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Advice for a distraught young man, please?

(45 Posts)
oldmacdonaldscow Thu 10-Oct-13 19:41:15

Posting for advice for my Godson. His mum died six years ago and I’m very close to him because of that. He is absolutely distraught at the moment and has turned to me for support.

He is 20, in his final year at Uni, and has been in a relationship with an absolutely wonderful girl (also 20) for the past 18 months. He told me almost from the start that he knew she was “the one”, and I can see why because they are pretty much perfectly matched.

They spent most of the summer together working abroad and they seemed ecstatically happy. We visited them for a few days and they were so obviously in love, and so comfortable with each other that it was a joy to spend time with them.

Since the start of term her responses to him have been increasingly confused. She said that she loves him very much, but that 20 is too young to be in a committed relationship. She asked for space to think, and he gave her that, even though it hurt him. Within 24 hours she had turned up on his doorstep saying that she had been completely wrong, and she was missing him really badly. They made up, and all seemed well again.

Now, a couple of weeks later, she has said the same thing – 20 is too young. She loves him, she can’t imagine ever being with someone else, she doesn’t want to play the field or be out dating, but she needs space. She’s been out of touch with him for 3 days now, and my GS is hurting badly.

My GS doesn’t seem to having been crowding her – they spent a couple of weeks apart at either end of the holidays, they both have shared and separate interests at Uni, they have mutual and separate friends, so they seem to spend a reasonable amount of time both together and apart.

He is mature (he had to grow up fast when his mum died), attractive and great company. She is the same, and yet suddenly she is messing with his head like this.

I have met her many times, we get on very well, and I could call her, but I'm not sure if it is the right thing to do?

Can anyone explain what might be going on with her, or advise me what my GS should do? I was in a very different situation to her at that age, and I only have younger boys, so I haven’t a clue how to approach this. Thank you.

RedJeans Thu 10-Oct-13 19:50:07

I am a similar age to them and so perhaps can see her point of view a bit better. Whilst I am in a very committed long term relationship and have been for some years, I am certainly an oddity in my age group. Lots of my friends enjoy having boyfriends but we are constantly told by older people (parents, media, older relatives etc) not to settle down young or have children young but to "enjoy your twenties" (perhaps they did the opposite an regret it...?). Whilst I feel able to enjoy my twenties from in a relationship, lots of people I know would feel as if they should be seeing lots of different people at that age and feel as though settling down is something that has been advised against for good reason. I think it's considered very old fashioned to have a serious boyfriend so young nowadays. I sympathise with your GS, I'd feel the same as him if my BF split up with me citing those reasons!

ToTheTeeth Thu 10-Oct-13 20:05:26

20 is very, very young to settle down. He might be that he has to let her go. If they really are a perfect match she will come back. (I know a couple of now happily married couples who spent several years apart after meeting too young.)

Buglugs Thu 10-Oct-13 20:07:06

It must be really hard to see him hurting when you know what he's been through already. I don't think there's much you can do about it, other than what you are doing, which is be there for him with a listening ear.

I certainly wouldn't go phoning her or anything, that could seriously backfire. Trying to second guess why she's doing this is difficult. He needs to just give her space and see what happens really.

I also know people who went out young, split up and then got back together eventually. But who knows at this stage?

FeelingMisled Thu 10-Oct-13 20:07:27

I am a similar age to them too and understand your godson's pain. I have seen this happen quite a few times as well (often with people who seemed perfectly suited and destined to stay together). I would say that it goes one of two ways:

1) The person breaking up moves on, forcing the other person to move on too, though of course it's very hard at the time;

2) The person breaking up realises a year or two later that they made a massive mistake. I've seen this happen a few times; sometimes the couple have got back together and sometimes not.

What I will say though is that one way or another, it works out. If your godson's ex-girlfriend really is right for him she will come round, but he must try his best to move on and not wait around for her.

oldmacdonaldscow Thu 10-Oct-13 20:13:48

The power of MN! Someone who is almost the same age!

Yes, I think you are right about media and other pressure in general, but I don't if it's that which has triggered this in her.

I am of your parents' generation, I can say that we definitely "enjoyed our twenties". If you define "enjoy" as having endless emotional false starts.

I certainly did a huge amount of exciting stuff in my social life and career, but I knew of people then who were in very strong relationships and doing the same. I was still floundering around, playing the field and generally pretty miserable a lot of the time.

Any idea what I can suggest to him? Ignore? Text? Should I call to check she is OK? It has occurred to me that there may be something else worrying her? (Sheesh - she can't be pregnant? ... please?)

oldmacdonaldscow Thu 10-Oct-13 20:14:58

Sorry - slow typist - that was in reply to Red.

Will read the other replies now.

ModreB Thu 10-Oct-13 20:16:02

I met my DH at 18yo, married at 21yo and had DS1 at 23yo. We were in a circle of 7 couples who were together at the same age as us, but we are the only couple who are still together, 28 years on.

I agree with misled. If it is meant to be, it will happen. If not, it is better that it ends now, than further along when it will be much more difficult to disengage and separate.

Undertone Thu 10-Oct-13 20:25:03

Is she entirely dictating how this readjustment is progressing? What kind of role is your gs taking? Is he waiting to be told what to do (by her... or you)?

If he is not actively doing everything he can to convince her that they should be together (while respecting her doubts) then maybe deep down he wants to get some space too. He's sad and cut up because it's a big brave thing to face up to - starting over.

They sound very young. Nothing has to be resolved now. There's a big world out there.

And i don't think she is being kind by telling him she doesn't want to be with him... but then running to him when (presumably) she feels vulnerable and uncertain, and they're back to dependency on one another. Now is the time for independence, not tying yourselves up.

oldmacdonaldscow Thu 10-Oct-13 20:34:26

I think I'm starting to understand a bit from the posts above. He may have to accept that "space" means "not now".

