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LOVE LETTERS

He hasn’t introduced me to his mother

“... she is traditional and doesn’t believe he should be dating while still married.”

Love Letters

Q. I’ve been dating this man for three years. When we met, he said he was married, had a 1-year-old child, and lived with his mother for the moment because his wife bought a house an hour away without telling him. He explained that he was staying with his mom to be closer to his child. I accepted his situation because I had been through a divorce and I understood. My problem is that he filed for divorce a year and a half ago. His ex is dragging the process out, and he won’t introduce me to his mother because she is traditional and doesn’t believe he should be dating while still married. Although I don’t agree with her stance, I respect it. He says he loves me and wants to be with me.

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The issue is that he doesn’t bring me around family events when she’s there. Aside from the mother issue, a few months ago we went to a party, arrived separately, and he didn’t sit with me – he sat with his coworkers. Everyone noticed and I couldn’t figure out why he would do that. I left the party without saying goodbye and he didn’t call to check in after noticing I was gone.

The next time we went out together, he was engaged in conversation – for practically the whole dinner – with a single woman he didn’t introduce me to. The final straw was a couple weeks ago. We were out separately at a club, him with friends, and he barely had any interactions with me. Then he left without telling me he was leaving. In my eyes, our relationship hasn’t progressed at all in a public way. He says it’s because he is still married. I explained to him that at the beginning of us meeting, he needed to take time to himself, but instead he rushed into spending all his time with me and developing a relationship. He has been around my children frequently for about two years but I have only met his daughter one time for about an hour. Is it time for me to just move on? Or am I not being understanding enough and trying to rush things?

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A. The mother thing happens, I guess. People have parents with beliefs, and that’s that.

But the coworker thing? And every other social event? After three years, it’d be nice to feel like your significant other isn’t avoiding you in public, when it should be easy to be together.

If you’re not getting what you need, it’s time for another conversation. Ask him what a relationship might look like if he were divorced. Would you be living together? Would you spend holidays as a family? How would he explain the relationship to his mother? Find out if his vision matches yours at all, and whether he wants to expedite any of the steps. Get specific about how he thinks about the future – and what he’s excited to experience.

Also, what if this divorce takes another year or more? Is he happy with the status quo? What rules might he bend if it’s six months from now and the paperwork isn’t finished?

This sounds like the real issue: “I explained to him that at the beginning of us meeting, he needed to take time to himself, but instead he rushed into spending all his time with me and developing a relationship.” That means he didn’t get time to figure out who he is now, what he wants, and what it all means. He might not be able to be a good partner to anyone without having that space. That would mean it’s time to move on. Talk again and go with your gut.

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– Meredith

READERS RESPOND:

Since you don’t list a single thing you like about this “partner” or why you continue to be with him, I have to assume you’re asking this group of strangers for permission to break up. CUPPAJOESEATTLE

It is time for you to respect yourself and say goodbye to him. MASTERMOU

I don’t think any more conversation is warranted. Dump him before you waste another three years. ASH

Send your own relationship and dating questions to loveletters@globe.com or fill out this form. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.

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