“My Boyfriend Refuses to Introduce Me to His Grown Daughters”

I have been dating a man, “Dan,” for one year. He is lovely. He is a widower whose his wife died nine years ago of liver disease. He has two grown daughters (24 and 27 years old). They still live at home in the same house they grew up in that their parents bought together twenty-six years ago. I have NOT met his daughters yet. Dan says that he “doesn’t want to have any problems.” I was not invited to Thanksgiving or Christmas or his 60th birthday party. I discussed these events with him and expressed my dismay and sadness at not being included, and again the “reasoning” was that he “doesn’t want to have any problems” with his daughters (THIS in and of itself is a problem as far as I am concerned).

“My Boyfriend Treats His Daughter Like SHE is His Girlfriend”

I know Dan’s sister very well, as well as her daughter (Dan’s niece), who is getting married in August 2015. I got invited to the bridal shower . . . where my boyfriend’s daughters will be. His sister told Dan that she will seat us at different tables. She obviously thinks it will be awkward for me and them, having never met before and now we are to meet at a bridal shower (WITHOUT MY BOYFRIEND BEING PRESENT?).

Isn’t this odd? Please help. I started to tell Dan how awkward it will feel for me to be there without him and having never met his daughters. I told him I was thinking about declining the invite. I don’t wish to feel awkward or put his daughters in an awkward position.

What do you think? What would you do? What do I say to my boyfriend to discuss this topic and resolve it for myself and still honor my friendship with his sister? Yikes! Do I really need to go? — Meeting his Grown Daughters at a Shower

You say you “started” to tell Dan how awkward you would feel at his niece’s bridal shower where you would be meeting his daughters for the first time without him. Why just “started”? Why didn’t you continue the conversation? What stopped you? Did he have any response to you? Do you know what his thoughts and opinions are about your meeting his daughters at his niece’s bridal shower? It would seem that someone so intent on “not having problems” would have some vested interest in his girlfriend of a year, whom he’s gone out of his way to keep from meeting his daughters, actually finally meeting them.

So my first bit of advice is to finish the conversation you started. Tell him that you are in an awkward position — that you don’t want to decline an invitation that a good friend extended to you and that you think that, after a year, it’s time you met his grown daughters, but that also you want HIM to be the one to introduce you and you want it to happen before you see them at the shower. His wife died nine years ago. His daughters are not children. It’s ridiculous that he has excluded you from a large part of his life — holidays, milestone birthdays, etc. — because he is afraid of “problems” your mere presence will cause. What does that say about the value he places on you and your relationship? You deserve better. And I think this is an opportunity to demand better or move on.

If you don’t meet the daughters before the shower, you should still go, but don’t introduce yourself as their father’s girlfriend. Let the host introduce you — if you’re introduced at all — as her friend. If Dan is right that your being in his life will cause problems with his daughter, then a bridal shower is no place to invite those problems. So you will be their aunt’s friend and that’s it. If they have suspicions you are involved with their father, let their father be the one to address those questions. It’s not your job. But, again, if Dan, knowing how much you want to be be a part of his whole life, to know his daughters, and to be included in special events, STILL won’t introduce you to his grown daughters after a whole year of dating, that’s a huge red flag — one that you should not ignore anymore. He’s worried about potential problems between him and his daughters if they know about you, but it’s time for him to be worried about potential problems with YOU if he continues excluding you and hiding you in the alleyways of his life. And if he does that, it’s time for you to MOA. Because that is not the sign of a man who values you or your relationship.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. I agree with Wendy when you go, which I think you should since you weren’t invited as his partner but as a friend of the bride’s mother, don’t introduce yourself as more than a friend of the mother. This whole thing is ridiculous. I could understand if the Mother’s death was more recent, or if the daughters were younger. But, they are both adults. He either isn’t as in to the relationship as you or there is something more going on with him. I wonder how they don’t know about you if everyone else does? And honestly if he thinks/knows that his daughters will have issues with you (or even anyone he dates) is that drama worth it? Especially since he doesn’t seem to have your back?

  2. The LW didn’t mention this, but have there been other girlfriends in the intervening 9 years? I can see this being his view if he introduced another girlfriend and it went poorly. Or perhaps he introduced someone else and they broke up very soon after, or this happened to a friend of his. That might be a direction to take the discussion, get in deeper as to why he thinks there will be problems so that you can perhaps help quell his fears, because just putting that out there is not a sufficient answer. Otherwise, WWS about continuing the started conversation, perhaps get an idea of what timeline he imagines for this so you have somewhere to go from, but I can’t see “demanding” an introduction going well.

