Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
broken hearted(128 Posts)
I am a mum of 3 grown up sons and have just had a terrible shock, my middle son has just broken up with his girlfriend of 4 years and i love both my son and his GF like she is a daughter. I feel a terrible loss.
This has all come out of the blue he told me 2 weeks ago on the phone but I didn't speak to him again until this week when he came to visit, they live in another city. He told me that he is happier than he has been for the last 6 months but he doesn't look it, he looks exhausted and sad.
They had had a bit of a row and she told him to get out so he did, nowhere to go or anything and she fully expected him to go home later but when he didn't contact her she became very worried and tried to get hold of him but he wasn't answering he phone to anybody.
After speaking with my son it seems that he felt she was telling him what to wear etc, he couldn't go out after work, as she needed him to go and take the dog out. They both work in hospitality and work long shifts frequently at different times of the day. He said it got to the point where he didn't recognise himself anymore and felt trapped. They were planning to buy a house together
It transpires however that there is another young woman, a work colleague of his involved, 10 years younger than his GF and he says he can talk to her and has more in common with her. I and my husband think this is a case of 'the grass being greener' maybe he confided in her when he was feeling a bit down and she responded and flattered him and maybe he began to feel more dissatisfied becuase of this attention. immature I know but we all know it happens.
I sent his GF a birthday card and gift I had already bought her and a letter saying how sorry I was this had happened, nothing about this other girl though. She phoned me back yesterday in floods of tears, she is heartbroken, can't eat, sleep or function properly. She is in complete shock and doesn't know why he has left, her life has completely changed in a heartbeat. He won't speak to her he has just sent one text saying that he feels happier now and that he felt he wasn't himself anymore. She is in absolute bits after 4 years she deserves more than a text message.
He isn't heartless, he is a very kind and caring young man and this is so
out of character. He waited a full 12 months before she would go out with him and then I have never seen him happier I would have sworn they were made for each other, even a couple of weeks ago everything seemed fine they seemed like a loving couple.
I don't know what to do, I think I may have made a mistake writing to her but at the same time I wanted her to know how special she is to us, to the whole family. She doesn't have family in this country but does
have a good friend who rents a room in their house.
do I risk loosing my son by advising him that he should see her and at least talk to her even if there is no hope of reconcilliation or do I just keep well out of it and keep my grieve to myself do I contact his Gf again. I am 64 and thought I would know what to do but am at a complete loss.
You need to keep out of it. By all means tell your son that his ex deserves a conversation about it but I think you need to leave it there.
They are adults and adult relationships don't always work out- people get over it. Yes it is unfortunate that here seems to be someone else involved but if the rest of what your son is telling you is true then it sounds like a pretty controlling relationship that he is better off out of. Natural to be sad but support your on if he feels this is best for him.
By keeping in touch with her, you could be making the situation worse. Your DS had his reasons for ending the relationship and as a DM, you should respect that.
Naturally, if you keep in touch, she will ask you questions that you may feel in an awkward position to answer, especially if there is potentially another woman involved. If you don't answer her questions and she later finds out that there is another person that your DS has been confiding in, it will hurt the exGF a lot.
Support your DS, don't put yourself in an awkward situation. Give exGF time she needs to heal. Just minimise contact with her. By keeping in touch with her, you could unwittingly make the situation worse and also lose the respect of your DS.
I'm sorry you're all going through this.
But she told him to go. So he went.
And now she wants him back
She sounds a bit bossy or controlling. Maybe he is better off with someone else?
Keep your nose out of it l think. He is old enough to make his own decisions and to make his own mistakes.
Your job as his DM is to support him without judging.
It's his life-please do not interfere, he won't thank you for it.
After speaking with my son it seems that he felt she was telling him what to wear etc, he couldn't go out after work, as she needed him to go and take the dog out. They both work in hospitality and work long shifts frequently at different times of the day. He said it got to the point where he didn't recognise himself anymore and felt trapped
Listen to your son.
stay out of it.
Don't give your son ANY advice unless he comes to you and specifically asks for it.
I suspect you won't be doing exGF any favours by staying in touch with her either. She may think it's wise, but in my own experience, as there are no DC involved, it's best for all if she cuts ties with your family.
