To feel really sad about this?(18 Posts)
Hi, I'm new so apologies if I get this wrong but I really need a new perspective.
We have had loads of problems with my son's girlfriend this year - she's at uni not too far away and he lives at home. She tells us she suffers from mental health issues. These manifest themselves in needing to spend every night with my son. Since this started he's dropped out of uni and now works at a crap job, spending his time driving the 25 miles between home/work and her uni.
We have tried to support them both. I drove him to her the middle of the night when he couldn't get to her and he says she was threatening to kill herself. I helped get her seen by the uni counsellors (I went to the same uni). We've talked to them both, I talked to a counsellor for advice, she's stayed innumerable times, the longest time for 22 days straight. She is quite hard work and I'm beginning to feel taken for a ride.
We've had problems with them both: we cleared three bin bags of uneaten/rotten food from his room once that they had just let pile up, she has often decided she will stay in our house on her own, and if she is really upset (usually about her absent father) she will stay in his room all day crying. Now if she doesn't get to spend the night with him she will cry via phone or FaceTime.
We rarely see our son on his own, he doesn't seem to go out with mates alone and previously when he went out with his dad she text them both and his sisters, who were at home, multiple times. I've talked to him and he tells me he's frustrated by it. But then he acts totally differently with her. When we've had rows or I've had to bring up some selfish behaviour (she never used to help out) I always feel as if I'm kicking puppies. Currently when they stay, and we've limited it to two nights a week max, they get up and are out the door within ten mins. My son does this to an extent when he's here on his own. I feel like I'm running a doss house but I am so weary of pulling him or them up in their behaviour.
I have tried to be patient, have her round to help my son to cut down on his travelling and to see him. However I feel she is very manipulative and he is a bit too. They have previously both lied to us and she keeps changing her story about what's wrong. First she wouldn't say, then it was because she was scared to be in her uni halls, then when she moved out at the end of the year it was because a friend had committed suicide nine months previously. Apparently my son wasn't aware of this. She says the doctor won't give her tablets as she's not bad enough and the counsellor says she should take things "one step at a time". Hence only being separated from my son for two nights. They are apparently slowly increasing it. It may seem as if her diagnoses, whatever it is, perhaps anxiety, is none of my business but the impact her and their relationship is having on our family is huge.
Allegedly she can't talk to her mum because she has her own mental health problems.. When we've said we will tell her mother what's going on she gets very upset. This girls problems don't seem to impact her life when she is with her own family - they go for numerous days out and meals to which my son is not invited. The pair never seem to hang out there and I feel really resentful that her mother seems oblivious to all this, while treating my son badly, enjoying the good bits with her daughter while we deal with all this stress and problems. I feel because we are inexperienced regarding mental health problems we are out of our depth.
Tomorrow is a special occasion and all of my immediate family will be there. However I've had a row with my son as he wants his gf to stay tonight and he will drop her off at uni tomorrow (same city as we are going to). I never usually say no but didn't say yes so now he's staying at hers, because they arranged to stay together and she can't seem to deal with changes in these arrangements. I am worried we won't easily be able to meet up with my son as it will be crowded or she will have a major meltdown and he won't be able to come. Plus, I just wanted a day with my husband and all our kids. That rarely happens nowadays.
AIBU to feel so upset by this? All I wanted was time with all my children, no hassle. It would be so much easier if we all went together. I feel we've done lots to help them and that her mother gets to spend time with her daughter without my son. I feel inordinately disappointed and so hurt. He says it would help him out to have her stay. I feel my needs don't count and his gf's always come first before anyone in the family. But maybe I should suck it up?
Sorry for the length, I didn't want to drop feed, and thanks if you've read this far!
No, I would also feel very sad about it in your position. Hopefully your son will be able to in time realise that his GF is not bringing out the best in him. Unfortunately if you push this issue he will likely dig his heels in further.
Your too involved.hes a man. leave him to it.the more you give the more people take
That sounds incredibly frustrating. I'd be very resentful by this stage. I would want to speak to her mother about it though this may not be the best idea. Does she still see a counsellor? Sounds like she needs to work on some coping mechanisms so she's not so dependent on your son.
