Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I (we are gay) have been together for three years. I used to travel for work, and he hated it. So I quit my old job and found something closer to home. Now he has bought a house and wants me to move in with him. I have started moving my little stuff into the house, but we argue over the way the house is decorated. It’s all his stuff. I don’t really mind that — I want him to be happy! He is in the closet, so I’m not really invited to anything with his family. That makes me sad, and I have a feeling that’s why he doesn’t want my stuff around the house. So, do I give him an ultimatum before I move in? Should I insist that his parents know about us, or I won’t move in? Please help!
DEAR C: An ultimatum might miraculously force your boyfriend out of the closet, but because you have already surrendered so much of your autonomy to him, I wonder at your ability to make and enforce an ultimatum. You’ve already changed jobs and moved some of your little things into his house, so you don’t have much leverage, ultimatum-wise. The leverage you do have is to consider leaving the relationship altogether.
Contemplate life with this closeted and controlling man: Whenever family members show up, you’ll likely be asked to squirrel away your little things and retreat to a coffee shop. Likewise for certain friends of his, and colleagues. You will not be welcomed to any family events.
Really — your boyfriend has forced you into the closet, while he gets to live more or less out in the open.
Perhaps you two can start out by openly introducing yourselves to his family members as ”roommates,” letting them draw their own conclusions over time. I’m very sorry to even recommend this age-old lie, but if you aren’t willing to leave the relationship, this might be the best you can do.
DEAR AMY: I have been in a five-year relationship with a woman I love very much. She has a daughter from a previous marriage and the ex-husband is maintaining a presence in the daughter’s life. He spends Thanksgiving, Christmas and other important holidays with us. I want him to be present in his daughter’s life. I bear no jealousy or resentment when he spends time with us, at any time. Now a situation has presented itself where the ex-husband, who just came into some money, wants to take their daughter and my girlfriend — his ex-wife — on a family vacation. I am not invited. My girlfriend is going. She says she has no feelings for her ex, but that is beside the point and that she is doing it for her daughter. She says she doesn’t know how her ex feels. Needless to say this hurts me very much. I feel the ex-husband had his chance to do nice things during their marriage. I am progressive up to a point regarding the ex-husband still being in the picture, but I feel that my kindness and acceptance are being taken advantage of. Am I overreacting and being petty in not wanting my girlfriend to have a family vacation without me?
Troubled in Paradise
DEAR TROUBLED: You don’t say how old the daughter is, but generally when noncustodial parents take the kids on vacation, one function is for the parent and the child to spend some special time together.
I don’t think that exes traveling together with their children is a universally bad idea, by any means — but this bothers you. You have been a part of this family system for five years. Are you bothered that she is going without you? Or are you bothered that she is traveling with her ex, without you? Your girlfriend should consider this from your point of view. You are hurt and she is telling you to get over it. She doesn’t get to decide how you feel about something. It is very reasonable for you to ask her to draw a line concerning vacation-time with her ex.
DEAR AMY: Why the harsh response to “Susan,” who complained about her “daughter-in-law from Hell’s” behavior at the wedding?
DEAR CONFUSED: I think deriding the daughter-in-law as a “Cuban” and further remarking on her poor “breeding” was a bridge too far. I stand by my answer.