Stan recently took on a part-time job about 300 miles away, so we see each other about every two weeks (two here, two there). There’s an old female friend of his whom we both know from school who has recently popped her head up. She’s never been married, she had a baby about five months ago, she moved 1000 miles away from the baby’s father (they have no relationship) and she ended up in the same city as Stan. “Lianne” is the same age as Stan.
So one day they got chatting via Facebook and arranged to have coffee now that they are staying in the same city. He offered his help/assistance if ever she needed anything (since she’s a single mom, I guess). I understand that his heart is in the right place, and that’s fine, but last week she called him up and said that there’s a function at one of the local schools, where people are having a night-time picnic gathering to watch the solar eclipse from 7pm – midnight. She said it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing and she’s too afraid to drive at night by herself so she was asking if he could go with her.
Stan agreed on the spot and said he would go, and the “date” was set. When he called and told me, I got very upset, saying that it’s a very romantic thing to be doing with a friend, this “star-gazing” on a picnic blanket together. He says I’m jealous and I don’t trust him. He says she’s just a friend and he’s helping her.
I do actually trust him; trust has never been an issue between us, but I’m just shocked by his idea that this sort of activity is fine and normal. Is this normal behavior? Am I overreacting? Should he be doing something like this with another woman? I am gob-smacked by his lack of consideration.
Surely he could have said, “Just give me a minute, and I’ll call you back” so that he could quickly phone me to see how I felt about it? I’m dying to know what other people think—men and women. Where do most “normal” healthy relationships stand on issues like this? — Gob-smacked over the Star-Gazing
Yeah, it’s strange that Stan views star-gazing with this woman as “helping her.” I’m not even sure what kind of need would warrant calling an old high school friend whom you’ve just re-acquainted yourself with for help except, I don’t know, putting in a good word with a potential employer the friend might know or maybe calling for a ride somewhere if your car is dead and you have to be somewhere and there’s no Uber or taxi service where you live and you’re desperate (and, really, even that’s a stretch). Asking for a ride to go stargazing because you’re “too scared” to drive at night is not a normal request of someone you aren’t close with (or trying to date). And calling it “helping out” is total bullshit. It isn’t an act of generosity. It’s a date. Or, at the very least, it’s a social activity that, as you said, veers to the romantic (although the idea that it’s at a school and there are probably lots of families, including Lianne’s baby, I’d assume, might make it less romantic).
I’m also struck by your live-in boyfriend taking a part-time job 300 miles away. Does that mean you no longer live together? Did he get his own place in the city where he works? Is the job just temporary? Is there an end-date to your being long-distance? And who moves so far from his girlfriend at 43 years old for just a part-time job? What’s going on here? Something seems off, though maybe, with more details that you didn’t share in your letter, it would make more sense. But the long-distance move for a part-time job, followed by this questionable friendship and star-gazing with the single mom and then the gas-lighting of you when you expressed some concern, all send some big red flags.
You need to have a conversation with Stan about the state of your relationship, how this job affects things, and your expectations in terms of friendships with people of the opposite sex. This isn’t so much about trust as it is about seeing whether you’re still on the same page, whether you want the same things from your relationship, and whether you see it moving in the same direction at a pace you’re both comfortable with. Finally, this is about respect. Tell Stan you feel disrespected by his going star-gazing with another woman without even running it by you first. His response to that will tell you a lot about how he’s valuing you and your relationship. Does he place the “need” of this old high school friend above your need for some basic respect? Does his argument remain that he was “just helping her,” and “you’re being jealous”? If so, that’s pretty fucked up, and depending on whether there have been additional red flags (like his moving 300 miles away from you for a part-time job), you need to re-evaluate just how “wonderful” this relationship still is and whether it’s one worth continuing…
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
TheRascal July 30, 2018, 10:12 am
“there’s a function at one of the local schools, where people are having a night-time picnic gathering to watch the solar eclipse from 7pm – midnight. ”
So this is a larger gathering of people, yes? To me, that changes things a bit, it seems less a date to “star-gaze” and more a regular social function. I don’t think that Stan needed to run this by the LW, now do I see how this is disrespectful. They’re not alone in a field somewhere, intimately sharing a moment. They’ll be a local school, surrounded by other people.
But I do agree that you need to speak with Stan about the future of your relationship. How long will the two of you be long distance?
Northern Star July 30, 2018, 10:15 am
This single woman, presumably able to get herself where she needs to be at other times somehow, is “too afraid to drive at night,” and that’s why she needs a date… er, friend… to take her to the stargazing party?
That’s the best excuse your boyfriend and his girlfriend could come up with?
