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Daughter's relationship: red flag?

(64 Posts)
LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 14:59:27

I was (am) a single parent, so my daughter and I have always been very close. I'm not sure if I'm too close. What I mean is that I think I am seeing red flags in her relationship with her boyfriend, and I'm not sure if they are genuine red flags, or just me being over-protective.

Whatever it is, I know there isn't much I can do, and I certainly won't say anything to her because it would really not go down well at all. I just want to see what others think, I think.

Daughter has been with boyfriend for just over three years. He's younger than her, and has just finished his studies. I've always had the slightly uncomfortable feeling that she is more in love than he is, although I have never been able to pin it down to anything - just a gut feeling.

Today is her birthday - she's 27. I sent her a couple of small gifts which I knew she would love, and she did. I asked did she get anything else. No. Boyfriend bought her nothing. But he did pay for dinner last night. She sounded ok about it, but he was in the same room as her.

Earlier this year, to celebrate his birthday, and the end of his studies, and their being together three years, she surprised him with a week's holiday abroad. I was quite surprised at that - we've always done "nice" birthdays, but nothing wildly extravagant. Also, I know she can't really afford that sort of present. I wondered if it was too much - both financially and in terms of the emotional weight of such a big gift.

Before they went on the week's hol, they spent three weeks with his relations in a country some distance away. When they came back after both the hols, boyfriend then booked tickets back to distant family for a wedding.

So on the phone today I had to hold my tongue. He had had enough money to book himself tickets back to "distant family place" but could not afford to buy her a birthday present.

I've had a funny feeling all year that something is about to happen, and I can't shake it. She would be utterly devastated - she told me she wants to spend her life with him.

I'm not going to intervene, obviously - she's a big girl. But if I was going out with someone and he didn't buy me a birthday present I would not be able to see for red flags. She is so completely in love I worry.

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 16:26:03

Lemondrizzled I was not in that situation as her father and I didn't live together or have a relationship after she was born.

happycrimblechuckie I'm not "clearly cut up" about anything her father did, but she is because he's tended to put her second, a lot. I found him disappointing but she found him much more than disappointing.

And I'm not trying to protect her from hurt I suffered as it was me that left her father.

Anyway. Thanks for the input everyone. Might as well leave it there I think.

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 16:29:45

Was he unavailable for two days as he was trapped under another woman?

Supposedly working with his dad.

she always has a home with you and you will always be there for her if ever she finds herself not happy.

In theory she has a home with me. In practice we both left our hometown (she first) to live in other cities in Europe. She would not want to come and live here I think.

Anyway, having established that I'm not jel or cut up, I think I've read enough. I just didn't have anyone to confide in, in my new city. It's all been going round my head.

MissStrawberry Sun 15-Sep-13 16:31:53

Just take what you need from this thread and ignore people who are being silly.

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 16:34:30

It's disheartening you know. I think people project their own shit, sometimes.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Sun 15-Sep-13 17:00:11

Lois, don't be disheartened, you are a very caring and protective mother and your daughter is very lucky to have you.
I think it's been made very clear not all mothers have that (natural) instinct.
I don't know if you saw Miss Strawberry's first thread, but the last two paragraphs might be worth thinking about.

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 17:06:27

I think that even asking her "are you happy" would start an argument between us. She can be quite defensive (a lovely trait inherited from both parents) and if I asked that she would automatically think I had reason to doubt she is happy.

The thing is, I know she can hide stuff. She hid an eating disorder for years. I had absolutely no idea, despite the fact she was living at home then.

I think I just have to let her be, and keep my feelings of dread to myself.

ExcuseTypos Sun 15-Sep-13 17:14:35

Louis you sound a lovely caring mum. My 2dds are 19 and 22, I still worry about them, and dont think I'll ever stop, so I understand exactly how you feel.

Tbh I'd be a bit miffed if DD's boyfriend hadn't bought a present when she's just spent a lot on his present. I'd also think him disappearing for 2 days, unannounced was a big red flag.

BerylStreep Sun 15-Sep-13 17:14:44

I think it would be useful to make sure that your DD still has lots of support networks around her - does she go out with friends without him, etc?

