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My DSis's relationship and my lovely little niece (long, sorry)

(7 Posts)
4ChucksnaTomatoPlant Mon 01-Feb-16 15:53:38

I don’t know what my question is here exactly…I think I would like opinions and insights. Maybe I even need to be told to mind my own business.

I am very worried about my sister, and in particular my young niece, who I am very very close to.

My sister is a few years older and we have always been best friends, although she has always been the more dominant of the two of us. She split from her daughter’s dad about eight years ago and for the past five has been in a very on/off relationship.

Over the years, he hasn’t treated her well and I don’t have any time for him. In the first two years, their relationship was pretty turbulent mainly because he never spent much time with her and prioritised friends and hobbies. There was also an occasion about six months in when she found he was messaging another woman, who had sent him some naked pictures. His excuse was he had just got divorced and wasn’t up to committing.

Against all the advice of her family and friends, she continued with the relationship. After a couple of years, he seemed to rediscover his ability to commit and they planned on moving in together, with my niece as well, who he saw quite regularly and at that point seemed to have a bit of a bond with.

Although he seemed fully committed by this point, my sister never seemed quite fulfilled. She often had doubts about the relationship and would confide in me she was thinking of ending it. And then she wouldn’t and she would be happy for a few months, only to start being unhappy again.

And then she fell pregnant. She confided in me that she hadn’t been that careful, and may have accidentally on purpose got pregnant, but was sure he’d be OK with it. He wasn’t OK with it, they broke up and she had a termination as she didn’t want to do it alone. Only, a few weeks later they got back together again.

Plans to move in together resumed, but she broke it off a couple of months before they were due to move in, for very valid reasons, ranging from them being incompatible and having nothing in common, to not wanting to be his full-time housemaid, to the fact he is quite a heavy drinker and not someone she wants to move her daughter in with.

This was last summer. Inevitably they got back together again and were supposed to be moving into his house soon, but she split up with him again after Christmas. Now they are talking about getting back together, but this time “it’s for real” and “we are making a proper go of it”.

I am the only person who knows about their new plans to prove everyone wrong. Anything I tell her, like to not rush into anything, to discuss things and think about things for a few weeks and take a couple of months out, to speak to him about some real issues she has always kept hidden from him, is always met with an enthusiastic “yes, you’re right” then she totally ignores me.
She doesn’t and never will take a blind bit of notice.

Everyone she knows thinks they are a terrible match, she hasn’t been herself for years. I have come round to the way of thinking that although he’s been a prize twat over the years, actually, she hasn’t been that much better.

It’s not as if they have unbelievable chemistry and you can understand why they are drawn together, I firmly believe she just doesn’t want to be alone. When she goes through her phases of wanting to break up with her, she admits, she doesn’t love him, wants to change him and could do better.

I wonder whether as her sister, I should just tell her she is being a nob and refuse to listen to her for hours and hours like I do, but then she would have no-one.

I really want her to do the right thing by my niece. I think this might be the only factor that might make her see sense. She insists DN is totally unaffected - can this really be true? Can a little girl, who is very clever and sensitive and who lives with her mother who is very hot-headed and vocal, and over emotional, really not be aware and be unaffected? If she was effected, what would the effects be?

Am I being completely unfair? Given the history, could this actually all work out?

Has anyone had or known of a relationship that was just such bollocks, but actually all worked out?

4ChucksnaTomatoPlant Mon 01-Feb-16 15:57:08

Meant to say, part of the plan to do this properly is to move into a new house with my niece at the beginning of March, so I sort of feel like we are all running out of time to convince her and prevent my niece having to be put through all this.

FedUpWithJudgementalPeople Mon 01-Feb-16 17:35:37

I have a friend just like this except no children involved. Her bf was awful to her in the first year of the relationship. There was another woman involved and from what I can gather he pinged between the two of them for about 6 months. This resulted in my friend drinking heavily, losing A LOT of weight very rapidly (think 5 stone in a year) and being off work with stress.
I listened to hours and hours of angst about this guy, but in the end she is still with him anyway, against everyone's advice. She also relies on him financially, even though that is patently quite silly given all the circumstances.

