Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Sister's boyfriend continually dodges her family
Indianapolis: I am starting to really not like my sister's boyfriend. And the main reason is that in the three years they've been together, I've never met him, and neither has any member of my family, despite numerous attempts to get together (he's always got an excuse). She says the reason is that he's nervous we'll judge him for some of his life choices.
It makes me mad because she should be telling him that we're not judgmental people (we're not . . . all we care about is whether he makes her happy). But even if she told him, "My family's totally uptight and insufferable," if he's a stand-up guy, he should meet us, right?
Carolyn: Tell her the only life choice you're judging him on is his refusal to meet his girlfriend's family.
And you might want to ask your sister if she has thought about the many possible implications of being with someone who is so lacking in emotional courage.
Anonymous: To Indianapolis: Do you think perhaps your sister is ashamed of her boyfriend and makes up his excuses, but really, it's she who isn't bringing him to introduce you? I dated a lot, but I only ever introduced my parents to one guy . . . I'm marrying him. Didn't need the family chorus to tell me I was dating someone not right for me because I already knew that. I just wasn't ready to take a big girl pill at that time.
Carolyn: If that's the case, then the sister is making a serious mistake in setting it up as the boyfriend's choice not to meet them, no? Duck the criticism, sure, but don't duck and let it hit an innocent bystander.
Plus, if that's the case, why isn't he eager to meet them anyway — and breaking up with her for keeping him hidden? After three years, he's an accomplice one way or another.
Not ready to be Daddy for someone else's child
Boston: I am dating a pregnant woman, and the baby isn't mine. In recent weeks I have begun to think I underestimated the role she expects me to take in this, and now I'm a little frightened. What is the most graceful thing I can do here? I would rather not break up with her, but I don't know if staying together without playing Daddy is an option.
Carolyn: She's going to need someone who is fully on board. If you're not, then the biggest favor you can do for her is to tell her this — really, and now. Even if you feel like a cad for doing it.
It may be that she agrees it's premature for you to stand in the Daddy shoes, and is willing to "date" you after she becomes a mom. (The quotation marks are in deference to the yeah-right factor of her doing this for the first couple of weeks, if not months, with her newborn.) But if you're right that she's starting to see you in those shoes, then the kindest way to disabuse her of that notion is the one that leaves her time to adjust.
Either way, honesty is a great habit to get into with people in general, not just with the pregnant ones whose need for the truth has a due date.