I feel really weird and uneasy about the situation — she’s a grown woman and not a little girl. I keep wondering if they have a mutual attraction between them? Is this wrong of me? I feel like she uses him because she has a boyfriend whom she has a child with who has a great job and she has a great job, so why does she need my boyfriend to spend money on her?? I don’t say much, but I get stand-offish when he goes to see her because I feel sick to my stomach.
I’m not sure if she’s jealous of me and that’s why she won’t meet me or she knows I’ll see through her BS. I have an almost hatred for this girl (woman) and I’ve never met her. Am I insecure and jealous or am I rational in my thinking? — Stand-Offish
No, you’re insecure and jealous, and I’m sure THAT is the reason you haven’t met the stepdaughter yet, not because SHE is jealous of YOU. You’re acting standoffish, you’re sick to your stomach, you say you have a hatred for this woman and that you can “see through her BS.” Gee, I can’t imagine why your boyfriend is keeping you away from her. Woman, get a grip! He helped raise this person from the time she was eight years old. He was married to her mother until she was 18. Those are some serious formative years during which he was a father figure to her. That bond doesn’t disappear simply because your boyfriend divorced her mother or because the little girl became a woman.
Furthermore, she doesn’t “need” your boyfriend to spend money on her. That isn’t what their time together is about. It’s about the two of them honoring the father-daughter bond they share and just being together. That you’ve made it so much more than that to the point that you hate this woman — who has a boyfriend and family of her own — says a lot about your character and self-esteem and confidence in your relationship. The only exception I can think of is that you have some other reason to believe your boyfriend isn’t being faithful to you or doesn’t have good intentions. And if that’s the case, your feelings should be directed at him, not at his stepdaughter.
If he’s actually attracted to her and THAT is why he continues seeing her every couple months, that’s really gross. She’s practically a daughter to him, he was married to her mother for ten years. I’d feel sick to my stomach if I were dating someone predatory like that. If you truly believe your boyfriend is like that, girl, MOA, ’cause that’s just nasty. If you think it’s the stepdaughter preying on your boyfriend and using him for shopping sprees and stepping all over your turf or whatever, I am urging you to grow up and get it together. You are being irrational and you probably owe your boyfriend an apology for projecting all your insecurity and jealousy onto his innocent relationship with his stepdaughter.
Caroline has no friends who come around anymore and I am so scared for her. My husband and I don’t know what to do because our daughter defends this 23-year-old boy with a part-job (5 am to 11 am), who doesn’t have a car and lives with his 80-year-old grandfather. We have had so many arguments over him and his controlling what she can and cannot do. Our daughter was sick and admitted in the hospital recently for fourteen days and the boyfriend didn’t come up there at all. Of course, our daughter defended him, saying he has no ride! We have tried to explain to him how sick she is, and he doesn’t get it. Now she is mad at me. She just got her driver’s license and we were going to give her my old car until a big fight yesterday over having a celebration dinner with only family. Caroline’s boyfriend flipped out about that and said they have plans, so our daughter didn’t go to dinner with us!
Please, please tell us how to get through to our daughter! I am scared I am losing our daughter. I can’t sleep from worry. — Losing my Daughter
Well, you are, in a sense “losing your daughter.” She’s 21. She’s actually past the age typical of flying the nest. The thing is, our children never really belong to us. We get the extraordinary gift of getting to raise them, but they only ever belong to themselves, and our job is to help them realize that and to give them the age-appropriate tools to learn to be independent. I know that is complicated when you have a child who is ill or has special needs, but the goal is still the same: to raise your child to be as independent as he or she can be. That means loosening your grip a bit. Certainly, by the time a child is 21 — and not really a child anymore — you have to let her spread her wings and take flight. And, hard as it is, that means watching her make some mistakes. You cannot protect your child’s heart from being broken and you can’t save her from making bad decisions. What you can do is love her fiercely and provide a comfortable place for her to land and an open embrace for her to turn to when she needs it.
When you continue alienating your daughter and giving her boyfriend ammunition to turn her against you, you risk truly losing her. You risk giving her the sense that you are no longer the safe place to turn when she needs you. You need to back off and let her experience this relationship even when it hurts you to see her go down a path your fear will bring her pain. You need to keep your opinions about her boyfriend to yourself (or at least limit the negative things you say to her about him) and try, instead, to show support that she is experiencing what she thinks is her first love. That’s a big milestone for anyone — and, not for nothing, it’s often a milestone that is followed up with new relationships.
Let her experience more independence. Give her room to make bad decisions. Unless her safety is at risk, you have to let go a bit. She might get hurt, she might lose all her friends, but if you show her support now, and include the dumb boyfriend in more family events, she will be more likely to turn to you when she needs you. She will be more likely to defend you against anything her boyfriend might say to manipulate her or turn her against you. You have to loosen your grip a bit to protect the relationship you have with your daughter. It may seem counterintuitive, but behaving the way you have been is only going to serve to push your daughter away faster. It may help to think of it this way: Every time you argue with your daughter about her boyfriend, you are validating every negative thing he has said to her about you. So, stop. Quit fueling the flame. Sacrifice some time with your daughter now to save your future relationship with her. Even if it means watching her pursue a relationship with someone you can’t stand. And keep your fingers crossed that the flame that’s burning between them dies out, she heals quickly, and everyone can move on.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.