Ask Amy: ‘Girlfriend’ might angle for partner status

Amy Dickinson
Tribune News Service

Dear Amy: I have been in a relationship for 13 years.

I am over 50 and I am really getting sick and tired of being disregarded when I am referred to as the “girlfriend.”

I feel that being the girlfriend implies a temporary thing, and I feel other women disregard me when they hear the word “girlfriend.”

I have never been so insecure in my life, but now I feel like I have to constantly worry about my future.

My boyfriend has me on his life insurance, but he has no will.

I don’t think he understands the feeling of having to worry that if he passes on, I will have to leave our home, as I have no legal rights to fight for it. — Lost

Dear Lost: I understand your objection to the term “girlfriend.” And yet you referred to your sweetheart as your “boyfriend.” Does he mind this? Does he worry about how other men see him?

I must admit to a180 degree change in my own opinion of use of the word “partner” to describe serious long-term relationships. I used to think that “partner” sounded like a descriptor better suited to a law firm than a love relationship. Now, I think it sounds just right. What are married couples, really, other than partners-in-life?

You should do some research on laws in your state regarding “common-law” relationships and “domestic partnerships.” Some states seem to regard longtime cohabiting couples with some of the same legal rights as married couples, although, based on my own research, it is still legally advantageous to be married (which is one reason same-sex couples have fought so hard for it).

Mediation would help you and your guy to sort out some of these lingering issues and could help you and he to settle some important matters having to do with property, possessions, etc. And yes, you should both have a will! A will is especially important, for the reasons you cite.

I infer that you want to be married — for practical reasons, but also possibly for other reasons. If he is resistant or refuses, then you will have a big decision to make, regarding whether you would rather be a girlfriend or an ex-girlfriend.

Dear Amy: I’m a gay man in my 6s, the middle son of three.

My older brother was also gay and died of AIDS in the early ‘90s.

My mother died in 2016, and I have a hard time when friends and relatives tell me what my mother did to help them and changed their lives for the better.

She was very outgoing and fun in public, but she was abusive and neglectful of all three sons in our youth and into adulthood. No hugs, no, “I love you” until after my brother died and I was in my 40s.

My dilemma is what to say when people tell me what a wonderful, loving woman she was.

My brother and I have talked about how difficult it is to respond to people making such comments.

I usually just say some version of, “Yes, she was a special person,” but it denies the pain and suffering that I continue to live with.

Any suggestions on what to say when people go overboard with praise of her?

I have had counseling, and I am doing well, but hearing such platitudes is a trigger for me to relive a painful past. — The Truth Hurts

Dear Hurts: I think you would feel better if you allowed yourself to respond more authentically, while not denying others’ impressions and experiences of your mother.

First off, I urge you to write down your experiences, not necessarily to share them with others, but for you to clarify your own feelings. This will help you to come to terms with your life, your relationship with your mother, and to see how you both changed over time.

One platitude I’ve expressed regarding my own challenging parent might work for you, too: Try: “Well, people are complicated. Things weren’t always easy at home, but I know she was a good friend.”

Dear Amy: I was truly shocked by the question from “Worried Bro,” whose family members were participating in a larger gathering for a surprise birthday party.

Thank you for consistently advocating for safe and healthy behavior during the pandemic. — Staying Healthy

Dear Healthy: I think we each have the duty to protect ourselves, which, because of the way the COVID-19 virus spreads, also helps to protect others.