Gransnet forums


Boyfriend enmeshed with adult daughters

(44 Posts)
Brooks Fri 23-Jun-23 15:20:56

I am dating a man who was widowed three years ago (his wife had cancer for over a decade) and he is the father of four adult children. His three daughters all live within half an hour of him. He told me he is too enmeshed with them and is working on boundaries. He has one failed relationship because of this.

We live 3 hours apart and truly enjoy each other’s company. However, our dates are limited to five or six hours on Sundays, 2-3 times a month. He spends every Saturday with his daughters and their families and goes to church with them on Sundays.

When we go out, his Apple Watch is constantly alerting him to the fact that they are texting him. They all use the Find My app on their iPhones and they want to know why he’s so far away and what he’s doing. He tells them he will talk with them when he gets home, but they continue to text him.

He cancelled our last date because his son-in-law got sick and his daughter asked him to babysit. We were talking about meeting this Sunday and he told me he thought it could work but he needed to check with his daughters first to make sure they didn’t have plans.

I really like him, and I understand his family being overly concerned to a degree about his well-being after losing their mother. I think they may also be worried because he is a successful business owner, and wonder about the motives of anyone he might date. He told me he can’t retire because he needs to be able to take his family on expensive trips and they can’t afford nice things if he doesn’t pay for them.

I’m at a loss. The things I respect and am growing to love about him are the very things that are problematic.


Theexwife Fri 23-Jun-23 15:26:58

Sounds like he is very much a family man, I cannot see that changing and you cannot change a person.

I think you would have to accept it and if it doesn’t suit you then stop seeing him, and explain why.

Smileless2012 Fri 23-Jun-23 15:36:29

I would walk away before I got in any deeper. This sounds more than just being a family man. He says he's too enmeshed with them and is working on boundaries but it doesn't look that way.

This is not a healthy parent/AC relationship.

eazybee Fri 23-Jun-23 15:37:33

Enmeshed is a very good word to describe the situation.

He has already warned you one relationship failed because of his daughters. He is fully involved in their lives, but they are in his, to an unnecessary extent; they don't need to know where he is and why he is a long distance away. I presume they don't know about you.
And as for having to keep working to pay for expensive trips they can't afford; sadly, loud warning bells.

Wyllow3 Fri 23-Jun-23 15:43:22

I think the girls could be jealous too, want him to themselves also naturally maybe more so after mums death.


Real love doesn't demand splendid holidays nor "nice things" beyond reason. Sorry, I just dont accept this.

Growing up for them a properly means some letting go and seeing their Dad as having needs and a life of his own to a reasonable extent.

Love means some letting go. They are grown up NOT teenagers.

They will never lets him go if he doesn't set better boundaries and it can never be satisfactory for you if he doesn't.

For example, him spending say a night over at your place. They cant say he's somewhere "unsafe". Its cos he is with another woman.

crazyH Fri 23-Jun-23 15:45:28

I’m afraid his daughters will put a spoke in the wheel of any relationship their father has or attempts to have. They will not want to share him or his money. Selfish !

Hithere Fri 23-Jun-23 15:52:55

He still picks his AC over a relationship knowing a previous relationship failed because of it

Yet, he is making the same choice now

Your call if you want to be his second or worse in his priority list

Juliet27 Fri 23-Jun-23 15:55:14

If the father wants this relationship with you strongly enough then he’ll just have to stand up to his controlling daughters.

Germanshepherdsmum Fri 23-Jun-23 16:24:40

The daughters’ dependence on him and desire to know where he is all the time is very unhealthy, as is his ‘need’ to take them on holiday and buy them nice things. This is unlikely to change. I would bid him a fond farewell and find yourself a man who is genuinely free to have a relationship with you. This one’s spoken for, and always will be - by his daughters,

AGAA4 Fri 23-Jun-23 16:27:14

It sounds to me as though he is happy with the situation with his ACs and puts them first and fits you in if he has time.
As you have posted on here you don't seem to be content with things as they are. I doubt this man will change so you have to decide whether to see him on his terms or find someone who will give you the attention you deserve.

M0nica Fri 23-Jun-23 16:31:34

I wouldn't waste any time on him, although you like him. He is a puppet on a string where his daughters are concerned and that is unlikely to change.

Whether this relationship with his daughters is 'healthy' or not is irrelevant. The fact is they run him and they want no one replacing their mother in his regard and will very effectively break up any relationship he starts to form.

You do not have a cats chance in hell of making this relationship work.

SachaMac Fri 23-Jun-23 16:32:39

I can see it may be hard for his daughters to accept he is moving on after the death of his wife/their mother but he is a grown man and entitled to a life of his own, they need to accept this like it or not. It’s ridiculous that they are constantly texting him to see where he is. He needs to man up & tell them straight because at the moment he is just messing you around. It would be very difficult to build a proper relationship if you only get to see him two or three times a month. I’d be tempted to throw in the towel if he can’t make more of a commitment!! I agree with others that jealously is playing a big part and if he has been funding their expensive trips etc they may be worried that he might stop that.
Just wondered, has he introduced you to them?

Mollygo Fri 23-Jun-23 16:32:45

If what’s happening now doesn’t feel right for you, then I’d opt out. It isn’t going to change. Not only that, but you don’t know what he’s saying to his daughters about your relationship.
Standing up to his daughters would probably mean no chance of any joint family meetings, and possibly the end of his relationship with his daughters and their families.

