Ask Amy: Dad worries about introducing girlfriend to ex

Dear Amy: My ex-wife and I have two beautiful, well-adjusted daughters, both in graduate school.

The girls were in middle school when we separated and I began a long-distance relationship. The stars have finally aligned and my soul mate is moving to my town soon. We plan to buy a house together and will probably get married eventually.

My ex and I had some hostility early on but are now civil and occasionally friendly toward one another. She has always been a great mom. The girls are undoubtedly closer to her than me, but our relationships are solid.

Although my girlfriend is the love of my life, in some circles I suspect she is still considered “the home wrecker.”

I was slow to introduce her to my daughters, but they gradually got to know and like her. Going forward I anticipate some major things like graduations and weddings, and I can’t very well leave my girlfriend at home. I understand that my daughters’ wishes take precedence, but is it reasonable to assume that both my girlfriend and I would be invited to events? Should I discuss this with my daughters?

How do I handle the inevitable meeting of my girlfriend and my ex? Would a standard introduction be appropriate?

Amy says: You are overthinking this by a mile.

If this woman moves to your town, moves in with you and becomes your life partner, then she should be included in all family events to which you are invited.

Your daughters should not exclude her, and I suspect that this exclusion might not occur to them unless you introduce the concept.

In advance of this big move, you should call your ex-wife to say to her, “I realize these last few years have occasionally been tough for you, and I think you’ve done an amazing job. Thank you for that. I want to let you know that ‘Laura’ is going to move here soon. We’re planning to live together and I wanted you to hear this from me before you heard it from anyone else.”

In the course of your conversation, you should ask for her advice and help with how to tell the girls. She may be helpful in this regard. If not, you’ll just have to be straightforward and mature about it. Do not ask anyone’s permission. This is your life.

Yes, a “standard introduction” is all that’s required when these women meet. The mind reels thinking of alternatives.

More than a friend

Dear Amy: My boyfriend and I are in a committed relationship and plan on getting married. His family and I recently attended an out-of-town party hosted by old family friends.

His mother kept introducing me as “John’s friend,” rather than as his girlfriend. When I asked her about it, she said that it was just the proper thing to do, because we aren’t married.

She said that people could infer that we are a couple if they talked to us, and that it wasn’t a big deal. Her explanation felt dismissive to me. I can’t help but feel that she doesn’t want or expect us to be together for long. Should I worry about this?

Amy says: Many people don’t like being labeled “girlfriend” and John’s mother was letting you fill in the context.

If you read all sorts of hidden motives into what is actually a very polite introduction, then you are going to have a long and dissatisfied road ahead.

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