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MeghanL

Another Relationship Question...

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I swear, every time I make a post here, it's because of some weird social issue I don't know how to handle. And this time it's no different! So, please Hive Mind! Help me to navigate in a healthy and productive manner. 

This all starts 8 years ago. My dad's much younger sister has a history of dating a lot of different guys. This is just normal for her. She gets really connected really fast and they will live together for a couple months, break up a year later she'll be on to the next guy. Every family holiday would be spent getting to know the next one. ,Some she did married, but of the 4 marriages, the longest one lasted 4 years. It wasn't really a problem until she started bringing around guys that were criminally dangerous. One was a pedophile who was wanted in 2 different states (we didn't find out until after they broke up, but he was still around us and my kids). The final straw for my husband and myself was when she was with a guy who was physically abusing her. My grandmother had a birthday party my parents hosted and she brought him and the pictures of her bloodied face. He arrived later. And wanted to hold my then baby girl. And I made some excuses about her needing to eat and exited the room. My aunt was leaving the birthday party to go camping with him in the woods, but asked us to call the police so he didn't murder her in the woods. My dad was solidly against calling the police for a situation she was going into willingly (we offered to instead drive her home, help her pack, move her somewhere else including into my parents' house, help her financially with costs and counseling but she rejected all of these ideas as going camping was the only option she could see. I didn't understand it) 

After this birthday party, my husband and I told her and my parents that while we loved my aunt we would no longer be around or bring our kids around the guys my aunt was choosing to date. It wasn't safe. My aunt understood and for the past 7 years, it hasn't really been a problem. This has translated to that while SHE is always welcome and invited to family events, her DATE is not welcome or invited to family events. My aunt went to counseling, made some changes and seems to be making better choices, but I don't really see her a lot because she kind of needs a man around to go anywhere. It's just the way she's always been. So, sometimes she'll say she will come to things, but backs out at the last minute because she doesn't want to come solo. 

Cue to today. My aunt is dating a new guy. They've been together for a year. My brother is having a birthday party for my nephew (turning 5) in a couple weeks. Last week, he and his family were visiting my aunt and met her new boyfriend. They had a great time and he really thought the new guy was awesome. He invited my aunt AND her new boyfriend to the birthday party. He really wasn't thinking about the boundary we drew 7 years ago, although he and his wife have said in the past and said today when we were talking about it that they really appreciated not having to be The Face of this boundary that was set that benefits all of us and our kids. They feel completely comfortable with this guy and invited him to come. They also invited us, the rest of our family and numerous friends to attend. 

So, here's my problem. I am totally fine going to this ONE event, with this ONE guy, this ONE time. But, my fear is we do this, the boundary is gone and at Thanksgiving she could be with a not-so-great guy and then it's a big deal to re-draw family gathering event expectations. On the other hand, the birthday party isn't really a Family Event per se...so maybe it wouldn't change anything?

My kids are also much older now. 7 years ago they were the oldest was 7...now my oldest is 14 and my youngest is 8. So...I don't know what to do. I'll obviously talk to my husband about it tonight, but thought I'd see what you all thought first. 

Help me, please!

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I would just not go.  If you don’t want to be around her current boyfriend, that’s your choice.  Other family members can make different choices. 

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Do you trust your brother's judgement?  It sounds like you've been on the same page regarding the past boyfriends.  If you trust his assesment I'd go.

I don't think this destroys the boundary because your brother specifically invited *this* guy after spending time with him.

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What about....you go to your nephew's party, and the rest of your family stays home.  Maybe there could be some cool kids event that your DH takes them to that just couldn't be done any other day.  That way, you still get to attend the party, none of your kids are exposed to yet one more weirdo, it's still very clear that your kids are not allowed to be around your aunts new flavor of the month, and you can meet this guy yourself to decide if he's ok to be around or not.  

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How’s your relationship with her? Could you maybe have coffee with just her, let her tell you about the new guy, just mostly listen and see what you can learn about him before making your decision? Get his full name and where he’s from so you can google search for felonies? 

I guess I just think you shouldn’t make a knee jerk reaction. As your children get older, they’ll be expanding their horizons as far as how to interact with and conduct themselves around folks from all backgrounds. But if someone is truly dangerous, I would probably feel as you do, especially with the possibility of a pedophile. 

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I would probably go based on your brother's opinion.

But if you are worried, maybe you could find a way to meet the guy without your kids around, before the party.  (Also, you could google him and find out if he has anything scary in his background.)

