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My potential girlfriend is being controlled by a surrogate father figure - can I help or walk away?

(52 Posts)
MonetsGarden Sat 19-Jul-14 13:13:03

I have been dating a woman, so I'm biased. I know that. She is mid 20s. She has a male friend who is early 50s (I'm going to try to make this as non-identifiable as possible, but it's hard)

They met when she was an undergraduate and he was a member of a university society, but they became close a few years later when she was living abroad, feeling a bit homesick, and so messaged him, and now they're best friends.

He is married and has been for the past 10 year or so. It's his 3rd wife, and there's quite a big age gap between them. When he met his wife, she was only 20 I think and he was mid 30s (nothing wrong with that, but inb my mind it's painting a bigger picture)

My girlfriend has a tricky relationship with her parents and admitted to me she sees this man as a father figure. He is quite well off, and when she was living abroad, she decided she wanted to move to her home town - he gave her money and offered her advice. They have bought a house together (an investment for him, and somewhere to live for her to get on the ladder, etc).

They go away on holiday together (they've been to China, the US, and they're planning a trip to Asia). Apparently his wife and him have an agreement where he can do this.

In some ways, a lot of this is positive. I can see that. But it seems as if he is treating his wife badly, and also, that she is not living her life, making friends, relationships and so on. Since they became close, she hasn't had a boyfriend. Since we started dating, I've seen them texting and she admitted he was saying things about me like "he's only trying to get in her pants" - and she has stayed over once. As soon as she was up, he texted her "you stayed over at his last night, didn't you?"

She admits to me that he gives her confidence, she admires him, but it seems he has an awful lot of subtle control over her. She's incredible. Before they were close, she had lived and worked in several countries. She got the job she has now over 100 candidates.

I can't see it working out between me and her because of this friend. Is this strange? I want her to see herself for the strong independent woman she is? Do I walk away, or try to help?

MonetsGarden Sat 19-Jul-14 13:17:40

sorry, I made a small mistake - I didn't mean she moved back to her home town, I meant university town

Jinsei Sat 19-Jul-14 13:19:49

Walk away. Sorry. sad

ClashCityRocker Sat 19-Jul-14 13:21:26

How would you feel if the friend was a female?

I'm not sure I would be hugely comfortable in your situation, but perhaps unjustly so. It does sound a little unhealthy and that she is over-reliant on him.

Teeb Sat 19-Jul-14 13:22:00

She's in a relationship with this man, walk away.

AuntieStella Sat 19-Jul-14 13:23:02

Walk away.

It doesn't sound as if you are interested in a non-exclusive relationship, and if she was going to end it with him for exclusivity with you, she would have done so by now.

MonetsGarden Sat 19-Jul-14 13:23:51

I would feel differently to an extent if he were female (it's too easy to read a narrative of a man who likes to spend time with younger women and have some control over them)

Yet, if she had a female friend who was trying to put her off having relationships, I'd also find it a little odd

BlinkingHeck Sat 19-Jul-14 13:25:02

Walk away.

MonetsGarden Sat 19-Jul-14 13:25:05

I know their relationship isn't sexual, (or at least I think I do). He is married with children. I just think he enjoys going on holiday, etc with a younger woman

tribpot Sat 19-Jul-14 13:26:21

So she's know him about 5 years, and he's been married for 10. (His pseudo-parent relationship with her doesn't pre-date his marriage is what I'm asking - your numbers don't exactly add up in the post but I assume this is because you're trying to conceal exact ages and so on).

This comment is chilling: Apparently his wife and him have an agreement where he can do this. WTF does that mean? Is that what she told you?

The fact that she hasn't had a boyfriend since she became 'best friends' with this guy (who is twice her age?) is telling - at least one of them is in love with the other, I think. What woman in her mid-twenties needs someone to tell her that you would want to sleep with her?! And what woman in her mid-twenties would want someone supposedly in a parental relationship texting her to ask if she'd shagged you straight after it happened?

The whole thing sounds very creepy and I'd stay well away if I were you. I'd be quite clear with her about the reason, as well - the relationship with her sugar daddy best friend is unhealthy and controlling, and doesn't leave room for you.

Btw I have friends of the opposite sex who are more than 10 years younger than me, I might even go on holiday with them and I certainly give them relationship advice (when asked for). But this set up sounds weird.

