My awkward problem is this: I’ve been dating this guy for about two and a half months. He’s nice! I like him! He seems to like me! I’ve stayed over at his place a few times and he’s been to my apartment. But he won’t introduce me to anyone in his life (and isn’t that keen on meeting anyone from mine) and it’s starting to weird me out. Am I overreacting?
We see each other a couple of times a week, usually. He won’t hang on weekends, because he goes to visit his family in another city. Though sometimes, he has said he is going to visit his family and then tells me he changed his mind and stayed home in this town and hung out with his brother all weekend, but he never suggested I meet his brother. It’s like he is Mr. Secret Squirrel about his life. This week he is hosting a friend/ colleague from his company’s office abroad so he told me we can’t see each other as much because he has to work/hang out with this guy until fairly late every day.
At no point did he suggest that I come meet this person and say hi and we have coffee or something low key, though he did discuss with me tourist places he should take this guy. I felt too awkward to ask directly, “hey, your colleague buddy sounds cool, I’d like to meet him”, because he was so cagey (he has not even told me the guy’s name). They are spending the weekend on day trips and I understand why he might not want to invite me to those — he wants to spend time with his buddy & colleague, that’s all cool. But not to introduce me at all seems odd?
I have wanted to introduce him to my friends (I am an ex-pat in this country and my friend pool is fairly small because a lot of people have left (we live in a war zone) but he is a bit dismissive of the things we do – boardgames, Cards Against Humanity etc. Not openly hostile, just “oh that seems weird”.
I have no clue why he doesn’t seem to want me to meet people from his life, and I know it’s pointless to speculate. He is very introverted and maybe it doesn’t occur to him that people can socialize? Is that making excuses for him? Or am I overreacting?
How can I raise this with him without sounding weird or pushy or something? I’m getting really tired of it!
Thanks for any wisdom and insight,
Sometimes a relationship does have an encapsulated feel, where it all takes place in this liminal Relationship Space with no connection to “real life” and that is a red flag, like, hey, are you hiding me? Are you hiding from something? Can we at least go to dinner or a movie sometime? (Here is one of my favorite short films about the subject of hidden relationships. I don’t have a transcript but here’s a detailed textual description and analysis.)
However, a lot of people don’t introduce new romantic partners to their friends and family until after a few months in, and it’s not particularly meaningful one way or the other. You want the new person all to yourself when you can get time with them in your busy schedule. You want to make sure that the relationship is gonna “take” before you cross the streams (see every: “After a breakup, how do we deal with the assorted friend group fallout?“ letter). It doesn’t occur to you that the person wants to meet your friends. It doesn’t feel quite like the right time. etc.
For example, three weeks after The Gentleman Caller and I got together my parents visited, and I did not introduce him to them, because “Hey, meet this great guy I’m sleeping with who you may never see or hear about again” didn’t feel right, nor did “Hey, awesome dude, meet my parents and Really Get To Know Our Issues As A Family!” I knew he was a keeper when he helped me shame-clean my place before their arrival and then left, and I knew he thought I was a keeper when a month later when he said “My mom is coming to town at the end of May, I really want you to meet her.” Introducing each other to our best friends felt like a big deal. Him coming to a screening where I teach was a big deal. You and this dude may be on different schedules and have different importance values assigned for all of that. The culture of his family might be that people don’t bring dating partners home until it’s very serious, but the culture of you is that it’s great to meet people early and see how they all fit together before it’s very serious. I’m talking about personal history/culture things, but there are also Culture-cultural differences here, yes? Do you know what they are?
I can’t read this guy’s behavior for you like tea leaves and tell you what’s “really” going on. I can tell you that if it’s a problem for you, then it’s a big enough problem to discuss. And I can posit that if you don’t feel comfortable discussing it with him, like, you don’t feel like the answers will be reassuring ones or you’re afraid they’ll reveal some cracks in the relationship and how he thinks about you, then that’s part of your answer right there: You have attraction and fun and possibility, but are shy yet of intimacy and closeness. You’re not quite relaxed into this thing. Which could just be a “too soon” thing or could be a “not quite right” thing or could be a “there are different expectations at play here, sort them out” thing. It’s up to you whether you give it a little more time to see if it resolves on its own, or whether you talk to him about it, but know that you are allowed to ask him about this and seek reassurance. This isn’t an audition where you must fit perfectly into his life and his way of doing things in order to belong.
You’re right that inviting yourself along is awkward, so when you do talk about this, one place to start is “My friends are getting together for dinner and games on this night, would you please join us? I’d love for you to get to know them.”“But I’m going to spend time with my brother.” “Great, please bring him, too! The more the merrier.” (Make the invitation specific and place it on the space-time continuum because “do you want to hang out sometime” is not a date.) If he refuses, then it’s a way into the bigger talk of “Well, it’s important to me that we get to know each other’s people. I know game night isn’t Your Exact Thing, but it would mean a lot to me if you’d make the effort for a few hours.” “I’ve been really wanting to introduce you to my friends, and to meet some of yours, it’s one of the ways I show that I care about someone and it’s one of the things that makes me feel cared for, to know that I’m part of someone’s life. I get the strong feeling that you move on a different schedule from me about all of that, can you give me some insight?” and see what happens. Good luck with this (and with that “war zone” thing, too, way to casually throw that out there).
124 thoughts on “#623 “Is it weird that my boyfriend won’t introduce me to his friends?””
I read the title, “Is it weird that my boyfriend won’t introduce me to his friends?” and thought, “Yes, it’s weird.” Then I read the letter and it said, “I’ve been dating this guy for about two and a half months,” and my answer changed to no.
No, it’s not weird at the 2 1/2 month mark to not yet be in the process of integrating into one another’s lives. In fact, I would say that at any point when you are still measuring relationship-time in half-months, it’s probably not yet weird. I would actually be alarmed if he were pushing hard with the fast intimacy, introducing you to his parents and all his buddies right away.
Chiming in to disagree: I’d call it weird. I generally figure that when you’re approaching the third-of-a-year mark, getting to meet the other people your SO spends time with (over coffee, over a board game) with is not something I would call “pushing hard for fast intimacy”.
(I mean, you meet a friend, how long do you keep them separate from your other friends?)
Mind, as the Captain says, people have different pacing and weird for me/my social group is not automatically weird for everyone.
Dear LW: I hope you have some luck with the scripts.
Two and a half months is not actually that near to four months = third of a year. It’s only just over half that, in fact.
Whoops, quarter of a year! You’re absolutely right, I stand corrected.
“(I mean, you meet a friend, how long do you keep them separate from your other friends?)”
All I could think with this line was back when I kept gerbils. You had to keep them separate, then start blending their scents so they’d get used to each other without contact, and then start allowing them to enter the same spaces. Made for a silly mental image of friend mixing 😛
Or bringing a new cat home from the humane society.
“Hello, new friend! You need to stay in the spare room for two weeks to make sure you don’t have kitty flu. I will come spend time with you every day, but you must not stick your paws out under the door!”
I actually think it’s really awkward mixing friends from different places. You never know how it’s going to work out. It’s a bit different when it’s a significant other, since they will likely be introduced to all of your friend groups, but with one friend I’m likely to only hang out with them on my own rather than introduce them to other friends.
I do think it’s more common to cross-introduce a significant other than a friend, and I didn’t mean to suggest you had to introduce (e.g.) the friend from knitting to the friend from the gun club.
And it’s probably different being in a war zone, too, where there may be issues with casually dropping in or hanging out in public. (Disclaimer: have not been in a war zone. Have been kid of staff of a foreign embassy during civil unrest, and that’s not relevant because being a kid pointedly changes your social interaction.)
But after a quarter of a year (I say, from my specific sociocultural environment), if I hadn’t ever run into any of your (generic you!) other friends even ever casually, I would start to assume you were keeping us separated. (There might be good reasons for doing this! E.g. your other friends are all weird, or you were simply raised not to do so, or you find it really awkward. None of these are bad ways or reasons, they are all okay.) And while they’re not bad things for someone else to choose to do, I would still find it weird to me, and would wonder if they thought there was something wrong with me, you know?
(This is my set of fears. There are many other like it, but this one is mine.)
I am (circuitously, ramblingly) not trying to call the LW’s SO weird, nor anyone else who acts like that. But I am saying there is no memo the LW missed that says This Is Forever Okay, Amen, and she is not allowed to find it weird to her.
I understand that, and I agree. I just put in my two cents – and probably exposed my own anxieties. 🙂
“(I mean, you meet a friend, how long
do you keep them separate from
your other friends?)”
Indefinitely, for me. It’s very rare for me to ever introduce friends I know from different parts of my life, unless there’s some specific reason (e.g. I think friend from hobby 1 might like to try hobby 2).
A partner is different, to a point. But I have many friends whose partners I don’t really know well (a lot more than those that I do know well, in fact). Most I’ve at least met and am slightly acquainted with. But some I wouldn’t recognize if I bumped into them out of context.
I don’t think the ”weird” label is useful. People have a right to manage the introduction of partner to the rest of their people however they want. I wouldn’t mind introducing a boyfriend to my friends, sister and cousins after even a couple of weeks, but the only man I would introduce to my parents is a prospective spouse. If someone thinks that’s weird, that’s their problem, it’s what feels right to me.