I think a change in circumstances justifies a change in boundaries.

Edited by SKL
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I personally would not go to the birthday party and state clearly why you aren't going if someone asks. If in the future, your aunt marries this guy then I'd likely reconsider my stance being at family events with him there but until then I'd keep that boundary up.  But be prepared for this event to be the start of him being invited to other events, like Thanksgiving, unless you host you can't dictate who is invited and who isn't.

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I just wanted to add - it’s not up to any other family members to maintain your boundary (despite the fact that it may also benefit them). So don’t be upset with your brother. Yes, it makes it harder because you don’t feel like they share your concern, but it’s really their privilege to invite anyone they wish to their son’s party. 

Thankgiving  - offer to host and then you get to make choices about who you invite. 

Edited by Seasider too
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Hold the boundary.

Your brother met him one time. Plus, being charming and appearing like a great guy is very consistent with many abusers and/or sociopaths. 

For her sake, I hope your aunt is making better decisions. However, ime, people do not often go from dating pedophiles and people who might murder them to dating great guys. They hardly ever do it at all, much less in 8 years. 

I put no stock in asking your aunt about him (obviously she likes him!) or even meeting him yourself beforehand and doing a background check. Your aunt is historically attracted to dangerous people. To me, that outweighs a good personality and lack of criminal record (if indeed there is a lack). 

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She’s been with him a year and he may or may not be a stand up guy.  At some point you probably should give her the chance to demonstrate that he’s ok. But you can surely make a stand that you aren’t willing to tiptoe around red flags. Tell her upfront. Honestly, when she came to an event w photos of bruises and he later showed up, or you knew a guy was a pedophile, you probably wish you’d  said something right then and there.  But if she has made changes, it seems reasonable that a birthday party is an ok start to letting her introduce her boyfriend. 

But you control your boundaries and your brother gets to control his. Sounds like he’s ready to move past the policy that’s been in place for 7 years and that’s his call. Doesn’t mean you have to, but it might mean you miss family events.  

Having said that, you really don’t know what kind of guy he is.  Or for that matter, what kind of person anyone is. Most of us have a friend/relative/neighbor who does something that seems totally out of character. You just never know...but balancing good judgement with suspicion and fear can be tricky. 

 

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OP, I think you are wise to maintain your boundaries, especially regarding your dc.  Just because they've been together a year and your brother liked him doesn't mean he's a great guy.  He may be, but her track record is poor.  

My relative has had several "great guys" who seemed wonderful initially, but turned out to be abusive creeps.  The last one seemed perfect for her.  He was pleasant, hardworking, owned his own business, and appeared to adore  her; everyone was thrilled she'd finally found someone stable who treated her well.  No one knew he was verbally abusive to her when they were alone.  She loved him, though, and married him anyway.  He started physically abusing her shortly after they were married, and then about a year later he tried to kill her.  The family did a background check at that point, which showed that he had been charged with assault many, many, MANY times, including domestic abuse, and he'd always been able to get the charges reduced.  My relative divorced him, moved to another city, and was ready to go back to testify against him, but his attorney worked out yet another plea bargain, so there was no trial.  "Mr. Wonderful" has since moved on to charm some other poor woman. 

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22 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

I just wanted to add - it’s not up to any other family members to maintain your boundary (despite the fact that it may also benefit them). So don’t be upset with your brother. Yes, it makes it harder because you don’t feel like they share your concern, but it’s really their privilege to invite anyone they wish to their son’s party. 

Thankgiving  - offer to host and then you get to make choices about who you invite. 

 Just to make it super clear, no one is upset with anyone. I'm not upset with him for inviting the date to the party. He won't be upset with me if I attend or don't attend. There's no upset feelings. 

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I'd hold the boundary. If this guy really does turn out to be different and becomes a functional part of the family you can re-evaluate later.

Arrange to stop by at a different time with a gift for the birthday child.

 

 

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44 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

What about....you go to your nephew's party, and the rest of your family stays home.  Maybe there could be some cool kids event that your DH takes them to that just couldn't be done any other day.  That way, you still get to attend the party, none of your kids are exposed to yet one more weirdo, it's still very clear that your kids are not allowed to be around your aunts new flavor of the month, and you can meet this guy yourself to decide if he's ok to be around or not.  

So, I would totally do this. Except my brother invited us, we said we could go and THEN he told me today boyfriend was also invited. Believe me, if there was a way to avoid making this into a big deal (it seems very "I'm making a Stand" if we don't go) then I'd have opted for that. 