Her buying him an extravagant holiday makes me a little worried that she is somehow trying to cement things with gestures like that, whereas he may not be as into her.

I suppose all you can do is make sure you are there for her.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Sun 15-Sep-13 17:19:05

Yes, I understand that, it's a bit too direct. You could try to very subtley wheedle it out of her (yes it is crafty) - "so are things really good at the moment then bla bla??" This is not pointing to her relationship but make it more of a general question and you say this with a very happy face as if you wouldn't expect things not to be iyswim.

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 17:26:47

does she go out with friends without him, etc?

She has a very good girl friend but a lot of people she meets only stay there for a while (I don't really want to say where she is) I guess this will change as she gets older and meets less transient people. I also have some family near her, and she likes being with them.

Buying the holiday was a bit of a concern to me too. It's such a spectacularly large present.

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 17:28:27

"so are things really good at the moment then bla bla??"

Except I know how everything else is going smile. We usually have a big phone call once a week and chat on FB.

perfectstorm Sun 15-Sep-13 17:43:02

This is the bit I dread most about parenting. The bit where the love and urge to keep them safe is there, but the ability has mostly evaporated. I know you know there's nothing you can do except hope for the best and be there should the worst materialise, but it can't help, that knowledge.

In all honesty it sounds like different life stages. She's coming up to her thirties and he's only just left college. His attitude - picking flowers from council beds, a meal out but no pressie - sounds young, to say the least. And she's ready for more. Even if he's a nice guy, that sounds a mismatch of expectations.

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 17:46:59

perfectstorm I think this is a very valid point. There's only three years between them but she is pretty much ready for marriage/babies. I know they've talked about all that but I've no idea if he will be ready at the same time.

And yes, it's a difficult time. The reality is I've got to let her live her life but if it all goes tits up she is going to need her mummy so much. When there has just been the two of you, it's a very close bond.

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 18:25:43

Thinking about it, I may not have to say much anyway. If friends/family as what he got her for her birthday, they may be less guarded in their reaction, which might make her think, hang on...^nothing^?

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 18:26:03

Supposed to be in italics...

PixelAteMyFace Sun 15-Sep-13 19:16:24

I can understand you being concerned, OP. But...

Is your Dd hurt by the lack of birthday present or is she satisfied with the flowers and the meal out? Perhaps she's okay about it because she knows he's broke?

You mention that the boyfriend's family are from a "distant country". Perhaps there are cultural differences that make birthdays less of a big deal in his family? My (foreign) husband didn't "get" birthdays at all when we were firsf married as in his family they had never celebrated them. In fact, he did exactly the same flower thing with me! Even after thirty years he will either get me something extravagant or else nothing at all, he still hasn't got the message that I don't want something expensive, I just want to feel that he made the effort to get me something!

I think your main worry is that your daughter is the one who makes all the effort in their relationship. Perhaps this is true, but even so, there is nothing you can do

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 19:31:23

It's hard to know - he was in the room when I spoke to her.

It's the boyfriend's stepfather who is from far away. Boyfriend is not - but the family "far away" is treated as being his birth family.

Sorry to be all vague, I don't want to give away too much about them.

She may be absolutely fine about all this. She may not. Time will tell.

melanie58 Sun 15-Sep-13 20:18:39

If your daughter didn't have rose-tinted glasses on she would realise that this is not looking good. No present, after she gave him that incredibly generous gift? Flowers stolen from the council? That is insulting, not romantic. She'll see it when she's ready. I don't think you can do much to influence her at the moment. I agree with those posters above who say just be there when she needs you - and it'll be when, not if. Just keep on being her lovely, caring mum.

sassyandsixty Sun 15-Sep-13 20:36:10

I seem to remember my parents didn't like my DH for various reasons and tried to warn me off. I really didn't appreciate their interference, but they weren't very subtle or sensitive and it drove me away from them. I am sure you are a lot more tactful than they were. But, the thing is - they were looking at it from their shoes, not from mine. They had a different sort of guy in mind for me and they were wrong, wrong wrong - our marriage has lasted 40 years so far. Though I'm afraid I don't really like the sound of your DDs partner, just be there as her mum - when she falls or if she asks for your advice any time. She's a big girl now, but I sympathise - it's hard being a parent sometimes. Oh - almost forgot - my DH has forgotten plenty of birthdays over the years or has botched up the present-giving with garage flowers etc, but he always makes it up later. Don't know if that helps at all. Good luck!

