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Advice wanted about a complicated situation(30 Posts)
Hi, I just feel like getting stuff off my chest and hope that it might make me feel a bit better! I'm a 39-y-o guy who has had enough of a stupidly complex situation and just wanted to see if anyone had any suggestions. Or sympathy. Or to tell me to get a grip. Anything really.
My ex and I got together 10 years ago. We were happy for a time, although we never really had as much in common as either of us would have liked. We had a daughter stupidly early (she is almost 9 now). We stayed together for 3 years, but some pretty sad stuff happened around this time, unconnected to our relationship, although we were never the same after our daughter was born. The romance died quickly, far quicker that I would ever have wanted.
Anyway, we drifted apart and the final blow was over her wanting to move to another part of the country. For various, mainly family, reasons, I didn't feel comfortable doing so. In the end we split and she moved around 100 miles away while I moved in with my mum, temporarily. I visited every weekend, sometimes more often in holidays, and we got on very well. There were a few vague hints of romantic feeling, but these faded over time and I wasn't sure how I felt. Not quite sure how she felt, to be honest. It was all very jolly and cosy. We even shared a bed (although not in THAT sense as there was no physical romance pretty much since our daughter was born) and did a lot of family things together. It was fun, and in a way it felt like we were still a couple. Kind of. All very well, I suppose.
Fast forward nearly 6 years, and I'm still "temporarily" with my mum. I work scary hours during the week and I still visit every weekend. But other stuff HAS changed. We’ve drifted further apart and the fun has largely gone between us. I’m pretty sure, although she never talks about it, that she has been seeing other people, which is fair enough, and that she has absolutely no romantic feelings for me any more. I’m not sure she gives much of a thought to how I am or what I want. She does, however, take me for granted I think, for I do a lot for her. I call her every day and she unloads her problems and worries onto me. I help her financially, I help her with her work, I obviously help with our daughter (who I love to bits, and hate being apart from). I drive her around a lot, even to nights out in other parts of the country. We go on holiday together. I always listen to her and try to help with her problems. I help around her house with gardening, cleaning, etc. But… around 18 months ago, I was banished (I suspect when she was seeing someone else briefly) to the couch where I have slept for every weekend since. She visits her friends a lot, and I never played much of a part in her “other” life, her social life and her network of friends. Although I hear about them a lot, including how to help her when they’ve treated her badly. Now, I feel cut out of her life completely except when she needs something. It feels like she doesn’t really care about me at all, in any sense. If ever I try to talk about how I feel, or how badly I feel my life is going, I am dismissed with a sense of “My problems are worse than your problems”. If I talk about being taken for granted, or how I wish she showed a little more gratitude at times, she says that I’m only helping our daughter, which is what I should be doing. And part of me feels that she has a point, that I’m being unreasonable. I don’t know what I expect, and if what I expect is unfair. So I’m scared that I’m being really unfair, horrible and unreasonable, but I feel just… terrible and that I’m trapped in this weird rut of a situation. There’s a lot more I could say, but I think that’s enough for now.
I don’t THINK I have romantic feelings, but it does kind of bother me that she is (probably, and only occasionally when she goes away from home for weekends) seeing other people and living it up while I fester. And I don’t know what I want. Or what to do. But I feel trapped: I don’t want to cut ties (and not just because of our daughter) but I want a fresh start and I really, REALLY, want to feel wanted and appreciated. I’d love a romantic relationship. And I feel in this weird limbo, living at my mum’s in the week and having this second half-life at weekends. And that there is no way out of it. So… I don’t know what to say, do or think. And I’d really appreciate some advice or even a telling off.
There is a line from Peep Show, where one of the main characters says “I've started to get this feeling that I'm totally, totally f***ed. You know? Everything's f***ed.” And that’s where I am.
I think youve fallen into the trap of "we'll do this for now", and its easier to carry on as youve always done day-to-day, and suddenly 10 years have passed.
What you need to do is start thinking of yourself as a single man, because thats what you are. With that in mind, how do you want the rest of your life to go?
You could ask your ex for visitation times with your daughter with you rather than crashing on her sofa for starters. You'll need some space of your own to do that, and it sounds like its past due for you to not live with your mum any more, so whats stopping you getting a place of your own?
Do you want a relationship with her or not? You both seem a bit hot and cold tbh. If you do, 100% do. Physically too. If you don't, then cut all the other stuff. Figure out what you want before holding her to expectations.
I agree with the poster above, if you work get your own place, get more formal about picking up and dropping off , if necessary cut it to weekends every 2 weeks and holidays but bring her back to yours. Start dating again, you sound lovely , your ex dp by the way is a bit of a user, don't be so available
It's your choice to drive her around and do her garden etc.
You should support her financially via child support. Make that a fixed amount and don't give more, so that you don't feel taken advantage of.
If she asks for more money and it's specifically for your DD, then of course you should help there. Like school trips /uniform etc
When she calls to offload, you need to gently cut her off. Don't respond to her texts if she's just having a moan about life.