LRavenscroft Fri 23-Jun-23 16:37:46

I am really sorry to read about your situation and can see both sides. As this gentleman's wife has passed away he is effectively free as a widower and there is the potential of a future with him. However, and this is a big however, as I would have been the same with my dad when he was alive and widowed, his girls are the primary women in his life now his wife has died. If he has granddaughters, then they even more so. You will need to decide if you just want to be the lady he meets for walks etc. For me, the deciding factor would be if there is more being offered in the relationship in the way of friends with benefits. Then I would definitely seek elsewhere for a good and wholesome future relationship which you actually deserve. You don't mention age etc but if you are still on the sunny side of whatever, look to your own needs and future and happiness because it doesn't sound as if this leopard is going to change his spots.

Shelflife Fri 23-Jun-23 16:40:52

I think you know this is not an ordinary situation. His daughters have no right to keep tabs on him !
Run away and please don't look back !

3nanny6 Fri 23-Jun-23 16:43:12

I am surprised he even had a chance to start the dating game with you as his three adult daughters have got him at their beck and call and almost on tracker.
Sad in some ways as he could actually want to find himself a new relationship although it does not sound as if he truly wants to stand up to his daughters, best to walk away now and find somebody who has got time for you and is willing to put the effort in.

NotSpaghetti Fri 23-Jun-23 16:46:43

my family has the "Find My" app too - but I can honestly say I've only ever looked at it twice in maybe 10 years. Once when my daughter called me to ask where she'd left her phone and once when I left my Ipad in a hospital and wanted to find out if it was still there.

What is the situation with the 4th adult child? Is this one a man?
Are they very different?

Are the 3 women working?

It is frankly weird to use it to track your family!

As M0nica says, I think there isn't a lot of hope re making this relationship work - and it sounds like he is keeping you secret.

Katie59 Fri 23-Jun-23 16:51:07

I’m in exactly the same position, his wife died and dad is very close to 3 daughters, he has been completely up front with all. There will be no marriage, the estate will go to his family, I will get the house for life, I have a work pension so no need for income.
Knowing that daughters are lovely, the one thing that causes problems is uncertainty, so I hope the relationship progresses, but don’t be secretive about inheritance.

icanhandthemback Fri 23-Jun-23 16:56:45

Your friend can mute his FindMy App if he wants peace and quiet from his daughters or he can silence messages. He chooses not to. I think I'd be inclined to have the conversation about his boundaries since he was up front with you about the last relations to see if he feels that he really wants to do something about it. If he can't see the affect on your relationship, then he isn't for you because things will never change. If you can come to a compromise, it shows that he is willing to make a bit more of an effort. Of course, if he was up front with his daughters about where he was and who he was with, it would ring less of a warning bell with me.

lyleLyle Fri 23-Jun-23 17:14:27

Looks pretty simple, albeit uncomfortable.

If you don’t feel you can get used this, walk away.

Do not expect it to change. Remember that you are the “newbie” here. Nothing about his relationship with his daughters will change to suit you.

You can judge their relationship all you want, but neither your opinion nor anyone’s on gransnet will make a difference. He knows he is enmeshed. If he does not take actionable steps to change this on his own, all you will do is sit around getting resentful.

I am sorry they lost their wife and mother but the situation is a bit too messy for my taste. Realistically, it will only get messier with a girlfriend pushing them to separate a bit. A therapist, not a girlfriend is the one to help them navigate a more independent relationship. I would back off before your life gets more complicated.

NanaDana Fri 23-Jun-23 17:21:30

In your shoes, and based on what you have disclosed about his unhealthy relationship with his daughters, I'd already be long gone. He's already warned you that his "enmeshment" has cost him one relationship, and I'm surprised it hasn't already cost him another. His situation seems deeply embedded, and I suspect that it is unlikely to change in your favour. Unless you're content to constantly play fourth fiddle to his three daughters, I'd just move on and put it down to experience, whilst reminding yourself that you may just have dodged an emotional bullet.

Norah Fri 23-Jun-23 17:30:39

I can see 2 sides here.

My brother, a 67 year old bachelor, exwives, no children, and a worrier sister - has a date tonight. I don't want him taken advantage of financially. My husband's less concerned, with that I'm a bit calmer than this time last week. Nobody wants their well off loved one taken advantage of, it does weigh your mind as a "what if" - even as a sister with no legacy involved.

Your man has 4 children, where is #4 on this topic?

If you want more than Sunday 5-6 hrs and don't want to ask him to turn off his devices - I'd say wave goodbye, be happy w your choice.

AreWeThereYet Fri 23-Jun-23 17:52:25

He knows he is enmeshed. If he does not take actionable steps to change this on his own, all you will do is sit around getting resentful.

Totally agree with this. If he wants a relationship he will take action. And not because you insist - that just smacks of wanting to control and would alarm his daughters. Allow him to adjust gradually so he's comfortable. If he doesn't want to adjust then you can take it or leave it.

Luckygirl3 Fri 23-Jun-23 18:02:40

He is who he is - and it is good that he engages happily with his family. I think you will have to take him as he is or not at all!! smile

Lathyrus Fri 23-Jun-23 18:11:02

I can’t help thinking that if the poster was saying I like to spend time with my daughters and grandchildren and the man I date is unhappy about it, then the answers might be quite different 🤔