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How much advice to give adult DD about her relationship?

(47 Posts)
Popeyeswife Tue 05-Feb-13 11:27:11

Going to keep this fairly brief for anon reasons etc.

But DD is now house sharing with her long term boyfriend from uni- both early 20s.

He has had a major wobble and said he wants them to split up- after less than 6 months sharing the house ( rented.) He dumped her 2 years ago for similar reasons but after a few months siad it was all a mistake and she took him back.

I don't want to detail all the reasons for the split but he has criticsed her " character faults" as he sees them, including a lack of confidence and he appears to be blaming her for being stuck in his own life re. career etc- not yet got a job he wants.

She is wanting to hold onto him and I see so many red flags I feel she ought to let go, especially as this is the 2nd time he has done this to her.

She is asking my advice but I know that when you love a guy the last thing you need is someone- your mum especially- telling you to let go. But I wonder if it's time to really tell her what I think of him, based on what we have seen and feel about him?

I believe they are in a pattern which will repeat itself time and time again- him blaming her for his own inadequacies and expecting her to change into someone else to suit him.

lalalonglegs Tue 05-Feb-13 11:34:29

If she's asking for advice, then I'd tell her what I thought. I'd also think very seriously about showing her some of the threads on MN so she has a very good idea where this sort of behaviour can lead sad.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 05-Feb-13 11:41:25

If she's asking for advice then don't hold back. Tell her what you think, do it 'more in sorrow than in anger' and I doubt she'll hold it against you. It's often very difficult for someone, when they are mired in a bad relationship, to imagine life any other way. A really determined manipulator is a dangerous and corrosive person. If she is being emotionally abused with this constant nit-picking away at 'faults' and if he has been controlling her by withdrawing and restoring affection, her self-confidence will be low.

As a mother you can remind her perhaps of happier times pre-boyfriend, remind her of her childhood dreams, boost her confidence and, above all, tell her that you love her... unconditionally. That's something she's not getting at the moment. Good luck

Lueji Tue 05-Feb-13 11:42:24

I suspect she's asking for validation of her feelings.

I'd tell her.

oldwomaninashoe Tue 05-Feb-13 11:42:50

Do not offer advice, say to her "It is your life, your decisions to make," but at the same time remind her that you are her Mum and that you will always be there for her.

(I speak as a Mum of four adult boys)

They really must find out for themselves, make their own mistakes however painful it may be, it is the only way they learn to take responsibility for their own actions, and learn from their mistakes.
Despite asking for advice it is unlikely that she will take it and you run the risk of being blamed if it all goes wrong.

Popeyeswife Tue 05-Feb-13 11:44:34

To give you some idea, after 4 months he is saying they take each other for granted, she is no longer "fun", it's not "romantic" any more, her anxiety about stuff feels a burden, she doesn't have enough friends etc. yet she is the one who has the better job, has to get up at 5.30am some days for work, has a car, and he hasn't even learned to drive. You get the picture? I don't feel this is good for a long term relationship.

Lueji Tue 05-Feb-13 11:44:39

Or propose to ask an unbiased audience...


DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 05-Feb-13 13:03:50

Hello Popeyeswife you must feel conflicted but as others have said, think you have to let your DD draw her own conclusions. Obviously if there's any hint of anything untoward you'll be round in a heartbeat, but for now perhaps best to say it must be very hard, you are always there for her and whatever she decides on, she always has your support.

AnyFucker Tue 05-Feb-13 13:13:05

If she's asking, tell her what you think honestly

Or direct her to Mumsnet (after getting this thread deleted)

senua Tue 05-Feb-13 13:13:21

Isn't there a saying:
Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.

Can you try the old trick with her of "if this was happening to a friend, what would you advise?"

But I would not try to "really tell her what I think of him" - she'll only get defensive on his behalf and back herself into a corner.

CashmereHoodlum Tue 05-Feb-13 13:16:03

Did you post about this before?

I would say: As you are asking for my advice, I will give it. My advice is that a relationship is supposed to make you feel good about yourself and I am worried for you that this is not the case. I am worried that although it is not the case, your boyfriend is trying to make you think it is your fault, your character etc which is to blame. I am worried that you believe him and that you think you have to keep improving yourself. I am worried that your believing him will lead to more unhappiness for you. I am worried that you seem to thin this relationship is worth you feeling so bad and being criticised by him. etc

No need to tell her what you think of him.

Good luck op, I hope you can help your dd.

