Every week, Daniel Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Other woman: I have been dating “Jordan” for about a year. He constantly texts and talks about his relationship with another woman: his twin sister, “Jess.” They talk every other day and plan their social life around seeing each other. All Jordan’s friends are Jess’. There is nothing wrong with Jess—she is great—but sometimes I feel like a random satellite caught in their orbit. Jess has a long-term boyfriend who doesn’t seem to mind this. He advised me to let it go as it was a “twin” thing. I don’t know if this is actually weird or me self-sabotaging. I dated a string of losers before Jordan—addicts, cheaters, and con men. Jordan ticks every box I have—sexy, smart, funny, and kind. And he gets along with his nondysfunctional family. It just makes me pause when I ask my boyfriend about his day and he tells me what is going on with his twin. Help!
A: You’re definitely not going to convince Jordan that he needs to have a different sort of relationship with his twin sister, and I don’t think it will be fun or productive for you to try to get him to demote her to “friendly-but-distant sibling.” You can, I think, ask him to sometimes stick to talking about his day if you want to hear about what’s new with work or something outside of his family circle, but in terms of how large a place Jess occupies in his social life, I don’t think you have—or should have!—a say in that. So the question is: Can you imagine yourself happily accepting, like Jess’ boyfriend, the close nature of their relationship as twins? Do you feel like Jordan pays you enough attention, sets aside sufficient time for the two of you as a couple? Because if not, then you can certainly ask him to set certain limits with her. But if it’s simply the idea of being in a relationship with a guy who’s really close to his twin sister that wigs you out—then you have to ask yourself whether it’s a deal-breaker.
The key is to figure out whether feeling “like a random satellite in their orbit” comes from a sense of actual exclusion or whether that’s something you’re bringing to the table. It’s fine to say, “I love Jess and how close the two of you are, but I also want to set aside some time for the two of us to be alone, or to have conversations that don’t involve her.” It’s OK to want to feel like the center of attention in your own partner’s life from time to time. But if the idea of dating someone long term who sees his twin sister every other day feels really off to you, then Jordan might not be the guy for you. (He may be closer than the string of jerks in your past but not quite it.) If it were me in your situation, and I generally liked Jess, I would try to find a way to appreciate their closeness, while also occasionally asking for some solo time. If there’s a way to make things work with Jordan, I think you should go for it.