I don’t think it’s a problem or suspicious in itself that the LW’s boyfriend hasn’t introduced her to the rest of his circle after a couple of months. It would be a concern if the LW gets the feeling that he is ”hiding” her. The LW should casually bring it up, probably in the context the C suggests, and gauge his reaction.
I’d be weirded out by not introducing you to friends, but that’s because I’m big on COOL PERSON MEET COOL PEOPLE thing? Which will almost certainly bite me on the arse at somepoint.
I wouldn’t introduce people to my family (I still try to keep interaction between my family and my partner of 7 yrs to a minimum), but that’s because my family is a pit of awful that I clawed my way out of. And he (my partner) accepted that, and because we were friends before I could say nope nope nope and he was ok with it. But I definitely wouldn’t launch into the pit of awful explanation early in a relationship just because that might be a bit awkward and too much too soon, you know?
But yes, before I digress even more, I think maybe a talk or an invite or something, just to see what’s going on is the best way to see what’s going on. We could speculate til the cows come home and still be wrong, you know?
I agree with the Captain here that introductions or lack thereof are not weird at this stage, BUT I will add a caveat–are you friends/following/whatever this person on social media? If this answer is yes, then I’d guess he just wants to hold off on full integration– I tend to have a “don’t jinx it” impulse myself. If the answer is no, however… red flag (unless they don’t do social media). Every single time a dudeperson has been reluctant to add me to their online circles, it’s turned out that Something Is Up. But that could just be my experiences… Good luck!
I want to second ellaindc on the possibility that Something Is Up. The gone-every-weekend thing is also a red flag to me, way more than not being introduced to friends yet. It sounds like his time with LW is very circumscribed and the details of those limits make me suspicious. This family he is visiting, um, is it maybe his wife and/or kids? I know that’s a dramatic question and I by no means think that’s for sure going on here, but if your spidey sense is tingling, the details you’ve provided here make it seem like it has good reason to.
Being slow to introduce a new Sig-O to friends and family is one thing (and like the Captain says, people’s schedules vary), but large swaths of time in which he is absent + a sudden new arrival he won’t introduce you to who also means he can’t even hang when he usually can reads as fishy to me. Be careful. The scripts the Captain provided still apply whether he’s just slow to share, or actively hiding something. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need and expect communicative responses in return.
Yeah, sheesh, I wouldn’t *totally rule out* the possibility of another explanation, but this has “he’s two-timing you/two-timing someone else with you” all over it.
Yeah, this was my first thought too. The thing is, it’s hard to tell from a letter whether she is getting a real sense of caginess/secrecy, or if she’s misinterpreting his having a different timeline for friend-introductions and projecting secrecy onto it where there is none. It does seem like he’s going out of his way to explain the reasons he can’t hang out and that the excuses are extremely specific, so that kinda makes me nervous about it. And the out-of-town colleague thing feels a little off to me, because even if I haven’t done the Meet the Friends thing with an SO, I’d be pretty likely to invite them along for low-key drinks with someone from out of town, since they aren’t a part of my normal friend group and it’s not as big a deal.
The friend/colleague one is tricky because where the other person actually falls on the friend/colleague spectrum makes a big difference to me. Colleague you’re kind of friendly with and have a sort-of professional duty to wine, dine and entertain -> “low key” drinks with your brand new partner seems a bit odd. Old friend who happens to work in the same industry so you’ve cunningly engineered a catch-up on the company’s dime -> low key drinks with new-ish partner would be perfectly normal.
That was my first thought too. “Married.” Only because it’s happened to me. Twice. Incidentally, both were in countries in the same region of the world, where I was an expat and young and naive and didn’t realize then that having romances with western women that you keep separate from your wife and kids is… pretty common among upper middle class men. There was a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” thing happening in both areas. I struggled for a while since with “cultural relativism” before settling on “whatever, you suck and if men lying to every woman in their lives is so common in your culture, your culture sucks too.”
Ok, your comment’s really bothering me. I’ll start with explaining why I hate the word “expat”. Brown people moving to another country? Immigrants! White people doing the very same thing? Expats! And those “expats” like to complain about the country they live in, how the indigenous culture and politics are all wrong, how the natives are out to get them. To outsiders, they pretend to understand the country they live in, when they actually don’t. And they are more often than not helping to plunder the country they’re in. It’s pure, neocolonial fun!*
Either way, I’m sorry about what happened to you, I’m sure those men did suck. But please don’t blame it on their culture. Upper middle class entitlement seems like a much more plausible explanation. Or maybe you just had some bad luck.
Full disclosure : I’m a Brazilian living in Western Europe, and I knew a few so-called expats back home. So yes, this is personal.
*Mandatory disclaimer : #notallexpats etc. etc. But really, if you live in a foreign country and are doing no harm, please don’t call yourself an expat. Expat culture is the worst.
But if you’re not immigrating, you’re an expat. It’s not the same as visiting or being a tourist. What else would you call a long-term, but temporary residence in a foreign country?
I’ve been an expat for six years. Immigrant is when you move with intent to be permanent. Expat is when you move to a different country, you live there, and you don’t intend to stay. If I were applying to stay, and was accepted, I’d be an immigrant–and I’d call myself that, and be proud of it! As it is, I’m an expatriate American for another two weeks.
I have knee-jerk moments about terms sometimes myself, but expatriate is actually a word that means a thing.
Yeeeees, this was where I ended up too. Big chunks of out-of-town absences kind of tend to be…not good news? Of course, there are other options, like a very ill family member he is not comfortable talking about (who is maybe not well enough to be meeting new people), or some scary/embarrassing family dynamics he is not comfortable talking about (Hey there, self, could this remind you of not wanting to introduce people to your self-centered, dramatic, abusive mom, and your dad the enabler? Why, yes, it could, very much!). That’s definitely on the table and there’s definitely nothing wrong with taking time to evaluate whether a partner is going to be a long-term, safe presence. It’s just that there’s also a lot of shady stuff on the table too, and that pinged my radar pretty hard.
I read the headline, and I said “yes.” Then I got to the two and half months part, and I said “no.” Then I kept reading and said, “hon, he has girlfriend/boyfriend,” and that feeling just kept getting stronger and stronger. I mean, not meeting them, sure, no problem. Secrecy? Ohhh, my spidey sense is tingling.
I got that same feeling too while reading through it! It’s the secrecy/cagey bit that got me and would be a red flag for me. I think if it is another reason eg different timelines/expectations then speaking to him about it should clear it up and give him an opportunity to say what he wants/expects. If it is something/someone he’s keeping super secret squirrel then I’d expect attempts to bring it up/discuss it will be shut down or brushed off.
Also as an aside to introducing people thing, I don’t have a big group of friends and it was about 8 months before my partner met any of them and about 5 months before he met my family. I think I met his family about about 3 months? Then I met his friends after 2 months. So it is possible to have different timelines about introducing people!
I strongly disagree with the bit about social media. I pretty much never add anyone I am dating to social media until the 3-6 month mark (some people it’s been 6-12 months). I am a private person, and I don’t really invite people into My Personal Online Space until we’re pretty serious. I would have introduced people to my real-life friends long before I would add them to private social media circles. I just add this not to say this is normal, but I don’t think this inherently a red flag for private people who want to keep things private.
That’s fine! Everyone is different. The weirdness I’ve encountered has been where I’ve tried to add them, and they won’t add me back OR give me much of an answer on it. I’m actually the opposite of you, though– waaaaaay more private about my Real Life Space than Online Space.
If I started dating someone, it would be a long, long time before I introduced them to my friends or family – not because I’d be trying to hide them, but because I’m a private person and I don’t like my relationships being a topic of discussion. It doesn’t matter if people mean well or are happy for me, I’m just not comfortable with it. So it may just be this guy’s style (although I don’t know about him labeling the things LW’s friends do for fun as “weird” – that’s not cool) and nothing to do with LW or the relationship at all.
This is true for me as well. Also, in my case, while i love my friends dearly, an unfortunately high percentage of them have an attitude like: “Oh, you just mentioned a new name that I don’t recognize: even though I pretend to understand that you deliberately choose to be single, that you are only interested in casual dating and don’t desire anything even resembling a steady, committed, ongoing monogamous romantic relationship, I am now going to assume that this is THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE and now we can totally plan the wedding you’ve spent decades saying you don’t ever want!” To be frank, it’s just so much easier for me not to introduce any of my dates to my friends. In the unlikely but certainly possible scenario in which I do meet someone with whom I choose to have a steady, committed, ongoing monogamous romantic relationship I’m going to have to move very, very, very slowly in introducing them to my friends.
It’s possible that the boyfriend is in a similar situation.
It’s possible that the boyfriend is up to no good, too.
I just don’t think it’s fair to say “it’s weird that he won’t introduce her”. I just don’t think it’s fair to say “it’s not weird that he won’t introduce her”. I do think that the Captain’s advice is fair and reasonable – this is a discussion that the LW and her boyfriend should be having.
