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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.

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