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Dear Carolyn: I am 38 and about to finally tie the knot with someone. I am deeply in love with this guy, whom I have known for some time. However, he is currently involved in old relationships -- mostly old girlfriends from college. This part of him is very private and he does not allow me to enter. He says, "Everyone is entitled to a private life."
Furthermore, his friends seem to indicate those relationships are going to haunt us later on in life. Do I have to read the signs before it is too late? I have a lot of mixed feelings, and I don't know if these are good enough reasons to cancel the plans for my wedding.
Carolyn says: Mixed feelings are always a good enough reason, if not to call off a wedding, at least to postpone it.
Warnings from friends aren't necessarily a good enough reason, but when they come from his friends, that nudges them right to the good-enough-reason line. Combine that with your mixed feelings, and by now your better judgment should be grabbing you by the lapels and asking if anyone's home.
But that "finally"? Wow. Let's say, for the sake of argument, you have solid reasons to rule these out as obstacles to your marriage.
That still leaves you with a fiancé who is making excuses for not being honest with you. If his friendships are innocent, why can't he just be transparent? Why can't you join them sometimes? Just because "everyone is entitled to a private life"?
Sure, OK, partners needn't track each other's every move. But everyone is also entitled to know who s/he is marrying, and he has chosen to conceal, apparently, a significant side of himself.
Not to say he's doing this, but: It's as old as (the lower forms of) humanity to exploit others' vulnerabilities for one's own gain. If you're worried about looking jealous or possessive, for example, a mate might use that to deflect scrutiny by blaming you for asking a reasonable question, such as, "Who is that who keeps calling you after midnight?" -- to the point where you just stop asking. If you're worried about looking like a gold-digger, then you won't ask questions about a mate's finances, leaving abundant room for deceit. Someone who takes great pride in being an ace judge of character will be the last to admit stupid choices.
And if you're anxious to "finally tie the knot"? Someone might recognize how eager you are for this marriage to happen, and blow off your legitimate queries about his ties to his exes -- knowing you won't risk a breakup by demanding the truth.
His friends might well be trying to watch your back, but, ultimately, it's your job to take care of yourself. Make an honest assessment of your vulnerabilities, toughen up to the idea that things might not go as you'd hoped, and have the courage to call his (male bovine fecal matter) by its real name.