Are you saying she frequently spends time with her family & never suffers anxiety during this time? That seems unusual & would ring alarm bells to me but I'm no expert....
This would upset me. If he ever wants to split with her I imagine she will become v ill and he wil feel bad.
How old are they?
I'm struggling to understand what he sees in her. Sounds like an awful situation for you. He has given up his chance to study yet she is continuing. Why did he do that? Just remember that not everyone is who they say they are and people can make up all sorts of things about themselves and put on a very good act. It's quite possible her family are oblivious to it all.....
That's a lot for your DS to shoulder. As well as you OP. You have been supportive.
I'm surprised by the comment that her GP won't prescribe AD? That seems strange.
This sounds like way more then anxiety, or that what a counsellor can fix. It sounds like Borderline Personality Disorder, which needs treatment from a psychiatrist. I'm not a Doctor, so I may be wrong. But cutting, threats of suicide and fear of abandonment are all classic Borderline traits.
No real advice, just hope your son realises that maybe she's not as bad as she appears and kicks her into touch . He can then find someone else and have some family time with you. Sorry if that sounds horrible, I'd hate that to happen to my boy, luckily I've got a few years yet. I hope.
I know I am too involved Sadsnake and I'd dearly love not to be but it's hard not to worry about my son. Really just trying to support him as someone up thread pointed out, it's a lot on his shoulders.
Amanda they are twenty. So obviously adult and in charge of their own lives. Or not.
Obviously I don't know exactly what she's like when she's at her own home but there is no weeping down the phone to DS, no weepy Face Times. It is actually lovely for us evelyn when she's at home as everything is back to normal here and it feels like DS is part of the family again instead of a rather annoying lodger.
navy alarm bells ring with us too. Whenever I suggest something there's always a reason why that solution wouldn't work. She has in the past lied about seeing a counsellor (claim she didn't like the uni one, then on further questioning it turns out she took a friend to see him and didn't like the look of him. Or something. She's quite often vaugue and talking to her is sometimes like trying to juggle with jelly.
She is seeing a doctor, counsellor and talking to her mother more apparently. My son is equally vaugue on any details.
Thanks all for reading and replying.
Stick to your house rules- x number of sleep overs a week. Let him get on with the rest and take a massive step back (painful and frustrating though it is). Let them sort out themselves and tell him no more 'emergency lifts'.
Ecplain to your son that you don't agree with, like or feel comfortable with the current situation and you are not going to facilitate their lifestyle. Set boundaries.
Anticipate that you will need to be there to pick up the pieces further down the line but in the meantime let go.
I feel really sorry for your son, he must feel such a strong sense of responsibility towards her that he's terrified not to comply with her demands in case she hurts herself or worse. I am not qualified to diagnosed but so much of what you have said screams bullshit to me and I would be amazed if she actually has seen a doctor or counsellor as she claims, it reads to me as pure manipulation. If your son is open to it you could both try reading a bit on co dependency to see if anything clicks
I agree with the PP who said it sounds like borderline personality disorder. One of my family members has this and sounds very like your son's gf - she self harms, has to be with the person she is seeing every minute of every day (they end up staying at her place for months on end even if they have only just met), she catastrophises everything, and is basically both self destructive and verging on abusive because of the illness. She takes anti psychotic medication and is OK when she is on them but if she comes off for any reason she goes back to the same behaviours.
I feel I should share my experience of something very similar from the other side to where you are coming from.
DP's DD18 went away to uni with the sole intention of finding a bf. Within 2 months she did. He was a lovely lad - polite, a real home bird and very reliant on his mum and dad. Anyway, as soon as DSD started seeing him, she acted extremely entitled, as though she was something he should be proud to have and do everything for. She would stay at his parents most weekends and into Mon/Tue while they were all at work. Her dad was good at making sure she knew she had to be respectful, but she just said things like "they like me so it's OK", etc. I had to sit back and just bite my tongue because 1) She listens to no one 2) Especially not me 3) She has major issues with women criticising her because of issues with her mum and her not talking, but both of them blaming the other rather than try to see how they contributed to the issue. So I stay quiet rather than get a mouthful of abuse.