    1. This. My dad has made such a production out of every single girlfriend he’s had over the last 10 years that I’ve implemented a rule where I don’t want to hear about the gf, or meet her, unless its moving-in-together serious. At this point, its so much easier to avoid the “this person IS AMAZING and is the best connection i’ve had since your mother and WE ARE SO HAPPY” insanity that is typically followed by a breakup and “i hate this person never mention her again”. No offense to the women, I’m sure they are perfectly nice, but it can be exhausting.

    2. I think it’s ok to make it it a condition of the relationship if she’s willing to leave. Especially since he knows they are going to meet it’s so weird not to introduce them. And if there are issues going on with him being a serial dating and the daughters being frustrated by that, then honestly that’s the real issue. Since they’re living at home they probably see way more of their father’s dating life than a normal adult child would and there isn’t really much to do about that.

  3. Sunshine Brite says:

    I really like this answer.

  4. It seems to me that this man does not care about how you feel. I get that his daughters are important to him, but do they expect him to remain single for the rest of his life? If him having a girlfriend would cause a problem between them (especially an established one of one year) then that is a problem that he must address with them, for his sake and yours. They are not children and with all due respect to their mother, she has been gone for nine years. Life goes on. I would express to him that it’s time you met his daughters and if he’s not willing to do that, then move on.

  5. Avatar photo cleopatra jones says:

    Ya know LW, when people tell you or show you through their actions that they aren’t ready for the same relationship that you are…please believe them. They aren’t lying nor can you convince them otherwise.
    If I were you, I would dial my emotional investment in the relationship because I don’t think Dan wants what you want. It’s obvious that this man isn’t really looking for a serious relationship for whatever reason so you need to decide IF you want to have something casual or move on.

  6. I have to wonder – do the daughters know about you? Or do they not even know their dad is dating? If they know about you, are they giving him reason to believe there will be problems? I would go to the shower because your friend invited you, don’t introduce yourself as the girlfriend (because its not the time or place) but you need to have a serious conversation with him about this entire issue. After a year, there is no reason for this to be going on.

    1. I wondered this too. The letter is unclear whether the daughters knew about LW or not, just that they hadn’t met. I don’t know if it necessarily makes a huge difference, but it’s definitely something I’d want to clarify.

    2. I wondered the same thing first, and then second (if the daughters do know about her) if maybe the dad, out of some overgrown sense of protection, has inflated this into something it doesn’t need to be. Assuming this is his first *serious* relationship since his ex-wife passed, maybe he doesn’t even know how to proceed re: the daughters and is just assuming a whole lot on their behalf.

  7. I want to know what “problems” he anticipates and why? Has he had a bad experience before? Have his daughters said things to him about not wanting him to date? Does he let them run his life in general? Is there something about you thinks they wouldn’t approve of (big age difference for example)?

    I don’t think he should get to make some sweeping generalization about potential problems and expect you to accept it. He needs to articulate what the issues are and how he intends to address them. Then he has to actually do something about it. The fact that you can’t even finish a conversation with him about this is not a good sign. If it were me, I would not give him much longer to figure it out. I totally agree with Wendy that he needs to introduce you to his daughters himself before the shower. Frankly, I think he’s taking the cowards way out by having you meet them at this shower without him. This way he avoids whatever awkwardness there might be and can shift the blame if it doesn’t go well.

  8. This bothered me so I asked five of my guy friends why a guy would behave this way.

    Two suggested that the guy might have rules he sets on his daughters about what they can do that might conflict with what HE is doing with the LW.

    Three thought they guy must consider the LW as one to date but NOT one that he thought he was on a relationship path with towards marriage. One of the other two objected, noting that the LW had never stated when (or if) the two of them moved their “dating” to an exclusive relationship. He said if they had only been exclusive for a couple months or so, then the guy’s behavior made much more sense to him.

    All five asked if the daughters had jobs, boyfriends, etc. and why (in particular) the older sister was not out on her own. Two, in particular, thought 27 was way too old not to have taken that step. All five said that those answers were important to understanding what was going on with the guy.

