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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.

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>

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?

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).

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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?

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...

LayMeDown Sun 15-Sep-13 21:51:41

I didn't mean to call you materialistic. I apologise if I offended you.
I understand what you are saying but you are right people are different. I get the whole thoughtful little gifts thing and that some people love it, but I don't. I am in general terrible at it. I find it am enormous pressure and I usually become paralysed trying to think up things. Occasionally inspiration strikes and I produce something brilliant but there is no way I can do that several times a year for birthdays, Christmas, Valentines etc...
My mother is good at it to actually, but I still prefer doing things with the people I care about for special occasions to getting presents no matter how thoughtful. That is me though, I have 3 young kids so time is the most precious commodity!
What I am saying though is that it sounds like your DDs P may be like me. Your DD seems to know this and understands it (as my husband does). They may not have discussed it formally, she just may know what he is like and that it is not indicative of a general lack of love for her. TBH I think her partner was right not to match her extravagant gift as that way lies madness.
You may be right and this is more sinister. Or he just may not really celebrate birthdays the way you and your daughter do. And there is nothing wrong with that.

tiredismymiddlename Sun 15-Sep-13 21:42:56

I am sure that as a Mum we just want the best for them what ever their age. My DP has never been big on birthdays, his family just didn't make a big deal about them. He does all he can for us on a daily basis but just doesn't communicate it well and doesn't do big gestures. I think you must try to let it go and see what happens.

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 21:28:23

You hope you are wrong and all you can do is be there when she needs you

Indeed. I really do hope I'm wrong.

As regards the not needing material things - neither my daughter nor I are materialistic. I brought her up on little money but lots of love and books and nice people. But birthdays are a bit different - it's a time to show you've been thinking about what someone would like. The other thing I got her, apart from the bracelet, is the Nigella book "Feast". I first came across it a year ago and have wanted to buy it for her ever since.

It isn't about getting "things" or having loads of money spent on one, it's about putting thought into getting a little something that the person you love would love. She and I have always enjoyed buying things for each other at birthdays and christmas.

If she and her boyfriend had decided they weren't going to do birthdays and just have a celebratory meal or something, then fine. I think what is odd is that she pushed the boat out for his birthday (maybe too much) and he didn't even get the boat out of the boathouse.

I realise people are going to have very different viewpoints on this depending on what birthdays mean to them and how they celebrate.

LayMeDown Sun 15-Sep-13 21:12:00

I think you sound like a lovely mum, but in this particular incidence I think you are over reacting. I am not that big into birthdays. I do buy DH little presents most of the time as he likes having things to open but I usually not that arsed about getting them. I'd be more than happy to go for a meal and get some flowers (although not ones picked from public beds - that gives me THE RAGE, how selfish to take something there for everyone to enjoy. Isn't it illegal to do this?)
In fact it's my birthday in a few weeks. DH and I are going for an early bird meal followed by a play. Perfect for me. I wouldn't expect a resent in addition to this.
Not everyone needs material things. Spending time together doing something you wouldn't usually do is much more better IMO. Maybe your DDs P is like me or you daughter is?

thegreylady Sun 15-Sep-13 21:09:13

I understand I have a daughter.
My dd had a five year relationship with someone I didn't much like.The alarm bells rang when he 'forgot' to pick her up at the airport when she had been away visiting her brother.
He eventually broke her heart [for a while] and I felt real hatred for the only time in my life.
It is awful to watch the slow roll towards disaster.You hope you are wrong and all you can do is be there when she needs you.
My dd has now been married to a lovely man for the last 8 years and has two gorgeous dc.

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 20:47:21

The thing is, any of us could be right. She might end up happily married to him, who knows.

I can't help but think she deserves better though.

(Cos most mums do).

sassyandsixty Sun 15-Sep-13 20:36:10

I seem to remember my parents didn't like my DH for various reasons and tried to warn me off. I really didn't appreciate their interference, but they weren't very subtle or sensitive and it drove me away from them. I am sure you are a lot more tactful than they were. But, the thing is - they were looking at it from their shoes, not from mine. They had a different sort of guy in mind for me and they were wrong, wrong wrong - our marriage has lasted 40 years so far. Though I'm afraid I don't really like the sound of your DDs partner, just be there as her mum - when she falls or if she asks for your advice any time. She's a big girl now, but I sympathise - it's hard being a parent sometimes. Oh - almost forgot - my DH has forgotten plenty of birthdays over the years or has botched up the present-giving with garage flowers etc, but he always makes it up later. Don't know if that helps at all. Good luck!

melanie58 Sun 15-Sep-13 20:18:39

If your daughter didn't have rose-tinted glasses on she would realise that this is not looking good. No present, after she gave him that incredibly generous gift? Flowers stolen from the council? That is insulting, not romantic. She'll see it when she's ready. I don't think you can do much to influence her at the moment. I agree with those posters above who say just be there when she needs you - and it'll be when, not if. Just keep on being her lovely, caring mum.

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 19:31:23

It's hard to know - he was in the room when I spoke to her.

It's the boyfriend's stepfather who is from far away. Boyfriend is not - but the family "far away" is treated as being his birth family.

Sorry to be all vague, I don't want to give away too much about them.

She may be absolutely fine about all this. She may not. Time will tell.

PixelAteMyFace Sun 15-Sep-13 19:16:24

I can understand you being concerned, OP. But...

Is your Dd hurt by the lack of birthday present or is she satisfied with the flowers and the meal out? Perhaps she's okay about it because she knows he's broke?

You mention that the boyfriend's family are from a "distant country". Perhaps there are cultural differences that make birthdays less of a big deal in his family? My (foreign) husband didn't "get" birthdays at all when we were firsf married as in his family they had never celebrated them. In fact, he did exactly the same flower thing with me! Even after thirty years he will either get me something extravagant or else nothing at all, he still hasn't got the message that I don't want something expensive, I just want to feel that he made the effort to get me something!

I think your main worry is that your daughter is the one who makes all the effort in their relationship. Perhaps this is true, but even so, there is nothing you can do

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 18:26:03

Supposed to be in italics...

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