She's still with the guy and things have settled down a good bit for her but my view is that even if he is now completely faithful, he is a miserable big bastard. I have no idea what the attraction is. He is not someone I would choose as a partner. She doesn't totally trust him, he is moody and dour, and drinks too much. The only thing really going for him is that he has a bit of cash.

However I've had to accept that she is maybe not the person I thought she was either. She's chaotic with money and happy to rely on him financially even when he's been rotten to her in the past. She chooses to do that. Basically as I see it she is much less confident than she makes out in that she has put up with his nonsense rather than try and go it alone and get her shit together.

I no longer ask about him and I doubt she would say to me now if she was having doubts about the relationship. She's so determined that despite all the problems he's "The One".

I have accepted that he's going to be around and my way of dealing with it is not to discuss him and to avoid him socially if possible.

Not sure my answer assists. I guess I think she will ignore your advice anyway so you have to think about how to best preserve your relationshi with your sister. I'm not convinced giving her home truths etc will make a blind bit of difference.

FedUpWithJudgementalPeople Mon 01-Feb-16 17:48:23

It's slightly different because it's not my sister and there are no children involved but I got to the point where I thought "not my circus, not my monkeys".

It's harsh but ultimately whereas my friend is happy to expend her time and energy on this twat, I'm not, when my advice is consistently ignored.

I really think you need to take a step back. I would be on hand for your niece and try to be a stable influence on your niece, but step back from the role of agony aunt to your sister.

DistanceCall Mon 01-Feb-16 18:25:01

Of course your niece know what's going on. People think little children are idiots, and they actually are like sponges - they take absolutely everything in.

I think the only thing you can do is be there for your niece whatever happens. Be extra helpful, offer to take her on trips, sleepovers, etc. so that she spends time with you. Your sister seems to actually enjoy drama in her life, so this will leave her plenty of time to continue her dramas in peace.

All you can do is be a stable presence in your niece's life (making sure that your sister doesn't resent you for it, as that might put a stop to things). I'm very sorry. As an auntie myself, I would hate to see my niece and nephew in such a situation.

goddessofsmallthings Tue 02-Feb-16 02:41:00

She doesn’t and never will take a blind bit of notice

^ This ^

Despite the precious hours you've wasted spent listening to and attempting to instill sound common sense into your dsis, she's always going to be hell bent on doing what she wants to do.

To my mind, any woman who 'accidentally on purpose' gets pg is something of a basket hopeless case as it's all about them; their wants, their needs, and their desperation to cling on to a man who may have no desire to father a child with them.

Your dn has, of course, been affected by her dm's volatile love life but only time can tell whether her childhood experiences will work to forge an outspoken champion of women's or children's rights, a level-headed woman who will brook no nonsense from the opposite sex, an actor who can instinctly run the gamut of emotions from a-z, an eminent scientist who prefers to stay well out of the limelight, or a replica of her dm when it comes to her sexual relationships with men.

Fortunately your dn has you as a counterbalance to some of her dm's more extreme behaviour and, as it's be hoped you'll always be on hand for her, you're best advised to continue providing a listening ear for your dsis even if it means you have to perfect the art of saying one thing while thinking another.

If I were you, I'd be tempted to organise a large family gathering in the next couple of weeks so that the happy couple can announce their momentous news...

In the best interests of your dn I recommend this book (which you can pick up cheaper on eBay but I've linked to Amazon so that you can take a look at the reviews) as it will undoubtedly help you to help her articulate and explore her feelings and that could be a godsend to her as she approaches puberty and beyond:

4ChucksnaTomatoPlant Tue 02-Feb-16 13:04:45

Thank you all - a bit of outside perspective is exactly what I need really and I can't really talk to anybody in RL about it who isn't involved in some way.

Goddess, thanks for the recommendation, I will read it properly and definitely order one of them.

It's hard to tell how my niece feels about any of it. She is only eight and will do anything it takes to please her mum so, when my sister has asked her how she feels about living with this man, she of course says what my sister wants to hear. Of course, she may genuinely like the idea but I do doubt that, so I really like the idea of somehow helping her to voice what she really feels.

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