Q: I met my boyfriend in high school. He was very demanding, and with college and all, we slowly drifted apart. We both married and I got a divorce about two years ago. He was having trouble in his marriage and separated. We met each other via Facebook and immediately connected again. We live together now, and he's working on finalizing his divorce.
One thing bothers me: I've never met his kids, and when he sees them, which is quite often, he only sees them at her home, the home in which they all lived together, and sometimes he sleeps there. I'm wondering if this is a "red flag," as you call them. For my part, I told him to stop, but what's good ex-etiquette?
A: Yep, it's a red flag, all right, but not for the reason you think, and there are a few more we are going to talk about — starting with he's not divorced. That means technically, he's not your boyfriend, he's her husband.
People write all the time in your predicament. They see that instant connection as outweighing the connection with their person's spouse — and more times than not, it's just not true. Old flames do burn hot for some, but some are just paper fires — and end up ashes and smoke.
People fall in and out of love with their partners many times during the span of their time together. That's what marriage is all about, moving with the ebb and flow of each other's personalities, likes, dislikes, wants and dreams. Add kids and the bond is difficult to sever. Hopefully, the partners don't go outside of their relationships during those down times, but some do, and with social media, it's easy to connect with an old flame — but as reality sets in many have regrets and actually reconcile. The separation becomes part of their history.
Granted, there are those who can easily walk away, but there are others who struggle. This is made worse by attempting to juggle past and present at the same time — and sounds like that's what your guy is doing. Most handle it the way your "boyfriend" is handling it "because they don't want to hurt anyone." It's a confusing time for all.
Another red flag: You feel as if you must tell him how to act. He'll eventually have to take a stand — and your demands could actually backfire.
Bottom line to all this — the big red flag — you got involved with him again too soon. I'm sure your connection is real, and he may feel like the love of your life. But strip away all the romance and diversion and you're living with a married man who has kids. It sounds to me like he needs more time.
My suggestion? Let him sort this out on his own, even if this is was all his idea in the beginning. He has children, and good ex-etiquette dictates he puts them first. (Ex-etiquette for parents rule No. 1.) If he comes back once he does, then it's right. If he doesn't, it's still right — just not with you. That's good ex-etiquette.
Jann Blackstone is founder of www.bonusfamilies.com.