Thank you everyone for your replies I think the advice to keep out of it is best although I love his GF like a daughter and really feel for her I don't want to loose my son. I will have another chat with him though and at least let him know I think he should see her face to face. She is a lovely kind person who was making a nice home for them - but I know we don't know what goes on behind closed doors.
She told him to get out after he had stayed out all night and didn't return home until 7am, she had been awake and worrying about him since about 4am when their housemate returned from work, they live in a big city where there are gangs and she feared something may have happened to him, he finished work at 3 a.m. so of course she was cross he never texted her and told he he had stayed at work for a couple of drinks after they had closed the bar. She had tried to ring and text but he wasn't replying.
I am worried about her and him, especially after speaking with her yesterday. I was shopping in town this morning and all of a sudden tears were rolling down my face. I have been praying for them both. I love them both so much.
Never interfere in your childs relationships. And you certainly dont push or take sides.
He's old enough to sort his own life out. She sounds like a control freak. He's listening to his inner voice.
You are too involved in this relationship. With respect, you have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. She could be awful to him, but anyway it is their relationship and they know the truth. If they part then that is their lives and their decisions to make. let your so, as an adult, sort it out. It's his life, his business.
You have known your son for a great deal longer than 4 years, and I would imagine you love him more. Maybe he needs your support, maybe he has made a mistake, maybe not. Just be there for your son.
I know someone who everyone thinks is great, amazing. But I know how what they do is calculated to get full attention and fuss and to impress people so they are liked....manipulative. I have been on the end of verbal and emotional abuse and controlling behaviour from this very same person, who can be pretty nasty.
I would advise to leave well alone. Stop worrying about her, she is an adult, and your loyalty surely has to be with your son. He will do what he thinks is appropriate and does not have to do what his mother tells him, in fact it may make him do the opposite. Just listen, don't judge, because you will never know the true story.
I think posters here are being way too harsh on the OP and perhaps don't yet have children old enough to have partners that become like one of the family.
Some of these posts are also a bit rich seeing as this bloke has left for someone else (he has, of course. This new 'friend' is the OW) and on threads where this has happened to a poster, the MIL who sticks by her son and abandons the old partner is usually vilified for her heartlessness.
If he asks for your advice or makes statements that deserve comment, I'd point out that it's a cliche as old as the hills to think the grass is greener and to start rewriting history, so it might help if he could pause for a moment and think about whether he is being truly objective about his former relationship. Did he talk about these alleged problems before he met the new woman, for example? Does he remember feeling a pull away from his relationship before she came along?
If he doesn't want to talk to you about it however, there's not much you can do. It doesn't mean you have to like how he's behaved though. I think you probably have to face up to the fact that he was involved with this woman before he left and acknowledge that he has lied to both you and his former partner about that.
If his ex contacts you again, I'd focus on how she is coping and explain that you can't and won't get drawn into your son's motivations. You can show kindness and humanitarian concern for her without discussing your son or his behaviour.
thanks everyone for your advice I am going to stay well out of it unless my son wants to talk to me. If she rings me again, she said she might at Christmas, I won't refuse to speak t her, I will let her talk but not give her any false hope. If he does want to talk do I tell him how heartbroken she is. She really is not manipulative neither is he. She doesn't want me to put any pressure on him at all and says its their problem and time will tell.
I am only worrying because I care, for both of them and of course the good relationship I have with my son is important and don't want to loose this.
I have a good relationships with all my sons and their wives/gfs. I don't interfere normally and let them get on with it but this has come as such a shock I just didn't know what to do.
Thank you leavenheath, for understanding, she is like one of the family, all the family like her a lot and she likes us. We are all shocked.
Both my husband, DIL and myself all think that its since this 'friend' started working at the same place as my son - and of course when you work full time you spend more time with your work colleagues than you do with your partner, especially when they work the long hours they do.
Yes you do become friendly with some of them and we think that maybe this girl has encouraged him and this is when he started seeing things wrong with his relationship that were probably quite normal, when our husbands choose clothes don't we all say whether it would suit them or not, if asked and sometimes if not asked. It never seemed to bother him before and it works both ways. He says he doesn't recognise himself but we all change over the years in many ways especially when living with someone. He is adament there was no sexual goings on with this girl before he left GF
I am thinking he may have got 'cold feet' about settling down due in part I am sure to this girls friendship. Maybe he is right and GF is not the one for him, or like he says he may be making the biggest mistake of his life by ending his relationship. I also suspect he was talking to the girl at work when he should have been talking to his GF about any doubts he had, maybe then it wouldn't have come to this.