I don’t know if LW’s boyfriend is temperamentally similar to me but I wanted to chime in with this.
I am one of those people with highly compartmentalized relationships and long arcs–like 3+ years–toward meshing them. It’s not a rule just what I’ve noticed has been true historically. The timeline is shorter for romantic partners meeting local friends but I haven’t introduced one to my parents in over 10 years. I tend to feel odd when my friends from Event Set A encounter my friends from Event Set B or Q or my friends from the Gym encounter my Original From Moving Here Friend Set. It’s like my worlds are colliding. I always make it through and everything turns out alright but I like a lot of space around me and every time a connection is made between social groups, my world feels smaller and a little more claustrophobic. People I work with do not know my relationship status or what I do on the weekends and only know that I have a family because it is sometimes relevant to my work availability.. (Cagey? Maybe. Masterful at avoiding those conversations? Definitely.)
Credentials provided: I would really appreciate this approach from someone I was seeing. It gives enough room for comfort (for me) that I wouldn’t feel pressured or ready to hit the ejector seat over it and I’d be open to a conversation. I *try* to be clear that I’m not hiding anything but when I fail, and I fail, a nudge like this would be great.
This. As well as feeling slightly claustrophobic when my worlds collide, I also really prefer one-on-one hangouts rather than seeing people in groups. (To the point that when it’s my birthday, and I want to celebrate with a handful of people, I prefer to have one-on-one mini celebrations with each of my loved ones. Having them all together at once would strip away much of the fun for me.)
Regarding not using people’s names, I also find it natural to use people’s titles if I’m talking about someone you haven’t met. If I always call my brother “my brother,” then you don’t have to remember who some stranger called “John” is whenever I casually bring him up in conversation!
Having said all that, I know most people are a lot more group-social oriented than I am. That means if, say, it’s someone else’s b-day and they have a party with everyone invited, I’ll totally go, if even just for a little while to show my support! It’s just not something I’d naturally choose to do without being asked.
“If I always call my brother “my brother,” then you don’t have to remember who some stranger called “John” is whenever I casually bring him up in conversation!”
I have a friend who will sometimes say things in conversation like “So I talked to Dad on the phone last night…” and it always feels so weirdly intimate to me. (We’ve been friends for a long time, but I’ve never met his dad.) Even when I was married, my husband would say “I talked to my dad” and not just “Dad!”
My wife does the opposite — when she calls home, she asks whoever picks up (usually her brother or sister), “Is my mom there?” When she’s done talking to her mom, “Do you want me to talk to my dad?” They’re not a blended family — those are her siblings’ parents, too! No one else in the home could be confused as to which person she’s referring to.
That’s so funny, my sister does the same thing! I’ve always called my parents by their first names, but she calls them “Mom” and “Dad” and obviously if I answered the phone at their house I would know who she was looking for, but she always says, “is my dad there?” etc.
People are really really different about these sorts of things. As a rule of thumb, I find that the older I get, the more I (and my boyfriends) wait before crossing the streams. I’ve had a few boyfriends, even in my thirties, eagerly introduce me to their friends and family. But the vast majority waited until it was really a sure thing – and that was not until two or three months in. When I was younger, though, it happened immediately. Having said that, I don’t live anywhere near my family, and when I see them, it’s a Big Family Deal. If I introduce someone to them, it will be talked about for decades. So on my end, there is no family meeting unless and until I’m talking marriage or living together. With friends, I don’t introduce them until a few months have gone by.
Given your comment about being an ex-pat and living in a war zone, I have to wonder if there are cultural issues at play, as well. And how old is this guy, compared to you?
All in all, the Captain gave excellent advice. Feeling weird about something in a relationship? Haven’t talked about it? Talk about it! I love her non-judgmental suggested scripts.
+1 on age being a factor. When you’re younger and spend most of your time hanging out with a friend group, it’s more natural to bring the new partner around sooner. I’m in my 40s and my friends are so fractured and compartmentalized – someone from a previous job here, someone from an activity there – that even if I wanted to introduce someone around, it wouldn’t be as easy as “Come meet my friends this weekend!” It sounds like the LW is in a more friend-group-oriented stage of life, but maybe the BF isn’t, especially since his socializing seems to be one on one (with his brother, with his work colleague) so it feels strange to him?
I just want to make the point that while age can be a factor, and switching to having more small social groups can happen with age, it isn’t necessarily the case. Nor is one more or less mature (you didn’t say that was the case, but I don’t want people reading that into things.) I am closer to forty than I am to thirty these days, and I still primarily have a local social group of friends. That local social group of friends is composed of smaller groups that know each other very well and don’t know the people within other smaller groups that well, but they do mingle. Just yesterday my household held a big games party, and it involved the smaller social groups from each member of the household being invited, which is part of how people slowly get to know each other. So, while the group of locals I know through my old college friends don’t necessarily have a lot of overlap with the group of locals my housemate knows from going out dancing or the locals my other housemate knows from college, they have met each other a few times at other big parties. And we do sometimes gain friends from the larger games parties of other people, and thus meet people from other little social groups. Meeting every local friend wouldn’t be very practical, but I certainly could easily introduce somebody to my closest local friends if I chose to, and they would all know each other as well. It’s just a matter of personal preference and how things happen to work out in your life. I guess my main point is, this may not be a phase the letter writer is going through. This may be her friendship style for life. If so, this is definitely something to talk about, because it may also influence how happy they are together in the long run.
The part where he never hangs out on weekends, even when he’s cancelled his plans to visit his family, strikes me as almost weirder than the lack of social group introductions. Maybe I’m a little paranoid, but weekends are prime date time, and if that time belongs exclusively to people who are Not You (except in the case of custody scheduling, etc), that seems a bit… off.
Frankly, the refuses to meet anyone plus never, ever around at weekends, goes home to see his family element strongly suggests to met that that family is his wife.
I was getting that vibe, too. I was all, okay, the relationship is only a couple of months, I can see him wanting to keep it casual, and then the next paragraph showed up waving two handfuls of red flags.
Trying to have a direct conversation about the relationship would probably generally be a good idea, but if he’s been lying so far, there’s no reason for him to stop lying. If it were me, I’d see how well the answers satisfied me (e.g. if the conversation leads directly to having dinner with his brother and meetings friends, then cool) and if they didn’t, I’d probably try a little social media research to see if any more warning signs popped up that I was being taken for a ride.
That’s the impression I got too. I think the LW should talk to him and use the Captain’s script, or if he sidesteps then something like, “hey, it seems like you don’t really want me to meet your friends and family, is that true? Why is that? It makes me feel _____ when I feel like I can’t share that with my partner. Can we arrange for this to happen soon?” and see what he says.
That said, I can also see 2.5 months being a pretty short time for a lot of people to consider a new partner “family and close friends meeting-worthy.” Personally, if I start dating someone I feel really good about, I’ll introduce them to the important people in my life pretty early on. Partly because if they’re great, then of course I want them to meet my also-great Team Me! But also because I’ve dated Darth Vaders who seemed great to me, but who my friends and family hated, so I’d like to have my instincts confirmed by people who care about me before I get in too deep. But it’s perfectly reasonable to not want to introduce someone you’ve just started dating to the important people in your life. And honestly, if he’s seeing this relationship as a short term/just for fun thing, he may not be interested in ever introducing you to Team Him.
As a side note, it wasn’t clear from your letter whether he is taking you out on weekends – alone – or if he is never available on weekends. Weekends are for dates. If he stays in town on weekends and has never invited you out on Friday or Saturday so that he can hang with his brother instead, that reads as disinterest in a real relationship. Or another relationship he doesn’t want you to know about. Either way, definitely talk this out in a non-pressurey way.
it sounds like he gets a booty call twice a week, doesn’t want to introduce her to his friends, doesn’t want to meet her friends, isn’t available on weekends and suddenly has a new commitment. It sOunds really sketchy.
“Weekends are for dates”
Not necessarily – it depends on culture. I’ve lived in places where weekends were firmly family time, and it was really noticeable that my local friends, with whom I would socialise during the week, would just vanish at weekends. This is particularly noticeable if it’s the sort of cultural context where it’s normal for people working in cities to go ‘back to the village’ whenever they have the chance.
“Weekends are for dates” for some people. But when I was younger and putting myself through school, weekends were for working double shifts so I could focus on my studies during the week. When I was just starting out, Saturdays were for catching up on responsibilities neglected during an 80-hour work week, and Sundays were for tutoring students to eek out enough for build an emergency fund. Now that I’m older and have health problems leading to low-spoons, Friday nights are for coming home and having a relaxing evening alone to recover from the week, Saturdays are for spoon-replenishment (which may or may not include people) and Sundays are for laundry, cooking, and cleaning.
In terms of dating, this means you pretty much have to be in the not-people, comfortable together, Partner (not just “dating”) stage before I really want to see you on the weekend. My weekends are NOT for dates. My weekends are for ME, to recover from the previous week and set myself up for success in the next week.
I don’t think it’s inherently dodgy to assume someone who doesn’t want to hang out with a casual dating person (who they’ve been seeing for less than 3 months) on the weekend. I also don’t think it’s fair to assume that your personal preference for dates/weekends are prescriptive to everyone’s preferences.
