationship, this is not the man who is going to be able to provide it to you.

      3. BeckyGrace says:

        Its not about diminishing – its about healthy boundries that don’t appear to be there. Its weird to go to that wedding… why wouldn’t his ex be bringing a date? her new life? Let her move on and him move on… still have a great relationship with in ex-in laws of course! my husband doees with his ex-inlaws and I promote that 200%. But it doesn’t sound like there is an option for the ex wife or for the ex husband to move on and the LW needs to move on.

      4. how would you feel after being a part of a family for close to two decades and then all of a sudden being cut out and thown away? try having that happen with people you have spent significant time with, loved, been loved by, fought with, vacationed with… ect. i think you would also want to go to your nephews wedding, even if he was a nephew by marriage, and even the marriage was gone. the only relationship that has been terminated is his marriage. all the other relationships are intact, and its very sad to think that a “healthy boundary” is one where he is completely cut out of his families life.

  8. I find it hard to tell from what is said in the letter whether the bf is not ready for a serious relationship or just taking it slowly. It could be the latter, in which case the LW could still get what she wants with a little patience. 9 months is not that long.
    The one thing that I find troubling is that he is keeping his relationship with the LW secret from the ex-family, that seems a little over the top and could be a red flag. But it’s hard to judge without knowing his reasons for doing this.
    Rather than insisting on meeting the kids now, or hearing “I love you” if I were the LW I’d express what kind of relationship I’m looking for and within what time frame (roughly) I would like the relationship to progress to a more committed one. Then he can state what he wants. If he is defensive about making any kind of plans for the future – and not just about very particular steps like meeting her parents and introducing her to the kids – then she should MOA.

  9. I don’t blame you for not wanting to be a dirty little secret. But it really sounds like that’s exactly what you are to him. I have a few theories about your boyfriend.

    1) His wife isn’t as ex as you think she is. Maybe they did separate but since you two met they have decided to try and work things out…but in case it doesn’t work out, he’ll keep you on the back burner. That sure would explain the fact that in 9 months he has never once mentioned your name to the people who are closest to him. Seriously, the couple times I’ve met guys I’m really into I suddenly had the urge to talk about him to everyone I know. Doesn’t everyone do that? Something’s not right there.

    2) Even if he hasn’t gone back to his wife, he’s still pining after her and is keeping you a secret because he wants to appear still available to his ex if she should decide she wants him back (in which case he may drop you like a hot potato and run back to her.)

    We hear it on so many letters here so I don’t want to be a cliche, but MOA. If this guy wanted you in his life in the way you want to be in his, you wouldn’t be a dirty little secret. He would be showing you off to the world like the prize you are. Supposedly there are guys in the world who do that…go find one. And if he has a hot brother, hook me up. 🙂

    1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      They’ve been divorced – not separated – for two years. I doubt they’re still pining after each other. I’m sure he’s just a little shaken up by the level of betrayal. Which is normal.

      1. landygirl says:

        Once the ex-wife finds out about the LW she’ll probably have a sudden urge to get back together with him. Funny how crazy ex-wives love to screw around with people’s heads. An ex of mine left me to go back to his wife only to have her dump him shortly thereafter. She didn’t want him back, she just didn’t want him with me.

      2. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Yeah but I’m pretty sure that’s the exception, not the rule.

      3. When I found out about my ex’s new gf, I didn’t want him back or more. To me, that meant he had moved on and gosh darn it I wanted to as well. But with the right person for me at the right time, I was a little jealous his ‘time’ came before mine, but other than that I have nothing bad to wish him. Now, I did occasionally fantasize about running into the two of them when’ at my super model hottest, but that wasn’t a diss at their relationship. Just a random ego boosting fantasy of mine…

      4. Avatar photo MackenzieLee says:

        I agree. It’s more likely he’s just shaken up from the divorce and being a GOOD father not cheating on his wife

    2. SweetPeaG says:

      I had the same weird thoughts, Anna.

      It is so understandable to be cautious about not having her around the kids right away. But, to pretend to family and friends that she doesn’t even exist? I am sorry… there is something so wrong with that picture.

    3. Avatar photo Chicago-Dude says:

      You’re over-speculating on points 1 & 2, me thinks…

  10. Well first I think that keeping you separate from the kids and his ex’s family still is smart. The kids are young still. And honestly it’s none of his ex’s family’s business if he’s dating. So, no there is no reason to tell them about you yet. Especially since you’ve only been dating 9 months.

    I mean I think like Wendy said he might not be ready for you right now. Maybe he needed a few years of dating before he was ready for commitment again. He was married for 18 years! I mean that’s a significant portion of his life.

    And like other people have said it’s normal that he’s kept up a relationship with his ex-wife and family. That’s what having kids with someone will do. Force you to have a relationship with them, even after the divorce. And the fact that they were the first stable family he had makes it even more likely that they will keep the relationship going. My husband’s Dad is divorced from his Mother and he still comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas with his ex-wife’s family almost 15 years later.

  11. landygirl says:

    As I was reading this letter I imagined some kind of chaotic scene like a tornado or a whirlpool and for some reason the LW has decided that it would be a good idea to walk straight into the middle of it.

    LW, this guy is leading you on. He’s getting all his physical needs met by you without having to commit. You are kidding yourself about his feelings for you. I know because I was in the same situation and frankly it sucked. If a guy wants to be committed to you, he will be. This guy does not.

