Poetic Justice is an advice column that offers counter-advice to submissions at other publications whose contributors have failed the reader.
The New York Times last week admonished a woman who was uncomfortable about the prospect of allowing her daughter in a relationship with a married man to bring him on a Greek vacation.
The full submission is below:
My 30-year-old daughter is in a polyamorous relationship with a married man. She brought him home for the holidays, and while he was charming, I felt uncomfortable. (This may have been triggered by my husband’s infidelity that led to our divorce.) Now, my daughter tells me she would like to bring this man on our family trip to Greece this year. It may be petty, but I don’t want to foot the bill for another woman’s husband. And I don’t see any way this relationship can lead to my daughter’s happiness. Should I lay out my boundaries and risk my daughter not joining me on vacation?
The Times’ columnist for “Social Q’s,” Philip Galanes, responded by directing the mother to respect her daughter’s polyamorous relationship.
“I don’t think the real issue here is the cost of a trip to Greece or your ex-husband’s infidelity,” Galanes wrote. “This is about respecting your adult daughter’s choices. You have substituted your idea of happiness for hers. This is a common (and often well-intentioned) trap for many parents. It’s not productive, though.”
Without offering an opinion on whether the man in question should be welcomed on the trip, Galanes recommends the mother study polyamory and learn how to respect her daughter’s decision to date a married man.
“In a more open-minded context, you may find that the trip to Greece resolves itself,” Galanes wrote.
Except in truth, this woman’s daughter is a mistress who slapped on the label of polyamory to make it socially acceptable to publicly sleep with a married man.
The mother’s intuition that the relationship will only bring long-term pain is a wise instinct given her daughter’s boyfriend is married. The relationship, then, will either end in the destruction of a marriage (itself an apparently unhappy one) or the heartbreak of a woman in love enough to request his presence on an overseas vacation.
Family vacations are among the most special experiences of our lives, and ought to be reserved for those who meet the same high standard as the most special people in them. Does that really include a boyfriend who is married to someone else?
The mother’s reluctance to “foot the bill for another woman’s husband” is not only far from petty, it’s entirely reasonable for any trip, let alone an expensive vacation to the Greek islands.