However, it IS right and fair and good for you to get what you need out of a relationship. I am not a good partner for someone who wants to spend their entire weekend on dates/with their SO. People have preferences all over this spectrum, and it’s more important that you find someone compatible with you than that everyone be the same in their preferences. So if you don’t like what’s happening in your personal relationship, if something fills off, talk about it! The Captain has good scripts. But I don’t think there’s anything definitely dodgy in his behavior. (Which also doesn’t make it 100% okay. This is where talking comes in.)
Thank you, ReanaZ. At my last job, I worked probably every other Saturday (give or take), and it was a pretty demanding, people-in-my-face-all-the-time job that could often lead to zero energy leftover for other humans. So “let’s hang around your apartment having sex and then order takeout” would be an acceptable “date,” but “fancy night on the town” would not work, and if someone had asked me out who ONLY wanted big showy spectacular wining-and-dining type dates all the time, it would not have worked at all.
He is never available on weekends. There was once when he was available really late on Sunday night, so at the very end of the weekend. And he won’t call me on the phone or send text messages, or use a chat app like WhatsApp, ever. When he has stayed in this town because his plans changed, he has told me about stuff he has done with his brother including once going to an art installation that we’d talked about seeing together, because we both liked the artist. (That kind of annoyed me, but I wondered if I was over-reacting again. If it were the other way around I’d have invited my date to come along to the installation and meet my brother.)
I think you probably need to talk about what you both expect/want from this relationship. It sounds like you may be wanting something that has serious and long-term potential, and you expect it to grow toward that or fall apart. And it sounds like he might want something more casual that he does not expect to turn into anything more. If this is the case, the sooner you figure that out the better. So, definitely talk to him.
This is hugely red-flaggy for me. I think that this is the appropriate time to have a conversation about what each of you thinks you are doing here, because it sounds like you do not think you are doing the same thing.
Oh god this is so sketchy. He is consistently unavailable on the weekends and is often evasive about why. He doesn’t do texting or calling? How do you even get hold of this guy, anyway? Is he easy to reach? Because I’m going to go ahead and take a guess in the dark that there are long periods of radio silence, like whole days where you tried to reach him and never heard back. Am I right?
To sum up: in itself, it is not necessarily a red flag that you haven’t met his friends or family yet, because different people have different feelings and different needs about that stuff. But the secrecy, the weird hours, the evasive answers, the fact that he has a phone but doesn’t text or call with you? These things tell me that there is definitely someone else in his life whom he’s hiding from you, and from whom you are also likely a secret. RUN.
LW, there are so many awesome people in the world who will want to date you, and who WON’T act like they are hiding something. Stop chasing after this cagey weirdo who doesn’t want to be with you, and find someone who’s as into you as you deserve.
I do get a weird vibe from him on this because it sounds like he’s actively hiding you, BUT… I also would give him the benefit of the doubt for a bit longer because it’s only been 2 1/2 months and it’s possible it’s just too soon for him. I would introduce this topic to him gently, as the Captain suggested, by inviting him to join you and your friends one evening. If he says no then that definitely opens the door for a conversation about it.
But if this behaviour doesn’t clear up within the next 3 months or so, then yup he’s hiding something and YUP IT’S WEIRD. Also a huge red flag: If he responds by telling you what you want to hear (i.e. “oh! I didn’t even know you wanted to meet my friends! I’ll invite you to join us sometime soon” and then never follows that up with an invitation within a reasonable time frame). If you feel like you have to nag your boyfriend to spend time with you, that’s strange. Get out if that happens, it’s just a looming heartbreak the longer you stick around.
(Can you tell that happened to me? It did not end well.)
Here are two things to keep in mind, both for this individual situation and for subsequent situations with this partner:
1. Do his actions match his words? “I want you to meet my friends someday” does not mean “I want you to meet my friends.” Only the actual action of setting up the meeting does that.
2. How do you and your partner handle other situations where you want something and your partner does not (or vice versa)? Are you always the partner who gives in?
When I read the letter, I agreed with the Captain that the idea of introducing a person to friends earlier or later in the relationship “is not particularly meaningful one way or the other.” It’s all the metastuff around this idea: how you are treated for expressing a need or desire, whether you and your partner consistently Use Your Words but the words don’t affect the actions that happen in the relationship, etc. That’s what is meaningful.
A friend of mine was telling me how he and his siblings when he was in high school all made a pact that they wouldn’t tell their Mom about any significant others unless they were engaged because she got over invested and it was insufferable. His family is closely knit, too, there’s just that one thing that all the kids decided.
There are definitely reasons to not introduce an SO to friends/family that are innocent (my friends are weird with new people, my family is far away/toxic/start talking about marriage immediately), but the fact that he never brings it up (but still talks to you about his friends and family?) and never has time for you on weekends sends some sketchy vibes my way- but I’m also Canadian, and as the Captain said, the culture where you are might just be different about that.
Hmm, well this could be a cultural difference thing and something about the local culture that I’m not reading properly. The weekend thing seems to be the same here though, I have colleagues who go out on dates at weekends, like in my home country. I have no idea about his family dynamic, like if his Mom would get over-invested if she knew he was seeing someone (that sounds weird to me, my family are very chilled out about my siblings and me going on dates etc, but I know it happens)
I don’t think there’s anything remotely weird about being slow to integrate someone new into your friend group. Not only is there the “will they still be around later” question, there’s also the early thrill and wanting to keep them to yourself and have Just Us time.
Cagey with names, almost never free on weekends, AND slow to ever introduce you to anyone? That just screams cheater to me. Maybe it’s not a wife, maybe it’s a fiance or girlfriend or even just a friend with benefits who he doesn’t want to know about you. But it’s odd that not only would he never be staying in town out of 10 weekends but that when he does – never such that you know about it before it happens – he doesn’t seem to be interested in being with you.
I’d be suspicious, but I’m not sure it matters anyway. If he’s not interested in being in your life the way you’re interested in being in his then you’re just not compatible and you should move on. If it’s a question of different speeds that’s one thing, but that’s something you communicate so that the other person doesn’t feel neglected and excluded.
Captain, was wondering if you’d think about one thing tone wise? I read the “way to casually throw that out there” at the end as sarcastic criticism to the LW for just dropping the detail of the war zone into the letter. Read as such the comment felt off to me. I feel like people often drop information in the way when they are dealing with sonething big and scary but don’t feel like dealing with other people’s freakouts. Thus the polite thing to do is treat the info as if its not a big deal. There’s quite possibly something I missed about the letter/your response, though.
I didn’t read it as sarcastic or critical at all. And I felt that the (to me, lightly joking) comment the Captain made WAS treating it as not a big deal, while acknowledging its presence.
That was how it came across to me, too. Like, I read it twice, went “huh?”
One thing that I’ve found helpful when introducing friends to a new boyfriend is to handle that gradually and one-on-one. Like, have a coffee or a drink with your boyfriend and one other friend (maybe two) you think would get along with him, rather than a whole boardgaming party. Also, that way it doesn’t matter if your boyfriend doesn’t love the activity, or the other person. It’s just a short introduction and not an audition in front of a live audience.
Agreed! Cards Against Humanity in particular sounds really rowdy and intimate for a “very introverted” person in a crowd of strangers.
Interesting, because I have the opposite feeling. With a three people group, it feels too much like an interview or something, or at least imbued with a lot more meaning than a bunch of people getting together, especially something where the two of us aren’t there as A Couple. It would be more like “come do this thing and by the way there’s a new guy” and less like “come meet and judge new guy.” Also, if I were the new person, it would be easier to be on the sidelines a little until I felt more comfortable in a big group, while with three people having coffee it’s more awkward if I’m quiet. I’d feel more pressure to perform if it was one-on-one.
That is interesting. I guess it’s a matter of personal preference. Maybe I like attention more than you, because I would feel bad/ignored sitting quietly on the sidelines of a group.
My first thought was that maybe his family is conservative and close and gossipy, and if they know he has a girlfriend it will be a massive massive massive deal and everyone will have their nose in it, so his threshold for ‘serious enough relationship to let the family know about her’ might be like, an announcement of an engagement.
But there are both more and less serious explanations possible, too. Asking is probably the best way to find out.
Personally, for me, I can actually easily imagine keeping a partner a secret for months, without it really meaning anything bad.
Not liking tabletop games? That’s a dealbreaker. Calling them “weird”? You just made my List. *side-eye*
Seriously though, I’m with everyone above who said slow is fine, lack of names and stuff is confusing and possibly sketch. Remeber, it’s your life you’re discussing too, or at least part of it, so no need to worry about “bothering” him with this stuff. It’s need-to-know for you, and that’s what matters.
He lost me at saying “weird” like it’s a bad thing. Although the not liking tabletop games bit didn’t exactly warm him up to me much either.
So, like a lot other folks I’m thinking “wife”. Or “expat fling, not intended to last.”
Or, well, given the “expat in a war-zone” thing, um, look, what does he say his day-job is? Because if it’s something kind of vague with ‘security’ in the job title, well that’s, um, less culpable than ‘wife’ but WAAAAY more potential hassle.
