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I’ve been dating an Asian American man for the better part of a year, and he’s the most wonderful person I’ve ever met. His mother and I got along for about six months. I was invited over for dinner, stayed at their house (he lives with his parents), and we even exchanged phone numbers. My boyfriend agrees that I was polite to her and never stepped on her toes. Recently they got into an argument (she didn’t know I was there), and she went on a tirade about how he shouldn’t bring his “little girlfriend” into her house anymore, that I was not a member of their family and was no longer welcome. He tried to reassure me that it was something she said in the heat of the moment, but she’s stood by those words. I’m devastated.
I can’t stop thinking that perhaps she wanted her son to date someone else. My free trial in their home has expired, and she’s ready for her son to date a woman from their heritage. When I’ve been in the house since then, she stands in the backyard until I leave. English is not her first language, and I’m not sure it’d be productive for me to talk to her myself. What would you do in this situation?
—No Longer Welcome
There’s no “perhaps” about it—your boyfriend’s mother absolutely wants him to date someone else. I don’t know if it has to do with heritage or not, but the point is that she doesn’t want you two to be together. That’s not always an insurmountable issue, but given that your boyfriend and his mother live together and he seems fairly committed to not rocking the boat, you likely have a difficult road ahead here.
If I were in your situation, I would ask my boyfriend what he felt prepared to do, given that the untenable nature of the present arrangement, where his mother leaves the house to wait in the backyard whenever I visit him. Would he be prepared to confront her behavior and stand up for you? Move out? Find other places for you two to meet? If his answer is merely, “Oh, I’m sure she’s just doing this in the heat of the moment” or “Give it another few weeks, I’m sure she’ll come in once it starts snowing,” I would thank him for a lovely 10 months, wish him the best in the future, and be on my way. Since his original answer was “I’m sure she doesn’t mean it,” and his subsequent response appears to be nothing, I think it’s likely that he doesn’t have much of a strategy in mind.
Help! I Witnessed My Boss Get Berated by Her Wife Over Zoom.
Danny M. Lavery is joined by Anna Hetherington on this week’s episode of the Dear Prudence podcast.
I am a 27-year-old woman in a relationship with a 34-year-old woman. We have been together a year and a half, and what started out as something casual has developed into a more serious relationship. However, it’s not a traditional relationship. She still lives with her ex-girlfriend, who she has a 9-year-old child with. They are raising the kid together and haven’t told him about their breakup. I haven’t had an issue with this, because I live by myself, and I’m happy to have her over at my place. I am also an introvert who enjoys spending time alone when she is taking care of family responsibilities.
The issue is that lately she’s been pushing for more commitment from me, talking about moving in together and having kids together. I do want to have kids of my own, but I really wasn’t thinking about that with her yet. Now that she’s mentioned it, I can’t really picture us living together. The real issue is her son. After a year and a half, I still have not met him, and he doesn’t know of my existence. She says this is because her ex doesn’t feel comfortable with it. My girlfriend has said she would want to pursue joint custody if she moves in with me. I just can’t imagine a child wanting to go live with a stranger he’s never met before, nor what my role would be in that situation. This relationship probably sounds a little weird from the outside, but I love my girlfriend very much, I feel comfortable when I’m around her, and I trust her. But am I delusional to think that this is somehow going to work out? I could just really use some outside perspective.
—Not the Brady Bunch
This doesn’t sound “a little weird.” This goes way beyond it. “A little weird” is a barely visible dot on a horizon that your girlfriend and her ex blew past on a dune buggy a long time ago. You don’t mention whether anyone in your life is aware of this arrangement, and I wonder if part of the reason is because you know the people who care about you would be troubled to learn what your girlfriend is asking of you, not to mention what she’s doing to her son. Take a moment to remember what it felt like to be 9 years old and how much you depended on your parents to provide you with a sense of reliability, honesty, and solidity. Now imagine you find out that your parents have been secretly broken up for the last 18 months while you thought everything was normal, that one of your parents is dating someone else, and that you’re going to be living with them half of the time. (And that’s a best-case scenario, because it assumes your girlfriend is able to get joint custody without having to go to court. If her ex isn’t willing to let you meet their kid or even mention your existence to him, what makes you think she’s going to OK a joint-custody agreement when you move in with your girlfriend?) Imagine the devastation, bewilderment, and sense of betrayal you’d feel in his position.
Your girlfriend has demonstrated a shockingly cavalier attitude about her son’s well-being. This isn’t a momentary lapse in judgment or a common error lots of parents make. It’s a deliberate misinformation campaign designed to prioritize adult comfort over her child’s best interests. This is not a healthy situation, and I don’t see any way forward for you except to get out, as fast as you can.
I’m a Latina woman who is the president of a student organization at a university. One of the organization’s officers was not performing to expectations. He’s a white man. I told him I wasn’t satisfied with his performance and I was going to speak with the faculty adviser about replacing him. He abruptly resigned. He was respectful while leaving and had remained a member in good standing. I was just informed he filed a bias complaint against me and some of the other officers. He provided a collection of context-free text messages and group discussions that he claims showed he was discriminated against. Providing context makes most of the messages fine, but there are a few that do look bad. And, in hindsight, he was always careful to not say any of his biased statements in writing or when we were recording meetings. I’m so stressed by this for two reasons. I’m scared that I’ll be disciplined by the university, but I’m also worried that I have been unfair and that I didn’t see discriminatory behavior because it was directed at a white man.
The good news is also the same thing as the bad news here: There’s not much you can do right now beyond let the university conduct its investigation. If you’re a graduate student in a union, be sure that you’re keeping your representative looped in. Otherwise be prepared to provide context, answer questions, and explain your side of the story as honestly and as thoroughly as you can. If you’re able to access psychological services through campus for additional support, please do; finding an appropriate and confidential outlet for your fears will help you keep a clear mind and maintain a sense of equanimity. If the investigation finds you have discriminated against him, and you are disciplined, you’ll survive, even if it feels painful or embarrassing at the time. If the investigation finds his case to be without merit, but you still want to spend some time reflecting on whether you could have handled things differently for your own satisfaction, you’re free to do so. Regardless of what happens, this will not be the final word on either your life or his.
Now available in your podcast player: the audiobook edition of Danny M. Lavery’s latest book, Something That May Shock and Discredit You. Get it from Slate.
More Advice From Care and Feeding
Five years ago, my partner cheated on me and got pregnant. We got past the infidelity, and I have raised her son as my own since the moment he was born. At what age is it appropriate to tell him that his social father and his biological father are not the same person? The biological father is not in the picture and seems to have no interest in being a parent. I think our son should be told eventually, but I think 4 is much too young. My partner disagrees. I would appreciate your advice.