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Dilemma: feeling left out of my girlfriend's family life

Katharine Whitehorn / 02 March 2016

A reader writes to agony aunt Katharine Whitehorn with concerns that his girlfriend neglects him whenever her family is around.

Woman leaving

Dilemma: feeling neglected

I am widowed and retired and a divorced woman came into my life three years ago; we get on famously in ALL ways both day and night – that is, unless any of her own family is around. 

That is when I get sidelined, taken for granted and made to feel an outsider. Whenever she stays the night, without fail she has to leave in time to visit her mother and father before work; if she is a bit late she gulps her breakfast and drives too fast to make up the time, or her mother phones to enquire why she hasn’t turned up at the usual time. 

She also has a daughter who lives at the other side of the country; she just informs her mother when she wants to visit and the lady abandons any arrangements we might have made and opens up her house.

I am always left out of these family scrums and it makes me feel neglected and worried.

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

I can well see why you are exasperated; but there must be plenty in your lady’s past – the divorce, for a start – to explain why she clings so to her family. 

So one thing you might do is somehow to convince her to see a therapist to sort out her feelings. You could try getting really angry, but it might only make her feel more insecure, maybe even more sure that the only people to be relied on are her blood kin. 

Otherwise you may just have to put up with these irritations – only you can tell if the game is worth the candle. 

There is one more extreme solution, which I almost hesitate to suggest: have you thought of asking her to marry you? After all, you’re both free. And then you might have a real place in the family, and she might finally feel secure enough to put you first.

Read our tips for getting on with your partner's first family.

Our readers say...

We also asked our Facebook followers for their advice...

"Wow, I totally disagree with your agony aunt about marriage as an option, the girlfriend sound far too insecure to risk that. An adult woman with adult kids shouldn't be so tied to her parents - it's not healthy. And she clearly values her family more than the bloke - my advice to him would be to finish this relationship. Either another woman who can make him happy will come along in due course, or he can enjoy all the indulgences of living alone with nobody to please but himself. Either would be better than being shunted aside as 2nd class."

"You have to learn to share she does not belong to you only she had a life before you now grow up."

"You need to grow up mate, its not all about you."

"Maybe you demand attention all of the time & actually she loves her family too... poor you!"

"She has lack of respect, sad to say."

"Depends how long you have been together. Partners may come and go but family is permanent."

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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