I know, I know, but it’s a cliche because it happens. And it happens at a much higher rate in and around expat communities in war zones.
Or maybe he’s just the really compartmentalised type. Or maybe living in a dangeous place has made him hyper-cautious about who he introduces to who and who knows what. In either of those cases, you might be okay with the situation so long as you know it’s not a comment on his feelings about or respect for you.
Here’s the thing, though: whether he has a perfectly reasonable, moral, acceptable reason or not, if you don’t like it and he can’t or won’t change it you don’t have to put up with it. He doesn’t have to be doing wrong to be doing wrong for you.
So, ask. Listen very very carefully to the answer. Go from there. And good luck!
Yes, my mind went where Marna Nightingale’s did–I’ve seen my share of 007 movies. (Or he could be a journalist/writer–think Hemingway, Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, the war reporter paramour on Murphy Brown. Few of the fictional examples I can think of seem to be typical, functional relationships.)
One (overly dichotomous) question about how you see this relationship: are you dating him in spite of your isolation and the war zone, or because of it? I applaud you for taking your feelings seriously and not letting your environment override your expectation of being treated well in a relationship.
Best of luck!
I might not have gone there had one of my spouses not lived in expat communities in Central Europe in the late 80s – early 90s. Shocking number of the local High-Tech and Dip Corps families turned out not to be strictly as advertised …
I’m not suggesting he’s a glamorous superspy, you understand, just that “he works in Intelligence or Defence in some sensitive capacity” is a possibility.
This comment just led to another thought for me – if LW is an expat, and new boyfriend is a local, could he be trying to shield her from unpleasantness around that? For example, my friend’s husband is from a part of the world where the US is not popular – he came here to study, ended up meeting and falling for my friend, and didn’t introduce her to his friends/family for quite some time because he was trying to protect her from what she was going to have to deal with as the only blonde-haired, blue-eyed, non-other-language speaking person from a disliked country at a function. They worked all of this stuff out, but it took a REALLY long time and a lot of advance groundwork on his part to ensure that all of those introductions went smoothly and at least somewhat comfortably for her. For my friend, in contrast, his cultural identity/background was a non-issue for her friends and family, so he met us a lot sooner than she met his friends and family.
Not saying this is or isn’t the issue – the only way LW can know what the issue is is by talking to him about it – but wanted to offer it as another possibility.
it could also be a cultural thing that he has a large commitment to his parents or brother. does he talk about what he does with his family on the weekends? have you asked about the possibility of *one* weekend staying in town and doing things together? is that something you want?
maybe he was nervous about the visit? wanting to make a good impression on an important coworker would be a good reason not to have a brand new lover/friend around. some people don’t mention names, because they don’t like remembering the names of other people’s acquaintances. they think not saying the name is doing the listener a favour. did you ask what his name was?
i definitely agree, that if meeting friends is something you want from a relationship, and you want it soon, then you need to tell him that directly. and create a situation to bring them together. if he doesn’t like board games, surely there are other things you guys could do.. like have dinner or watch a movie.
it’s always good to talk about what you expect rather than guess what’s going on with him. if he wants some other kind of relationship, or he’s on a different timeline, he can say that.
Not to sound mean, but I think you should take a harder look at the fact he considers you spending time with friends ‘weird’. I mean, not to assign any specific tea-leaf-reading motives, but do you honestly want to keep up with a guy who’s going to shame you for the activities you enjoy?
It’s one thing if it’s just “Hey, CAH isn’t really my thing.” But to act like there’s something weird and wrong with you for doing something you enjoy, that’s a huge red flag to me.
I’d say try three times to make a “This date and time we’re meeting for lunch, and I want you to come along.” Or even with just one other person if he is intimidated by crowds. And if the three times are met with wishy washy “No….” with no attempt to reschedule, or worse “Eating food? Together… huh… that’s… weird. If it makes you guys happy I suppose.” I’d say accept that you need to flat out confront that you’re not comfortable with this, or that he doesn’t want to start expanding your together social circle and may never want to, and are you ok with that?
Is it weird that I wouldn’t want to introduce anyone to my family before the “we’re very likely going to be together for multiple years” stage? It’s one thing with friends, but my family has a history of not respecting boundaries and that makes me guarded in some situations. Having a significant other is one of those situations to me- I want to be able to control what information I do and don’t give, along with my half of how the relationship develops. I can trust my friends to a basic level of respect in how they approach things, but I can’t with my parents even though I’m glad my parents and I have a relationship with each other.
I know a lot of people take the “you should share everything” approach to romantic relationships and there have been posts on here about sketchy guys (so far on here it’s only been guys I think?) hiding info that they shouldn’t but like… I think that within limits it’s okay to want to keep some information private if that’s about your safety, about social avoiding prejudice, etc. And even if you trust someone (or someone trusts me) that isn’t the same as the lived experience of knowing how to deal with certain situations.
With the LW I do think that he won’t even introduce her to his friends is weird, but it sounds like she hasn’t explicitly invited his friends to anything either and is just assuming that he knows what she wants. If she doesn’t feel comfortable telling him explicitly then that says a lot, but if she wants the relationship to progress then it’s worth trusting him enough to at least try.
Nope, not weird at all.
The only partner my extended family has met was a boyfriend I was with for 8 years and I didn’t introduce him to my family until we were living together. My current bf and I have been together for 5 months and he has met my parents once for about 30 minutes, and will meet them again in a couple of weeks for maybe an hour? At this point, I doubt I’d introduce him to the rest of family (except my brother if he ever comes out of seclusion) until and unless we’re engaged.
I don’t consider it at all weird to be extremely hesitant about introducing a friend (of any type) to family. People don’t choose their initial families. And relationships people have with their family can vary widely and be very complex. Some people have serious issues with their family, and even those who get along reasonably well with their family may still be careful to tip-toe around various things with them. Not everyone has a sweet, picturesque family relationship, so I usually am fairly careful about even bringing up family as a topic of discussion. It’s hard to know if you’re going to be reminding someone of the people they dearly love and are closest to, the hideous monsters of their childhood, or some extremely complex emotional pit of good and bad. I generally don’t have many expectations about how people interact with their family, so I don’t have guidelines about meeting or not meeting family. It’s just too variable.
My mum once said she thought my dad was an orphan for a long time, because they’d been going out for a couple of years before he even mentioned that he HAD a family (a decent sized one, too – one brother, two nieces, one sister, one mother and a whole host of aunts, uncles and cousins.) She did meet plenty of his friends, though.
My brother then did more or less the same thing: he had to have been with a girlfriend for at least a couple of years before we were allowed to know they existed.
Not really, especially if the family either sucks or is the perfectly-nice-people-but-absolutely-no-boundaries type. It’s pretty normal to want to be able to build relationships in some space away from the family where they won’t run into family politics and/or people Having Opinions About The Match.
Everyone gets to operate on different timelines, and I think you should just gently ask about it. But for what it’s worth, I find the whole thing pretty weird, and particularly the part where he won’t even mention his friend’s name.
As for the last part: how do you ask about it without seeming pushy? Stop worrying about that, please. I recently (lovingly) bawled a woman junior to me in my office out for saying that she didn’t want to ask management something quite basic about her employment because she doesn’t want to seem pushy. Fear of not seeming “pushy” is a tool of the patriarchy that very effectively shuts women up, and it is part of the panoply of forces that cause women to not only not ask for what they want, but to not even think about it, wondering all the time what someone else wants, what someone else sees. LW, you are the protagonist of your story, and if this relationship’s status quo is not working for you, it is 100% acceptable to ask about it, and eventually even change it The man you are sleeping with won’t even reveal his friend’s name to you, holy hell, you have the right to ask for more, or, barring that, an explanation.
So I was sort of on the fence, and I suppose I still am…but if you’re an expat? Whether or not he is too? I’d make sure right away that he’s not stringing you along. Many people find love in foreign places, but…some people see this setup as offering a certain convenient lack of accountability. Because you’re alone and away from home, and because you might be leaving soon. (And, like, sometimes that’s a mutually-agreed-upon feature. But not always.)
It’s totally possible that he’s just shy or circumspect! But if he’s a good guy, he will respond to questions like, “Hey, can I meet your friends? I would like to introduce you to my friends also!” with reassurance and respect, not by blowing you off or making you out to be paranoid.
And just IME, but whether you’re expat/expat or expat/local, part of developing intimacy over time is going to be learning how to work through isolation and build your social circle together.
I really wouldn’t read anything into not being invited to meet the out-of-town colleague/friend. On the list of friend/family introductions, a work friend from another country who is only in town for a few days would be pretty far down the list of people I would invite a new partner to meet. Even if you had met a bunch of his other friends, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he wanted that visit to be about catching up with an old friend and maximizing their time together.
More generally, the Captain and commenters are absolutely right that everyone does these things on their own time and you should probably just use your words and talk to him about wanting him to meet your people/you to meet his people. But since I see a lot of people saying this raises cheating red flags for them, can I ask: have you had any type of discussion with him about whether you’re exclusive? Have you talked at all about whether he’s your “boyfriend” (as the letter’s title says) vs. a guy you’ve gone on dates with (as the letter describes him)?
