Dear Amy: I have been seeing my boyfriend for nine months. We are middle aged, and are talking about building a life together.
When we met, he told me that he has remained good friends with all of his ex-girlfriends.
He dated his most recent ex for a year (they broke up a year before we met), but they were close friends for a decade before that.
She is probably his closest friend. The problem is that she refuses to meet me, or to include me in any social activities they engage in. She has since admitted to my boyfriend that she wants him back. He has made it clear to her that wouldn’t happen, but he doesn’t want to lose her friendship.
He keeps asking me to be patient with the situation, and that it will hopefully resolve itself, but from my perspective, the resentment (definitely on my side, and probably on hers, too) is just growing by the day.
He has been open and honest with me about everything regarding her, and I trust him, but the situation feels unbearable to me at this stage. He refuses to let the friendship go. Is it time for me to make an ultimatum, or am I overreacting?
Frustrated Current GF
Dear Frustrated: I’m trying to imagine your boyfriend’s thinking, where his priority is to continue a friendship with someone who doesn’t respect him enough to let him live his life. She is controlling him, and he is asking you to let her control you, too.
In terms of ultimatums, he should be delivering one to her: “This is my life. If you want to continue on in friendship, you’ll have to accept my partner. You decide.”
If he wanted to put you at the center of his life, your boyfriend would find it easy to do so. Until he figures this out, you and his ex will be nudging each other in and out of the circle. Do you want to wage emotional combat with another woman? I don’t think you do.
I have mixed feelings about ultimatums. I think you should decide what you want in a long-term relationship, and then pursue your own ideal.
If you want a fully integrated love relationship where both partners freely share their lives, friends and family, you’ll probably have to seek it with a different person. That’s not an ultimatum, but a choice.
Dear Amy: Six weeks ago, we invited our adult married son and his wife to a special ticketed event. I asked my son three different times before I made the purchase: “Are you sure you can and will go?” He and his wife both said, “Yes, we will go. We said we would go, and we will go.”
So I bought the expensive tickets (great seats) — four nonrefundable tickets in all for $340.
Then I get a phone call from my son, who told me that they were not going. He told me it’s “not their thing” and that the event interfered with their three-day weekend (we had also discussed that before we purchased the tickets).
He told us to invite someone else.
I told them it was not my job to try and resell these tickets or invite another couple. I told him I expected them to pay us $160.
I mailed their two tickets to them and sent them a bill for $160.
Why should we get stiffed?
My son said he would be mailing the tickets back to us.
I said, “OK, we can’t make you do the right thing.”
Were we out of line?
Dear Parent: I envision these tickets being sent back and forth through the mail, in an unending loop, powered by frustration and resistance.
You are not out of line. I suspect there are underlying issues here that have resulted in this current unpleasantness.
I hope you can resolve some of these issues, but until you do, do not spend any more money trying to provide these family members with special experiences.
Dear Amy: I’m responding to the query from “Still Working,” the retirement-age teacher who was annoyed by people asking her if she was still working.
You don’t seem to understand that many people cannot afford to retire. How would you answer this question if you were in that boat?
Dear Not Retiring: I would suggest the same answer: “Yes, I’m still working.”
If the person asks how long you intend to keep working you say, “As long as I’m able.”