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To expect this man to be less selfish?

(29 Posts)
Dresden Sat 15-Sep-12 18:50:16

Hi, I'm new to GN, but have been lurking for a while, reading about other people's dilemmas, and learning quite a lot in the process.

I am feeling so cross about dd's relationship with her boyfriend/partner. They've been together for about 3 years. She's in her mid twenties, but he is a lot older and has been married with a couple of dc. He's a well educated man with a good job and perfectly pleasant to talk to. The problem is that dd has made so many sacrifices for him, trying to make their relationship work, but he seems to be in a co-dependant relationship with his ex. The ex simply has to crook her little finger and he comes running, no matter what he has arranged to do with dd.

It's becoming increasingly obvious that the b/f will not ever feel able to put dd first. They will never get married apparently because he can't do that to his dc. I don't think he has any plans to have any dc with our dd either. Why does she put up with it, and how can a mature and allegedly intelligent and sensitive man take such advantage of a much younger girl? We are sure she would love to be married and have dc in due course and it nearly broke our hearts when she announced that she didn't think this would ever happen. She's so young to give up her future in this way.

Of course we all accept that the b/f has a duty towards his dc and must put them first at the moment, and that is not a problem at all for dd, but it seems that he has not been able to break his emotional ties with his ex and always prioritises her needs, even in front of those of his dc.

I know that compared to some of the problems I have seen on here, this is not such a big deal. DH and I keep saying to each other "at least there are no grandchildren to worry about" and "lots of people make mistakes, especially when they are young" but we are still hurting so much for dd. We keep hoping that she will have the strength to walk away from this man as he is plainly in a total emotional muddle and really has nothing to offer dd except sadness.

We keep wondering how this happened, what we did when dd was young to make her feel that she needs to sacrifice herself in this way. She is a lovely, attractive, intelligent and caring girl who is deeply loved by us and the rest of the family and she has always seemed so strong and capable. Maybe she is just too nice and too ready to help lame ducks over stiles?

We really don't know how to help her. We don't think it would be productive to just advise her to walk away and to criticise the b/f too much. So far we have just listened and we always tell her we will support her decisions whatever. Also that we love her and are proud of her. She has always been very stubborn and hangs onto her dreams long after everyone else has realised that they are never going to come true.

Any advice from anyone who has seen similar situations would be much appreciated.

harrigran Sat 15-Sep-12 18:58:56

Welcome Dresden you are right not to voice disapproval, that only makes them more determined to make the relationship succeed. If your DD is young then she still has time on her side and do not underestimate the power of her hormones, when her body clock is ticking and she is being denied the one thing she wants, she may leave the relationship and find a like-minded partner.
I send you my best wishes, I have a DD who decided she did not want children and I have had to accept that. smile

Bags Sat 15-Sep-12 19:00:27

Mid-twenties is still very young, dresden. She has time to realise that perhaps he's not quite the one for the permanent fixture. Wishing her all the best.

Greatnan Sat 15-Sep-12 19:11:55

Welcome, Dresden. I had to bite my tongue for seven years when my daughter fell in love with a man 20 years older than her, who moved into her house and sponged on her. She had two children by a previous relationship and he made no effort to bond with them. She then had two children with him but at last she had enough of his selfishness and threw him out. Very soon after, she met her lovely husband, who was half his age and a foot taller! They have two children now, and he has been a wonderful step father to the other four.
She knew how all the family felt about the older man but I managed not to criticise him too much because I knew she would feel obliged to take his part and I could lose her and her four children. Ironically, very shortly after she split with him, his mother died and left him a house worth several million pounds! He has paid the same small amount of maintenance for his two daughters for 16 years, and my daughter was too proud to ask for more. Now they are both at university/nursing college he pays them £400 a month each. They have to visit him in France or Australia each year (he has houses all over the place) and pay their own fares. One girl lives in England and one in New Zealand.
I absolutely loathe him because I saw him destroy my daughter's self confidence, but she says she does not bear a grudge and won't criticise him to his daughters, although they are now fully aware of his failings (he is an alcoholic).
I am afraid I think you will just have to sit it out and be ready to give her all your support when she finally sees through him. I agree that if you tell her what you think of him she will almost certainly resent it and defend him.