    Are we women so desperate that we’ll choose this less than desirable situation just to avoid being alone?

    1. landygirl says:

      I’ll also add that you are being unreasonable about his spending time with his former in-laws. You say “ex-family” like a petulant child but they are related to his children and they will never be ex-family. LW, you certainly need to mature a whole lot more before you decide to be serious with someone. You are being ruled by your insecurities, not your heart. The bf is doing what he should regarding not introducing his sons to you.

      I think that you have unreasonable expectations and they need to be readjusted to coincide with reality.

    2. I agree with you about what’s happening, but I don’t think he’s leading her on. He’s been very up front about not wanting to meet her family, or have her meet his. He doesn’t say I Love You… For me, peroanlly, I feel like he’s been pretty straightforward about what he wants out of this relationship.

      If she’s choosing not to see that, well, that’s on her.

      1. landygirl says:

        You got it, dudette.

  12. Elanie May says:

    Y’all are being really hard on this letter writer. It’s been 9 months! While that’s not a long time, it’s certainly long enough to have met his parents or have him meet yours. And it’s definitely long enough to feel like you should be able to be a date to a wedding and not a secret girlfriend. Clearly he has a strong connection to his ex’s family, which I get, but I don’t think it’s petty for her to be slightly disturbed by that. Or even if it is petty, it’s certainly justified.

    But it’s pretty clear that he is not ready to be serious or even think about commitment right now. If he were, he would be introducing you to more people, willing to meet your parents and even willing to discuss when you might meet his kids. So your options are WWS: hold out and see what happens, or move on and meet a dude with less baggage.

    Whatever you do, though, don’t hold on because “OMG he’s so damaged but I am so good for him and I will save him!” That is a recipe for long-term disaster.

    1. i dont think its justified at all… i get the not wanting to be a secret girlfriend thing, but taking that out of the equation and just looking at the fact that she doesnt want him to spend time with people who were his family for the last 18 years… that is just disrespectful. and mean. and terrible. she doesnt even know these people yet. she has no idea that they may be the most wonderful people in the world who would, eventually, welcome her with open arms and even become a part of HER family. she is discounting these people simply because they are connected to the ex wife. that is immature and something that she needs to get over in her life, just in general.

      1. Elanie May says:

        But she doesn’t say she doesn’t want him to spend time with them. She is saying it makes her uncomfortable how MUCH time he spends with them and how close he is to them. Okay, yeah, if she were more mature she might be able to look past that and think “how lovely that he has this super close family that he loves and they might someday love me” but she is anxious and insecure about the future and that’s when all the pettiness comes out.

        I’m just saying I totally get it.

      2. i just dont get the un-comfort she has with it. these people are his family. he is obviously not close with his family (which the LW oddly spells out very clearly), so of course he is close to these people… i dunno i just think this is the same as if she said that she didnt want him spending time with his own family because she is uncomfortable about it. about what? spending time with family? why is that weird?

        i get what you are saying though, i do. but, i would put money on the fact that if she took the mature route with this whole situation it would turn out in her favor.

    2. spark_plug says:

      I want to second this – 9 months is a freaking long time.

      I don’t think that 9 months is long enough to know if you want to marry someone or move in together, but its enough time to know where this person generally stands in your life. If I had never met a partners friends, family member or no one knew about me for 9 months… I’d be very very concerned.

      1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Tell that to a guy who was married for 18 years. He had 24 “9 month” relationships with his wife and lived with her family as his own.

      2. spark_plug says:

        Yes, but the issue here is with this particular guy and his baggage. I don’t think its unreasonable for the LW to want to move things further down the line and that everyone is telling her that its too short. It’s not too short!

        It’s too short for THIS GUY, which is another issue all together, but the LW needs are totally rational and normal IMO.

      3. spark_plug says:

        PS – I think that telling her that her expectations are unreasonable only prolongs the problem. Now she’s going to think, ‘gosh I’ve been unreasonable, let me give this man MORE time’ rather than just moving on with her life.

      4. SweetPeaG says:

        spark_plug- We are on the same page! Couldn’t agree more!

      5. Meet his parents? His Dad was a guy from a one-night stand and his mother had a parade of guys through the home she shared with her son. He likely tells his mother nothing of substance about his life. He’s not a teenager, he’s likely in his early 40’s. Meeting Mom isn’t such a big deal. Telling his ex’s family about her and asking for a wedding invite for her, seems to be such an unreasonable expectation for her to have. Clearly he is ducking meeting her parents. That does say he definitely is less far along in this relationship than she is, but one must put that in the context that ‘meeting the parents’ for a 40-something is pretty much equivalent to being engaged, unless her parents are in the community in which they both live.

      6. It’s also too early to expect to meet his kids.

      7. I’d feel more comfortable about LW if she had used terms like ex’es family and ex’s nephew, rather than ex-family and ex-nephew, in a way that suggest she believes these people should be dead to him, post-divorce.

      8. Elanie May says:

        Apologies for misspeaking about his parents and point taken. I still stand by my original statement that she’s not being irrational in asking to be more involved in his life, though.

      9. They’re both behaving rationally (although she seems a little on the ‘panic’ side), they just have very different ideas of what they want out of this relationship and what kind of timeline they are comfortable with. Unless they can talk it out and figure out a compromise, they’re probably best off separating now, BEFORE anyone has met kids or parents, because I don’t think their relationship needs or expectations are aligned. Definitely sad for the LW. Nothing harder than breaking up with a guy who you really like and who has done nothing wrong but the relationship wasn’t built to last. My heart goes out to both of them.

