He hides me from his ex

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We'll have a final 2021 chat next week.

I have been dating my boyfriend for a year now. We have lived together for about nine months and we also work together. I have two girls, ages 17 and one in her 20s. I don't really have to deal with my ex-husband anymore, but he always knew about anyone I dated, sometimes even before I told him. We divorced many years ago. My boyfriend divorced around five years ago and has a younger teen daughter.

Now with all that being said, his ex makes it difficult for him to see his daughter. Because he fears her running off to another country with the daughter, he doesn’t push anything in court. The last time he got to see his daughter was January 2021. She stopped letting him see his daughter because she found out about me. I honestly suggested that maybe they could work things out so that he could see his daughter, but he said that their relationship was too toxic.

Here we are now in December 2021 and his ex reaches out to him and says that his daughter is asking about seeing him. He made plans to see her this week. He tells me today that he would like me to ride with him, but he needs to drop me off somewhere and pick me up after he sees his daughter. He is seeing his daughter and the ex-wife and they may be going out to dinner, etc. He also tells me that he is going to tell his ex that he is living with his mom and stepdad and not mention me. One, I didn't ask to go, he invited me, but why go if I’m just going to be hanging out somewhere alone?

I do want him to see his daughter and I would never stand in the way of that. I also understand his fear of not being able to see his daughter again. But I also don’t like having to hide all the time because he doesn’t want his ex to know about me. How will we ever move forward in our relationship? The only thing that helps me have empathy is that I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t see my children. But I don’t know what I should do either. Can you please offer me any advice or just help me sort this out? Maybe seeing it from your point of view will help.

– Hidden

First, your boyfriend needs some legal advice. Clearly I can't offer that. This situation is nuanced and complicated, but ... I hope there's a way he can protect his relationship wit his daughter without having to shut down his life. This seems unsustainable, especially if he begins to see her more often – because the lies will become easier to spot.

As for you – and you're the person I'm here for right now – you don't need to ride with him and be dropped off on some corner. Better to hear about the experience when he gets home. It sounds like it would be painful (and annoying) to be part of the day, but only in secret. Politely decline and explain why.

The bigger question is whether you can stay in this relationship if he sees his daughter more often and you have to take part in more and more deceit. Maybe this would feel better if he was taking steps – like seeking legal advice – to change the situation. It sounds like you need a light at the end of the tunnel – to know that it won't always be like this. I mean, if he is allowed to see her more often after this upcoming meeting, will there be more hiding than you're used to? Will this only get worse?

Stay out of this meetup and then have a conversation about how this might change over time. You need to know what you're in for and how he sees this playing out.

– Meredith

Readers? Should the LW take the ride with the boyfriend? If this is how it will be forever (or until the daughter is an adult), how will this work?