Dear Carolyn • I am in a committed relationship with a divorced man who is the father of two young adults, 22 and 24. My boyfriend was separated six years ago and has been divorced for three. I did not even know him during this time. Since we started dating, I have been barred from spending any event with my boyfriend where his children would be present. My boyfriend claims my presence would be too upsetting to them. I have told him repeatedly how much it pains me to be systematically excluded, particularly during holidays. He said he will not compromise, so I may be asking the obvious question ... is it time to let go of him?
Dear J. • Apparently. "(Your) presence would be too upsetting"? To two adults? But his rationale stands as a badge of courage compared with the likelihood that he doesn't even mean it: Sounds more to me like a fig leaf for his true reason, that he just doesn't want you there. Please make my day and tell me you pulled the plug moments after hitting "send" on your email to me.
Dear Carolyn • A friend often makes remarks about how her ex-spouse's second marriage is probably as miserable as theirs was. She's wrong, actually ex-spouse is quite happily remarried. I keep my mouth shut when she makes these statements, thinking she just needs to believe ex-spouse is still unhappy, but I wonder if I should tell her the truth. It might reopen wounds she's already picked at, but is the illusion she's created any better?
Dear Clarifying Reality. • Yikes, no, don't pop her little bubble. It's not your job to serve as minion of Truth. It is your job to be her friend, though, and a friend can rightly worry about the source of a friend's agitation. The fiction itself isn't the problem; it's her need to create and hold on to one. So, when she brings up her ex again, explain kindly that you're asking as a Devil's advocate: What does she gain if her ex is unhappy? The life she builds for herself is the only one that counts.
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