Grannylin Sat 15-Sep-12 19:34:23

That's really measured advice Greatnan and I agree, it's a waiting game.

Granny23 Sat 15-Sep-12 20:04:46

A few years ago now I could have posted much the same story about my DD. She had 2 relationships lasting a few years and then one long one until she was 35 - all 3 were very pleasant but all 3 sponged off our DD, emotionally and financially - all 'lame ducks'. We,as parents, felt she deserved someone better and needed someone that she could depend on and lean on from time to time.

Not sure what happened really, but I suspect that as Harrigran says her body clock was ticking loudly. She gave long term partner his marching orders, helping him with the deposit on his own flat and the minute he was gone made a bee-line for a 'gentle giant' that she had her eye on. Poor man had no chance and - long story short - they set up home together near us, and had 2 children before she was 40. His parents had also thought their son would keep moving from one unsuitable girlfriend to another and are now delighted.

I think we have to realise that early marriages and life long relationships are becoming quite rare.

Grannyknot Sat 15-Sep-12 20:24:25

What a lovely positive story 23. There is nothing you can do Dresden except let her talk and listen and occasionally perhaps put in a 'how is that working for you?' question; people often arrive at their own conclusions. And move on when they're ready. The older I get, the more I realise how little control we have over our children's lives as adults. I sometimes think of it like a river, where you have a strong (family) river, with tributaries joining it (other people), and rapids to get over, and sometimes if you're lucky it flows freely for a long stretch, or a drought comes and the river gets really low and so on - eventually the river becomes a big delta and spreads all over the place finding its way to the ocean and you have no control over where it will spread. Sounds a bit out there, but that's how I think of it. smile Or maybe I read it somewhere!

Butternut Sun 16-Sep-12 08:09:59

Grannyk - I really like your river analogy. I don't think it sounds out there at all. smile

bikergran Sun 16-Sep-12 08:32:16

Hello Dresden "what are they like"! these daughters of ours ! smile when they were young and small they were heaven smile like OP have said..we can one watch and wait, but I am confidence that your daughter will one day "see the light" keep posting, hang on in's so very hard isn't

Grannyknot Sun 16-Sep-12 10:14:27

butternut flowers

Dresden Sun 16-Sep-12 10:16:55

Thanks to everyone who has replied. You are so thoughtful and supportive. I feel much calmer now I have unloaded on here. Thanks especially to Greatnan and Granny23, you have given me some hope for the future.

DD came round last night, she lives a fair distance away and has an exceptionally demanding job, so we only see her about once or twice a month. She is talking of splitting up with him (hooray!) but their finances are very closely intertwined. They are working on sorting this out, however it will take a few months at least. DD says she wants to give it a while longer and see how she feels at the end of the year.

This is fairly positive and I can see that she has given it all a lot of thought. The B/F is trying to persuade her to stay in the relationship, but as he doesn't seem able to set any boundaries where his ex is concerned, I feel that he is being very selfish. I just keep hoping that DD will meet someone else, she works in a large organisation so maybe there's a chance she'll come across someone there.

I think maybe when she was a child we gave her too much confidence in her own abilities, so now she thinks that if she tries hard enough, she can get what she wants from sheer willpower. Anyway she is taking a lot of responsibility for sorting her own problems out and seems to just want comfort and reassurance from us. So happy to have seen her and had a chat.

Dresden Sun 28-Oct-12 20:00:39

Update on my last post; DD has finally had enough of the B/F, or so she says. Apparently they have agreed to split up, a mutual decision, and she is currently staying with a friend, but it seems the B/F is still messing her around. He keeps texting DD to say he's missing her. She has asked him to leave her alone so she can move on with her life. I know she would love to meet someone else and put all the pain behind her.

It seems the B/F just can't walk away and allow DD to have a life. He doesn't seem to want a proper committed relationship with her, but doesn't want her to start again with someone else, GRRRRRR....

Luckily DD has lots of friends around her and they are obviously trying to help her to break away. The financial problems are a bit annoying as DD and the B/F own a house between them so they have to make some decisions about how to untangle the money stuff. It would be so much cleaner and easier if she could just walk away.

We feel very angry and upset with the B/F and still a bit surprised that our strong, confident daughter has let this man mess her life up (hopefully only temporarily)

Hoping for some progress and better news soon.

