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Daughter's relationship: red flag?

(64 Posts)
LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 14:59:27

I was (am) a single parent, so my daughter and I have always been very close. I'm not sure if I'm too close. What I mean is that I think I am seeing red flags in her relationship with her boyfriend, and I'm not sure if they are genuine red flags, or just me being over-protective.

Whatever it is, I know there isn't much I can do, and I certainly won't say anything to her because it would really not go down well at all. I just want to see what others think, I think.

Daughter has been with boyfriend for just over three years. He's younger than her, and has just finished his studies. I've always had the slightly uncomfortable feeling that she is more in love than he is, although I have never been able to pin it down to anything - just a gut feeling.

Today is her birthday - she's 27. I sent her a couple of small gifts which I knew she would love, and she did. I asked did she get anything else. No. Boyfriend bought her nothing. But he did pay for dinner last night. She sounded ok about it, but he was in the same room as her.

Earlier this year, to celebrate his birthday, and the end of his studies, and their being together three years, she surprised him with a week's holiday abroad. I was quite surprised at that - we've always done "nice" birthdays, but nothing wildly extravagant. Also, I know she can't really afford that sort of present. I wondered if it was too much - both financially and in terms of the emotional weight of such a big gift.

Before they went on the week's hol, they spent three weeks with his relations in a country some distance away. When they came back after both the hols, boyfriend then booked tickets back to distant family for a wedding.

So on the phone today I had to hold my tongue. He had had enough money to book himself tickets back to "distant family place" but could not afford to buy her a birthday present.

I've had a funny feeling all year that something is about to happen, and I can't shake it. She would be utterly devastated - she told me she wants to spend her life with him.

I'm not going to intervene, obviously - she's a big girl. But if I was going out with someone and he didn't buy me a birthday present I would not be able to see for red flags. She is so completely in love I worry.

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 22:00:09

I don't think he should have matched her gift either. Anyway, I'll just have to stop tying myself in knots about it.

When she was little I foolishly thought that once she was grown up I would no longer have to worry. I think I've worried more about her since she turned 18 than ever before. Probably because when they are kids your role is to make sure no harm comes to them. When they are adults...

perfectstorm Sun 15-Sep-13 23:29:17

DS is small, and I'm pregnant. A friend with a son at uni ruefully said she envied me, and when I asked why, she laughed and said, "Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems!" I know what she means, really. Right now, I can shield him, reassure him, soothe him and rescue him. She can't.

There's nothing materialistic about wanting major life events marked with thought and care. When I was in hospital a while back, DH brought me a tiny present every day. A peach, a bar of chocolate, a pretty pencil, a little Indian bowl, a postcard of a picture I like. He borrowed DVDs from friends to keep me occupied. Just tiny things to show he was still thinking of me as he worked, ran the house, looked after DS. That mattered way more to me than a diamond eternity ring, frankly. And I want that for my kids, too. Don't we all?

MariaLuna Sun 15-Sep-13 23:55:06

I think you are over-involved in your daughter's love life.....

She's 27, an adult and has to make her own way in life. That also means making mistakes....which of us hand on heart can say we never did that grin. It's part of life. You pick yourself up again. You can't wrap your kids in cotton wool. They won't thank you for it.

Like a previous poster said, lots of cultures don't even celebrate birthdays.
He did take her out for dinner (that would be present enough for me personally).

I have a 22 year old DS. I don't interfere with his relationship at all.
He does sometimes talk to me when there's a problem, so I'm always there with an ear if he needs.

now if it's his own wedding he's going back for I would! be worried

peggyundercrackers Mon 16-Sep-13 00:04:47

sorry I don't do birthdays for adults, a card is the most anyone gets - no presents. kids are different though as they get pressies.

ALittleStranger Mon 16-Sep-13 08:10:44

I agree you are over-involved...

But I think your instincts are right. He normally buys her a present. He's stopped, despite an extravagent gift from your daughter that most people would want to reciprocate. This is the kind of thing people do when they're withdrawing from a relationship (I have given and been on the receiving end of a pre-dumping crap present). It sounds like it may have run it's course. They're both young, him especially so, and him finishing his studies may have brought it to a natural conclusion. I just hope he wasn't staying with her for financial support so he can now dick off as someone independent and qualified!

All you can do is be ready to support her and show her it's for the best.

Peggy good for you, the OP's daughter and her boyfriend normally do do birthdays though so your experience is interesting but meaningless.

LoisPuddingLane Mon 16-Sep-13 09:09:45

Yes, I agree I'm over-involved. As I've said, when it's just the two of you, it's a very close bond. By the way, I don't "interfere" at all. I just smile and nod. Sometimes gritting my teeth.

LoisPuddingLane Mon 16-Sep-13 09:11:24

And no, he wasn't financially supported by her. He still lives at home. This is quite common for studens in mainland Europe.

ALittleStranger Mon 16-Sep-13 13:18:34

Well that's good news then. Honestly I would just be on standby for if the relationship does end. And if it does try not to see it as a tragedy, although it will obviously be difficult for your daughter initally. "Failed" relationships are good for us, they help us work out who we are and what we want, and how to do things better.

nightcircus Mon 16-Sep-13 19:41:17

Yes I would see the birthday thing as a red flag.
It shows a lack of thought and is a big smack in the face after her gift to him.

Could be to make her feel insignificant/ greedy/ materialistic/ needy. All in all bit kind.
The flower thing depends- again the tone could be 'you're not worth much' in which case she may well try and reframe it as romance.

I'd prob say that it's a shame he didn't get her a present and its a but early on in the relationship to not bother marking special occasions but leave it at that.

Then you've registered your feelings and she'll have a mental note if she becomes unhappy.
If he is acting like her birthday is no big deal and outside perspective reminding her it is is important.

You don't sound at all jel....it's said time and tone again - trust your instincts

nightcircus Mon 16-Sep-13 19:43:22

Unkind not kind

Also I'm speaking from experience as have had this mark a 'shift' in our relationship. Indifference led to smirking at not marking occasions (deliberate cruelty)
It didn't end well.

perfectstorm Mon 16-Sep-13 21:38:26

I don't think it's overinvolved to flinch at the idea of your child being badly hurt. It's not like the OP says anything, far less interferes. She's not crossing boundaries, she's just not looking forward to seeing her dd go through the sort of heartbreaks almost all of us have had to live through.

Surely hating the idea of your children hurting, and having to endure it anyway, is part of being a parent? I don't see how a switch ends that love when they reach their twenties.

LoisPuddingLane Mon 16-Sep-13 21:47:55

Well, quite. This is her first serious relationship and I see it with a bit more perspective than she does. However I can't really say much to her about it as she has just been sacked from her job today so there are more pressing matters. I'm trying to get her focused on finding another job. Yes, I know, over-involved. But she seems to lack the focus and drive to find work that I've always had (had to have really).

BerylStreep Tue 17-Sep-13 16:44:34

Well it will be interesting to see how her bf supports her in this.

Sorry to hear about her job - sacked or made redundant?

PixelAteMyFace Tue 17-Sep-13 17:33:38

Sorry to hear she's lost her job.

This could well change the dynamics of her relationship.

The ball is in the boyfriend's court now. It's time for him to show if he's caring and supportive. There's nothing like a sudden drop in finances for testing the strength of a relationship <speaks from bitter experience>

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