OxfordBags Tue 05-Feb-13 13:33:01

Tell her that she is not, can not be, and must not be, responsible for his feelings and reactions. If he is dissatisfied with life, it is because HE is failing himself, not her. Tell her that the dynamic of abuse works so that an inadequate person seeks to shift their feelings of self-hatred and frustration about the world onto their partner and make them feel to blame.

I do think you need to spell it out for her - as others point out, she may well be needing validation for her own feelings that he is being a cunt. Which he is. You must be very worried - if this prick manages to get under her skin and make her believe that she is responsible for her partner's feelings and needs, it may well set up a pattern for her future where she always falls for this sort of bastard.

Popeyeswife Tue 05-Feb-13 13:47:32


cashmere no not me- this has just happened over last 2 days.

You see- even here there is a conflict of opinion smile

I've pretty much said most of the good stuff that you've all posted- but have stopped short of blowing my top and saying exactly what I feel about him.

So far, I have said that no one should have to change who they are to fit a partner's "ideal person".

I have told her that if he wants "fun" in his life or their relationship then he should be managing that- not expecting her to micro-manage it.

I have also said he cannot blame her and their relationship for his inertia to find a better job.

She herself has said that his digs at her about her shyness ( she is a bit but getting better) were hurtful and he was going about it all the wrong way- she said if it were the other way round she'd try to help him, not criticise.

She is- and this is not just because I am her mum- a very kind, generous, caring person who has no "guile" and sees good in people rather than bad. This makes her vulnerable in situations like this.

My worry is that she feels- maybe this is a "female trait" that they can talk and discuss their way out of this to get back on an even keel. But as this is the 2nd time- and she was distraught the 1st time- I think she ought to tell him to get out of her life for good.

CashmereHoodlum Tue 05-Feb-13 13:55:34

Sorry, somebody posted something similar a while ago. It was the boyfriend not driving that made me think that maybe it was you.

Trills Tue 05-Feb-13 13:57:31

If she asks for advice you should give it.

Not in a "you should do this" way, but in a "this is what I think" way.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 05-Feb-13 13:57:35

You're right that he's playing on the fact that she's a kind and decent person. She probably doesn't see what he's doing as malicious because she's not malicious herself.... that's often the case. He's particularly exploiting the fact that she was distraught when he left the first time.

I steer quite a few people towards this article. When faced with a word like 'abuse' victims can put up a wall because it's pretty horrible to think that the person they love and enjoy being with is actually abusive. We traditionally think of an abusive man in terms of black eyes and drunken tempers... not the confidence sapping stuff she's being subjected to. The article instead focuses on the very early and less dramatic signs of an abusive character which I think are easier to identify with. She might not want to read it herself but it could give you some pointers on how to approach things.

CheeseStrawWars Tue 05-Feb-13 14:01:27

I think you are lucky you have a relationship with your daughter where she would ask you for this sort of advice. I would take the tack of saying to her, as someone said "what would you advise a friend in the same position?", and then just validate her responses. I would also tell her you can't change a person - this is what he's like. Does she want this to be her life?

If you can ask questions that help her reach her own conclusions, that's more effective than telling her he's no good.

YellowTulips Tue 05-Feb-13 14:02:13

The key fact here is that she has asked you for your view.

I think you would have been unwise to state your feeling without her asking, but now that she has I think you need to be honest with her and stress that in the end its her decision to make and you will support her whatever she decides to do.

I agree its a worrying situation. You can see the start of a sprial here "I am unhappy, its your fault, you need to change or I will leave". where you can see someone being worn down and losing their sense of self and confidence.

I would probably start by suggesting she perhaps needs to "flip" this situation and ask herself some questions like:

- Why would you ask someone you love to be something other than they are?
- Why are the problems in this relationship all mine to bear?
- Is this really a partnership?
- What do I get out of a relationship where at every wobble he threatens to leave?".
- Why are his career failures my fault?
- How do I really feel about a person who leaves someone just 6 months after moving in together? If it was my friend what would I tell her?

Maybe by talking through the questions you can help her draw conclusions to make the right decision without forcing your personal view on her at all?

Popeyeswife Tue 05-Feb-13 14:11:11

Thanks yellow, cheese and cognito.

She specifically called me- lives 3 hrs away- to say they might be splitting up and wanted my advice.

I think- in a nutshell- that he cannot cope with the emotional demands of being in a relationship. He wants it to be "fun" all the time. She is not overly needy- I know that- she is lacking in confidence at times and gets anxious, but she gets on with life. This is just destroying the confidence she was building up. He wants her to be more "loud".

What a prat.

