"Eventually" (he will have to decide when to introduce her to his family)
By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50
When I first read Champ Julie's relationship-related email, I knew I would have to ask you Champs for your help in answering it. Oh, I'd take a stab at it, but, your opinions would be essential.
Julie wrote, "I've been dating a man for almost a year. We had only known each other for a month or two when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Our relationship was put 'on hold' for a while during his surgery and treatment, which ended about 6 months ago. Since then, all of the tests have come back negative for cancer!
"Here's the issue: He has met my friends and family, but he has yet to introduce me to anyone in his life. I've asked him a few times about when I will meet his kids, and his answer has always been "eventually." I am trying to be patient, knowing that the health issues he has dealt with are a big reason for him holding back. But, this is beginning to bother me. Should I just give him some more time, or should I be seeing this as a red flag?"
My response: "Excellent question. First off, it's good that you hung in there with him during the throat cancer. Some people would not have done that.
"Frankly, this would trouble me also. It sounds like you would like to see this relationship grow into a permanent partnership. I would hang in and be patient. But, I'd back off just a bit, give him space to figure out how special you are and how important you are to him. I'm not saying to date others, just to put a little distance in there. Perhaps take a week-end away or short trip without him or do some things without him that you'd normally do together. That isn't game playing; it's just trying to protect your feelings and future.
"Recently, one of my Tutor and Spunky’s deli customers had a similar but different situation. Fred is a widower and his girlfriend is 10-12 years younger. They were doing great, then her mother got cancer and she started getting strange in the relationship--aloof, distant, preoccupied. He asked for my advice, thinking she perhaps didn't love him anymore.
"My advice was similar to what I told you, back off a bit. But, my partner Greta felt otherwise, she insisted he hang in there with her, that trauma to one's family can cause one to focus entirely on the parent.
"Greta's advice was better than my advice. Now, Fred and his lady are back together, although her mother's illness still weighs heavily on her mind. He backed off ever so slightly to give her time and she appreciated that. He is pleased that he did not do anything to jeopardize the relationship.
Another friend of mine experienced a similar situation. He dated a woman for over a year. She would not introduce him to her son. That bothered him. She eventually broke it off. He's met a new woman who has happily introduced him to everyone in her life.
"So, Julie, perhaps your guy's thinking is he doesn't want to get you totally involved because he's worried about dying and he doesn't want to burden you if that were to happen. If he sees you slip-sliding away, he may decide to introduce you to his family. His kids must already know there is someone special in his life. However, if this continues to go and on, then the red flag possibility could become significant.
"One does wonder if he is trying to hide something by sheltering everyone in his life who is close to him from you."
Julie said, "This sounds like great advice, and I would love to hear from Champs about this too."
What do our Champs think? Is Julie's boyfriend's behavior normal, not introducing her to his kids after a year, or are her concerns reasonable? "Eventually," something's got to give.