Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Cast as the villain for sharing a name with his ex-mistress

Carolyn Hax on

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

My boyfriend used to be married to "Mandy," with whom he has two children. He had a serious affair with "Jennifer" and left Mandy to be with her. Their mutual friends and Mandy's family rallied around Mandy, of course. Ultimately the relationship with Jennifer didn't work out.

A few months after he broke up with Jennifer, he and I got together -- and I am also named "Jennifer."

It is clear to me that many of the people I am introduced to as his girlfriend think I am THAT Jennifer. It is stressful and exhausting and leads to constant uncomfortable situations. People are frosty or outright nasty to me.

His former in-laws fall into the latter category. I met some of them at Thanksgiving at the kid handoff. My boyfriend asked that I not go into self-justification mode and not bring up the fact that I am "not that Jennifer," as he would rather end all discussion of that affair altogether. He and I are together legitimately, no one is cheating on anyone, and yet I seem to be doomed to keep feeling like a dirty mistress, over and over. Anything I can do, or ask him to do?


-- Not THAT Jennifer

You can explain that you see why he'd rather not keep bringing up the affair, obviously, but that his choice leaves you under the bus with That Jennifer. And that it's painful for you to absorb "frosty or outright nasty" behavior intended for somebody else.

I can't see going forward with a relationship with anyone who couldn't at least recognize that point as valid.

Assuming he does, then ask him if he has any ideas for sparing you this pain, if not with everyone, then with the people you're going to see again and again, like these former in-laws.


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