DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 38-year-old woman, never married. Since my mother’s passing a few years ago, my perspective has changed. Specifically, I prefer to focus more on my relationships and less on my career. I would like, more than anything, to have a family of my own.
I have been dating a younger man (seven years younger) for a year. Luke and his family are native to our city, while I am not. He eats dinner with his parents -- at their invitation and expense -- most Fridays and every Sunday. Except for a handful of occasions such as my boyfriend’s birthday and New Year’s Day, I am not invited.
Because my time in this town has been largely as a nontraditional law student and then as a woman with limited means seeking gainful employment, I haven’t made many friends. As a result of this, and my boyfriend’s dinners with his parents, I often spend both Friday and Sunday nights alone, which makes me incredibly sad.
I have mentioned this to my boyfriend, and his response is that “there is sort of an open invitation,” but when the end of the week rolls around, he never offers a dinner with his parents as an option. We have had several arguments about this.
Although I was employed at the same law office as his father for a year and we (in theory) have shared interests, his parents have never reached out to me personally to extend an invite. This Christmas, my younger brother drove up from another state to spend Christmas with me. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone while Luke celebrated with his parents, at their home, on both days ... and they live just 10 minutes away. I thought this was particularly cruel.
I have struggled with feelings of being “orphaned,” because without my mother, I feel essentially alone (my father is destructive and not really in the picture). I had been so optimistic upon beginning my relationship with Luke that I would be warmly received by his family, but it has been quite the opposite. I am a good person, and I can’t understand this.
Which party, if any, is at fault here? Is there anything I can do to be included in these weekly outings? I have developed serious resentment towards both Luke and his parents.
GENTLE READER: It seems to Miss Manners that your wish to start a family is not aligned with your gentleman friend’s desire to make you part of his. Sadly, this does not bode well for the longevity of the relationship.
From a manners perspective, an open invitation is a tricky concept. But if you would like to challenge it, you could ask directly about a specific night. You could also invite the family to your house for a meal. Unfortunately, however, if the answer to either of these options is anything less than a firm plan, it might be time to move on -- and make new friends in this city.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)