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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.

oldmacdonaldscow Mon 14-Oct-13 19:02:57

No trouble. I hate threads on here where you never find out what happened next!

BTW, LaQueen, he was mightily impressed with your my wise comment about the Right one at the Right time. thlgrin Thank you!

wordyBird Mon 14-Oct-13 18:41:38

That is lovely smile
Thank you for the update.
Fingers crossed for them both..

Goldmandra Mon 14-Oct-13 18:34:09

That's lovely news. I hope her parents come round to the idea that a happier student is one who is better able to learn very soon.

They sound like a lovely couple smile

oldmacdonaldscow Mon 14-Oct-13 17:41:58

It's good news!! She can move into a different hall this Thursday, it's only 10 minutes walk from my GS's hall and a 5 minute bus ride to the campus. She knows a few people who live there, and a friend of my GS who has a car has offered to move her stuff. thlsmile

She is over the moon, and my GS is very relieved. He said he's still going to be cautious about the relationship until he is sure that she is more stable emotionally.

He also said to me: "OMC, even I know that we can't afford to mess each other around with our finals coming up." Unheard of dedication to academic duty!

Thank you for your support for me and for him, lovely vipers! flowers

ToTheTeeth Sun 13-Oct-13 19:41:29

Trujay I hope it works out for you but you are still very young and six years in is too early to make a judgement call. People change a lot in their 20s and it's only post 30 that it really becomes clear whether someone married "too young" and has grown apart. You are an anecdote, your happiness is lovely but doesn't change the overall trend.

I do think the number of threads here about affairs or dead relationships where the OP is around 40 and says she's been with her DH for 15-20 years is very striking...

TruJay Sun 13-Oct-13 17:10:25

I think I may be in the minority judging by responses but I first met my husband at 12, him 14, thought he was a fool at first to be fair lol but I suppose most 14 year old boys are but we kept bumping into each other throughout life and we became an item when I was 19, we got married when I was 20 and had our first child at 21. We have since bought a house, lost a baby in miscarriage and have another baby due in less than 3 weeks! We have done quite a lot in our young years I suppose but if it is what u want then u know that and it can work.
Our families were very against us as we were "too young" but 6 years later we are still so happy and the family that have previously made things quite difficult have apologised and are happy for us.
I really hope the 2 of them can sort it out as I can't imagine my life being any other way.
Good luck to them and he is very lucky to have such loving support from u

oldmacdonaldscow Sun 13-Oct-13 13:24:26

Thank you. Gold, and I am sorry to hear that you have had to go through a similar loss. Congratulations to your GS and his GF. smile

I suspect that if the same ever happens to my GS with his current GF, my wedding invite may not be forthcoming. I don't think her parents are too pleased with me right now!

Goldmandra Sat 12-Oct-13 22:00:55

OP I just wanted to say how lovely it is that they could both come to you and bend your ear like this. You clearly have a lovely relationship with your GS and his mum would take a great deal of comfort if she could see it.

I too have a GS aged 20 and his mum died (very suddenly) 10 years ago now. I'm immensely proud of him and he's just been in touch to tell us he has become engaged to his lovely GF.

Please do update us. I really relate to this thread and the feeling of being a mum who is not his mum.

oldmacdonaldscow Sat 12-Oct-13 21:25:39

This is long - sorry, and I hope it makes sense.

Well, we had a good chat last night and GS is certainly glad to have a change of scene for a couple of days. I won't dwell on that because things have moved on today.

This morning, GS and DH were out playing golf when I got a call from the GF. She was very emotional and desperately wanted to talk to my GS but his mobile was off (on the kitchen table next to me). When I said he was out she asked if she could talk to me about the situation. I said she could certainly talk to me, but I wasn't promising that I would pass anything on to my GS, or even tell him that she had called, because I didn't want him to be even more upset. <fierce emoticon>

There is far more going on than I realised, or than she had told my GS, and we talked for more than an hour.

She comes from a reasonably well-heeled family, father is a "self-made man" and pompously proud of it (I've met her parents twice), but she is the first in the family to go to Uni. What I didn't know, although my GS did, is that her parents are paying for her to go to Uni, rather than her taking out a student loan. As a result, they are putting her under massive pressure to get a good degree.

At her parents' persuasion, this year she is living in a hall of residence that is miles from the main campus. The big idea seems to have been to restrict her access to nightlife on campus. Most of the students in the hall are postgrads, mature students and overseas students who work all hours and don't socialise. She says that some of them hardly seem to leave their rooms except to go to lectures and cook a meal. Many of the older students have cars, but she has to use public transport and that dries up at around 10pm each evening.

