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Dear Care and Feeding,
A good friend of mine, “Tim,” put his career first all of his life and prioritized building up his wealth. He is very successful and feels he is now finally ready to date in a serious way. He has recently starting seeing “Sarah” and things are moving very fast between the two of them. The problem is that Tim (and many of our friends) have caught Sarah in major lies.
Sarah has lied about how many kids she has (all by different fathers), what she does for a living (she lives off child support), and what her living situation is like! (Her boyfriend—surprise!—called Tim to tell him they’re living together. And not only does she live with her boyfriend, but this boyfriend has caught her talking to many different men and meeting up with them.) Tim knows all this and continues to date her!
Now Sarah has told him that if he bought a big house for her and her kids, she would break off all connections with the other men and exclusively date him. So he is house-shopping! He is going to buy a house for her and her kids after only dating for three months. All of our friends have tried to talk to him about our concerns but Tim refuses to listen to reason. There’s obviously nothing I can do about this, but I don’t want to have anything to do with Sarah—I can’t support a relationship full of lies, with a woman who is clearly just coming after his money. My question is: can I invite only Tim to events, holidays, and friend gatherings and explicitly exclude Sarah? And if she shows up without being invited, can I completely ignore her or ask her to leave because she’s not welcome? I have zero respect for her, and I physically don’t want to be around her. This is a slow financial, emotional, and mental train wreck in the making and I don’t want to watch it happen.
—Train Wreck in Wisconsin
Here’s my ruling: you can invite Tim without explicitly inviting Sarah, but you cannot explicitly exclude her (“Please come over for game night, but leave that lying, gold-digging ‘girlfriend’ at home with her other boyfriend!”—nope). And if he does bring her, you may not treat her rudely, you may not ignore her, and you must not ask her to leave. Tim is an adult entitled to make his own choices, good or bad. If you don’t want to watch this “train wreck,” I’m afraid you’re going to have to sever ties with him. If you value him and want to keep him in your life, you’re going to have to grit your teeth and bear his choice of girlfriends, stop telling him what he already knows and has decided to ignore for reasons of his own, and remember that what he does with his money is his business and no one else’s.