Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Feel Like My Boyfriend’s Sister”

fighting

I’m nearly 21 and have been with my partner, Greg, eight years now on and off (mostly on). Last November, we moved into his parents’ annex, which is classed as different properties but has the same private landlord. At first, I thought it was a brilliant idea — we could have our own space, get a dog and really begin our lives together. However, things have not gone as I was hoping.

Not one single day or night passes that Greg doesn’t need to go “next door.” I work till 7 or 8 some days and all I want to do is sit down, have a glass of wine, and talk with Greg. But no — I pull up to our driveway and he’s sitting next door, so then I’m in a situation where I don’t want to go out of the car because I want to chill in my own house, and if I don’t go next door, I look really rude. Not only that — we go out with his parents every weekend and go on holiday with them every year (not once have we gone away alone). Yes, it’s lovely that Greg loves spending time with his parents, but I feel more like his sister than his partner! We never have date nights, and I can count on my hands how many times we’ve gone out on our own since living there. We are always with them all the time, and when I ask when we’re going out on our own, he tells me to stop moaning.

I suggest so many times that we need to move out so our relationship can grow, but he shrugs it off and says we will, and then nothing comes of it. So I start looking at houses and start showing him some pictures, but it’s always like, “No, I don’t like that,” or “No, I don’t want to live there.” It’s like nowhere is going to be good enough for him.

What should I do? — Tired of Feeling Like His Sister

You can stop searching for houses because moving to a new house isn’t going to solve your problem. Your problem isn’t where you live; it’s that Greg doesn’t seem to have any regard for you and the two of you don’t spend time together. A new house, while maybe putting physical distance between you and Greg’s parents, isn’t going to fix those things. Maybe nothing will fix those things because, if Greg truly has no regard for you (as opposed to simply having trouble expressing his regard for you), that’s sort of a deal-breaker. You can’t be with someone who doesn’t care about you.

So, how do you find out whether he cares and how do you spend more time together? Easy — you stop waiting for him to decide when and where and what you’re going to do together and you start making plans for the two of you. I’d suggest starting with a weekly date night and making it a tradition, so that you both know, “Ok, it’s Thursday night, and every Thursday night we go play trivia down at the such-and-such bar.” Or: “It’s Saturday night, and every Saturday we go to our favorite pizza place and then go bowling afterwards.” And if he tries to invite his parents along, say no, this is for the two of you to save your relationship. And, honey, if he’s not interested in saving your relationship, there’s your answer to all of this right there.

Finally, you’ve been with this guy since you were 13, and it’s understandable that you stay with him despite what sounds a shitty relationship, simply because it’s all you know and, even in the shitty-ness, it feels comfortable and familiar. That’s not a good reason to stay stuck, though. If you don’t get this relationship on a better track in three months, you need to move on. There’s no good age to settle down in a crappy relationship, but 21 (and with no marriage and no kids) is a particularly young age to basically give up.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

15 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Moe P November 9, 2015, 10:44 am

    I wonder, also, if you are paying full rent on the place. If you aren’t then you have much less freedom about how to take up the space. It sounds, either way, that he takes you for granted and doesn’t know and might not even care about how the arrangement if effecting you.

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  • avatar

    Emily November 9, 2015, 10:50 am

    Gah. You’re 21! Why are you in such a hurry to have a house with a person you’re clearly settling for?! It’s a great big world! Try some other things on!! He doesn’t listen to your concerns and tells you to “stop moaning” when you try to bring up issues. Blah. Move on !

    Ugh, this depresses me.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros November 9, 2015, 10:53 am

    I think this relationship has run its course. He doesn’t seem super into it. You don’t seem very happy. You want certain things and he doesn’t. He isn’t willing to consider them or change. He’s content for things to continue as they are, which is you too being like siblings.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 9, 2015, 11:03 am

    You can assume that if your boyfriend wanted to spend the evening alone with you he would. His parents aren’t forcing him to spend the evening in their home, he is choosing to do that. I bet that when he first started seeing you 8 years ago he didn’t show up with his parents. He was seeing you because he wanted to be with you. Now he doesn’t care. His actions are screaming his indifference or even his desire to avoid you in the evening.

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  • Regina Chapman

    Regina Chapman November 9, 2015, 11:11 am

    If you tell Greg how you feel about him spending all his free time with his parents, and his only response is ‘stop nagging’, then sorry honey – this is not a very good relationship.
    .
    You guys are in dire need of some serious communication. Sit him down and tell him you want to talk about something important. Tell him that the limited alone time and attention he’s giving you are making you feel unloved and taken for granted. Tell him that it’s making you feel like his sister, and that you see no point in being in a relationship if you feel that way in it. Tell him you’ll have to walk away if your needs can’t be met (don’t manipulate him with this or use it as a bargaining chip! Put it on the table if that’s how you feel, and be prepared to stick to it).
    .
    After all that, you two can discuss HOW both your needs can be met. Maybe a weekly date night, a ‘home along night’, or something else entirely. Wendy has excellent suggestions. But most of all, what you need to look for from him is a *willingness* to compromise, to please you and fulfil your needs. If the willingness isn’t there, there is no foundation for a relationship.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes November 9, 2015, 11:26 am