      10. One other thing. Expecting that after 9 months of a relationship, certain steps like meeting parents/kids would happen, THAT is not unreasonable. Expecting him to speed up his timeline to suit hers and just “get over” whatever is keeping him from taking those steps, THAT is unreasonable.

      11. Elanie May says:

        Agreed. The general consensus (after 100+ comments!) seems to be that she needs to MOA unless she can seriously back off and be okay with how things stand right now, because they might not change for years, if ever. That’s where he is and is going to be for awhile, and that’s okay for him. But it doesn’t sound like that’s what she’s looking for.

  13. Ask him. Ask him for a specific thing, like “Can I meet your kids when we have been together for a year?”: and then see what happens. If he remembers and organises it, then yay. If he forgets, or starts to be wishy washy about your relationship at this crucial time, you know he doesnt intend to be with you for long.
    Its pretty clear his kids are the most important thing to him, which they most certainly should be. But its ok for you to get information.

    1. SpaceySteph says:

      I think you’re right. I have a hard time, based on the tone of the letter, imagining that she has communicated her needs in an appropriate and mature fashion. But if she does communicate her valid concerns, without what reads as pettiness and immaturity, and he still ignores her I definitely agree there are issues.
      LW, sit him down for an adult conversation and tell him what you need…
      I need to know that you’ll one day feel comfortable including me in your life. I want the ex-relatives you are close to to know about me. I want to meet your kids. It doesn’t need to happen right away but I need to know you are working towards making it happen.

      If you say that and he doesn’t at least offer a timetable or open up about the reasons not to, then it’s time to MOA.
      But for goodness sake, stop referring to the ex-relatives as ex-relatives. They are now all related by the children and will always be in each others lives. You are lucky he has a good relationship with his family instead of a bitch ex wife who wants to kill you and 3 traumatized children who are gonna play mommy and daddy against each other for a new pony or something. Be happy for the good things in his life, even if they don’t involve you.

  14. I agree that nine months isn’t that long when it comes to meeting a guy’s kids, especially ones that young. We tend to criticize single moms who commit early on to men because we say they arent thinking about their kids. Just because the LW has a house and a job doesn’t mean that this is an exception. I also sort of take issue with the LW’s focus on his upbringing. On one hand, you can’t assume everyone who had a shitty childhood is screwed up. On the other, she also seems to be excusing his behavior because he has had a “tough” life. I don’t really have any advice other than what wendy said.

  15. Avatar photo Chicago-Dude says:

    Are you truely, “head-over-heels in love with him?” or are you in love with the IDEA OF HIM?
    He sounds like father/ex-husband of the year who probably shouldn’t make room in his life for someone who’s myopic view of his “ex-family” –

    (WTF is an ex-family anyhow? Is it like…hi, I divorced your family yesteryear so *flips tongue out*?!)

    but I digress… that you won’t be a good fit because of your negative attitude about the “ex-family” and their proximity to his 8 & 10-year old despite your “having your shit together.”

  16. The bottom line for me is if you feel like a dirty little secret, MOA. No one should feel like that. This guy is clearly not ready for the kind of life you want with him. I think Wendy hit it on the head. He may by a good guy for you someday – but not today.

    1. SweetPeaG says:

      It is within this guy’s right to take as much time as necessary before getting serious with someone…
      I just don’t think it is his right to make this woman feel like a dirty secret. I hate that for her. My significant other better be proud to be with me or he can screw off.

  17. Another thing might be that he is intimidated by you having your shit together: the home, the job, etc. A friend of mine went through this for a long time. He was divorced, had a lot of debt from the divorce, lost his job and was afraid to meet a together woman because she might run from all the crap in his life. He met a fabulous woman and is happy now. It doesn’t change my answer above, but it’s a different perspective.

  18. spark_plug says:

    ‘ or you’re so desperate to find your husband you’ve convinced yourself that this guy, who has so many unresolved issues he cries when discussing his ex-wife, is the one for you’

    WWS here. As I was reading this letter this is what jumped out at me – that the LW is so desperate to find a guy that she’s willing to settle for anyone.

    I think this happens a lot to women who have their “shit” together, like the LW. I know most of my friends, including myself, who went to great schools, have or will have awesome careers often settle for less than spectacular choices. It amazes me that women (including myself of course) have the discipline to spend late nights at the library or late night at work or show fiscal restraint and confidence at work…. and lack ALL of these things in their romantic lives.

    LW – if you have all of your shit together, why wouldn’t you want to find someone who has the same? Sure – you might have a GREAT connection with this guy… but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have a great connection with another guy down the line as well. It just might take some patience. In the meantime, learn to wait and be patient and trust that the right person will come to you.

    I’ve made some REALLY bad dating decisions in the past. At the time, I would have never chalked it up to desperation – since after all – I had everything together and going for me. After some reflection I realized that actually, I was desperate. Really desperate to have a man in my life. I was so desperate I was trying to turn all the ‘good enough’ guys into the ‘right guy’. It doesn’t work.

    1. landygirl says:

      I wish I could upvote this post more than once.

    2. Preaching to the choir spark plug. Which is why, with the help of my therapist, I’m learning how to weed out the “good enough” guys for the “right guy.” Because, I always say I’m fine, but it would be really nice to be in a relationship. I just don’t want to get into a relationship for the sake of being in one. I want it to be the right one. It’s sometimes hard to differentiate.