Rebecca July 30, 2018, 10:27 am
How nice it would be if adults could say to other adults “I love you, and when we’re apart I’m going to do things with other people because you’re not the only thing/person I find emotionally fulfilling.” And then their other adults would be like, “hey, me too, thanks for being so open, honest, emotionally available, and reliable!”
laylas April 16, 2021, 6:31 pm
I really hope you’re being facetious.
Skyblossom July 30, 2018, 10:57 am
Having been to lots of school events over the years I wouldn’t consider a school event romantic. What it does do is present them as a family unit. The people who attend a school event are family members. You see the parents, grandparents and sometimes aunts and uncles. The barely know you friend from the past doesn’t attend school events.
meadowphoenix July 30, 2018, 11:19 am
yeah, i agree. it’s not romantic in the sense that it has a romantic vibe, but it is in the sense that you’re presenting yourselves as a unit to other people in the community. They’re going to think Stan and Lianne are dating or that he’s the father of that kid.
Also, he doesn’t need to be at the stargazing party to drive her to and from him, if this was just a favor, so blah at that excuse.
Skyblossom July 30, 2018, 11:34 am
That’s why I’m saying it is presenting them to the community as a family unit. Families go to family events.
I’d ask Stan if he knows that going to a school activity that way presents them as a family. He could be naive since he has no kids and hasn’t been attending school events. Does he realize everyone will see them as a couple who are raising a baby.
It’s also possible that they have been spending enough time together that they are becoming a family unit. Stan may feel like the white knight riding in to save the poor single mother and the poor fatherless baby. Especially if he only has a part time job it could do massive good for his ego to be very needed and essential in their life. He could be especially vulnerable if he was feeling down about himself. If he moved 300 miles to take a part time job his life wasn’t going too well. Being needed could fill a huge gap in his life and give him a needed since of value.
Skyblossom July 30, 2018, 11:48 am
I would also guess that it was a calculated move on the part of the female friend. Stan probably wouldn’t agree to go on a date but going to a school event where you are surrounded by families seemed like a safe thing to do. If you are Stan it seems like no one could possibly see it as the two of you being on a date. Just friends out together surrounded by other people. There is no being alone here.
She came up with the perfect nondate date. The perfect way to spend time together as a family without having an official date. A perfect way for some bonding without Stan seeing her as putting the moves on him.
Ange July 30, 2018, 5:46 pm
But who on earth would know them or care? Her kid doesn’t go to the school, she has only just moved there. A bunch of strangers probably aren’t going to give them a second look.
anonymousse July 30, 2018, 11:51 am
It’s at a school, not necessarily a school event. It could be a meetup group or something else.
It doesn’t matter how we feel about it. Your intuition is telling you something is off, and it probably is.
I’m assuming you wrote this during the last solar eclipse/blood moon, care to update?
I wouldn’t always jump to conclusions about two friends meeting up, but with a five month old at home… that complicates things. I’m not sure I’d leave my baby behind with a sitter to stargaze in a field with a man I have no interest in. And you generally don’t have a five month old out at night with mosquitoes, etc around unless you are some sort of parenting ninja. Which she may be.
Skyblossom July 30, 2018, 12:50 pm
I’ve been assuming that since it is at a school that it is a family event and they took the baby with them. It isn’t that much different than taking a baby to fireworks or a backyard bbq.
Most events that occur on school property are in some way school related. Usually something like this would be sponsored by the PTU or a school related science club. In a small town the school might be the place where all local events happen but in a small town that would automatically mean that it was meant for everyone, including families.
I guess she needs to ask if they took the baby and if this was a family event. Even more she needs to ask what he thinks the friendship with his female friend will be like in a year or two. He probably isn’t thinking about it long term and about how it is developing. She needs to put the idea in his head that it is developing and it is trending romantic and that he is probably being perceived by the community as her partner who is helping to raise her child.
It’s easy enough to ask.
Did the two of you take the baby along to stargaze?
Would it bother you or would you like it if people in that area see you as a couple who are raising a baby together?
Do you realize that when people see the three of you together they assume you are a family? If they see the two of you together they assume you are a couple. Do you mind that?
If he tells you those people would be wrong tell him it doesn’t matter whether they are right or wrong. Does it bother him to be perceived as a couple with a baby.
anonymousse July 30, 2018, 12:59 pm
I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I’ve been in two different exercise related groups that met at elementary school field twice a week. It had nothing to do with the school, but it was called “the school meetup group.”
Someone local could have just posted it even to Facebook
ktfran July 30, 2018, 1:09 pm
I’m not sure why it matters what the trio (possibly duo?) looks like to the outside world? Who cares what others think as long as you know the truth? Like what SpaceySteph said below. Either you trust your partner or you don’t. According to the LW, Stan called her after he agreed to go and told her what’s up, so it’s not like he was hiding anything.
I guess I’d just talk to him about it. Figure out what he’s thinking and voice my concerns.
