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, which has been going strong now for several years. My ex and I had some hostility early on — mostly from her end — although, admittedly, I did not always handle things well.
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 are now civil, and occasionally friendly toward one another.
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 will take place, and I can’t very well leave my girlfriend at home. I understand that my daughters’ wishes take precedence and my concerns are secondary, but is it reasonable to assume that both my girlfriend and I would be invited to events?
How do I handle the inevitable meeting of my girlfriend and my ex? Would a standard introduction be appropriate? — Concerned Dad
DEAR CONCERNED: 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 introduced 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.”
Yes, when the moment comes to introduce these two women, a “standard introduction” is all that’s required.
The mind reels thinking of alternatives.
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 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? — John’s “Friend”
DEAR FRIEND: Many people don’t like being labeled “girlfriend,” and John’s mother was allowing you to 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.
DEAR AMY: I am touched by the “coming out” stories in your column. I came out to my maternal grandmother when she was in her mid-90s, and she responded with love.
I invited my paternal grandfather to my wedding to a man when he was in his 90s, and he called my aunt and complained. She told him point blank that his comments weren’t appreciated. — Happy Now
DEAR HAPPY: Age has little bearing on how people handle this news.