    3. Elanie May says:

      But how do you know it’s the right guy?! This is what makes me nuts. 🙂

      1. spark_plug says:

        Well, for starters – if they guy keeps your 9 month relationship a secret, I’d safely assume its the wrong guy 🙂

  19. Sue Jones says:

    As someone with kids, I always vowed that if I ever found myself single again, I would never have my kids meet any of my partners until I was sure that it was a definite forever thing because I would not want my child to prematurely bond with someone only to have them suffer heartbreak if it did not work out. I really do not think 9 months is a very long time. In fact it is a tiny bit of time. So I can understand where he is coming from. He is protecting the kids because of his own background. Good for him for having principles! But I am in a different place in life than you are. I could live with a situation, at age 50 with kids, if I were single (which I am not, but have plenty of single mom friends) where my relationship did not look like anybody else’s relationship (because it’s my life!). And I could see the benefit of compartmentalizing my relationships. The thing is… does he want what YOU want? If he is fine compartmentalizing things and you are not, and you want to take it to the next level, meaning living together, marriage, more kids,blending families, then this is a problem because you want different things ultimately and have different goals.

    So if you are fine with the current situation at the moment (and I say this because, KIDS DO GROW UP AND LEAVE HOME!) and can wait until some of his “baggage” (I hate calling kids baggage but here it is) ages out, and you are not hearing your own biological time clock ticking and do not want any kids of your own (does he want more kids?) then fine, as long as you are on the same page about what you ultimately want.

    BUT if you want your own kids, are running out of time, are marriage and family minded yourself, then I would suggest MOA because he can’t give you that right now.

    1. Skyblossom says:

      I completely agree with you here. I’ve always said that if anything happened to my husband I wouldn’t date until my kids were out of school. I want to protect my kids and certainly wouldn’t introduce someone after only nine months. Even after waiting until my kids were grown, I’d wait until I was sure that the relationship was permanent before introducing the person to my kids. For me that would mean dating for at least two years, probably longer, to give the relationship time to fall apart. I think the only way to be cetain about a relationship (as certain as you can be) is to give it time and see if it lasts.

      1. BriarRose says:

        I feel that no one really knows what they’d do until they experienced something, but I would like to say I always wonder why married parents get to have love and companionship, but single parents are expected to be okay with not having it, and have to just wait until their kids are grown to date again. I know it’s to each their own, but why is my friend who is still married lucky enough to have someone to help her with the burden of raising her kids, and have someone to go out to dinner with, and someone to hold her when she’s worried about something, and I’m not? Why am I expected to just tough it out for the next 11 years and do it all alone?

        It is so hard knowing that so many people always say they’d wait until their kids were grown to start dating again, but they don’t truly understand the isolation and loneliness that comes along with being a single parent. Is it so wrong that I want what my married friends have, what I used to have? Why do I have to be secretly judged by friends, co-workers, the world for being a bad mom and dating? I just don’t understand.

        End sob story.

      2. Skyblossom says:

        Part of my opinion comes from seeing couples get married with kids at home and couples who got married after the kids left home and the ones who waited had it much easier. Kids often don’t like the person their parent brings into the home and especially from the age of 12 up the kids are resistant to adult influence anyway and don’t like a new adult in the home and that creates lots of stress for the marriage. Adult children are often glad to know that their parent isn’t lonely while teenage children don’t worry about that and can severly damage a relationship with their bad attitude. If I were to remarry, which I don’t know that I would, I would want it to work for the rest of my life and waiting would help put the odds in my favor. I love my husband and I value my marriage highly but I don’t mind being alone. I think part of the reason for the high divorce rate is that people rush into marriage and I’m a naturally cautious person.

        So my point of view is based on caution and in my opinion, on maximizing the odds of a successful marriage. I’m almost 50 and pretty much anyone I would meet would come with lots of baggage. Happily blending two families is difficult and so I would take it very slowly.

      3. BriarRose says:

        I also loved my husband and valued my marriage. Simply because I am divorced does not mean I don’t have those same values. When I said “til death do us part” I sure as hell meant it. I was with my husband for 5.5 years before we got married, so I certainly didn’t rush into it. Turns out, knowing someone since he was 15 is no guarantee he won’t morph into a completely different person while gone for 6 months and divorce you against your will.

        Additionally, I don’t mind being alone (as I am right now, and quite happy). However, my life does not completely revolve around my child. I was me before I had her, and I will continue to be me once she goes to college. I’m not going to stop living as adult me simply because I have a child. Just as my married friends focus on their love lives (as they should), I would like to do the same. I think it’s wonderful (truly!) that you are in a happy, successful marriage and your children have that example. I’d like to have the same for myself and my daughter, someday.

      4. 6napkinburger says:

        I totally agree!!! I can’t understand why the sentiment seems to be that either.

        As a relatively young single person, maybe my view is off, but I don’t think that people in a serious relationship should have to wait eons before meeting the children. In fact, we had a letter a few days ago where one of Wendy’s points was that without meeting the children, you couldn’t know what you were getting yourself into. I understand the problem of having a revolving door of “daddies” leads to instability, but does it have to be like that? Don’t people introduce their children to their friends all the time? If I was a single mom and I made a new friend, I wouldn’t wait until I knew I was going to be friends with that person forever before introducing them. Why can’t parents introduce them as friends and keep it to friendly behavior around or about that person until they are ready to re-introduce them to the kids as a serious partner? I know kids aren’t stupid and they’ll sometimes suspect it, but little kids might not and it doesn’t seem to create false daddies for an 8 year old to know that mommy’s going to the movies tonight with that guy we went to ice cream with yesterday. Unless i’m missing something.