    Oh.My.Frikkin.Goodness. There is so much that scares me in your letter, I’m not sure where to even start… Lemme keep it as short and sweet as I can: IF YOU FEEL LIKE HIS SISTER AND NOT HIS SIGNIFICANT OTHER, THERE IS SOMETHING MAJORLY WRONG WITH YOUR RELATIONSHIP. Next, you are 20! (Everyone else- she did say NEARLY 21, obviously to sound older.) Moved in to some annex (duplex? 2 bungalows next to each other, I dont know) with his parents at 19!! WOW. Note to your Future Self: moving close to your SO’s parents does not = MORE freedom. On that note- if you dont want to go hang at their place when you get home, you go over and make nice for 2 minutes tops, then excuse yourself due to your long day (also, since you have discussed it and agreed on a plan of action that is comfortable to you both, he KNOWS it is time to excuse himself with you so that you can have some couple time).
    *
    See how I said your “Future Self?” THat is because it sounds like there are too many issues in your relationship- the main glaring one being the guy your in it with, who thinks that telling you to stop “moaning” is any kind of answer to asking to do something alone with him without his parents. AIM HIGHER. Just because he isnt an abusive d*ckface doesnt mean you have to settle. Also, I concur that moving would solve absolutely NONE of your relationship issues.
    *
    Wow, good job to me for the short and sweetness here. (<–sarcasm)
    *
    One further thought- why dont you mention his age too? Id bet on the fact that he is decently older than you. (At least 5 years, at that age, I mean.)

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    • avatar

      Vathena November 9, 2015, 11:40 am

      She’s 20, which means they’ve been “together” since she was TWELVE. If he’s really that much older…*shudder*

      LW, I’m with everyone else here. You deserve better than someone who tells you to “stop moaning” when you try to have a conversation about your relationship. A person who dismisses your feelings like that is not good relationship material.

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      • Raccoon eyes

        Raccoon eyes November 9, 2015, 11:56 am

        Right?!?!
        *
        The only time you should ever say that your age is “almost” the next year is…errrr… never, if you consider yourself an adult, anyway. Unless you are trying to project a more mature, older self. Which is the case here, Im pretty sure.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover November 9, 2015, 1:09 pm

        When I’m speaking to non-parents, and they ask how old my kid is, that’s when I break out the “almost”. They don’t care to hear about it in months, so I’ll say “almost 1” or “almost 1 and a half”.
        .
        That’s pretty much the only scenario where it makes sense. Unless you’re bragging about it. “I’m almost 100! Take that, mortality!”. 🙂

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    • avatar

      SasLinna November 9, 2015, 12:25 pm

      Even if they are the same age (one can hope), it’s still relevant that they started their relationship at age 12 or 13. They are settling down right next door to his parents – they haven’t had any chance to become independent yet. And they are probably really dependent on each other at this point, having been together throughout their teenage years. I say the LW should get her own place, or start living with roommate to establish some independence from her boyfriend and his parents. Very likely the relationship has run its course anyway, but maybe it would help her to move out again first.

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  • avatar

    Vathena November 9, 2015, 12:01 pm

    Also, in case it needs to be said: BIRTH CONTROL! BIRTH CONTROL! BIRTH CONTROL!!!!!! Definitely DO NOT have a baby with this guy!

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  • avatar

    laurahope November 9, 2015, 1:23 pm

    Seems to me that after so many years together, growing up together, he doesn’t have the nerve to tell you it’s over so he’s passively pushing you into breaking up with him.

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  • Monkeysmommy

    Monkeysmommy November 9, 2015, 3:16 pm

    Oh, honey… You are 20. Go BE 20!! Live with roommates, drink in bars with your girls (um, next year!), meet random guys… But do NOT continue to settle for this shit. I wish someone had said that to me 13 years ago at 20! (They probably did, but since 20 year old girls listen like two year old girls…). Have FUN. It’s clear you aren’t doing that with your partner. You have been paired down far too long, and you have obviously grown apart in life. That’s okay! Move out, and move on!! And let me second others- do NOT get pregnant, the nightmare will never end with the parents then!

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  • Lady_Red

    Lady_Red November 9, 2015, 3:52 pm

    If he doesn’t want to move, why don’t you move out on your own? Did you have an opportunity to do that yet, or did you go straight from your parents house to living with your boyfriend, basically at his parents house? That’s not giving you the opportunity to be independent, which is something I think everyone should do. You can find roommates if you need to, but it’s really not necessary to live with your boyfriend. In fact, if you live apart, maybe you’d both be more likely to put in some effort to actually dating. Or realize that you’re better off without him.

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  • avatar

    Texas T November 10, 2015, 12:35 pm

    I feel for you. I really do. You didnt know what you were getting into. But NOW you do. You are dating a little boy who wont let go of his mother’s titty.
    Tell him that you are moving. If he wants to come then great. If not, he can move in with mommy and daddy and you are free to move on to a real man.

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