Widower Wednesday: The Late Wife's Friends

A reader writes in with the following situation:

My widower boyfriend is encouraging me to become close friends with the late wife’s friends. I have no problem with socializing with them at parties, family functions, and other social gatherings but I have my own set of friends. It is not that I dislike these people but somehow I feel that his suggestions is not necessary, inappropriate, and perhaps slightly controlling.

I think it best that the late wife’s friends and I remain acquaintances at events and leave it at that. That said if my boyfriend wants to keep in contact and meet up with them on occasion that’s fine but I don’t feel it’s my place to fill in the space left by the late wife.

Am I correct or do you think I should I try to become closer with the late wife’s friends?

I think you’re doing the right thing by being social acquaintances with them. I don’t see any reason you should become friends with them unless there’s a real reason for you to become friends with them.

However, I don’t think the widower’s intentionally being controlling. He’s probably hoping you’ll fit in with the people he and the late wife spent time.  When I finally reached the point where I felt comfortable introducing Marathon Girl to people Krista and I were friends with, there was a part of me that hoped Marathon Girl would fit right in with them. While everyone got along just fine with each other, there was something off about the get-togethers. After a couple of times hanging out together I realized that Marathon Girl was a different person and brought a different dynamic to the group. The friendship we shared with other couples couldn’t continue the way it had been no matter how much I hoped it would. This wasn’t a bad thing but added awareness that by making Marathon Girl number one, there were socials aspects of my life that were going to change too.

My suggestion is to politely tell your boyfriend what you told me—that you’re fine hanging out with his circle of friends at social functions but you have your own set of friends that you’re close to. In the meantime perhaps you can both work on about finding other people that you can both enjoy spending time with as a couple—one where his past and yours don’t get in the way.