      5. SpaceySteph says:

        I agree with this and maybe is something the LW could volunteer to her bf: Let’s go do something fun together and let me meet the kids as your friend. (Although 10 is getting towards the age that they might suspect something) Also requires no funny business, touching/flirting.
        I think on here we are usually upset at single moms doing crazy stuff like living with guys and letting those guys play dad to their children before they’re sure. That can screw a kid up. But going to the zoo one day with a nice lady isn’t the same as moving into her house.
        It’s probably time for the BF to ease into it, if he’s interested in making this a long term thing.

      6. Briar Rose, I totally agree. Just because your child’s needs come first doesn’t mean your needs don’t exist.

      7. Her Randomness says:

        Thank you BriarRose for saying this! I just don’t understand the sentiment that single moms need to stay that way and be alone for 18yrs or whatever. Does anyone realize that part of the reason older children (i.e. out of school) are more able to accept their parent remarrying or getting into new relationships is because they’re starting to get out of the selfish phase and are starting to see their parent as another adult, with adult wants and needs, not merely the person there to cook and clean and frankly just be there for them and for them alone? Children growing up with both parents learn to share their parent early on, children of single parents can learn to share their parent too and there’s nothing wrong with that. Also, waiting x amount of time does still not guarantee forever. It’s naive to think that. Sure, you may be hedging your bets, but how many times have you known people together for many years before getting married only to break up 2 years later? Love is always a risk, that doesn’t mean you refuse to play because it may not end like the storybooks.

      8. spark_plug says:

        I dont have kids so I can’t related, but I’m just curious – if you’re going to invest 2+ years with someone wouldn’t you want to make sure that your children like this person BEFORE you invest the 2+ years?

        Also, I think there’s a fine line between slowly introducing someone to your children and getting them 100% involved in their life too soon. Like most thing in life, there’s a middle line.

        As I said, I don’t have children, but I think such a rigid policy is unfair to the potential partner as well.

      9. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Totally agree. It definitely is unfair to the potential partner to wait until they know it’s a forever deal to meet their new family, and I think it’s unfair to the kids because they won’t have as long to get to know someone before they become their new parent. Definitely don’t introduce someone until you’re serious, but as long as you’re not bringing in new boyfriends all willy nilly, it should be fine.

      10. BriarRose says:

        This. What if for two years I had this boyfriend who I thought hung the moon, introduced him to my daughter, and he turned out to be an asshole to kids? Granted, that’s extreme and probably not something he could easily hide for 2 years, but I think your last sentence is perfect, and what most sensible single parents do.

      11. Sue Jones says:

        I would hope that your asshole detector worked well enough to know that he is an asshole to kids, before he got to be an asshole with YOUR kids.

      12. BriarRose says:

        Yes, it’s working just fine. Was just trying to make a point. I date because I’d like to get married again, and therefore the men that I date might be my daughter’s stepfather someday. Therefore, he would need to meet her at some point. I can’t and won’t keep those two worlds separate forever.

      13. Sue Jones says:

        Nobody said forever. 9 months is not that long. And you are at the stage of life where you want and are looking, perhaps needing someone to help you raise the kids as well as to be a love interest. LW’s boyfriend is not looking for a mommy for his kids. He seems to do just fine financially on his own, he is involved with the kids,he has a working parenting relationship with the mother, they have a mommy already and perhaps he wants the relationship with LW for companionship, fun and adult time. Different people, different needs.

        And I am in a different place in life than you are, like I said before. I would be able to financially support the kids on my own if anything happened to my husband, my kid is older so parenting is different than parenting a younger child. If I ever had to single parent, I could see that my kid could use “father figures” but that doesn’t mean that I would have to marry the guy. It could be guy friends to take my kid along with their kids to ball games and such…

        I think I would be a lot more cautious about hitching my wagon to someone else’s. But when I was in my 20’s it was all about merging my life with someone whom I hoped would be my soulmate. So that is also a difference.

      14. Plus, nothing is “forever.” No one can be 100% sure, no matter who it is or how much time has passed, that they will be with another person “forever.” (um, divorces!)
        Its certainly wise to not introduce your kids to every person you go on a date with, but saying they really should wait until the kids are grown so they never get attached and then hurt by a breakup is great in concept, but silly if you think about it. Parents get divorced all the time. I assume they go into a marriage, and then having children, assuming its “forever” but it isn’t. So even if you wait specifically 3 years to introduce the kids to be sure its “forever,” whose to say its guaranteed to last 3 years and a day?

      15. Skyblossom says:

        My caution comes from exactly, the um divorces!, culture that we live in. Most relationships fall apart within two years so if I waited two years and it lasted that long then the relationship has already outlasted most relationships. Then, with the primary couple relationship going strong it would be time to expand it to the extended family relationship and see if that also worked. Then, and only then, would I get married.

        I turn 50 next month and next week I’ll celebrate my 25th wedding anniverary. I take the long view in all of this. I believe that if a relationship will last a lifetime it will last a few years until a wedding to let me see how strong it really is. I have a strong, happy marriage and I wouldn’t care to settle for anything less. I don’t know that I would even try to marry again but I know I would be very cautious because I wouldn’t want to end up in a lesser marriage.