AnyFucker Tue 05-Feb-13 14:32:40

I would bet good money that a lot of her "anxiety" will evaporate if she tells this bloke to take a hike, permanently

badinage Tue 05-Feb-13 14:49:13

And I would bet good money that he's got someone else and had someone elsed the first time he ended it with her. Then that ended/he got dumped and went back to your daughter.

All of his criticisms of her sound like the opposite of the qualities he thinks he's found in someone else.

If she found out he'd been unfaithful and was leaving her again for someone else, would that help her to move on and get rid?

AnyFucker Tue 05-Feb-13 14:53:27

yes, I expect some other young woman caught/has caught his eye with her "fun" and "loud" attributes

Popeyeswife Tue 05-Feb-13 14:56:49

I am not convinced there is someone else but I would hate her to hang around until there was.

She is an anxious person but so am I and DH! She gets wound up and always has- before exams ( she had hynotherapy at uni to help her control her nerves) and driving tests etc etc. She doesn't express her anxiety in an obviously needy way but even if she did, he should be able to cope not say it's all too much for him.

And in some ways she is really gutsy- last year she had a bad car accident in black ice - her car written off- and next day she was driving again in a hire car so she could get to work. It was a coincidence but she was driving HIM somewhere at the time, but I still felt illogically resentlful.

badinage Tue 05-Feb-13 15:08:06

Why don't you think there's someone else? If you've been a Mumsnetter for a while, you must surely recognise the signs don't you? They are all there like glaring red flags. Your daughter obviously isn't stupid - I''m sure it's crossed her mind more than once too.

YellowTulips Tue 05-Feb-13 15:15:04

He sounds like an immature asshole tbh. All very "it's all about me".

Apart from fuelling her sense of anxiety I can't see what your DD gets out of this.

Quite frankly it's no good for anyone's self esteem to constantly not be good enough or waiting for him to leave.

Like AF says I think she will find her anxiety much improved by kicking the bugger out and recover her self esteem by refusing to let him keep controlling the parameters of the relationship.

After all, he is really saying now "your not what I want in a partner but I don't have the balls to split. So I'll hang around until someone else comes along and fuck with your head in the meantime to make you feel really shitty about yourself - as after all, it's all about me and the fun I am entitled to".

As I said - asshole...

Popeyeswife Tue 05-Feb-13 15:15:49

Well if there is someone else, why doesn't he just say so? Why do they need to keep talking about what to do- and whether to renew their lease in 6 weeks time?

It would be kinder to tell her they are just not compatible IHO and end it kindly than assassinate who she is.

My big worry is that I advised her to move on- and start looking for new accommodation, and she agreed- then the next day it seemed to be as if they were talking it all over and she was moving towards what he "wanted her to be". IYSWIM trying to please him.

badinage Tue 05-Feb-13 15:20:33

Why doesn't he just say so?

Because as we all know, when people leave for an OW or OM, they don't want to be blamed for that - and they also like to have a fallback if the new relationship doesn't work out. That worked pretty well for him last time didn't it?

YellowTulips Tue 05-Feb-13 15:29:05

What does she want him to be rather than the reverse?

AnyFucker Tue 05-Feb-13 15:37:18

These arsehole types never "just say so"

They would rather makes someone else feel like shit, than make themselves look like shit.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 05-Feb-13 15:39:31

When you say 'new accommodation' would she still be in the same geographic area? Any chance she can relocate.... put some real distance between them?

badinage Tue 05-Feb-13 15:45:51

I'm a bit puzzled why it hasn't occurred to you that he's been messing around. If this was my daughter, it would be my first thought and if she asked me for advice, is what I'd (very gently) suggest was happening. I'd rather her realise that character assassinations are what people do when they are messing around, than for her to think that any of these criticisms were based on truth.

Is there any reason you're holding back on suggesting this?

slug Tue 05-Feb-13 16:07:55

Point her in the direction of a few of the red flag sites on the internet or possibly buy her the Lundy book and let her make up her own mind?

Popeyeswife Tue 05-Feb-13 16:11:52

I am going to pass on the OW idea for the moment because i think it is unlikely- sorry but without going into more details I don't think it's the case. Possible of course but not likely.

Re. relocate- she does not want to relocate yet- she is being trained in her job and needs this training to make it easier to move but she does have medium terms plans to move some distance away- maybe in 6-9 months- where she ought to be able to find the work she does.

I think I need to focus on what to say to her rather than confuse her more with ideas of the OW which may or may not- and prob not- the issue.

BigGiantCowWithAKnockKnockTail Tue 05-Feb-13 16:12:42

Go through this with her. She should be able to say that she has all of these in place in her relationship. It doesn't sound like she does though.

badinage Tue 05-Feb-13 16:23:26

Well I'm sure you have your reasons for that decision. As long as they are based on your take of your daughter's particular situation, you'll know you're acting in good faith as her mum.