If she calls and it turns into more moaning, politely say, you have a call coming in or someone is at the door and you have to go
She'll soon get the message. Don't make it obvious, just cut back on being there for her to dump on. It's fine to be friends and be supportive, but that works both ways.
In the time you've been apart, you've not had a relationship? Any particular reason why not?
Remember that people will only do what you allow and use you, as you let them.
Sandy and other pp have said it all really - particularly about moving out of your mum's and formalising the contact.
Any chance you could move nearer to your dd or will work not allow that? I think you need to divide your dd and your ex in your head. Do what's right and appropriate for your daughter and forget the ex. You really shouldn't be an unpaid chauffeur (or an unpaid anything else) for her.
And that there is no way out of it - of course there is a way out of it. For starters, move out of your mum's house and get your own place. You are 39 for heaven's sake! Then get yourself a girlfriend - which will be a lot easier if you are not living at home. Almost 40 year olds living at home are not attractive to other women. If you have drifted along for 10 years in this twilight zone, it's not necessarily going to be easy. Join online dating, tell your friends you would like to go out with them etc.
You need to formalise your contact and financial help to your EX-partner. You are both using each other like a comfort blanket and it isn't healthy for either of you.
Useful advice, thanks.
A few further points: for the last 18 months, my mum's health hasn't been good and I've needed to be around, but less so now. I'm looking into getting my own place, albeit without much in the line of furniture! (My fault, I know)
I could move closer, but there is very little in it for me as I don't know too many people nearby. It would also require a job change which I'm not too keen on right now.
We do have a "formal" financial arrangement every month, and I think there is mileage in more formal visiting. I think there is that much to sort out, though, that it's a bit overwhelming, not helped by a healthy dose of self-pity on my part.
I've not been in a relationship because... hmm. Hard to meet people, especially when you're in the twilight zone! I've tried online dating for a while, with a spectacular lack of success.
As for what I want... Now, that IS a good question, and to be honest I'm really not sure anymore. Incidentally, the ex and I have been good friends since we split up, maybe that is part of the problem. We still get on, and I almost wish we didn't. But now, I feel that I'm not getting much out of it all, which is possibly rather selfish.
Thanks for the replies so far, they are helping even if just to make me confront the rather painful truth!
"Then get yourself a girlfriend"
I'd really recommend getting properly on your own feet before trying to jump to this - in terms of emotional attachment, youre at the end of a 10 year relationship. Phoning each other every day, spending every weekend there, listening to all her day-to-day problems, driving her about, these are all relationship bonding things. Its totally unsurprising to me that you havent found another relationship while all your emotional energy is being taken up with this one, and also that you "dont know how you feel".
You have to seperate, and that means insisting on space. Expect her to push back on it, its very nice to have someone to moan at and be driven around by, dont be surprised that she will likely be very unhappy by the withdrawal of your emotional and time labour, but things wont change until you do.
God I couldn't stand my ex turning up for contact and expecting to stay at my house every weekend.
Get your own place and at weekends meet halfway for a handover and have your contact time at your place. Or book a hotel when you go there.
You seem to be confusing contact with your daughter with being in a relationship with your ex.
Most of us manage perfectly well having one without the other
I think you should focus on committing to a schedule of contact that enables you to see DD without having to sleep on XPs sofa. Don't be so involved in her life. Nothing personal unless it is directly about DD.
To ask bluntly have you been having sex with her ?
You seem very coy to reveal thus aspect clearly but sharing a bed and you clearly saying you get on, I am wondering whether you still are having sex (even occasionally).
If you are stop now that will blur lines even further.
I would say that reading between the lines you seem to still be infatuated with her and she is taking every advantage of that. Focus on yourself, own place good start. Also start dating! I was online for a whole 3 years before I met my hubby, so give it time!!! At least you'll be out there instead of pining over your ex.
You sound like a nice guy and she is taking advantage of your nice nature. You need to grow a pair and stop helping her out with advice, money and lifts. You seem to be clinging on to this former life, why? You're not sure you want a relationship with her but I guess its easy to play the 'family' when you have a daughter together.
You need to move on with your own life and cut these emotional ties with her. Obviously continue to support her in terms of your daughter but you need to start saying no to her. I don't think she has any respect for you and treating you like a doormat.
You deserve better.
To be equally blunt (!) to Fishface199, we are not having sex, have not had sex recently, not even occasionally, and to be even blunter did not have sex for quite some time before we officially split. I think infatuated is too strong, and I don't THINK it's playing out like that but I'm probably not in the best position to see.
Playing family... Maybe. We DO get on, like I said, but I wonder if I'm just clinging onto whatever relationship I can get. Which is probably even less healthy. Taking advantage... Maybe, but I never saw it like that. Maybe I do need to grow a pair!