  9. We get these letters from time to time and while they are all a bit ridiculous and sad, this one takes the cake. The daughters are grown women and their mom has been gone since they were teenagers. The father is 60 years old and has seen enough of life not to need to be such a douche. It’s not like they are kids and he got divorced last fall. This whole thing is just stupid. LW, I’m even more emphatic than Wendy. Tell him that you two and the daughters should go out to dinner this weekend. If he says no, tell him it’s over. You seem a bit scared to address this with him, and it is making you a doormat. You are a person, but he’s not treating you like it. It’s time for this to stop.

    1. Ditto to all of this. Well said.

  10. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

    So he keeps saying that he doesn’t want to cause problems by introducing you to his daughters… Has he ever specified what problems he’s trying to avoid? Or do you just let him leave it at the vagueness of ‘problems’? Cause I feel like I would want a to know specifically what he was worrying about.
    Seriously, you’ve been together for a year, he’s been widowed for 9, and his children are adults (and why is a 27 year old still living at home?). This is weird, and if he’s not willing to give you specific and valid reasons why he hasn’t introduced you yet, I’d say it’s time to MOA

  11. LW, we could speculate all day here but I wouldn’t be too concerned here. I would really talk to him about it in a non-confrontational way but I would guess that he likes his holidays with his family traditions. Honestly, family meals change when a new person enters the picture. Maybe he likes to speak about old Christmases when his wife was alive or honor their relationship on milestone birthdays. You are going to have to deal with the memory of this woman and frankly, he might still need to work out his relationship with it. I have a friend who lost his wife after 5 years of marriage. He started dating another woman two years later and this relationship is moving much slower. It isn’t that he loves the second woman less but he didn’t stop loving his first wife. This new woman has been in the picture for 4 years now and they are now engaged. There are different sets of feelings coming from a divorce rather than loss, and I think you need to respect that these things take time.

  12. monkeys mommy says:

    I was wondering this also- why are his grown kids, especially the 27 year old, still at home?? Dan needs yo grow a pair and tell his daughters if they aren’t happy with his choices, there are some nice apartments across town.

    The only other thing that came to mind, other than what all the others have suggested about him being in a different place than you, is are you significantly younger than Dan? Like, closer to his daughters’ age kind of younger? This is the only other reason I could imagine growb daughters being upset.

    1. I thought about the age thing as well. If she’s significantly younger, I can see it not going over well with the daughters.

  13. This man sounds rather disastrous as a long-term partner. Because, this isn’t just an issue about the value he places on your relationship (although it is that). It is also about someone who is so pathologically afraid of conflict that he’ll alter his life, twist himself into pretzels, and try to twist you into pretzels as well, in the service of avoiding potential conflict.

    That is, of course, if he’s telling you the truth that he hasn’t introduced you to his daughters because he *thinks* it will cause problems. Otherwise you have a different problem… a “my boyfriend lies and not even with very sympathetic cover stories” problem.

  14. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

    From the LW:

    “Wow, that’s so beautiful! Thank you! If I do go, I agree. I will NOT introduce myself as girlfriend but friend of bride and mother—which is true..! Very supportive and empowering you are! I appreciate your wisdom!

    Just to clarify…His daughters do KNOW that I exist. HE told them he is dating me and that I am his girlfriend. They know my name..I just never met them and vice versa.

    Also, EVERYONE of his friends and family (sister, brother and nieces and mother) KNOW that I exist. I have been invited to many family events that his daughters opt out of…

    See HE gets to NOT BE PRESENT for the awkward moments that he has put his daughters and myself in at the shower…of course, he wants me to go…! Great for him, we meet or at the very least cross paths from across the room…but still very awkward. Also, he said that everyone will be happy to meet me there-extended family etc…ok, shouldn’t HE be there with me to meet HIS family…? very wrong I feel to be left alone in this situation…Everyone KNOWS that I haven’t met his daughters and they will all be like, WOW, you’re Dan’s girlfriend? This is not the place for that…

    And finally, his daughters don’t have any suspicions about me they know I exist. He talks about me to them when he does speak to them…he has a very limited/strained relationship with them. In my opinion, definitely, unresolved and unprocessed feelings on their part of blame on him for their mother’s death and alcoholism from which she died and he ‘couldn’t/didn’t save her’.

    We are coming up on our year anniversary this month…def a crossroads…also when I say I’m cold in his car, he refuses to turn up the heat, saying that it will get hot as the car heats up…hmmm..ok…maybe a red flag, too?

    What do you think? Many thanks!!!