After the first week of term, during which she panicked about my GS for the first time, she was so miserable that she pretty well moved in with him because he lives much nearer the campus, and they were spending almost all their time together except when they were in lectures. Although she has loved being with him 24/7 over the summer, she realised that now she wasn't getting any work done. She was feeling incredibly guilty, and felt that she had to pull back from the relationship to do what her parents wanted.

She felt she couldn't tell my GS all of this because they had said "her degree should come first and he will only get in the way of that". Well, of course her degree should come first, but that doesn't mean that she has to spend a year alone in Outer Mongolia! angry

She is a conscientious girl who would try to work hard wherever she lived, but when the two of them were crammed into his single room, she just didn't have the space, mentally or physically, to be able to focus on her work.

She is terribly upset about the hurt she has caused my GS, anxious about her final year, under pressure from home and a bit like a rabbit trapped in headlights - she can't see anything clearly. In a nutshell, her parents were guilt-tripping her last term, and have continued to do so ever since my GS and she returned from abroad in September. The implication has always been that if she doesn't do everything the way they want, they will pull the plug financially.

We talked about various possible solutions, but in the end it came down to getting her out of the miserable hall and into a more sensible place where she can be a student who takes personal responsibility for herself.

She and my GS had a very long conversation this afternoon. She explained everything properly to him and he will go with her to the accommodation office on Monday to find out if she can move. We're hoping that there might be a room going spare because of people dropping out of their courses since the start of term.

She has called her pushy, controlling parents and told them (not asked them) that she is moving if she possibly can. I have also spoken to her mum and we have discussed the reality of student life, depression and even (brave moment!) the effects of parental pressure. angry

My GS says he obviously knew that she wasn't happy in the hall, but he doesn't seem to have twigged how much stress the work situation was causing her (he is the type who does it all at the last minute and still gets annoyingly good results), and he certainly had no idea how much grief she was getting from her parents.

He hasn't said that they should get back together yet, because he knows it must be one step at a time, but I think the mood is now "cautiously optimistic". I have warned him not to let his protective instincts towards her to get the better of him.

If anyone is still faintly interested in this rambling saga, I will update on Monday! Thank you all for your help.

Chubfuddler Sat 12-Oct-13 06:34:56

I agree with everyone else. And as defensive as you must feel of him, she hasn't actually done anything wrong. I doubt she's deliberately keeping him dangling; FWIW I ended a three year relationship when I was 19 because despite dearly loving the boy in question I knew long term we were incompatible. I was devastated, so was he, but I wouldn't be shaken. I knew I was right. And I was.

Fifteen years later he got in touch via FB. He's very happy, living exactly the lifestyle I knew he wanted (that I couldn't have lived) and married with a baby on the way. Much as we loved each other then we would not have gone the distance.

peanutbutterhoney Sat 12-Oct-13 06:23:56

I also went through this at a similar age - broke up with my bf for a while. It's true that when you are in a relationship that young, older people are always telling you you are too young to settle down.

In my case, I regretted it pretty quickly but he wouldn't take me back immediately. He told me I couldn't just drop him like that and expect him back. I begged, I was miserable. Eventually after a few months he said he would give me another chance. We are still together 13 years later and very happily married with 3 dc. That breakup really rebalanced our relationship and made it stronger.

I think she needs to realise what she has lost - he must be tough with her. No contact and he should move on. If she is going to come back, that's the only way it will work.

oldmacdonaldscow Fri 11-Oct-13 18:34:05

LaQueen, DH is a much, much better fit for me than my ex was grin

DH has just gone to pick him up from the station, so I may not be back for a few hours, or possibly until tomorrow.

I know he'll keep busy once he is back at Uni - he has lots of hobbies and some good friends. One or two of the things that they did together might be a bit problematic, but hopefully we can help him sort his head out on those this weekend.

I don't think she means to keep him dangling. She is a nice person - so nice that even I can't get really angry at her for this, which I thought I would do. I think she is just confused. As far as I know he was her first boyfriend, so she just doesn't know how to handle the situation or her feelings.

LaQueenForADay Fri 11-Oct-13 17:24:34

Don't you fret for me old - DH is a much, much better fit for me than my ex was smile

But, it's actually comforting to know that there really isn't only the one the One out there for you, if that makes sense?

There's lots of the One - because, frankly Mother Nature is a very canny lady.

And, as much as the poor lad is hurting now, remind him that just as he could never expect to stay ecstatically happy for the rest of this life, neither can he expect to stay feeling so devastated, either. We're just not designed that way.

Human emotions, no matter how intense do fade with time, thank goodness.

Best thing for him is to keep busy...and not just meekly hang around, letting his ex keep him dangling on a string while she faffs around.