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 20:47:21

The thing is, any of us could be right. She might end up happily married to him, who knows.

I can't help but think she deserves better though.

(Cos most mums do).

thegreylady Sun 15-Sep-13 21:09:13

I understand I have a daughter.
My dd had a five year relationship with someone I didn't much like.The alarm bells rang when he 'forgot' to pick her up at the airport when she had been away visiting her brother.
He eventually broke her heart [for a while] and I felt real hatred for the only time in my life.
It is awful to watch the slow roll towards disaster.You hope you are wrong and all you can do is be there when she needs you.
My dd has now been married to a lovely man for the last 8 years and has two gorgeous dc.

LayMeDown Sun 15-Sep-13 21:12:00

I think you sound like a lovely mum, but in this particular incidence I think you are over reacting. I am not that big into birthdays. I do buy DH little presents most of the time as he likes having things to open but I usually not that arsed about getting them. I'd be more than happy to go for a meal and get some flowers (although not ones picked from public beds - that gives me THE RAGE, how selfish to take something there for everyone to enjoy. Isn't it illegal to do this?)
In fact it's my birthday in a few weeks. DH and I are going for an early bird meal followed by a play. Perfect for me. I wouldn't expect a resent in addition to this.
Not everyone needs material things. Spending time together doing something you wouldn't usually do is much more better IMO. Maybe your DDs P is like me or you daughter is?

LoisPuddingLane Sun 15-Sep-13 21:28:23

You hope you are wrong and all you can do is be there when she needs you

Indeed. I really do hope I'm wrong.

As regards the not needing material things - neither my daughter nor I are materialistic. I brought her up on little money but lots of love and books and nice people. But birthdays are a bit different - it's a time to show you've been thinking about what someone would like. The other thing I got her, apart from the bracelet, is the Nigella book "Feast". I first came across it a year ago and have wanted to buy it for her ever since.

It isn't about getting "things" or having loads of money spent on one, it's about putting thought into getting a little something that the person you love would love. She and I have always enjoyed buying things for each other at birthdays and christmas.

If she and her boyfriend had decided they weren't going to do birthdays and just have a celebratory meal or something, then fine. I think what is odd is that she pushed the boat out for his birthday (maybe too much) and he didn't even get the boat out of the boathouse.

I realise people are going to have very different viewpoints on this depending on what birthdays mean to them and how they celebrate.

tiredismymiddlename Sun 15-Sep-13 21:42:56

I am sure that as a Mum we just want the best for them what ever their age. My DP has never been big on birthdays, his family just didn't make a big deal about them. He does all he can for us on a daily basis but just doesn't communicate it well and doesn't do big gestures. I think you must try to let it go and see what happens.

LayMeDown Sun 15-Sep-13 21:51:41

I didn't mean to call you materialistic. I apologise if I offended you.
I understand what you are saying but you are right people are different. I get the whole thoughtful little gifts thing and that some people love it, but I don't. I am in general terrible at it. I find it am enormous pressure and I usually become paralysed trying to think up things. Occasionally inspiration strikes and I produce something brilliant but there is no way I can do that several times a year for birthdays, Christmas, Valentines etc...
My mother is good at it to actually, but I still prefer doing things with the people I care about for special occasions to getting presents no matter how thoughtful. That is me though, I have 3 young kids so time is the most precious commodity!
What I am saying though is that it sounds like your DDs P may be like me. Your DD seems to know this and understands it (as my husband does). They may not have discussed it formally, she just may know what he is like and that it is not indicative of a general lack of love for her. TBH I think her partner was right not to match her extravagant gift as that way lies madness.
You may be right and this is more sinister. Or he just may not really celebrate birthdays the way you and your daughter do. And there is nothing wrong with that.

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