Unwelcome in His Life
Q: My boyfriend of 8 months, who is 69, says he loves me. My concern is his inability to give up one of the women he went with a few years ago. They only saw each other every three weeks or so. She likes to dance and he does not, so she started going with someone who would dance with her. Now he emails her every day. He wants me to share their friendship but it's just something I cannot do. If it were occasionally, fine, but every day seems a little excessive. Am I just being jealous?
I have not addressed this with him. He knows I do not like it, but it makes no difference. He is still friends with all the women he worked with. They all have lunch for birthdays, it's as though he's the coordinator of a girl group. They know about me and ask him why he does not bring me so they can meet me. The ones I have met are really super women but he will not do it. It is strange to me that we go to things for his grandkids at his last ex-wife's house. Their mother is invited sometimes. It is odd to me but it's all normal to them. I am beginning to think it is just all my fault since he is not comfortable with my being friends with men I know. There is so much of his life I am not allowed to share with him. -- Nancy, 63
Dr. Susan: Of course you're feeling jealousy over his old girlfriend and his old work friends' birthday lunches. There's no such thing as "just" being jealous. It's a legitimate emotion and should be discussed with your boyfriend. Perhaps because you've only been with him for eight months, he doesn't feel entirely committed to merging your lives yet. What I don't get is why he wants you to share his friendship with the old girlfriend, but won't bring you to the friendly lunches. I don't think it's odd that he brings you to visit his grandkids, no matter who else is present. Sounds like he's constantly making decisions about what level of sharing he's comfortable with, and that's certainly fair. But if he's doing that without taking your feelings into account, it's natural that you wouldn't feel as loved as you might. As for feeling that there is so much of his life you can't share, that may be just the reality of your situation at this point of your lives. He has a full history.
Once you are truly able to trust his love for you, and yours for him, then I expect he will begin to share more. Talk it over and try not to make demands. He may feel that your insecurity will get in the way of his relaxing and having fun with his old friends. Time could take care of that, but opening up the conversation will have to be up to you.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.