One other thing I would say, I realise (and have for some time) that this isn't healthy, but it's difficult to follow the advice I'm getting here, and I find it hard to draw a line. That's not to say I still have feelings, but maybe it's a kind of comfort blanket. And I think she has moved on more than me, which doesn't help as now I just feel like a bit of a loser. Which, I know, isn't healthy. (And I'm rarely as open and honest as I'm being here with ANYONE, to be frank!)
Nice guy? Deserve better? I hope so, but my self-pity doesn't help, I'd imagine!
It's hard to let go of something that's familiar and comfortable but now is definitely the time to start doing it. Think about what you really want - of course your daughter comes first, but there is really no reason to give up so much of your time for your ex. It sounds as if she has moved on much more successfully than you have!
Be friendly, but try to formalise your financial and contact arrangements a bit more - I think this will help you a lot.
Cross post - I agree with the ""comfort blanket" thing.
To be fair to yourself jazzfan, if it was easy you would have done it years ago I suspect! These changes require you to let go of the hope that this will turn back into a relationship, thats never pleasant or easy unfortunately.
I think you like the idea of a "semi relationship" rather than none at all. The problem is you are getting the best of neither. You arent actually "in" a proper relationship but mentally not free enough to pursue another one. Sadly i think you have to accept that its not going to work out with daughters mum , and you need to go cold turkey really on that front.
Have you considered have some counselling? There seems to be issues re your lack of boundaries.
It is difficult to move on from these pivotal relationships but you need to take a step at a time. I found writing down what I wanted to achieve into little chunks and ticked them off as I went along.
The counselling would help you identify issues from maybe childhood or teenage hood that maybe contributing to your current issues.
It often strikes me that a really tough thing about the end of a relationship with children is that what would often be best for the couple in question would be zero contact for a decent period if not for ever - to grieve, get over it and redraw boundaries.
However, what is better for the kid(s) is precisely the opposite - ongoing contact.
You seem to have fallen foul of this big time. The fact you have a kid has (rightly) stopped you going cold turkey on your ex and has let you end up in this horrible muddled situation.
I think you need to acknowledge to yourself that staying in this set-up will drain your self confidence and self esteem and make it harder and harder to move on. It will stop 'good stuff' happening to you - whether that's getting a sex life, a serious girlfriend or even just a new interest and adventure in your life because you haven't left space for nice things happen and you are making do with scraps.
Because this situation seems to suit your ex, you will probably be the one who has to redraw the boundaries to get out of this, at the same time as continuing to care for your child.
In your shoes I would probably try to get some support for this. Years ago, I saw a Relate counsellor on my own to get my head together enough to leave a difficult situation (very different circs). Would you consider this? It really helped me
Do you also think that because other aspects of your life haven't moved on (living arrangements) plays a party in this? Are you 'stuck in a rut' in general? I suppose its a steady thing in your life but you accept its not healthy so you need to do something about it.
For example, lets say you did meet someone else and started a new relationship.... would you still be doing all these things for your ex?
The most important person here is your DC - is this not confusing for her? Does she think Mum and Dad are still together? Does she notice when you are suddenly put on the couch. It must be confusing for her.
Yes, I'm probably stuck in a rut, if I'm being honest. And accepting it's unhealthy and doing something about it are two different things when you're in a rut! If I did meet someone else, I'd probably still be friends with ex, but maybe not do as much. I don't know. No, daughter doesn't think mum and dad together, although I'm not sure she knows quite what we "are", but I think a few people are probably similarly confused. But I don't think SHE is confused, to be honest. Although, again, I may not be the best judge here. And I think "fallen foul" of the situation is a very nice way to put it!
I think you need to start behaving as if there is another woman on the scene for you OP. Fake it till you make it, sort of thing. I think if you gradually start to detach you won't manage it and your ex might make it very difficult (once she realises what you are doing) thus causing you further angst. Get an imaginary gf for now and detach as if you are seeing her and it will help your ex get her head around the new arrangement. Formalise and stick rigidly to contact and you will feel more in control and less used. Whether the GF is real or imagined is not her business but I think you need to start behaving as if you are giving someone other than her your emotional energy as I don't think you are doing her any favours either if I'm honest, she is using you as a crutch and picking you up and dropping you on a whim, No wonder you feel shite. She won't get her shit together until you stop propping her up all the time.
I think that you sound lovely.
I personally think that you should move out of your mum's as soon as you can but relatively close to your daughter. But then, as others have said, not be there -all- the time for her mother. She may genuinely value you but have fallen into relying on you and that is holding you in a static place.
You can find love, familiarity and steady commitment. On line dating sounds like a real minefield, but there have to be some alternatives - but first, you really do have to be free. She can be a friend, and you can be a friend to her, but the balance of give-and-take can be different.
Always keeping in mind how much your daughter will need you, her father.
But that does not mean you should not lead your own life until she is ready to fly. You can be there for her, and if you are happy (and with a woman who can do her best for your daughter - stepmothers are a mixed bag!) then you will probably be a better father.
Get your own place.
Have your dd to stay with you in your place.
Leave your ex alone to live her own life.
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