      16. Elanie May says:

        A lot of our opinions come from where we are in life, I think. A woman who’s been married for 25 years and has older kids is going to be in a much different place than a single mom of a few years. Not that caution isn’t the watchword in all these situations, of course (I think you need to be pretty damn sure before you introduce anyone to your kids), but a woman with a toddler is going to be less concerned in some ways with family dynamics than a woman with teenagers.

        The younger woman is also going in with the notion of becoming a new happy family, just a few years later than expected, moreso than an older woman who has seen shit go down, knows exactly what can go wrong, and has had a mostly happy family for many years.

      17. BriarRose says:

        You communicated your thought beautifully. I’m impressed with what you wrote, and agree! I think you’re exactly right about people in different stages of life looking for different things if they were to find themselves a single parent. Obviously when my daughter is older, anyone I date wouldn’t be so much a potential stepdad to my daughter, just more her mom’s husband.

      18. You would spend two years with someone exclusively, but not let them meet anyone in your family to see how they interacted together until after two years?

        I totally agree that there is no reason to rush into marriage, but that’s a different issue than refusing to let your SO meet your family until 2 years of his life have passed (and possibly wasted). If someone was so unsure of me that I was told I had to wait 2 years to even meet his family, we would not last. That’s very, very extreme.
        Not saying he should be moving in, or even coming to big events, but not meeting? That’s too much to ask of someone you supposedly care about.

      19. Sue Jones says:

        I think a lot of it depends upon the age of the kids. And my single mom friends are not lonely or celibate, they just don’t let the guy meet their kids until they are sure of the relationship and they date the guy(s) when the kids are with their dad or otherwise occupied, or with a sitter. But I was just saying what I would do. I think it is better for the kid that way personally.

  20. The second to last paragraph (finding the right person at the right time) couldn’t be more true. Very nicely put, Wendy! 🙂

    1. spark_plug says:

      I was actually going to respond to that as well but you beat me to it!

      I don’t think that the right person will have a different time table. I believe if someone doesn’t want the same things as you – by definition – they are the wrong person, which is only more reason to MOA and find the right person.

  21. BriarRose says:

    Everyone needs time to heal after a failed relationship, especially a divorce. Trying to do that healing while involved with someone else only slows/delays the healing, and hurts the other person. Most people I know (myself included) who are single parents and have met someone they are in love with and hope for a future with, will introduce their child after about 6 months of dating. I think that after 9 months the LW is being pretty reasonable to start asking why she can’t meet the children. It makes no sense to continue dating someone without meeting their child(ren). After all, that is a HUGE part of their life, and if the end goal is to eventually marry, there needs to be plenty of time for all parties to get to know each other before starting a life together.

    I think everyone is going on and on about how 9 months is so short, but realistically, how many of you know someone or have yourself gotten married within a year/18 months of meeting someone? It’s not all that unusual, right? So if you (or that person you know) felt that sure about someone that they married them a year after meeting, why is it unreasonable to think that the LW would feel that sure about her boyfriend, and want to make the next logical step of meeting his kids? I feel that sadly, the boyfriend is not in the same place as the LW and she should probably cut her losses and move on, but to get all shocked that she (or anyone else in a long term relationship with a single parent) wants to meet the kids after “just” 9 months is a bit extreme, to me.

    1. SweetPeaG says:

      She is NOT looking to move in or get married.
      She is asking to be his date to a wedding and to get the shot to say hello to the children. 9 months is enough time for him to know a few things about this woman. I don’t think a trip to the zoo is going to be harmful to the kids. I would see him being hesitant to have overnight visits with the kids there. But, geeze… I feel this is extreme.

      1. 6napkinburger says:

        I agree. I think the wedding is probably NOT the best time to do it, because all kinds of hackles are raised at events like this, there’s too much other stuff going on and its his ex’s family’s event, but I totally agree with the zoo.

        And its worth noting that my cousin died several years ago and his wife is still invited to all family events. She has since remarried (about 2 years after) and she and he attend almost everything, and everyone is so happy that she has found someone. I know that death is seen differently than divorce, but if he’s really THAT close with her family, then they should be happy for him.

      2. SpaceySteph says:

        I said something similar about the wedding being a bad time up there. She shouldn’t have to meet everyone all at once and at such a high pressure event.
        Besides, if it were my family, the talk of the night would be that girl so-and-so brought and what she was wearing and what she did with her hair (good or bad, people would be whispering about her all night). Sounds horrible for the bride and groom, horrible for the LW, horrible for the bf, horrible for the ex wife. And what if the kids overheard something not nice. No way. Meet them in smaller batches and in low-pressure places, like the park, the coffee house, etc.

  22. SpaceySteph says:

    I’ve replied above with most of my thoughts but honestly I see exactly 1 red flag here…
    The guy only has ONE friend? Really? In the 2 years since his cocoon of a marriage ended, he’s not managed to make any additional friends?

    1. I totally feel weird about that too.

      1. 6napkinburger says:

        A friend of mine is dating a guy who is like that. He’s young (30 and so is she) and just got divorced from his wife after like a year and a half of marriage (and like 4 years of dating). He moved to the city they live in because it’s where his ex is from and while married and before they were real homebodies. My friend has tons of friends and he goes with her and is slowly making friends that way (she sometimes sets him up on man-dates (though they aren’t mandated ha!)) but when the issue of “meeting his friends” came up (aka she realized she hadn’t), it turned out he just didn’t really have any that lived in the same city as they do. And He’s an awesome boyfriend to her (I’ve met him), they spend almost everynight together, he has a good job and is smart and funny and they talk about the future and are on relatively the same page.

