That her son dictates our relationship and her happiness is very strange to me. I have been told that she is responsible for screwing him up. From what I can tell all she tried to do is have relationships with people. She did remarry and divorce, and she did have a boyfriend whom she split a house with and that didn’t end up well either. But she is acting so guilty and letting this twenty-five-year-old run her life.
How do I tell her that excluding me from probably two of the most important days of the year does not sit well with me? Should I continue the relationship with hopes that next year I will have had enough time and enough presence and maybe the chance to meet Rhonda’s son and win him over or do I terminate our relationship, which by the way would really hurt me, and move on? — Left Out for the Holidays
You’re out of line. First of all, the timeline in a long-distance relationship is sort of like calculating dog years, except in reverse. Four months of a long-distance relationship is like one month of a regular relationship, at least in terms of face-to-face time spent together and the introduction of each other’s family and friends. Case in point: You have not met Rhonda’s son yet. So it’s understandable that he’s not jumping at the idea of you crashing his grandparents’ holiday get-togethers, especially considering that his mom has a history of bad choices in men. Throw in his dad’s new girlfriend and maybe that’s enough new energy to the family dynamic for one holiday season.
Rhonda’s son isn’t dictating shit about her relationship OR her happiness. Rhonda is a grown ass woman! If she really wanted to spend the “two most important days of the year” with you, she would. The fact is, she is prioritizing time with her extended family over time with a new boyfriend she’s probably seen all of a handful of occasions. That doesn’t mean she’s not interested in you or doesn’t think of you as important in her life. It simply means that she’s not interested in sacrificing a tradition with family to spend a holiday with you, someone who’s been in her life a teeny fraction of the time her family has.
Also, she might not think of Thanksgiving and Christmas as “the two most important days of the year.” People prioritize the holidays in different ways. For people who have kids, the holidays are most often about them and the extended family. And it sounds like Rhonda and her ex-husband have figured out a way to honor the family they still share despite having been split up for a long time. That’s obviously very important to them, and the fact that you think Rhonda’s prioritizing of this time and this long-held tradition means she lets her son run her life suggests a real lack of empathy and flexibility on your part, as well as being pretty clueless about how families work.
In all honesty, yeah, I think you should break up with Rhonda and move on — but not for your benefit. I think it would benefit Rhonda to unload a guy who seems to have so little respect for her as a capable grown-up instead of seeing her as some poor little lady who lets all the men in her life railroad her. If you think losing her would hurt too much and you aren’t ready to jump ship just yet, you need to back off and not die on the holiday hill.
Tell Rhonda you’re disappointed that you’ll be apart for Thanksgiving and Christmas but that you understand those are important family occasions for her and that you hope by next year maybe you will be integrated into her life enough to share in some of her family time. In the meantime, there are still lots of dates on the calendar that can be less family-centric and more relationship-focused. For example, why don’t you make plans to ring in the new year together? If you can manage to be more understanding and less me-me-me, the year could even be one worth celebrating.