Hmm...well I'm not sure about the new GF 'encouraging' him because that lets him of the hook somewhat, but it's interesting what you say about him never expressing any doubts before he met this new woman. Of course he may have had them but not told you about them. The acid test is whether he ever talked to his ex about any unhappiness and you might never know that, unless he tells you.
I've often found in these situations the more trivial the complaints the more it resembles barrels being scraped for a revisionist justification. The clothes thing remind me of that a bit.
If he's been staying out till 7a.m then he's probably lying about not being sexually involved with this woman prior to him leaving, but since he's probably lied to his ex about that too, he's hardly likely to tell you any different.
I hope he talks to you and I hope he's honest with his ex partner. I also hope she's got enough people in her corner who are getting her to face some harsh realities because if she knew he'd been cheating on her, it would probably help her to move on quicker than worrying endlessly about non-existent, barrel-scraping 'faults' that she might only have just heard about.
And yes, I do sympathise hugely with you and realise I'm saying some unpleasant things about your son which might jar a bit, but I do think one of the hardest (but necessary) things as a parent is not to excuse the sort of behaviour in our children that we'd criticise in others. If our parenting includes lots of praise, it doesn't do any harm to pull up even adult kids about behaviour that is cruel and unkind.
Thanks Levenheath you are more than sensible. I know my son has behaved badly and was probably looking for the slightest excuse to leave, I have told him this already and my husband also mentioned how upset I had been and he had the grace to apologise he doesn't want me to worry.
I know his GF will not have him back if he tells her he has had sex with this girl, she is 21, his GF is 30. She is a strong woman but the shock of this has floored her completely. She does have a close friend who is a housemate and her friend is supporting her. But from yesterdays conversation with her she is in a complete mess which is why I am so worried about her.
In September all the family were together for my eldest sons wedding in Scotland. We were all staying in the same cottages and there was no sign of anything wrong. I know my son very well and could always tell when he was unhappy. He says he was covering up and he may have been but he made a very good job of it. They seemed to be as loving as ever with each other.
a couple of weeks ago they were on holiday together and as she says they had plenty of time to talk then if he was having any doubts - but he didn't say anything then either.
I am going to see what he is like over Christmas, he is supposed to be coming tomorrow evening and back at work on Friday so he may open up if not to me then to his elder or younger brother who will be here as well.
If his GF does ring then of course I am going to speak with her but as you say its just to let her talk, it would be too unkind to refuse to speak to her. And if I find it very upsetting like yesterday then I will just have to bite the bullet and not spoil the family christmas. Its her birthday as well so its going to extra hard for her.
If anyone thinks my sympathies are all with GF and I am sticking up for bad behaviour in my son you couldn't be more wrong. I love them both, he is family and she is like a daughter to me. If I, or anyone had seen this coming then I would not be so shocked but no one did.
We don't know the full story from the other side but I'd like to tell you my story from when I was in your sons position. It is my story and may bare no resemblance to his but it shows that there is another side.
I was in a relationship that everyone considered to be perfect. We were so happy and blissful and were just made for each other! But I wasn't happy, he didn't like me going out with my friends and liked to control what I did. He was never explicit in this, I got an extra part time job to save money and when I started making friends he got one there too and clung to me like a limpet. When I said I was going to go for a few drinks from work he'd persuade me to come home straight away as he had plans but then not roll in till the early hours of the morning whilst I'd stayed home alone. It was only when I tried to do things for me did he stomp all over it.
Everyone thought he was perfect and adored me, I was so unsure what was going on and not wanting to rock the boat I never articulated how stuck I felt.
I never physically cheated but met someone who made me feel good again. So I split up with my boyfriend and struck out on my own, with neither bloke. My ex was awful, he bullied, stalked and harrassed me as well as making up countless lies about what I'd done and said. Of course he was very selective about who got what story to ensure the maximum 'injured puppy' routine.