        So it’s possible without being a giant glaring red flag. I think its more of a yellow flag.

      2. SpaceySteph says:

        OK I’ll buy a yellow flag. But it is certainly odd.

  23. BriarRose says:

    Well, I don’t think the wedding would be the best place to meet his kids. Too much pressure/weirdness, especially with their mom being there. When I introduced my daughter to my boyfriend, I took her and her two friends to an indoor play place, along with their mom, and my bf met us there. So my daughter was really there to play with friends and him being there wasn’t this huge deal. We took it very slowly after that. In 1.5 years of dating he never stayed overnight while she was in my home.

    All that to say, not meeting them in 9 months is a huge red flag. He’s not serious about her. I was very excited for my boyfriend and daughter to meet. I knew they would get along great (and they did) and I was eager to be able to do things as a group. It really enhanced our relationship, and clearly the LW’s boyfriend is not “there”. I understand her sadness and frustration but I truly think she needs to move on. But I did want to make the point that wanting to meet his kids was not weird or anything.

    1. BriarRose says:

      D’oh! That was supposed to be a reply to SweetPeaG, above. Oops!

  24. I think that when you get into a relationship with someone with a past as heavy and historied as this, you simply must relegate yourself to a different course and timetable for the relationship.
    There seems to be a lot of controversy here as to whether 9 months IS or ISNT a long time to wait. Isn’t that completely personal and not up for judgement?

    I do not think 9 months is a long time at ALL to wait to introduce someone to family, much less children. I would never introduce a boyfriend to my parents, much less my children before then. This is not to pass judgement on anyone who would, but certainly everyone reserves the right to take the time they need and if the involved party can’t accept it, maybe it isnt meant to be?

    1. Will.i.am says:

      My first gf, I met her parents after one month. I wasn’t ready and seriously nervous, but I was glad that I did meet her parents, because 4 months later her Father died of cancer. He went in the hospital the day after I met him with being out of breath while brushing his teeth. Found out he had very aggressive cancer. So you can plan, plan, plan, but in the end I was VERY glad that I got to spend a little bit of my time with her Dad. As nervous as I was at that moment, it made me very thankful to know a little of him. I’m definitely more of the exception here, but I was saying that you can just plan too much of your life out…

  25. Sounds like the guy is still in love with his ex-wife and is biding his time hoping the ex will change her mind after checking out the single life. It is awesome to continue a great relationship with your former in laws but after dating for 9 months, I would expect to meet the important people in his life, including his kids. I would also expect for him to have an interest in meeting the most important people in mine, especially if those people were my parents.

    If this man had any intentions of making this relationship more than what it is, he’d have done it by now. When a man wants you, he’s going to shout it from the rooftops.

    DLS – you deserve better!

  26. So made for Jerry Springer!

  27. Avatar photo sobriquet says:

    Baggage! Have any of y’all watched the show that Jerry Springer hosts? I find it SO FASCINATING. People are so fucked up, really. It’s my new favorite late night trashy tv show.

    On the same note, some of the most financially stable people I’ve met have been sooo emotionally unstable. Like, own a house, have a retirement fund, socially active, FALL IN LOVE WITH MEN ON FIRST DATE. So that makes me wonder, LW, why are you staying with a man who so clearly is not looking for anything serious? How did you type that letter out, re-read it, and then still not see? He’s not ready to be serious with you right now. The timing is just too wrong. I think we may have found your baggage.

    I want to ask everyone what their baggage is, but I won’t because I don’t want to share mine!

    1. My favorite How I met your Mother episode is the baggage one. Its hilarious!

  28. I don’t feel that either the LW or the bf are being unreasonable here. More than anything it seems like they each had different expectations going in to the first date, and that’s catching up with them 9 months later in a big, frustrating, *timing is everything* kind of way. More frustrating for the LW because she seems ready to commit.

    He clearly stated that he was ready to jump back in the dating pool and see what, and who, was out there. And, maybe, in a year or 2, find someone amazing to build a relationship with while figuring out how best to reshape his life for himself and his children. If we focus on his timeline that tells me that he wants to establish new *norms* in his previously structured life that was based almost solely around his ex-wifes family, who he seems to value immensely. Plans change, I get that, but he just got out of a relationship that encompassed more than half of his life. So in that regard, a 9 month relationship is comparitively small. I’m not giving the guy a free pass, not at all. In fact, if he’s knowingly mislead the LW with his actions then he should be ashamed of himself. Fucking with peoples’ emotions is childish and on par with the worst kinds of torture.

    For her part, I think the LW went in to the date looking for a potential partner. Simply because that’s where she *is* with her life. She’s got her *shit* together. Great job, lot’s of friends, nice house. So, what’s missing? A partner of course. Add one heavy dose of *complicated guy with lots of baggage* who is fairly new to the dating scene again to the equation and someone’s timeline gets shook up in a big way.

    I just think they are at completely different places in their lives at this point. I wouldn’t want to feel *rushed* into any commitments if I were him, and I wouldn’t want to feel like I was being held back in finding a spouse if I were her. As painful as it might be initially, I’d part ways and wish each other the best of luck. No one is at fault here. Life goes on for both of them and they learn to be more upfront with their intentions from now on.

