Q. My boyfriend and I, both in our 50s, have been together seven years. He has been legally separated for three and we are living together. His ex does not know about me. Last year I found out that he had left her flowers on Valentine’s Day. He does not know that I know. I have every reason to believe that he did it again this year.
I am trying to be understanding — that he just wants to be nice and make her feel good — but I am having a hard time with this. I know that if I ask him, he will get defensive. He did get me beautiful roses and a sweet card. I do not question his love for me but I do wonder if he is still in love with her.
A. The flowers seem less important than the fact that he’s still legally separated. Why isn’t he divorced yet? And why doesn’t his ex know about you? If you’re serious enough to live together, he should be telling people in his community that you exist. Including her.
It’s time to have a talk, but not about whether he still loves his ex. Ask him about your future together and how he plans to end his marriage. Ask him whether he feels comfortable letting the people in his life know that you’re his significant other.
Something tells me the flowers wouldn’t bother you so much if you knew where you stood. Yes, you know he loves you ... but is he committed to making a life with you? It’s time to find out.
You could dance around this issue by asking him more general questions about letting people in his life know, or! you could just be direct with him. Flowers seem like not a big deal, but I’m sure there are other emotions driving this. So talk to him. If this is bothering you, don’t keep it a secret that you know about the flowers and try to get him confess.
You have been together for 7 years but he is only separated for 3. I think you might have left out a few details, here.
The question you should be asking is why the heck he’s not even divorced yet? That aside, ask him about the flowers — let him get defensive — you have a right to ask the question and you should be able to ask your partner without worrying about him getting defensive about it.
So, you’ve been together for 7 years, and he’s been separated for 3 years? YOU should be the one sending his wife flowers. How rude.
You should just tell him you know about the flowers. Is this the way you want to continue living your life? Wouldn’t you like to be happy?
I have no idea, but I’m sure there’s some country-western song that addresses this very issue.
RCARDZColumn and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.
Meredith Goldstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.