I hope that he can do that without hurting so much, and she means what she is saying. I feel sure that she does, but he does need to think about moving on, as sad as it seems.

Undertone, it has been such a shock to him that he hasn't really responded to her yet. The first "I need space" was a bolt from the blue, and he hardly had time to react to it before she came back and said everything was alright again. I didn't even know about it until this week.

I think he feels too confused to start asserting himself or convincing her at the moment. He certainly doesn't want "space" and they are both very mature for their age.

I've probably typed too slowly again - sorry.

Oh Gosh! - this - the GF - reminds me of me. I was like that, even with my very much adored 'the one' boyfriend. 20 was way too young for me - I wanted to shag around too much to settle down. (and I'm very glad I did)

Tell him to let her go. It's over. There will be others.

wordyBird Thu 10-Oct-13 20:41:43

You can only be there for him. This is the reality of love, especially first love, or whatever seems appropriate in his case. Everything can seem very settled and yet not be.

I know someone who thought he had found the love of his life at around that age. Some people in his life also thought this was it, the real thing, all sorted, as indeed it could have been. But in his case, it wasn't.

It took him a long time to recover, but he did.

For your GS, it might happen as hoped, and it might not: but either way he has you. You can't intervene, but you can be ready to support him no matter how things turn out.

oldmacdonaldscow Thu 10-Oct-13 20:59:32

Thank you Thisis and wordy. You are right - I have to just be there for him, and he has to let it go for now.

In Mother Hen mode, I really want to check that she is OK too. Can I do that, or is it too intrusive?

I thought of texting her: "I know you and GS have some worries at the moment. I don't want to intrude on your relationship, but I do want to check that you are OK in yourself? OMCx"

I almost never text though. And I don't know what she could reply?

Clutching at straws ...?

I really wouldn't text her if I were you. You'd hear if she wasn't ok. He won't thank you for it. Concentrate on him. Lots of little reminders of how much you and your kids love him etc. Make sure he's seeing his friends.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 10-Oct-13 22:06:11

Don't text the girlfriend. All this boils down to is that they want different things and she's not doing a great job of breaking it off. I'm sure they've been perfect together but people change so much between ages 18 and 30 that if there are already differences now, they're only going to get bigger from here.

I think you should advise your godson to take her on face value, part ways and stay properly out of touch rather than waiting by the phone or running to her side when she clicks her fingers. 'Space' in this instance is not just a few weeks.

Spelt Thu 10-Oct-13 22:40:01

Good god please don't call her! For what, to tell her she should go out with him? I think she is right, 20 is too young to settle down. He should just respect that this is bad timing and leave her alone. Clearly when she is saying she needs space she is trying to finish with him without saying the actual words.

Spelt Thu 10-Oct-13 22:42:16

Sorry didn't see your draft text. Frankly if you don't want to intrude in their relationship then you shouldn't be texting her. Let them sort it out themselves.

chaosagain Thu 10-Oct-13 22:49:51

I can't see that it's helpful for you to contact her. Just be there for him.

I dated the one at university. He called it off as he felt it was too young to get too serious and he was suddenly worried he was either missing out on something (not just sex with other people but probably more living as a single guy, being frivolous, 'carefree' etc). We danced around this for a while and spent a good while apart.

When I finally started dating someone else pretty seriously (at 23/24) he figured out what he really wanted; and that was for us to be together. It took a long while after that (and a lot of caution on my part) to give it another go.

We've been together for over 10 years now and have 2 kids.

It was incredibly painful at the time but I think it was important for us to spend time apart. I think both of us may have spent time wondering what we'd missed out on otherwise. I think the answer was nothing, but we had to figure that out..

TheFarSide Thu 10-Oct-13 22:52:12

It could be a case of right person, wrong time - which makes it extremely painful and difficult to let go for both parties. I don't think she's being particularly unkind: it sounds like she's struggling with her own conflicting feelings. It will just have to play itself out, and there's nothing you can really do to shield him from the pain.

oldmacdonaldscow Fri 11-Oct-13 09:38:10

Thank you all. He has emailed me this morning to ask to come and stay for the weekend, so I will be able to comfort him and he will be out of temptation's reach.

It's so, so sad, but as you all say, they are very young still. sad

Aw its lovely he has you, and can reach out to you.

oldmacdonaldscow Fri 11-Oct-13 10:23:51

Thank you. His dad lives a lot further away than us, so we're a bit of a refuge for him.

I know this sounds maudlin, but I think this is a little bit like him losing his mum all over again. I mustn't think about that though.

He'll play some golf with DH, muck about with my kids and we'll feed him up. Hopefully he'll go back on Sunday feeling a lot better.

Yes, I imagine it's bringing up all sorts of things for him. sad

lubeybooby Fri 11-Oct-13 10:44:43

I did this to my very first boyfriend. In my defence I was very very young.

It was because I wanted to smoke and he was disapproving and clean living, and I had met someone else who I wasn't cheating on him with but I kind of had a crush.

I think regrettably that she is fibbing about something. Maybe not even being honest with herself yet.

ALittleStranger Fri 11-Oct-13 13:11:04

OP, you sound like a wonderful, supportive god mother and I hope you can give him a lift this weekend.

But I think you need to keep some perspective, even if you keep it to yourself. This is not like losing his mum. This is a healthy and normal part of development and with time he will realise this. That doesn't mean you minimise, as first heart ache is horrendous, but I think it's important that you recognise what is actually going on here.

And don't text. It sounds like she's going back and forth and probably feels a lot of guilt for ending it. The last thing she (or your GS) need is someone else weighing in.

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