Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Is being a widower a valid excuse?: I’ve been seeing a widower since three months after his wife died. We get along awesomely. He is potentially everything I am looking for. But he has young children that I have yet to meet, and none of his family or in-laws know he has been dating me for the last eight months. We’re approaching his first Christmas without his wife and the first anniversary of her death. I don’t want to push, but I’m getting discouraged at being his secret girlfriend.
When we’ve discussed the issue before, he has made some concessions. He’s met some of my friends and family. I’ve met a few of his friends. He says he doesn’t care what others may think of him dating someone so soon after his wife died, but I can’t help but think that is why I haven’t been brought to light with the family yet. At what point should I cut my losses?
A: If you’re getting to a point where you’re no longer happy with the status quo, then it’s time to start thinking about what you want and whether you’re going to be able to get it in this relationship. You don’t have to push if he’s not ready to introduce you to his family; you can just say, “This isn’t working for me,” wish him the best, and move on.
The one disclaimer I’d add here concerns the fact that he has young children you haven’t met yet. Given that they lost their mother eight months ago, I don’t think that’s necessarily a sign that he’s not ready to acknowledge your relationship publicly, so much as a consideration of their own grief—he’s making sure he doesn’t push them to meet his girlfriend while they’re still processing their fairly recent loss. I don’t think you’re at a point where you have to decide to break up in the next few months, but of course, you and I are separate people. If you’re not getting what you want, that doesn’t of itself mean he’s doing anything wrong. It could just indicate that the time isn’t right for the two of you.