Anyway, flash forward a year and DSD suddenly develops a mental health issue, is dosed up on antidepressents and is practically living at her BF's parents full time, expecting to be waited on hand and foot, forever using her 'anxiety' as a reason to not try to get better. Again, I stay quiet because, although I have anxiety also and have fought for years to resolve without drugs, she was very dismissive of anything I said. My biggest concern was how she was treating her bf and his family and I spoke to her Dad lots about it. He couldn't get through to her this time and started finding it more and more frustrating. We saw some pretty awful things that she would always blame on him. To be honest, we will never know exactly what happened between them, but it always seemed to be his fault and he always seemed to be quite stressed with it.
Flash forward another 6 months and he ended it. His reason was that he didn't love her any more and hadn't for a while. It was just done overnight. His parents stopped contact with her, he refused to come over or talk to her, it was like they all had just had enough.
I hoped she would realise what impact her expectations, entitled behaviour and her reliance on all of them whilst she was suffering with her anxiety. But she hasn't seemed to. Everything since has been about doing things her exBF didn't like (tatoos, holidays, running up debt on her credit card). It makes me sad but also relieved they aren't together anymore.
The purpose of telling you all this is I never saw it before from the point of view of her ExBF's DPs. So, from the pov of the 'other side', I think I can safely say:
1) If she is behaving in a way you don't like in your home, don't put up with it. Her anxiety can't be that bad if they didn't give her anything for it... I have been offered antiDs loads of times and I function normally every day. Anxiety is not an excuse for putting people out.
2) Talk to your DS. If he isn't willing to not tell her to back off, you can tell him to. Chances are, any self-respecting guy is not going to run into the arms of a girl treating his family like that.
3) Know her parents are probably putting up with a lot more than you think. Especially if her mum has MH issues too. People who act entitled and dependent are often, in my experience, quite manipulative about their lives.
Sorry that was so long, but hope it helped.
Does he actually want to be with his girlfriend or does he feel stuck in this situation? If she is threatening self harm or suicide if he either doesn't see her when she wants or finishes with her he may feel like he can't leave her.
I would echo what other posters have said about your house your rules. You don't owe her anything, you don't have to have her in your house more than you want her there. You are also entitled to not be treat badly in your own home.
This is such a complex situation, I feel for you and goodness your DS, how can he negotiate this at such a young age. He, seemingly, is now totally responsible for his girlfriend's well being, happiness and personal safety. He cannot possibly shoulder this burden long term, something will trigger a change. Is their a family counselling provider locally or maybe your son could benefit from speaking with a neutral person who he trusts. I would be itching to speak with this girls mother in the hope she could/would take control of this situation and work to provide the assistance her DD needs. I hope you all find a way forward very soon
YANBU. It would be odd if you weren't really upset by this.
It sounds so much like Borderline Personality Disorder, and one of the problems with that illness is that many sufferers aren't entirely honest either with the medical professionals or with those closest to them.
I wonder if you could have a conversation with your son along the lines of helping him be able to be there for her long term, if that's what he wants.
For example, he's essentially her principal carer as well as her boyfriend. Carers need some time out. Maybe for one night a week he should be apart from her, with his phone switched off, and she could spend this night with family or another friend. Not just for his sake, but because he can only be there for her long-term if he keeps well himself, which involves rest.
And given it sounds like possible BPD, maybe give him a leaflet or links to read on that. Again, not to be mean behind her back, but because you want her to be well.
But the best thing would be if your son could see a professional, twice. Once, with his girlfriend, to see her psychiatrist. Not to gang up on her, but so that he can support her better. Most psychiatrists are keen for carers to come along to an appointment at some stage.
And second, on his own, to discuss with a professional how to keep himself mentally healthy whilst supporting her. Of course, we can hope that the professional would point out where she's being manipulative and unreasonable, but don't mention that bit!
The key is, trying to put the pieces in front of your son which show how bad the situation is, but letting him put the pieces together. And meanwhile, just keeping on with being loving and supportive - it's not him who's taking you for a ride, he's under a great deal of pressure, and if he feels pressure/criticism from you it'll just add to that, make him defensive, and make it harder for him to turn to you when he's ready to speak about his concerns.
Best of luck.
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