I’m wondering if this issue isn’t indicative of a more fundamental disconnect on that front. If he doesn’t think this is an exclusive relationship, and has been going on dates with other women, that could be the reason he doesn’t want to start swapping friends-and-family time, or the reason he’s often unavailable on weekends.
Hi, I am the LW and first of all can I say a huge thank you to the Captain for her amazing advice? Also, there is so much here in the Captain’s response and in the comments that I am reading and digesting and thinking about it all slowly. It is really fascinating to read how people have such different experiences with this introducing-to-friends-and-family stuff.
In response to Esti and others who have raised the cheating red flag, I am kind of sensitive to this because my previous relationship was with a guy who cheated on me (with his ex, who he had left before he met me after cheating on her (I found that out later, he did not cheat with me)) so I am both still bruised by the horrible realization that the “I’m going to a weekend meeting with some colleagues from work” was a lie, and I’m wary of suspecting others of what is really terrible behavior. I don’t get the impression that this is going on here. I have dated someone before who was not exclusive and I found out because he introduced me to the other woman he was dating… by inviting us both to the same dinner-and-a-movie date. That was awkward. The woman was really nice though. And we left before the movie.
If you do want to be exclusive with this guy, then I think talking to him about that is probably a good place to start. I know a lot of people who operate on the “unless we’ve talked about it, the assumption is that we’re not exclusive” principle, and that might be what’s going on here. Or maybe not — but either way, if you want to get serious with this guy, then I think having that conversation is a good way to find out if he’s in the same headspace that you are.
I’m wary of suspecting others of what is really terrible behavior.
On the other hand, it can be tempting to talk yourself into dismissing valid concerns because you don’t want to feel overly paranoid. Adding the ‘wont’ ever call or text’ to the disappearing for the weekends and keeping all his friends and families’ names secret is definitely more than enough reasons for you to have some perfectly justified suspicions.
Holy cow, are you me? 🙂 I’ve had this relationship, as an expat, with another expat from Not My Part Of The World, and he left me to go back to his ex, after breaking up with her while cheating on her, the summer before he and I met. So my red flags are all from that situation too. I don’t think you are being “sensitive”, I think you’re feeling very reasonable wariness about a situation that closely resembles a negative experience.
Ah, yes, I was in one of those. Never met his friends or his family, mostly met at his place. When we went out it was dinner and a movie, usually. There was one fine Saturday where we went out into the world together and it was so rare and precious I took photographs.
Turned out he was also seeing other people in addition to me. Which really shouldn’t have surprised me, but you know how one gets in the throes of infatuation.
Oh, my God, it’s like a fairytale. The kind where the princess gets locked up in an ice mountain.
Oh come now, a mismatch of expectations re: exclusivity early on in a relationship is not monstrous.
Wonderbink might correct me, but this doesn’t sound like a mismatch of expectations – it sounds like he wasn’t honest. Look at their comment: he didn’t just have an erratic schedule, he kept wonderbink indoors and away from friends and family. That’s not simply having multiple partners – that’s treating one partner like a sideline. And it doesn’t sound like wonderbink would have agreed to that upfront, or as though they were happy with it.
And although this isn’t always true, I think it can often be deeply disrespectful to treat a partner like they don’t exist outside your bedroom. That kind of partnership can be mutual, or at least a direct offer, but it can also be really unkind.
And I don’t think it’s responsible to assume that your lover expects casual treatment. I think it’s worse to just tacitly offer casual treatment without some kind of actual words about what you don’t want. I think it’s not the same as proceeding like you’re conventionally dating. I think this is especially true if you get any indication that your partner thinks there’s a relationship in progress, e.g., “Hey, want to go see Ninotchka at the Orpheum with my parents and then go have Italian?” You owe them something more than, “Nah, work” followed by a counteroffer of pizza plus boning.
I can’t help but think a bit of the guy whose maybe-boyfriend wouldn’t kiss him from a few letters ago. This doesn’t feel quite as sketchy as that — the ONLY reason my now-husband met my family when he did, which was about 3 months in, was because of a family crisis/emergency situation; otherwise I would have waited AT LEAST another 6 months — but it does have the aroma of sketch around it. It sure COULD be sketchy, and some of the details make it seem more that way.
“He is very introverted and maybe it doesn’t occur to him that people can socialize?”
I’m wondering if the LW is accustomed to dealing with introverts. If her friend group typically gathers in large groups to play games, he may not be comfortable with that at first. Maybe invite him to meet one or two of your friends in a low-key setting before dragging him into a big, rowdy group.
And yeah, I agree with those who have said that 2 1/2 months is not a serious relationship for most. I wouldn’t want someone trying to insert herself into my relationships with friends, family and colleagues (!) at that early stage.
If I’m regularly getting together with someone twice a week for sex, it’s pretty serious, no matter how long it’s been.
Really? So if you have sex twice in a week that’s “serious” after one week?
I did say “regularly.”
Fair enough. I guess you get to determine whatever time period=”regularly”=”serious” for you. For me, 2 1/2 months would not equal a serious relationship, especially if there has been no conversation about the relationship.
I have been in a relationship like this for about a year and a half now, and it’s still unclear what to do. A slight difference being that if I ask to meet/come along he typically says yes and seems fine with it, but doesn’t initiate friend hangouts hardly ever. I recently invited myself along to meet his dad, and he and my bf’s stepmom asked me exactly zero questions about myself after proclaiming “we didn’t think we’d ever meet you” so I guess being detached is that family’s thing. It’s weird, people are weird. I would say if it bothers you, get out now, because it gets harder and less clear what to do the longer you’re with someone (at least for me).
I usually don’t introduce people I’m dating to my friends until around the 3 month mark, and if I had an old-time-friend coming in for a week, I wouldn’t necessarily introduce them. And I’ve dated someone who had family obligations on most weekends (aging parents, alternate weekend custody of a daughter).
But, I would expect that if a weekend obligation changed, then he’d be all YAY FUN WEEKEND DATE. And I would expect him to respect the things I do for fun.
Even if Boyfriend’s behavior doesn’t add up to “hiding something like a secret life” it seems to add up to a lot of ambivalence towards LW.
Thanks for this, because I think you have gotten to something here. I think I am sensing ambivalence of some sort and so I am projecting that out onto things that by themselves I might not have cared about. I guess I am used to dating with people who are more enthusiastic (not in a “OMG together forever!!” way, more the “hey, I’m suddenly free, let’s hang out and have fun times” way. So when someone spends an hour of a date helping him pick out a great restaurant to take his nameless friend to, then tells me how great the place was and how Nameless enjoyed the local soup dish, part of me is pleased that Nameless loved the soup, but other parts of me are irritated because of the rest of it.
His behavior there is insensitive, considering the rest of the dynamic you have with each other.
Yikes. It doesn’t sound like he really cares if YOU like your soup. That sounds really frustrating, especially since you’re *trying* to connect and feeling like you can’t. I’m sorry.
I’m okay with it being a while to meet friends — except for one group, I’m more likely to hang out with friends one-on-one. But once someone’s been in my life for a while, enough that it’s Something, I want to have friends meet the new person and vice versa. But gradually.
I think the time line (2.5 months) is less of a concern than the fact that the LW doesn’t want to ask. The “never available on weekends” is also odd, and at least an orange flag of concern. But I’ll agree with the other commenters that “makes fun of your social activities” (or “is dismissive” of them) is a red flag of lack of respect.
LW — talk. And if you can’t talk, maybe reconsider.
What is the general dating culture there like? For example, I am also an ex-pat and here it would be very unusual to be introduced to your boyfriend’s friends after a few months and and not to his family unless things were marriage-serious, and even then, I have friends who I’ve known for a few years that, were it not for a few offhand mentions here and there, I never would have known were married/in serious relationships. Their wives/husbands/partners never interact with the friend group. And even when they do, they don’t- last week I was at a party and a guy spent the whole night chatting to me. Then at the end of the night he left with a girl I hadn’t seen him so much as look at the whole time. She’s his girlfriend he lives with.
This is just to say that not every culture thinks early integration is the way to go, and perhaps there are other issues at play (like do you speak his friends’ and parents’ language well, or is he going to be stuck playing translator? is he likely to get teased or get side-eye for dating a foreign girl? what kind of politics are in play?) Inter-cultural relationships are very rewarding but there’s a lot more in play than when dating in your same culture where you know the expectations better.
Like others have said, the time line isn’t a red flag to me. The older I get – and the more relationships I’ve had, and exes I’ve brought to meet the parents – the longer I wait before introducing new partners around. Probably closer to 3-6 months for me and the people I’ve dated, and I wouldn’t start thinking it odd until more like a year.