I was feeling so guilty for ending it I never bad mouthed him to anyone. But he happily slagged me to all and sundry.
My family were also shocked and devasted, it took until over a year after we split and they'd witnessed his vile behaviour and utter lies that they realised how toxic our relationship had been.
I've gone on too long, but my relationship with my family has been irrevocably damaged as they tried to be neutral. Be on your sons side as he is family, you can still be friendly with the ex but leave it at that.
I really do feel for you.
I wouldn't be surprised if everything was okay before he started getting close to this colleague, especially if he'd never said anything to his partner about these faults he's now finding. By that, I suppose what I mean is that he might have done that thing of thinking that if he was so attracted to someone else, something must be wrong with his existing partner and their relationship. Anything rather than face up to what might be just ordinary lust for someone else, which is really no biggie and is hardly extraordinary. If your son is proud of his reputation as an all round good bloke, especially so. So rather than admit he's just an ordinary mortal who fancied trying someone new when he got the opportunity, he went searching for a reason for why he behaved the way he did.
Thing is, if this all fizzles out with the 21 year old and he starts to realise what he lost, if it was ever going to work with his ex again he'd have to be honest with her, otherwise this will happen again won't it? I'd guess the reason he's not being honest with her about this other woman and the bearing she's had on recent events is because he wants to keep ex as the fallback kid if it all goes wrong. I'd guess that somewhere in the midst of that new infatuation, some logic still prevails and he realises this could burn out as quickly as it started, either on his part or hers.
I always think when people lie about the existence of someone else, it's part not wanting to look the bad guy and part insurance policy for returning to the original relationship.
Doesn't help you much though. Your plan for the next few days seems sound. I hope he talks to you and invites questions, because those are much more powerful than opinions. The best kind are those that aren't judgemental, but might at least get him thinking. If you've always been close then he will know deep down that you've got his best interests at heart and only want to see him happy. He might be quite defensive about his behaviour though and it will probably take a bit of reflecting to penetrate the version of events he's been selling himself in order not to feel bad or to confront the fact he's just an ordinary mortal who fancied someone else. He's not a demon after all but neither is he a saint who can only behave badly when under duress and unhappy.
Kids huh? I hope you've got your own outlet for your feelings while all this is going on. I'm guessing you'll need that if you're going to pull off this delicate balancing act of not alienating him while inviting him to think. Good luck.
I think you are way too emotionally involved in this - and I speak as someone who never married but had several long term relationships. Some (well one) of my partners in particualr was adored by my mother and when we split up I would have been massively hurt to hear my mother going on about how like a son he was to her and how I needed to speak to him or how perfect we were together etc etc.
Sending her a letter with a card and present for her birthday is fine and very kind but trying to influence your son in any way is unreasonable and may do both of them a huge disservice. For what its worth I never found face to face meetings with ex-partners helped me move on at all. It was just a painful unnecessary reminder that they didn't want me.
They are not married, I assume not even engaged - and as someone said - not all relationships work out. This one didn't.
Stay out of it and offer passive support to either of them if needed but don't even think about making suggestions about what they should or shouldn't do
I thought the same as Kew to begin with ie you are too involved but, now you've spelled it out more (and MN often does require full disclosure!) I can see why you are very upset by this.
yy we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. But it looks like his eye has wandered and he's set the GF up so he can go into the arms of the OW, blaming his GF for 'faults'. I could be wrong but this is what it looks like.
I dread anything like this happening in my family - I would find it very hard to be civil to any of my children who did something like this (if in fact this is what he has done). It puts you in such an awkward and painful position, too, as you love her like a daughter.
I think this is a perfect example of how much it can affect an awful lot of people when couples split. As you say, it came out of the blue and you're all reeling.
I quite understand why OP is upset. I've been one of the adult children in this little tableau and still isn't appropriate for her to get involved. They aren't marries, they don't have children, there is no evidence that he has cheated.
It may well be that his attraction to this other woman is what has convinced him that this relationship after 4 years (and not presumably having moved any further forward) has no long term future. That why you date someone and don't marry them, because you're not sure you want to (assuming you don't have any objection to marriage in principle).