    Oh, and also, ALL eyes will definitely be on me at the shower…and his sister and niece WILL introduce ME as Dan’s girlfriend!!!!! uggh”

    1. Sunshine Brite says:

      Are you an outgoing person? As a super introverted, generally shy person that would be more than I would accept in a relationship if someone wouldn’t introduce me in a way that took my comfort into account. Someone else’s shower isn’t the place for big introductions when there are multiple opportunities in less stressful situations to do so. If you decide to go through with this, ask his sister and niece to respect your wishes on the introductions.
      He lives with them and even with their strained relationship, probably because of, why doesn’t he just invite you over to dinner and treat them to a meal to meet you? It really is simple and I would be super frustrated that he wouldn’t take that step if he thinks it’s really NBD.
      I would say that the heat thing would be a pet peeve for me, are little things starting to go over pet peeve level into major annoyance?

      1. Sounds to me like there’s issues here that aren’t yours to carry. Just take a step back and look in and what would you tell yourself if you were a good friend of yours he was dating?There probly has been problems. And I can see on paper even that these problems weren’t that other woman’s nor his late wife’s. I would meet his daughters. You may have all your questions answered and feel good about ending the relationship or continuing on if it’s all been his “problems” he made up in his own mind. You never know till you find out for yourself sometimes. Good luck.

  15. My bf and i have lived togethet for 2 1/2 yrs. I have never met his 30 yr old daughter or his mother. He has never given and explanation except it will happen eventually. It hurts because i feel like he’s eitherembarrassed me.

  16. Leslie Joan says:

    I am having a hard time understanding how it can even be possible that you’ve been dating for a whole year, and his 2 daughters live at home with him and you haven’t met them yet, even casually.

    Maybe the reason he doesn’t want you meeting is because he knows that they’ve got major issues, have loose screws, and he just doesn’t want to deal with it. Do you know if there were previous girlfriends who’d met the daughters; are you being treated differently? Are you the first long term gf? What are your goals and intentions for this relationship, and what are his? Have you ever discussed them? Plenty of people would be perfectly happy later in life to have a relationship where they DON’T need to get involved with family complications; they compartmentalize. It’s okay if you aren’t, but if he is and you’re not, then this is an incompatibility that needs to be considered. You can’t just assume that you both have the same long term goals, whether it’s marriage, being attached 24-7, you need to talk about it! Some folks marry and live in separate houses. Whatever works – but whatever your goal is, you need to talk about it, and if you aren’t on the same page, this is not the relationship for you.

    And. … his wife didn’t just “die of liver disease;” she was an alcoholic. That’s huge, because the whole family had a dynamic going on, and doesn’t appear to have dealt with it in any way. Avoidance and denial can be a classic tool of self preservation. What problems is he trying to avoid? You say he’s got a strained relationship with them, yet they’re adults living under the family roof. It’s not a stretch to think that he doesn’t want some third party coming in and putting pressure on him to change the status quo. Plenty of comments have wondered why a 24 and 27 year old are still living there, and it’s not surprising that if he’s a conflict avoider, he doesn’t want anyone to put him even more in conflict with the daughters. Everyone is going to have an opinion as to how he should be managing his relationship with them. And they know it, too.

    I don’t really understand what you’re saying about the heat in the car, that if you’re cold, he won’t turn up the heat and says the car will warm up. The heat in a car comes from the engine, so if the car hasn’t warmed up, all you’ll get is cold air. Is that what he’s saying?

    And I honestly don’t understand what the big deal is with the shower. You say the daughters already know you’re his gf, and if they’ll be at the shower, then who cares if he’s making the introductions? And, why does the *niece* feel the obligation to introduce you as the gf, which you find “ugh”-worthy? Why does she feel the need to insert herself in this relationship?

    My guess is that there’s a toxic set of alcoholic co-dependencies going on in that family. Whatever reasons his daughters are angry at him, he doesn’t want to rock the boat and is conflict-avoidant. Maybe YOU are conflict-avoidant as well, or you might have pursued the discussion about meeting the daughters long before now. Among other discussions, like your mutual goals, etc, etc.

    He may be perfectly happy living day to day with this unresolved strained relationship with his kids, as long as nothing makes it worse. But the role of alcohol and the dynamics of the alcoholic relationshipsare very much alive in this family, in my opinion, even though the alcoholic is dead for 9 years.

    You have a lot to think about and to consider discussing with him.

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