I’m 42 and I’ve been dating a man for nine months. He’s great to me. He’s very helpful and sex is fantastic with him. My problem is with the way he is with other people in my life. He’s rude to my kids who are 17 and 19 years old. There are also a few other friends that are periodically at my house (and several are teens) that he’s short with. He makes comments to me like “Susie really irritates the hell out of me. She can’t seem to shut her trap.” These are people that mean a lot to me and I get defensive and angry when he makes comments about them. He’s entitled to his opinion but can’t understand why I become defensive and hurt when he makes comments at their expense. I’m not sure how to handle it. Is the relationship doomed?
A: I don’t know if the relationship is doomed. But unless this guy makes some changes, you have some serious thinking to do about whether what is positive in the relationship is worth it. It sounds to me like he wants you all to himself. He is asking you to push away the people who mean the most to you. It’s normal for there to be a period of exclusivity when a relationship is just starting. But 9 months in, that should be settling down.
Of course you are feeling hurt. At 17 and 19, your kids still need you. And you and your friends like and need each other. Falling in love in one’s 40s isn’t like being a teen. In midlife, we have responsibilities and relationships and often complicated lives. Loving in midlife is deciding to love the whole package. Each of you should be thinking about whether you can accept and even love what, and who, comes with the other.
If you really love this fellow and things are otherwise very positive, please consider getting some support. If you could have managed it on your own, the two of you would have moved beyond this issue. Since you haven’t, you might ask him to join you in some couples counseling to talk this through.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Dec 2009
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Frustrated with boyfriend’s behavior. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 8, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/12/24/frustrated-with-boyfriends-behavior/