So, if I change my RSVP, it's going to be known why. 

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Just now, MeghanL said:

So, I would totally do this. Except my brother invited us, we said we could go and THEN he told me today boyfriend was also invited. Believe me, if there was a way to avoid making this into a big deal (it seems very "I'm making a Stand" if we don't go) then I'd have opted for that. 

So, if I change my RSVP, it's going to be known why. 

 

Well, if there are honestly no hurt feelings, and you are open with your brother, it really shouldn’t be a problem for you to change your mind, should you decide to do so. 

But yeah, better start thinking ahead to the holidays and how they will look if you’re the only one holding the line. Sorry you’re in this position. 

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47 minutes ago, happi duck said:

Do you trust your brother's judgement?  It sounds like you've been on the same page regarding the past boyfriends.  If you trust his assesment I'd go.

I don't think this destroys the boundary because your brother specifically invited *this* guy after spending time with him.

Typically I do trust his judgment. So, I'll take that into consideration. 

 

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I think I would go, but I'm not sure about bringing the kids.  I might even try to get together with the aunt and the prospective uncle before the party, just me, to feel out whether to bring the kids or not.

I have a cousin like this.  She has never been married, and has a bunch of kids with several different guys.  At least one of them abused her.  I met him.  I made conversation with him.  I made him welcome.  And I watched him like a hawk.  Because family.  Because I didn't want him to be able to isolate her from us.

But I didn't have kids then.  If I had, it would have been a tougher decision, and I would have spent most of the time guarding the kids.  I would have kept a very much closer eye on the situation.  And I think it's valid to say that you're not going to bring your kids along.  (AND it's valid to not go.)  But I also encourage you to consider whether you might be letting a guy isolate her from her family if you do that.  That's what abusers try to do.

Hopefully your brother is right and this is a better guy.  In that case, it's good to be there and see that for yourself, too.  

It's perfectly reasonable to have a boundary, particularly to protect your children.  It is also reasonable to reconsider it.  It is ALWAYS CRUCIAL to protect your children and yourself.  That is the highest calling you have in the mix.  Never forget that.

 

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1 hour ago, MeghanL said:

 

 

Che and his wife have said in the past and said today when we were talking about it that they really appreciated not having to be The Face of this boundary that was set that benefits all of us and our kids. They feel completely comfortable with this guy and invited him to come. They also invited us, the rest of our family and numerous friends to attend. 

So, here's my problem. I am totally fine going to this ONE event, with this ONE guy, this ONE time. But, my fear is we do this, the boundary is gone and at Thanksgiving she could be with a not-so-great guy and then it's a big deal to re-draw family gathering event expectations. On the other hand, the birthday party isn't really a Family Event per se...so maybe it wouldn't change anything?

 

gently - you do not have the right to tell other people who they are allowed to invite to their own house.   it's your choice whether you go or not.

she has been in therapy - and is supposedly choosing better guys.  are you going to allow that may happen?  or are you convinced nothing will ever change and she'll only pick worse than losers?

who hosts thanksgiving?   if you are hosting - you may choose to invite the boyfriend.  or not.  

if someone else is hosting, they can choose to invite the boyfriend.  or not.  (and it's not your choice.)  your choice is whether or not you attend.

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If I wanted to go to the event, then I'd go. I think the kids may be big enough to know to keep their distance from Auntie's friend because we don't yet know him. 

It's been 7 years? IDK, I'd be tempted to give it a try. 

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49 minutes ago, MeghanL said:

So, I would totally do this. Except my brother invited us, we said we could go and THEN he told me today boyfriend was also invited. Believe me, if there was a way to avoid making this into a big deal (it seems very "I'm making a Stand" if we don't go) then I'd have opted for that. 

So, if I change my RSVP, it's going to be known why. 

 

ok- did he invited boyfriend before or after he invited you?

Edited by gardenmom5

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If it were my family... I'd go and take the kids unless you think they would be in a dangerous situation.  I'd keep my eyes open and be watchful of the new guy, but friendly, too.  7 years is a long time.  

ETA: I don't think this one event has to mess up the boundary. If this guy turns out to be just like the others, then you can say "well, we tried, didn't work, sorry Auntie, line is still there."  

Edited by marbel
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I would check him out as much as possible before the party - FB page and profile, the state database for court cases from any state he's lived in.  If he clears those hurdles, I'd go.  Watch him, but give him a chance.  If I found anything I'd let brother know, and tell him you just can't come- and that it was for his kids benefit, too.  