    1. this is a great explanation of the situation as a whole. i feel the same way- neither one of them are necessarily wrong, they are just wrong for each other. the fact that she doesnt like him spending time with his (ex) family though still just really rubs me the wrong way…

  29. “I just want to push him over that hump, or ledge, so he can feel love again and let his worlds merge together.”

    That comment stuck out to me, especially after mentioning all the baggage he has. He’s not emotionally ready, so why are you trying to fix him? That’s a recipe for disaster. He has to be the one to get over his issues, and I don’t think there’s much you can do or should do to try and change that. He’s guarded for a reason. And you’re trying to push something too soon. You two aren’t on the same page, and I don’t really see how this can work in the long-run. I also wonder if you feel your boyfriend owes you something because you have dated 9 months. They are his kids, and he has every right to decide when and if you’ll meet them. You’re already more invested in this relationship, and you can’t force someone to love you, especially if they are not ready, and I’m not sure what you are even getting out of this lopsided relationship. I think it’s best for you to move on.

  30. You Go Girl says:

    The boyfriend sounds like a decent man who is trying his best to overcome his past and be a good father to his children. He has a lot to overcome and it is likely to take him at least several years before he feels ready for a serious relationship. But the LW has a good job and her own house and she is ready for a committement now, while she can still have children. Unfortunately their timetables are not compatiable. The LW could invest several years waiting for her boyfriend to get his act together, only to discover that his view of what he wants in a woman has changed, and that he does not want to marry her. He may also not want more children.

    The LW needs to decide whether her boyfriend is worth the risk of waiting or whether she should MOA now and find someone who is emotionally available. She is not obligated to wait for him.

  31. SpaceySteph says:

    It also rubs me the wrong way a bit that the LW supposes that “having your shit together” and having baggage are mutually exclusive.
    To me, the LW’s awesome life is probably at least somewhat caused by luck. You can do all the right things and still end up jobless and/or divorced. But her attitude indicates that she’s not so grateful for the lucky circumstances that led to her getting her shit together. I too have a good job, own a house, etc, but I will credit all the luck in the world that got me here. I could have done everything the same, and just been unlucky, and then I’d be living in my childhood bedroom at my parents house working in my dad’s office.
    And the bf, who had a rough childhood, who got blindsided by a divorce after many years of marriage, who is in a costly alimony and child support situation… he may not be in the best circumstances, but from the account in the letter he is doing ok. He is taking care of his ex-wife and kids, he is helping his kids immensely by maintaining a relationship with his ex-wife and her family. He is trying to move on but understandably having a hard time. Cut the guy some slack. And don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.

  32. supah-alpha says:

    LOL! The guy in this relationship has this silly broad on a leash! More power to him. He is PURE ALPHA.

  33. The real problem is I am sure that he is a Republican. That is your first mistake. They are conniving, deceitful filth that cannot be trusted. Is he voting for Romney? If so, he is also a racist vile piece of garbage that you don’t need to be wasting any more of your time on.

  34. The LW needs to remember that divorce after 18 years–particularly when being cheated on with the young stud pool boy–is an incredibly damaging and trust-destroying event. To be honest, as a man I’m amazed that he has even considered remarriage. Look at his life–mother was a slut, wife turns out to be a slut, the LW is apparently sleeping with him with no commitment required. Where in that experience should he have gathered that women are trustworthy and that he can safely place his heart and love in another one’s hands? Or, for that matter, what justification does he have for believing that the LW is going to keep her sexual activity strictly reserved to him? Her word? Her obvious moral code (or lack thereof)?

    The LW should realize that this guy is definitely damaged goods. He may recover the ability to trust again after some time, and he may be worth her spending the love and time to restore that ability. However, to think he’s going to come around and “snap out of it” after less than a year is foolish and unreasonable. Divorce sucks, folks, particularly with infidelity and kids involved. I used to tell people that if you have the choice between getting divorced and losing both arms at the elbow, start learning to use hooks!

    It’s unfortunate for the LW that she’s in the position of paying the emotional bill for the sins of this guy’s other close female relationships, but that’s how it is. If he’s important enough to her to wait it out, knowing it might take years, then she should hang in there. If her timetable won’t allow that, it’s time to MOA.

  35. tbrucemom says:

    I agree with most of the other commenters. I think it’s commendable that he’s proceeding cautiously. I also have to comment on the saying “I love you” timeframe. My BF of 3 years didn’t say it for 2 1/2 years and I had to say it first. I know he did by the things he did say and do but he’s just not one to say it. As far as the relationship with the in-laws, I was married for 28 years and I’m still pretty close to my in-laws. My children are grown but we still have times when we talk and they still love and miss me. He needs more time to deal with his “baggage”. If you don’t want to wait, MOA. However, if you do decide to stick around, I probably would have my own personal timeframe for him to do the things you want him to do. It very well may be he met someone he could settle down with too quickly and it scares him. He probably thought he’d date around first. My BF was my first relationship after my divorce too and it took me a while to realize sometimes it just works out that way (which is probably why I was ok waiting so long for the “I love you”!)

  36. Tony Hughes says:

    So the boyfriend spends a lot of time with his ex’s family. None of his family or his ex’s family, or his friends (apart from 1) have met her, or apparently even know about her.

    Is he actually divorced, or is he pretending to be divorced?

    Is the girlfriend being set up? Is she a gf or a fwb?

    Check the facts.

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