One thing in my (bastard) ex's favour, was that when he finished our relationship he told it to me straight, and never gave me any false hope, or pretended that he might change his mind later. It hurt me so, so bitterly at the time...but he was actually being cruel to be kind.

nkf Fri 11-Oct-13 16:53:18

Space means keeping him dangling I'd say. She may not mean that, but that will be the effect. Can he book some fun young.people non couple things to do and look forward to? Lucky him to have you.

oldmacdonaldscow Fri 11-Oct-13 16:47:47

Wow, two situations with completely different outcomes. I had tears in my eyes for you, LaQueen. Thank you again, everyone.

He should be here in an hour or so, and I'm going to be able to tell him that I have been talking to "some friends" about it. wink

(I think he would probably kill me if he knew I was posting about it on MN!)

LaQueenForADay Fri 11-Oct-13 16:19:41

Oh the poor, poor lad sad

At that age heart break is incredibly intense, and it feels like your entire world is ending. I know because I was nearly 21 when my ex split up with me, after a 2.5 year relationship.

I was certain he was the One. We got on fantastically well, exact same sense of humour, interested in all the same things, we just got each other. Everyone said we were perfect together...but he kept telling me he was just too young (I was his first girlfriend, whereas I'd had several other relationships).

When he told me it was over (just 2 weeks before my 21st birthday...thanks) I genuinely thought my life was over. The pain was unbearable. I think I quietly went a little bit mad for a time. 22 years later I can still remember how it felt. Horrible. Horrible. sad

Even more frustrating was that I knew I was the right girl for him, but at just the wrong time. He admitted that himself...but wouldn't change his mind.

There followed several months of desperate yearning, and endless tear filled nights...

Then one night, I met DH in a student club. He asked me out. I explained I was heart broken. He smiled and shrugged. 'I'll make you forget him' he promised me. And, he did. In spades... smile

Interestingly, I bumped into my ex a few times about 8 years later. He made a definite play for me. Told me he'd never met anyone to match me, and that he realised now that I'd been the One

We still got on brilliantly. He still made me die laughing. He was still very handsome. But he was 8 years too late. You plays yer cards, and you takes yer chances...his loss wink

But, I think it shows that there are many the Ones that you might come across in your lifetime. But the keeper is the right One at the right Time.

nomorecrumbs Fri 11-Oct-13 15:53:54

It is really hard to commit at 20. She has a lot of growing to do and is just starting to get to know herself. She has to be sure the two of them are going to remain compatible at the end of it and the sad fact is that she might change between now and when she's ready to settle down and share most of her life experiences with someone else permanently.

In the meantime, let her do her own thing and discover what she is.

CailinDana Fri 11-Oct-13 15:44:30

I met my dh at 19 first proper serious bf and very much an intense love at first sight sort of thing. We talked about getting married after two months and he proposed properly after 7 months. Then I freaked out, felt it was all too soon and frankly I was frightened by how much I loved him -I had been very independent up to meeting him. I broke up with him and messed him about terribly. He just hung in there and kept saying he wanted to be with me while at the same time giving me space. After 4 months he gave up and started seeing someone else and I realised my mistake. He should have told me to get lost but he didn't he just took me back and never held it against me. Twelve years later we've changed a lot but are still in love. We eventually got engaged again and have been married 5 years and have 2 children.

It is hard to commit at such a young age.

oldmacdonaldscow Fri 11-Oct-13 15:28:10

ALittleStranger, thank you so much. His mum was my lifelong best friend, and when we knew she was dying I promised her I would be there for him and his older sister. (I'm also her Godmother.) They mean as much to me as my own children.

I think the loss of his mum will be going through his mind, and I hope that I will be able to separate the two for him as we talk over the weekend. I won't be the first to raise it with him, but I am (I hope) prepared to address it if it does come up.

Thanks, Jesse. He was really surprised to find himself thinking that she was "the one" at the age of not quite 19, and we talked it through several times. He was very cautious, but the relationship just went from strength to strength, and was pretty much as you describe. They were completely entwined, although they gave each other space as well. It all looked so healthy emotionally. sad

She wasn't his first girlfriend, thank goodness, so I can at least say to him that there are other fish in the sea. (Not that I would use such a hackneyed expression!)

Looks like the golf will be a write-off because of the weather, but I'm off to buy his favourite tea for tonight ... smile

Jesseisnolongermysecretcrush Fri 11-Oct-13 13:28:23

Just be there for him and listen, that's all you can do. Feelings are incredibly intense at that age and first love hurts like hell.

But it's all part of growing up and learning. I was in a similar situation at the same age, been with my TRUE love, soulmate whatever for two years - believed we were destined, entwined, etched in each others hearts forever. We wanted to be in different places and broke up but we still clung to each other regularly as it was hard to break that first love bond. It took me a good few years to get over it. but I did eventually and it taught me lots. Heartbreak is a right of passage - I do feel for you OP, I will feel as if my heart is being ripped out when this happens to my DS.

Just be there for him, let him talk and tell him things will get better xx

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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