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25 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

gently - you do not have the right to tell other people who they are allowed to invite to their own house.   it's your choice whether you go or not.

she has been in therapy - and is supposedly choosing better guys.  are you going to allow that may happen?  or are you convinced nothing will ever change and she'll only pick worse than losers?

who hosts thanksgiving?   if you are hosting - you may choose to invite the boyfriend.  or not.  

if someone else is hosting, they can choose to invite the boyfriend.  or not.  (and it's not your choice.)  your choice is whether or not you attend.

 

My question is not "Should they invite him" my question is "should I go?" 

I am in no way trying to tell other people who they can and can't invite. 

I am trying to figure out if it's worth going when she's been a person who brings criminally dangerous people to family gatherings in the past.

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19 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

 

ok- did he invited boyfriend before or after he invited you?

Invited boyfriend first because they were at a gathering together. 

Then sent out a group text invite my sister, my parents and me. 

Then I responded we'd be there. 

Then brother told me that he also invited boyfriend. He knew it would be a problem for me so wanted to give me a heads up so I could decide if I wanted to change my RSVP or not. 

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3 minutes ago, MeghanL said:

Then brother told me that he also invited boyfriend. He knew it would be a problem for me so wanted to give me a heads up so I could decide if I wanted to change my RSVP or not. 

 

He's giving you a chance to decline the invitation. I'd take it.

"Bro, I feel terribly awkward, but I'm just going to have to decline your invitation this time. Had I known that Boyfriend would be attending, I wouldn't have accepted. Gosh! I do hope that Nephew isn't too disappointed that we won't be there, but we really have to stick to our boundaries! Thanks for understanding! See you at Thanksgiving!"

 

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I would not go. I have found that if I am not the one to keep a boundary hard and fast, if I justify the "moving" of it for even a very, very good reason, the others then take that as a sign that the boundary no longer exists. This makes it a lot harder to put back in place.

In our case, it is a young man that a niece is dating. He really simply cannot be around my sons or dh. In dh's case, due to the nature of the young adult's crimes, it could be an issue for Dh's security clearance at work. We were asked if we would be willing to meet in a neutral spot - the pizza place - for niece's birthday, and i thought about going alone. But I realized that unfortunately with this particular set of relatives, it would literally be taken as "oh good, the boundary is gone", and the next thing you know, niece would be stopping by to "chat" with boyfriend in tow. I am running out of energy and patience for dealing with drama, and then having to start all over again with these people.

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2 minutes ago, Faith-manor said:

I would not go. I have found that if I am not the one to keep a boundary hard and fast, if I justify the "moving" of it for even a very, very good reason, the others then take that as a sign that the boundary no longer exists. This makes it a lot harder to put back in place.

In our case, it is a young man that a niece is dating. He really simply cannot be around my sons or dh. In dh's case, due to the nature of the young adult's crimes, it could be an issue for Dh's security clearance at work. We were asked if we would be willing to meet in a neutral spot - the pizza place - for niece's birthday, and i thought about going alone. But I realized that unfortunately with this particular set of relatives, it would literally be taken as "oh good, the boundary is gone", and the next thing you know, niece would be stopping by to "chat" with boyfriend in tow. I am running out of energy and patience for dealing with drama, and then having to start all over again with these people.

 

I really appreciate everyone's input as I am trying to do the best thing. But, Faith-manor, I think this is the thing that most aptly puts into words everything that I am concerned about. I need to remember that we had very solid reasons for creating this boundary. And, a whim invitation isn't a good enough reason to abandon that boundary. The reasons for breaking it aren't yet better than the reasons for establishing it. 

I will keep an open mind though for the future. For now though, I'll bow out and spend time with my nephew on another day. 

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2 hours ago, MeghanL said:

Invited boyfriend first because they were at a gathering together. 

Then sent out a group text invite my sister, my parents and me. 

Then I responded we'd be there. 

Then brother told me that he also invited boyfriend. He knew it would be a problem for me so wanted to give me a heads up so I could decide if I wanted to change my RSVP or not. 

back to my original thought. . . .. your brother knew it would be a problem for you,  but invited you WITHOUT first telling you the boyfriend had already been invited and was coming.  he *should* have given you a heads up *at the same time* that he invited you so you could make an informed choice.

I'm jaded enough to wonder what else he's not telling me, and if this will happen again?   sure you can change you mind, and family members will know it.

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