Jinsei Sat 19-Jul-14 13:27:41

Sorry, but I think you're kidding yourself if you think it's platonic. They have bought a house together, they go on holiday together, he keeps tabs on where she has spent the night....

It sounds very unhealthy to me.

Pinkfrocks Sat 19-Jul-14 13:27:52

They are having a relationship and it's not father - daughter.

It couldn't be any clearer.

Going on holiday ( separate rooms or haven't you asked her?) in full knowledge of his wife- your GF said that , or the man told your GF that?
It's bollocks.

Leave and fast. He is not a father figure.

tribpot Sat 19-Jul-14 13:27:54

I know their relationship isn't sexual, (or at least I think I do). He is married with children. I just think he enjoys going on holiday, etc with a younger woman

Oh yes. All quite normal. As everyone knows, married men with children don't have sexual relationships with other women, phew! smile You sound incredibly naive if that's your evidence.

Quitelikely Sat 19-Jul-14 13:30:12

I don't think you are very comfortable with this situation and IMO rightly so. He seems a bit more occupied with her than he should be and also you don't really get anything for nothing do you? I mean buying half of a house to help her out seems very far fetched!

Have you told her your not happy with the situation?

MonetsGarden Sat 19-Jul-14 13:31:00

I agree Tribot, that it's whole picture, rather than small elements that add up to a creepy relationship.

In terms of the dates, he and his wife have been a couple for 17 years (and married after 5). They've known each other about 6 years (and have been close for 3)

I think he's a controlling bastard who has his wife at home yet gets to do exactly what he wants. (sorry, that is my anger slightly coming through there - I think I'll have to walk away, but I'm angry at him for controlling her)

Dirtybadger Sat 19-Jul-14 13:31:54

Sounds completely strange and unhealthy. They bought a house together? Stay away.

MonetsGarden Sat 19-Jul-14 13:33:03

I know it sounds far fetched, but I genuinely am pretty convinced that they're not having a sexual relationship. I know it looks naive.

MonetsGarden Sat 19-Jul-14 13:35:07

I have told her I'm unhappy with the situation. She can understand why, and she hinted to me that she thinks he is manipulating her, but she admires him

Dirtybadger Sat 19-Jul-14 13:39:19

You could be right about not having a sexual relationship but that doesn't make the dynamic healthy or something that allows her to maintain other healthy romantic/intimate relationships. I actually did assume they weren't in a sexual relationship; he just sounds like he is obsessed with her. Maybe a young, beautiful possession to him. Who knows.

Probably not worth pursuing though.

tribpot Sat 19-Jul-14 13:39:29

Even if they aren't, the relationship is not platonic either. I suspect she'll end up wife number 4 at some point, watching him find another twenty-year-old to 'go on holiday' with. I wonder if that's what happened with wife numbers 2 and 3.

JaceyBee Sat 19-Jul-14 13:40:15

You seem to want to help her see that this is strange and unhealthy, I don't blame you. But I don't think you can, she'll probably just get defensive and he'll say you're trying to cause trouble, probably accuse you of being jealous and controlling too (projection).

But if you walk away and are honest about why, because it feels as though there are more than 2 people in this relationship and it makes you feel uncomfortable then it might lead her to reassess the level of enmeshment with this man. Or it might not. People are gonna do what they want at the end of the day.

Hickorydickory12 Sat 19-Jul-14 13:42:13

She also seems to like the attention and money he gives to her. He is not entirely blameless. And she doesn't seem to respect boundaries.
Has she ever met his wife or hang out with her?

MonetsGarden Sat 19-Jul-14 13:43:16

Their dynamic is definitely not healthy - last night she admitted to me that their relationship stops her forming new relationships (of any kind).

I wish I could help her, but I don't think I really can, other than as you (JaceyBee) suggests. Tell her I'm not happy with it and walk away

ChelsyHandy Sat 19-Jul-14 13:43:18

I agree with you that its unhealthy and you are probably right in all you say, but she is probably too close to see it right now. Hopefully she will wise up as she gets older and get fed up of him in time, but maybe not. The joint house purchase complicates it - maybe she is seeing what she gets out of it? And that is why I agree with the others in saying walk away, before you get even more involved, while you still can. Aside from anything else, would you really want to be involved with a woman who gets free holidays and houses bought for her by another man? Its not a good trait in her, even if she is being controlled.

MonetsGarden Sat 19-Jul-14 13:44:04

She has met his wife, but she said his wife doesn't like her (I think I can understand why)

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