Skyblossom July 30, 2018, 1:35 pm
I think he deserve to decide how he is perceived. If he doesn’t mind that’s fine but if he does mind he needs to think about how they are presenting themselves.
SpaceySteph July 30, 2018, 12:56 pm
I’d be pretty skeptical of a guy telling me he was going to watch a solar eclipse at 7pm. Can’t come up with a better lie?
But all space nerd jokes aside, I think the bottom line is either you trust him or you don’t. And if you do, then things he does, even things that on the face of them sound sketchy are not an issue because you trust the person. You don’t have to trust this woman, either, as long as you trust your boyfriend. (No man-stealing homewrecker can steal a faithful man.) You need that kind of trust in a long distance relationship, because you guys will have to live your own lives and find other companions for things or else will be sitting home miserable and lonely every night and that’s no way to live.
As for the single mom, it’s hard to know what her intentions were. I wonder if she was afraid to show up at this event as a single mother, and IS trying to present them as a family unit to avoid judgemental glares and pearl clutching.
anonymousse July 30, 2018, 1:00 pm
Yeah that solar eclipse line made me cringe, too.
anonymousse July 30, 2018, 1:19 pm
It made me cringe so much that I repeated it. ??♀️
Skyblossom July 30, 2018, 1:47 pm
It begins with a picnic. That gives people time to set up and eat and put things away and to let kids run around and wear out before everyone settles down to watch the sky.
People begin arriving for fireworks at around 6 pm here just for that reason. It gives time to grab a good spot, eat, wander, socialize and to wear the kids out before you settle down to watch fireworks.
SpaceySteph July 30, 2018, 1:55 pm
The joke was that solar eclipses is when the moon blocks the sun from view. They can only be viewed during daytime.
She meant lunar eclipse, where you watch the earth’s shadow cross over the moon.
Skyblossom July 30, 2018, 1:57 pm
Sorry. That is funny!
K July 31, 2018, 3:00 pm
I was scrolling through the comments to see if anyone else mentioned it! Although it’s possible she was referring to the recent lunar eclipse just a couple of days ago, and called it a solar eclipse by accident. It was not visible in North America, but it was visible over much of the rest of the world.
SpaceySteph August 1, 2018, 12:14 pm
Yeah I’m assuming that someone said solar when they meant lunar, whether it was LW or “Stan” but I couldn’t help poking fun at it.
Vathena July 30, 2018, 1:21 pm
I’m mostly inclined to think that Stan is just kind of a Clueless Dude, and really does believe that he’s just “helping out a friend” and not recognizing that she might be trying to hit on him. BUT I also wonder what is the timeline for the friend “popping up” again. How long have they been back in touch? When did he start the long-distance job, and when did she move to that same city? Are you sure about all of the details of the timing, or do you just know what he’s told you? Like Wendy, I’m curious about the nature of a part-time job that is so great it would be worth one’s while to spend half their time away from home (and $$ on travel expenses and a second residence).
anonymousse July 30, 2018, 1:23 pm
I agree with the premise that you either trust him, or you don’t.
There are all sorts of possibilities but I wouldn’t entertain them or obsess until you can talk to him about this in person.
Ale July 30, 2018, 1:52 pm
You need to talk this through with him. Like, really good. Not over the phone or texts, in person.
Why? Because if you reacted like this, he may start to keep things to himself next time because “it bothers you” and you already showed you don’t trust him.
peggy July 30, 2018, 2:09 pm
This sounds really off to me too. My mind wandered,perhaps overly suspiciously to this woman just happening to move to the same city,at a similar time frame to where he suddenly decided to get a part-time job?! I would like to have answers to some of the questions Wendy and others asked.
carolann July 30, 2018, 3:00 pm
I get the feeling that the friend is trying to find herself a new baby daddy. She is integrating him into that position slowly.
She will start friendly, platonic…then she will switch to “damsel in distress”. Next thing you know he will become attached to the child.
Awwww f**k No!
As soon as the LW said “old friend from school” I got an uneasy feeling. 43? Single? No daddy? Single guy friend with a job and no kids?
(At 43 this is kinda rare.) Why wouldn’t she be trying to lock it down?
LAWD there is a very high probability that this chick is on the make.
This is a recipe for disaster and Stan may be a nice guy, but he may get in this too deep before he realizes it.
I would NOT be comfortable with this. I would explain my feelings to him and tell him I felt after dark with another female was not ok with me. His reaction will show how he truly feels about LW and if it isn’t the reaction she is hoping for she should MOA.
P.S. I can’t see at night for s**t, never could… but I still call BS on that one.
TheRascal July 30, 2018, 3:13 pm
Wow, this is a whole lot of flame-fanning without any actual evidence of anything. And with sexist undertones (as if women need a man in their lives to make them complete? And that these poor helpless men are clueless until they are in too deep?).