BUT, that said, I was once an expat in a country that had been a war zone until relatively recently, and was still quite poor and un/”under”developed. And this letter is ringing ALL kinds of bells reminding me of my experiences there. Everyone I knew there – and I mean *everyone*, with perhaps one or two exceptions (and even in those cases, I may have just not known) – had both a wife/husband and at least one boyfriend/girlfriend/lover on the side. It was the cultural norm, it was (mostly) accepted, it was just the way it was there. In my country people typically married (or “married”, it often wasn’t formalized) very young (mid-late teens), had a child or two, then moved to a big city or tourist area to find work, leaving their first family behind. Then in New City they’d have a main partner, and often other partners, too. Even when the primary couple lived together, both partners would usually have another(s) on the side in the same town. Sometimes they’d try to hide it, but more often than not everyone knew – certainly the whole family, and often the whole neighborhood or even town. Basically, if someone was going home to “see their family” every weekend, it was just known/assumed that their first wife/husband/partner (and, usually, kids) were there. Though this information wasn’t always shared with foreigners like myself – including about the local man I was involved with, who swore up and down that he wasn’t seeing anyone else. Until I learned otherwise from a friend of his – who was shocked I didn’t know – shortly after we were married. I have to wonder if LW is from a country with a similar set of cultural norms – and if the LW is who I think it might be (we swapped expat stories in the forums a few months back), the culture is pretty similar IME. If so, then it’ll come down to whether or not this kind of situation is okay with you.
My partner didn’t introduce me to his family until about two plus months in. I joked that “Oh, so I passed the test and can meet them all now?” His response was that he would have introduced me earlier, but was waiting for me to bring it up and say I wanted to, especially since his family is lovely, but large and overwhelming.
We’ve also now been dating for almost a year and a half now, and I’ve barely met any of his friends, except, say, if we bump into them while we’re out. It bothered me at first until I realized that he’s just a well-adjusted loner by nature. Happy to spend an evening reading at home, playing computer games or whatever vs. socializing in person. A lot of his friends are also at different life points – ie. married with kids, so getting together with them is a pain to organize so it rarely happens. His close friends live three plus hours away, so timing-wise it took months to eventually meet them. And then there are some friends who he’ll meet up with from time to time, but he’s not close with (ie. old work buddies) so it seems … weird to have that big “meet my girlfriend” social event/interaction. Point is, we’re happy loners, being loners together and it works for us.
On the other end of things, an ex of mine was telling his mom the next day about our first date, and introducing me right away to everyone. And that relationship was a spectacular flaming failure.
So it all really depends on his personality, history and a ton of other factors. Which means talking about it is the only way to figure out what’s going on, and whether it’s a situation you want to be in.
When I was in high school, I dated a guy who told me up front that he wasn’t going to introduce me to any friends or family until we’d been dating for 6 months +. He had recently ended an engagement, rather publicly – there had been a Disney wedding in the works, items purchased, reservations made, etc. He was still reeling from that break up, and while I was hurt, his reasoning made sense to me.
But all of that was only possible because he Used His Words and told me what the time line was. Otherwise, I would have been sitting at home, wondering what was wrong with me that he couldn’t bring me around his friends and family.
Hmm. LW, Hmmm.
On two occasions I’ve had guys want to hide our relationship from mutual friends, and in neither case was it a good sign. One was basically ashamed of me and dumped me shortly thereafter, and the other was hedging his bets for maybe getting dates with a different girl. So yeah. But then we’re not talking mutual friends here so it’s entirely possible it’s nothing. Or it’s possible that he’s hiding you because he has a different wife/girlfriend/some kind of secret double life. It sounds hilarious when you write it out like that but it is a real thing that happens and you should keep that in mind while interpreting how he responds to conversations about this stuff. You don’t have to be introduced as his dearest beloved to have a public place in his life as a lady he’s dating.
At the end of your letter you say you don’t want to be pushy or weird. Watch out for that. Watch out for people who imply you’re doing so, and watch out for thinking that it’s pushy or weird to express your own needs and desires. It leads to ending up with people who enjoy how you don’t ever express your needs and desires while you stew quietly about how they never seem to just intuit them. If you want to start meeting his friends and vice versa start moving to make that happen – talk about it, invite him to stuff. It’s not a weird desire even if this is just a case of him moving a little more slowly than you.
Be prepared to compromise on it, but also don’t compromise yourself into oblivion. Some people are great at implying that you need to compromise more, where enough equals you never having any needs that conflict even slightly with theirs, and if you’re unconfident it’s easy to go along with that.
I dated a guy I met through mutual acquaintances when I was an expat, and we never hung out with each others’ friends. On his part, I think it was the fact that Korea has a strong couple-centric culture that rotates around the couple as a couple, and not the couple as integrated into each others’ social lives. AND hanging out with friends is very social circle specific (your middle school friends and your coworkers will likely never meet). On my part, the differences in our cultural upbringings stressed me out a little, and I preferred to negotiate that without any observers/bystanders. Could either of these things be contributing to the clash in your expectations? And echoing everyone who says, try the script to get some clarification.
I also am much more used to people having substantial/onerous family, parental, and sibling obligations on a regular basis, often ones that seem weird or unnecessary to many people from more individualistic or less patriarchal societies*, so the gone almost every weekend didn’t trigger OMG super-spy or adulterer alarms in my head, but that’s me.
*One of my students (high school girl) would have to run home to make her younger brother his after-school snack.
I dated a guy, neither of us from the country we currently live in, who lived with his sister. They’d moved here together and only his presence in her apartment made her living here “safe” in the family’s eyes. He was grateful to be living with his sister because otherwise every time any man remotely connected with his extensive family (so basically any male from his province) came to our city he would’ve been honour-bound to host them rather than just entertain them outside the home. He never spent the night at my place, because for whatever reason it soothed his conscience to sleep at home. I met his sister, and she liked me quite a bit, so there were no red flags like that, but sometimes it just ends up being a little weird when you date as an expat!
Chiming in to concur that it was 6 months before my family met my partner, and another 2 before any of my friends met him, for a variety of non-shady reasons. people have different timelines for all sorts of reasons. If you feel like there is cagey secretive type behaviour adding up here, you have a couple of options. You can talk to him directly, ask what his feelings/reasons are for it, and see if the answers relax your spider senses or heighten them. You can do some (ethical) digging and see if you find anything that reinforces or negates your spider sense. By this I don’t mean follow him home on the weekends or invade his privacy – that’s not ok. I mean do some googling, check social media, if your country has public records of marriages or births you can see if you find any hits suggesting he does have a wife/children or another relationship he’s more public about. You can see if maybe he is active on dating sites still. OR you can sit tight and observe and see if things change on their own. Then you decide on your own accord if this is something you can live with or if there’s something not sitting right with you still, and you can stay or go.
Scripts for asking him about it?
“Boyfriend, I feel like I don’t know much about your life/family/friends, and it feels a bit weird to me because I’m kind of used to blending friends etc pretty early on. I don’t want to be pressure-y but I do want to know where I stand so I’m not inviting myself along where I’m not welcome yet or forcing you out of your comfort zone to meet my friends. Is this something you’ve thought about?” And use the captains über line of awesomeness: ask him how meeting family/friends/spending a weekend together etc would play out for him in his ideal situation.
I started dating a girl a month ago.
We didn’t become book face friends straight away and we don’t really post or tag one another there. We can see what’s going on with the other though. That’s important.
She hasn’t met my family or friends but she knows things about them. Like names, jobs, how long we’ve been friends… genuine details.
Any time someone controls how often you meet, who you meet from their life and is super sketchy about their plans, there is usually a good reason. It might be innocent (“I don’t like to get too involved in each other’s lives until x date”) or malevolent (you are not his only SO).
Just think about what you really know about this guy. If you don’t know more about him than you know about a work colleague, there is a problem.
I second what all the gang above have said: basically If it’s a problem for you, LW, it’s a problem in th relationship, so you need to talk about it.
But also web to introduce bfs to your friends and family is a personal family-culture sort of thing, so it’s not necessarily too sinister (though I give this guy side eye a bit).
In our family boyfriends tend to end up meeting family earlyish just because we’re quite family orientated and so hang out a lot. And because the family’s usually happy and excited to meet them. But it’s never a big MEET THE PARENTS event and the bfs don’t have to go if they feel awkward.
I was a bit concerned about this part:
“he is a bit dismissive of the things we do – boardgames, Cards Against Humanity etc. Not openly hostile, just “oh that seems weird”.”
It could just be an excuse to not meet the LW’s friends for whatever overarching reason there is, or even awkwardness about potentially being seen liking “weird” things around people who aren’t his girlfriend. But LW, if he regularly dismisses your interests like that when it’s about you and not your friends, it seems like at best he’s just interested in a very casual relationship and doesn’t want to get to know you in non-romantic/sexy ways, which doesn’t seem like what you want.
It could also be that if the LW’s boyfriend isn’t into board games (perhaps if there’s a confidence issue with English) – that meeting a partners friends over an activity that feels “weird” (or awkward, not my thing, something totally new) – could be really intimidating. If I was seeing someone who wanted me to meet their new friends while doing an activity that I don’t do at all and don’t exactly find interesting, I wouldn’t necessarily want that activity to be the first meet up. If I was seeing someone who was really into various comic con’s with friends – I wouldn’t be dismissive of the interest – but it’s 100% not mine. And I would not at all want the first time I met that person’s friends to be at such an event. I think that partners can have very diverse interests that don’t intersect, and be respectful/interested without joining in.