I have had 4 long term relationships which all broke up for different reasons, one because I was attracted to someone else. There was no real choice. It doesn't matter how lovely they seemed to be together 3 months ago - once one person doesn't want to stay in the relationship, its over.
Harsh but true.
Be as supportive to both of them as you like but keep your opinions out of it unless you have proof that he has cheated in which case feel free to tell him you disapprove. But it won't change anything.
I agree Kew - but I hope you didn't just bugger off one night, not come home to your shared house, not contact, then blanked the person you'd been living with and planning to buy a house with. It's looking decidedly fishy, particularly as there is another young woman in the picture.
ach, we can't really know what is happening here and Kew is right, keep out of it. You'll have to tread a very fine line. But I think its lovely that you have contacted her to reassure her that you are heartbroken too. I don't blame you for being heartbroken, I really don't. My kids have split up with longterm partners and it hurt like hell - you do end up loving them dearly and see them as family, it's a huge wrench to lose them.
Also agree with Kew that if it comes out that he's actually been a shit re the other woman, I wouldn't hold back.
No - I was brave and faced my partner and devastated him by saying "sorry this isn't going to work anymore" and walked out. It was a little better but having been on the receiving end of a similar break up I can't say I thought it was much differnt tbh (sightly but not much) In the medium term my partner behaving like a shit made it much easier to move on! Not that I recommend it as a way to break up mind you.
Thanks everyone for your input, I went to bed last night resolved to only talk to him if he wanted to talk, but this morning I woke up with that sick heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach again.
We havn't heard from him since last Thurs. but he is supposed to be coming today or tomorrow.
I want to tell him how heartbroken his Gf is but won't although I may say I have spoken to her. He knows I was going to send her b.day present as I asked him what to do with it he just said send it if you want. But I will try so hard not to mention her crying.
Its alright when you say I am too involved, but whats too involved, because I care about them. I didn't want to be involved but my eldest asked me to find out what was going on after he received a mysterious text. We were all supposed to be going to son and GF for christmas dinner but son sent a message 'I will see you at mum's on CD' you can't be a bit involved its like being pregnant you either are or you aren't.
As for them not being engaged or married yet GF had been in a long term relationship when she came to this country and it ended after 8 years, I don't know why. But she was badly hurt by this and told me that she didn't want to get into another relationship ever - thats why it took 12 months of him asking her out before she finally agreed. Then they dated for a while and started living together 18 months ago and 12 months ago moved from the NE to the NW on their own. They had both been offered good jobs with the same company but in different locations in the same city.
about 6 weeks ago they moved to a house and one of her friends joined them as a housemate to share the rent so they could save up for a deposit for a house of their own.
I don't know if any of this is relevant but I thought they were pretty serious about each other and would marry eventually.
Sorry if this is a bit garbled I am feeling quite anxious just now.
I thought they were pretty serious about each other and would marry eventually - you may have thought that and maybe they thought that at the time too but people change their mind. I don;t mean to sound heartless but that's the way it goes when you're just dating someone, even living with them.
And no its not like a pregnancy. You can be just a bit involved ie support either or both of them but don't interfere. Don't take it upon yourself to start telling each of them how the other feels or said or what they should do etc.
I want to tell him how heartbroken his Gf is - really you think he doesn't know. If you really think he is so heartless and uncaring that he really has no idea how devastated she is then she's well rid of him. And what exactly do you want to achieve by making sure he knows that he has really hurt her? Is it just to make sure he's suffering as much as her, or to try and guilt trip him into trying again? I'd maybe understand your position better if I could understand what you're trying to achieve.
I understand you being upset, really I do. But for want of a better phrase - it really isn't about how you feel, is it?
yes Kewcumber you are right and am not going to say anything unless he wants to talk.
What I would like is for them to get back together but thats entirely up to them I know that.
It does look pretty unlikely. I am not going to interfere, and yes you are right again its not about me.
Its a dreadful situation to be in, maybe not as bad for him as he has obviously been thinking about ending it for some time and has had time to come to terms with it but to his GF and the rest of us its been a great shock.
we are a close family, not physically close as we all live in different parts of the country but we are in regular contact and see each other as much as we can.
All my sons, DIL's and grandmas are going to be here over christmas and I am feeling very anxious now. There are bound to be questions from some of the family.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.