The Washington Post

Her new boyfriend wants to spend his va­ca­tion time with his ex? Don’t blow past that warn­ing sign.

- Carolyn Hax Carolyn Hax

Adapted from a re­cent on­line dis­cus­sion.

Dear Carolyn: My boyfriend of a few months seems to like go­ing on va­ca­tions with his ex and their teenage son. It re­ally both­ers me. The first time he jus­ti­fied it by say­ing it was booked be­fore they split up and the son re­ally wanted both to go. He said it wasn’t go­ing to hap­pen again.

Now he’s talk­ing about a va­ca­tion he says his ex and son want to take to­gether, and he ad­mits that if I weren’t around, he would go be­cause he thinks it’s a good idea for his son. I think he’s try­ing to talk me into let­ting him go, even though he de­nies it.

Com­pli­cat­ing all this is that he still hasn’t filed for di­vorce, de­spite promis­ing to do so for months, nor has he told his son they’re get­ting a di­vorce (he thinks it’s a sep­a­ra­tion). Ob­vi­ously I haven’t met the son, nor will I any­time soon.

While I don’t re­ally be­lieve my BF will get back to­gether with his ex, it feels wrong to me. As­sum­ing the di­vorce does get filed be­fore the trip, do I re­ally have any right to say no? I want the best for his son, but there are so many other ways to have a fun va­ca­tion that don’t re­quire the ex to be there. I’m sym­pa­thetic to the idea that BF may still want the sta­bil­ity of be­ing with his fam­ily the way he used to, but I feel like he’s go­ing to have to ad­just to a new nor­mal, too. But I’m try­ing not to be self­ish.

Also, I’ve ac­tu­ally known him for years, so I trust him and want to make it work more than I might some brand-new per­son. I think he cares a lot about me, but I also know he has se­ri­ous is­sues with bound­aries with his ex — she gets what she wants from him even though her long-term af­fair is the rea­son they split.

She knows about me and ap­par­ently com­pletely freaked out at the idea of him mov­ing on. I’m stuck — do I (sadly) cut ties, or do I learn to live with some­thing I feel isn’t right for me? — Re­ally Both­ered

Re­ally Both­ered: Oh good­ness no. This alone — “do I learn to live with some­thing I feel isn’t right for me” — zips you through the “noooo” ex­press lane.

But since you took the time to type out all the other stuff:

You don’t have a small, iffy­va­ca­tion prob­lem, you have a big, still-way-too-en­meshed-with­the-ex/not-ex prob­lem.

So please tell this lovely man you care for him and hope to be with him some­day, but can­not while so much un­fin­ished busi­ness re­mains from his mar­riage. When he’s di­vorced, when he’s telling his son the truth, when he’s hon­est with him­self about the dy­namic and his strug­gle with bound­aries, when he’s own­ing his choices in­stead of hid­ing be­hind “a good idea for his son” ra­tio­nales, when he’s able to be with you in the full light of day, then he should ab­so­lutely give you a call.

Painful, yes, but not nearly so painful as where you’re headed. Pro­ceed­ing on this road is the dat­ing equiv­a­lent of get­ting out of your car, mov­ing the “road closed” sawhorse to the side and con­tin­u­ing on your drive. Not rec­om­mended.

Write to Carolyn Hax at

tellme@wash­ Get her col­umn de­liv­ered to your in­box each morn­ing at­post.

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