Deedaa Sun 28-Oct-12 20:42:30

A friend of mine was married with 2 children and lovely house BUT her husband was continually unfaithful. Eventually she managed to get him to Marriage Guidance where she was told that he would obviously never change and she had a choice of either leaving or doing everything he wanted. Fortunately she decided to leave and thirty years later she is still with the lovely man she married next, her two sons have been very successful and she has a flock of grandchildren. Happy endings are possible and you truly never know what the future holds.

Greatnan Sun 28-Oct-12 22:44:27

Dresden, the fact that she has decided she has had enough is a huge leap forward. All the financial details can be worked out gradually. If he does keep bothering her after they have split, she can get an injunction against him. It is very good that she has supportive friends around. You must feel very relieved. My best wishes to you and your daughter.

Jodi Sun 28-Oct-12 23:03:39

dresden this relationship is terminal. The crack are growing wider and her friends obviously agree with your assessment of the situation. smile

Dresden Mon 19-Nov-12 18:17:07

Further update on this ongoing saga! DD is sticking to her guns and is saying the relationship is over except for untangling the financial stuff. I am pleased to hear her making plans for the future without the B/F. The finances unfortunately are very complicated so will take a lot of sorting out, but the main thing is that she is moving on emotionally and even talking about hopefully meeting someone else.

It's heartbreaking to see all this unfold, we have had a really difficult couple of years trying to support her emotionally. We have tried to keep our feelings of dismay and anxiety from her as far as possible so as not to make her feel worse about everything.

I look back on my own relationship problems when I was in my twenties and thirties, and feel really sorry for my poor mother who had to deal with a lot of worry. I hardly gave her a thought when I was making mistake after mistake with men. sad

annodomini Mon 19-Nov-12 19:02:04

Dresden, your daughter is lucky to have such an understanding mum. flowers

Ana Mon 19-Nov-12 19:11:30

I agree with anno - it sounds as though you are getting through this together and your relationship with your daughter will grow stronger because of it. smile

Mishap Mon 19-Nov-12 19:32:04

You clearly did all the right things dresden by standing back and just being endlessly supportive - I am glad that the right outcome is on its way. I hope she finds a lovley new partner in the end. Lots of good luck.

Dresden Sat 02-Feb-13 18:19:36

Another update on this situation. DD and her OH split up in November and are trying to sort out their financial entanglements. DD has got a new man in her life, early days but at least it is a distraction from the grief and sadness.

The problem now is that the ex OH is suddenly all keen to get back together with DD, since he found out she has someone else. I knew it! He won't leave her alone to get on with her life. So far she has been firm and told him she doesn't want to know, but I feel that it stops her from making a real emotional break from him. Unfortunately they have to communicate about their jointly owned house and money stuff.

When she told me about the latest twist she said all the right things, but I still dread that underneath she hopes he will sort himself out and they will be able to get together again. GRRRR... I don't know what to say or how to handle it. I did tell her to write him off and move on fast, but I don't want to be too pushy as I know it will have the opposite effect if I go over the top.

It's obvious to us that the ex OH is just totally incapable of giving DD what she needs at the moment and I dread her hanging on for years waiting for him to be ready to commit to her. It's just not going to happen. Oh dear.

My DH wants to horsewhip him shock Probably wouldn't help much though!

jeni Sat 02-Feb-13 18:34:02

They have to work it out for themselves. All you can do is be supportive and be there!

Dresden Sat 02-Feb-13 18:39:32

I know you're right Jeni, I need to step back and to trust her more. I used to trust her judgement, but the last 3 years have shaken my faith in her ability to look after herself.

I'm going to make a cup of tea now and stop thinking about ways to dispose of his body grin

Faye Sat 02-Feb-13 19:25:55

Dresden smile I had to laugh at your OH's horsewhipping and your disposing of the clueless ex BF's body.

jeni Sat 02-Feb-13 19:38:02

A chainsaw and a convenient sewer is I believe an accepted way!
I recommend Gray's Anatomy for a useful guide of how to do it!

Grannyknot Sat 02-Feb-13 20:39:10

Dresden we will all hope with you that new man "wins". In the meanwhile fantasise away, my favourite is visualising cranking a heavy anvil up via a pulley, getting it nicely into position, and imagining object of the fantasy walking underneath. Unsuspecting of course.