If my husband tried to prohibit me from spending time with an old friend in the way you are encouraging this woman to prohibit her bf, my husband and I would be divorcing. But he would never try to control my friendships because he trusts me.
What this LW and her bf need is an in-person conversation. And trust, which the LW seems to lack.
brise July 30, 2018, 4:19 pm
The distance is not good for your relationship. I would go straight ahead see him in this city and have a talk about the future of the relationship. Do you want to join him there eventually? Do you want to have kids together? What are your common projects? You need to have a calm discussion because otherwise, you will grow apart, and this woman is a serious alarm.
SailBobo July 30, 2018, 6:31 pm
Well, there is the slim possibility that, in this case, a banana is just a piece of fruit and that she was just uncomfortable driving at night. (I love how people love to analyze the social implications – “It presents them to the community as a family unit, etc. – lol!) … It may very well be that this relationship is untenable but will not because of the new friend. It will be because they only see each other every two weeks and, at that rate, it’s tough to keep people’s interest; no matter how much she tries to limit his exposure.
Hazel August 1, 2018, 1:08 pm
with you on the driving at night thing- I know a couple of people who won’t drive at night due to eyesight issues- apparently pass every driving sight test legally required; but just find it really difficult due to glare from other lights etc. If it was a male friend from his past would he do the same? If so, then it’s fine.
Cleopatra_30 July 30, 2018, 8:39 pm
Honestly I do not see anything wrong with guy going with a friend to a very public function to watch the eclipse. As I read her depiction it just seems so minor and inconsequential that to over think it like she has boggles my mind! I get they are long distance, this woman has now moved and has just had a baby (I mean really what new mom with a 5 month old really has time anyways to date), to the same city as him. Idk I just don’t see the concerns. Seeing as they are both far away I think she might just be a tad jealous at the fact that he is going out and doing stuff, and since they are long distance and away from one another doing things with another woman around his age may have been a flag to her, but really, not that big a deal.
FireStar July 30, 2018, 8:41 pm
She’s 43. How has she avoided night driving up till now? It wasn’t ” I’m uncomfortable driving at night please take me to the er because my baby is sick.” It was ” I am uncomfortable driving at night…please take me on a picnic.” That’s a date. Maybe Stan didn’t know that. Maybe you can have a conversation about not dating other people as a favours going forward. But if his answer to you was “you’re jealous” instead of ” I’m sorry you were hurt” and a conversation about boundaries then you have bigger problems. What’s he getting out of it that he would prioritize the picnic date over your feelings? Trusting someone isn’t carte blanche to ignore your feelings. Being upset because the woman is treating him – and he is perfectly fine being treated – like the man in her life is valid.
And old friends are one thing. People popping up from your past something else entirely.
peggy July 30, 2018, 9:46 pm
Well said FireStar. I totally agree.
Pupa July 31, 2018, 7:37 am
I think it could be innocent, and maybe the reason he doesn’t think it’s a big deal is that he’s not attracted to her, they’ve never hit on each other, etc. Maybe he’d never date someone who has a kid and he thinks u know this?
I can imagine myself in the moms position, actually I would only ask a friend I’m not into for that help becuase I’d think it would be a turn off for a potential partner.
Definitely talk about the relationship and your preferences though
Good question : why this is important to him.
carolann July 31, 2018, 8:46 pm
I would love to hear an update on this one!
Lianne August 1, 2018, 8:07 am
I am still catching up, but I wanted to confirm “Lianne” is NOT me 🙂
ktfran August 1, 2018, 9:19 am
Lol! When I first read that…. I had to go back and read the original letter to confirm that it was, in fact, not you.
I was look ooh, Wendy give a little bit of info. away about the LW… nope. That’s what happens when you skim text.
Lianne August 1, 2018, 12:59 pm
My name is so uncommon and the spelling is even less so, sooooo….
Which also makes me think, I shouldn’t have used it as my posting name here…but I figure it’s too late to change it now ha.
Dear Wendy August 5, 2018, 8:41 am
From the LW:
Bittergaymark April 17, 2021, 11:20 am
These ground rules are all so incredibly and hilariously stupid. Daytime fine —but nighttime is forever a No-no. HAH! Please.
NEWSFLASH — if people are gonna fuck around they can damn well do it just as easily at lunch. Or coffee. Or during the day. It’s actually often far easier to fuck around then as their partners are off at work at homes are otherwise empty.
Personally, I think you were nuts on this issue anyway. And way too insecure. Like they were REALLY gonna bang on a blanket at the eclipse viewing event.
This letter is YEARS old, and I suspect this relationship is longggggg dead. Surprise, surprise.
brise August 5, 2018, 10:38 am
Great update, I am so pleased you both could discuss that through, reach an agreement, and also that this long distance thing is about to end. Fine for you, and my best wishes for you two!