Also – if English isn’t the LW’s boyfriend’s first language – board games/Cards Against Humanity can be very intimidating. I recently played Cards Against Humanity with some non-native English speakers, and even among some very strong English speakers the game was far more challenging at first and we had to come up with various ways to deal with words/phrases that weren’t known.
There are also plenty of us who find Cards Against Humanity … kind of icky. I know various people who play with various workarounds to avoid the horrible sexist/racist/just generally gross shit, but it is very definitely not my sense of humour.
Just wanted to say: I have been dating my partner for around six months. He’s met two of my friends, and I am yet to meet any of his. This is partly because we live in different cities, and so when we visit one another, we tend to hang out just the two of us. Its also because he is often low on spoons, and doesn’t need vast quantities of high-energy interaction. Its also because neither of us have a set group – we tend to have friends we see as individuals so there’s not an automatic hangout process- and we met on OKCupid so don’t have any pre-existing mutual friends. But we’ve both discussed how important I think it is (me more than him, for the above reasons) and now he’s making an effort to arrange for me to meet his friends, which is lovely, and I am gradually introducing mine. Its nice – but it has taken half a year! And there’s no secret other partner or anything, just circumstance.
The OKCupid thing is funny because I met my partner on irc, and of course we didn’t reveal a lot of personal information at first because you never know who you’re meeting online, but eventually it developed that I knew his sister, was good friends with her husband, and that my partner and I had several other friends in common (aside from all the mutual friends I had with the sister and her husband). And at the time we lived 2000 miles away! but I used to live in the same region as his sister.
It was very helpful when we were first going to meet in person and I could email my friend, the brother in law, and say, look, what do you know about this guy? and when I was going to meet the parents and I could say, so what are they really like and what should I do or not do?
Coming from the standpoint of having lived/dated in a small expat community in a difficult area (close to war zones, but not one) – if you are in an expat circle and he is not – I 100% understand both the cultural blending as well as expat vs local. As an expat, it’s not just your social world that is small – but it can be your entire world (work/social/family) can end up all being one group. Particularly if you work with your friends – it can end up that you see your ‘friends’ up to 6 and even 7 days a week. So 2.5 months of seeing someone and not including them in a group that is that tight can feel very strange. Whereas his ‘social timeline’ could be radically different.
Being back in the US, the idea of seeing my friends more than three times a week seems intense (unless it’s part of a planned vacation) – and if we go two weeks without seeing each other – it just means we’re busy. In expat-land, things were different. So I do highly encourage speaking up and inviting him to meet your circle. Because while there may be some “I’m from culture A and you’re from culture B” – the expat culture involves new rules on top of that, which are entirely fair to explain.
OK, I get why all the commenters here are saying its not wierd to not have met friends yet. But the big red flag to me is that he doesn’t seem *excited* about making time for her. It means something that he doesn’t call her on any weekend when he’s not home.
I had an exboyfriend who, we would never hang out on the weekends, only during the week. And I was chill about it for a long time, but the relationship didn’t seem to be progressing at all. He asked me out on a really cute date initially, so I don’t think I was off base thinking he might want more than sex. When I finally called him out on it “where is this going? I’m not happy etc.” he sort of mumbled something about not wanting a girlfriend. Which like, that’s a find choice to make, but he was stringing me along for sex while keeping me arms length. (There was also some stuff going on about how soon we slept together I think, like I lost his respect which is sexist bs obs). Then a couple months later he asked me out on a date and I gave him another chance, and we started dating for real and the difference was big. Like, I didn’t have to fight to hang out one night a week, it just happened. That doesn’t mean he introduced me to all his friends right away – that still took another month or two – but it was natural.
I really think something is up with this guy and the LW deserves better. And that something isn’t the pace of friend integration – its how excited he is about the person.
Not only does he not call her when he’s not home on the weekend, LW’s comment above suggests he doesn’t call her EVER (no contact via phone, text, or WhatsApp and the like). That was the biggest red flag for me in terms of the concerns people have outlined above re the possibility that he is already coupled. Email accounts are easy to keep private. Texts/call logs, not so much if your partner gets hold of the phone.
Yes I find that weird and rather annoying, because it is nice to check in here and there with an SMS or via a messenger, though I am not someone who overwhelms people with messages. And what’s the problem with calling someone here and there? That doesn’t imply a Serious Life Commitment, it’s just… nice? It makes me feel like I am intruding on the occasions I have sent him an SMS – I stopped doing it because he won’t respond. I’ve been to his apartment though, and no sign of a wife.
That also seems a bit odd. People have different communication preferences–one of my partners doesn’t much like talking on the phone, and vastly prefers email or text. But we spend a lot of time in email (it’s a long-distance relationship, and without the email would probably wither and die, if it had ever had the chance to start), and chat in gtalk from time to time.
As others have said, if it doesn’t work for you, it’s a problem, even if it would work for someone else.
Another perspective – I’ve been burned by things before, and I could easily have been seeing someone for 2.5 months and they still be ‘someone I’m seeing’ and not ‘boyfriend’. I wouldn’t introduce anyone till the conversion had been made (which in itself might require a conversation). How long it takes to have that conversation/conversion depends on how often we’d seen each other and for how long. A date out a week – could easily be 6 months, forever – as it’s clearly not going anywhere serious. Staying over at each other’s place – that would be different.
But it’s worth talking. If someone’s worth staying with, they shouldn’t go into a frenzy over the ‘where do you see this going?’ talk.
This sounds so familiar. I dated a guy for six months, he was really light on communication when we weren’t together, and being together consisted of staying at his 1-2 nights a week and going on nights out once or twice a month. I met two of his friends on one of these nights out, and they gave me screaming bad vibes. In hindsight I feel like he let me meet the friends who were sufficiently bastard-like that they wouldn’t spoil whatever it was he was up to. He was always secretive about what he did with his life outside of work and the time I was with him including not giving names of acquaintances and friends, very deliberately making sure I didn’t cross paths with any of his relatives, work colleagues or the majority of his friends, altering plans and being extremely cagey about the reason for the delay, yada yada. His flat was really bachelor-pad-like with no sign of a woman and once I left my necklace there and joked with him “are you sure it’s mine?” and he said “yes, because you’re the only woman who has been in this flat” a little too confidently, like there was an “it’s all part of my plan” going unspoken. He would never park outside my house because he didn’t want to run into my friends or family, either. If he ever had plans involving someone else, or had to nip into work briefly or something, he’d schedule me around the plans so I’d never come into contact with anyone from his life. If anyone ever phoned him while I was there and asked what he was up to, he’d never mention me. There was a huge age gap, I was really pretty young, and he quite often seemed to glory in having a young girl at his beck and call. We went to Amsterdam together for his birthday and he didn’t let me eat and when we got back, he disappeared with the majority of my unspent spending money.
Beyond using me for sex (very, very infrequently) and stealing my money, I don’t know what his game was. Secret wife, midlife crisis, ego trip, whatever. Your boyfriend doesn’t give me the same level of heeby jeebies as my ex did, and I’d say how that “relationship” went down is a pretty extreme example of how things could go, but I’m just saying…be wary. The biggest red flag that could come is that you raise the issues and he brushes them off or denies them, which is exactly what my ex did on multiple occasions. Whatever the reason is for how things have been going, if he doesn’t respect what you’re feeling about it, he’s bad news.
So sorry that happened to you : (
Hmmm. This thread has been informative, because it has shown me that many people really like to compartmentalise their lives – and shown I would really not be OK with that personally – certainly not to the degree of no communication for days at a time as well as not meeting anyone else in their life.
WRT the OP though, I really think it is “weird” that he is extremely cagey about this. It gives me the vibe that LW feels super uncomfortable to try and have a discussion about it because of how he acts around the topic, which makes me think “hide” more than “private”. The judging LW’s friends/activities doesn’t help either.
I still concur on the advice to ask him about it. But if he is completely unwilling to address the point head on (you know how good some people are with tying you in knots without telling you anything)/tries to make out the LW is in the wrong for wanting to be clear on how he feels on that point, I would feel pretty strongly he’s not on the level.
I’d like to throw in one more option here, though obviously if you’re getting a weird feeling, it’s time to talk about it. I felt Very Weird about introducing my current partner to my friends, and I’m generally very big on togetherness. But I’ve been in some terrible relationships before, and I wanted my bf to be an abstract concept for my friends until I felt that things had really gelled. Also, I’ve had a lot of my friends for years, and I think as I’ve changed over the years, I look for different things in a partner than I do in my friends. I was uncomfortable with the idea that my friendships would puzzle the new bf. I was similarly not pushy about meeting his friends and family. After being burned a number of times, I was exceedingly cautious. (And bear in mind, this was/is a relationship that I sensed, and still sense, is going to be a fairly permanent thing.)
I introduced my ex to friends/family early, afterwards really regretted it. If I met someone now I would definitely wait longer than I did before. However I would also communicate this in some way to the person. I personally really believe in openness and honesty, even early on.If someone was incredibly vague with me I’d start questioning things as well. So I would ask them why are doing things this way. If it’s an issue for you; talk about it, maybe he hasn’t realized it bothers you, perhaps he has a good reason or possibly something weird is going on.
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