AnyFucker Tue 05-Feb-13 16:50:13

"Without going into more detail" I don't understand why you are so sure the idea of OW is a complete no-no

This is your daughter we are talking about here, yes ? You don't live with her and see how this goes about his business on a daily basis ? if that is the case, I think you are doing her a dis-service to not even mention it as a possible reason for his nasty behaviour ?

Do you understand that in some emotionally-manipulative relationships, the common denominator in a woman finally saying "enough is enough" is infidelity ? Because while you are in complete denial about that possibility you can say to yourself "at least he is MY emotional abuser...."

AnyFucker Tue 05-Feb-13 16:50:54

this bloke goes about his business

CheeseStrawWars Tue 05-Feb-13 17:27:38

The OW is a red herring, imo. This man sounds like he is treating the daughter badly. She needs to wise up and get out. If there is an OW, that's the icing on a crappy cake, but the cake is crappy regardless...

AnyFucker Tue 05-Feb-13 17:31:19

True, cheese.

But if he's not her cake, that can be the decider for many women. Anyway, we don't know, Op doesn't know if there is OW. It's just a bit puzzling why she is dismissing it so readily.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 05-Feb-13 17:40:43

after 4 months he is saying they take each other for granted, she is no longer "fun", it's not "romantic" any more

This thread has moved on since I posted earlier. I don't necessarily think there's an OW (yet). Christmas and new year are long past, he's out of work, she's got a busy week. Job hunting and little money can be demoralising, but why take it out on her. I won't even ask if he does actually pull his weight domestically or is that just boring, no-fun, non-romantic stuff too?

Maybe you could say something like, "IF I were an interfering mother, I'd tell you he's sucking the joy out of your life and you're worth 10 of him, so if he loves himself as much as all that but not you any more, let him go - but as I'm not, I'll keep quiet".

Maybe she could make a real effort for Valentine's Day - summon up her strength, pack his bags, tell him to go to the far side of fuck.

CailinDana Tue 05-Feb-13 17:42:36

IMO it's much more effective to help a person to come a conclusion themselves rather than telling them - you will inevitably be slightly off the mark which will allow her to dismiss your ideas because you "don't understand." Don't tell her, ask her.

Ask her things like:

What's your gut feeling on all this?
Why do you feel that way?
Ideally how would you like things to be?
Do you think it will ever be like that?
Do you think in ten years time things will be better/different, or that you'll still be having the same issues?
Can you see yourself having children with him?
Do your friends like him? Why/why not?
If your friend was having the same issues, what would you say to her?

Anything that she mentions, question her further - why do you feel that way? Do you think that's true? etc etc. What you want is for her to be honest with herself about how she feels and stop trying to make out that things are ok when they're not.

badinage Tue 05-Feb-13 17:44:34

Yes it does seem odd. Almost as though the OP doesn't want her daughter putting 2 and 2 together about a similar chain of events in another relationship.

Agree that cheating nearly always causes the scales to fall from a woman's eyes, even if she's been putting up with all sorts of crap before. If this bloke is cheating, it wouldn't be the daughter's fault would it? So much less likely to lead to self-blame than believing she's no fun, doesn't have friends and is too needy, surely?

senua Tue 05-Feb-13 17:57:38

whether to renew their lease in 6 weeks time?

On a practical note: who pays the rent? What is the worst case scenario - that he kicks her out after signing the lease but she is still liable for his lodgings?
Suggest that, if nothing else, they get separate digs until they have sorted themselves out. The distance might help her see sense.

Popeyeswife Tue 05-Feb-13 18:21:59

I'm sorry but I don't like this haranging that's cropped up lately trying to convince me there is an OW.

None of you know that any more than I do. It's guess work.

I acknowledged several posts back that it was possible but not likely. I am not prepared to speculate any further than that and neither should anyone else who has only the info here to go on. Her conversation with me- almost 2 hours- told me a lot about what they had said to each other and what I have written here is the bare bones.

My question was how much do I say when asked for advice. Some of the posts have ben very helpful so thanks for that and I'll bear it all in mind when we talk again. I won't be posting any more .

Popeyeswife Tue 05-Feb-13 18:24:20

senua- they have a joint tenancy so if one leaves the other does. She's a professional person earning a good salary- she wouldn't get into a house share where she was able to be "kicked out".

AnyFucker Tue 05-Feb-13 18:35:59

Your choice, of course

I hope your daughter will be ok.

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