I told him that if the ex-wife goes on the trip, that I am not going to be happy and we are all going to resent each other. I don’t want to be with somebody who I’m going to resent. I need advice as I don’t know what to do. — Odd Woman Out
Well, Larry’s daughter and ex-wife are right about one thing: Your hurt feelings are not their problem. Without knowing the details of Larry’s break-up with his wife and your relationship with him — as, for example, did the relationships overlap? — it is safe to say from the details shared here that Larry’s ex-wife and younger daughter (and perhaps the older one) don’t care about your feelings very much, and they don’t really have to. They don’t have a relationship with you – Larry does. You could argue that you don’t have to care about their feelings either, but when it comes to your partner’s kids – even grown ones — it’s in your relationship’s best interest that you do at least act like you care about their feelings and their well-being, even if your feelings are more important to you.
So, what do you do here? Well, honestly, you don’t have a lot of options. You are not being invited on this trip, so crashing it is out of the question. (And how much fun would you have, anyway, on a trip where you know you are unwelcome – a trip that is meant as a gift for the very person who does not want you there?) You have zero control over whether Larry’s ex-wife goes, especially if this is a joint gift that both parents are giving their daughter as a graduation gift. And asking Larry to skip the trip will, as you suggested, likely lead to a lot of resentment.
What you could do is express your discomfort to Larry, but tell him that you are not going to request he skip this trip because you know how important it is to his daughter, you know she is still adjusting to this new woman in his dad’s life, it’s important that eventually you build a friendly relationship with his kids, and you know that making a big deal about this trip, a graduation gift to her, is not the way to do it. But going forward, you want to know that Larry has your back – that your being excluded from family events will not be a normal thing, and you want to know how Larry plans to help foster a close relationship between you and his daughters so that they will be more likely to want to include you in important and special events in the future.
There’s a lot of heavy lifting that needs to be done here and most of it falls on Larry’s shoulders. But you have to put in some effort, too, and you have to be patient, and you have to be understanding about why a 17-year-old girl may need a little more time adjusting to what sounds like a new family dynamic (especially if you have any role in the changing of the original family dynamic). Even if her parents have been divorced for a long time, they’ve been treated like a family unit (her mother is always included at every family gathering, etc.), and that dynamic doesn’t change overnight just because Dad has a new girlfriend. Obviously, it apparently doesn’t even change in a year and three months. If you aren’t ok with that – if you are growing impatient and tired of feeling excluded or sharing your boyfriend with his family, if you will feel deeply resentful over this vacation you are being excluded from, then maybe this is a deal-breaker for you and you should move on. You have clearly entered a relationship with a family man. If his family isn’t racing to accept you, you have to decide whether and how long you are willing to wait for them to do so.
Anyway, my birthday was yesterday, but instead of going out, we did dinner at home with food picked up from the restaurant. There have been too many occasions when Ben has ruined our evenings with phone calls from his annoying-ass relatives. I’ve suggested on such occasions (like Valentine’s Day when this also happened) that he either not answer or, if he does so, to let the caller know that it is currently not a good time. He has yet to do that! In a nutshell, my birthday evening was ruined due to the fact that he “jumps” whenever these people call. And to make matters worse, he didn’t even make the caller (his cousin) at least acknowledge me or even to wish me a happy birthday.
I’m not so sure that I want to continue with this relationship. Am I overreacting or are my feelings valid and do I need to ditch this dude?? — Tired of Being Ignored
Yeah, it sounds like you need to ditch the dude. He’s not doing even the barest of minimums to honor your feelings, and this happens on the regular? No. If a dude can’t even give you attention on your birthday – for which he, apparently, can’t even be bothered to leave the house to celebrate – when does he give you attention? If the answer is “never” or “rarely” or “only when he wants to get laid,” it’s time to move on.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.