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You agreed, now respect her wishes

Carolyn Hax Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: I’d like your opinion on a matter that’s brought significant tension into my relationship.

My girlfriend and I have been dating for two months. Recently, her mother and niece came from another country to visit for 10 days. My girlfriend said she wanted to spend all her time with them virtually alone. She said it was “too soon” for me to meet her mother. She said she wanted to introduce me when things got better and deeper between us. (I can’t be introduced as a friend?)

I reluctantly acceded to her wishes and agreed (but we exchanged messages and occasional phone calls throughout).

Afterward, I discovered that she invited one of her colleagues (female) for dinner with family. I expressed my disappointment about being left out, and she offered a rather vapid apology: “I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.” Am I overreacting? Or should I be “flattered” that she’s saving the parental introduction for when … oh, I dunno, when she’s ready to declare us engaged? – T.J.

She said it was “too soon” for you to meet her mother. Clear, firm, maybe not your first choice … but at two months, remaining private is hardly an affront to cultural norms.

But the main item of contention, her decision to invite a colleague to dinner, is an apple to the orange of your exclusion. A two-hour dinner with a pal is just that: You go, eat, talk, part ways, carry on. A two-hour dinner at which Lover meets Mother is never just that: There’s also the anticipation, fuss, dread, hope or fear beforehand – and the fallout afterward, the reacting, reviewing, reliving, rationalizing, rehashing, or whatever else.

Yes, she could have introduced you as a “friend.” But that’s a lie, no?

Whichever way you look at it, two hours of the visit could easily have become the centerpiece of the visit. She told you she didn’t want that. You never had to share that preference, but since you agreed to it, you did have to respect it.

E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com.
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