“My Boyfriend Spends all His Free Time with His Parents”

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My boyfriend and I have been together for nearly four years now and have discussed marriage in the near future. I love his family to death, but there are some “boundary” issues. He works a road construction job that requires him to be gone every week during the summer/fall months, coming home only some weekends. He usually wants to go to his parents’ house every single weekend he gets to come home.

Occasionally, this is fine with me and I understand I’m not the only person he’s away from while he’s gone. However, we spend 80% of the time he’s home at the parents’ house. If he’s home for only Friday and Saturday night and has to leave Sunday afternoon, you can bet we are at their house both Friday and Saturday for a long time, and then they always show up an hour before he’s to leave on Sunday. If I say I’m ready to get home on one of those nights, his dad always makes a comment trying to make me feel guilty for leaving — even if we’ve spent the entire day there.

I talk to my boyfriend about this, but he doesn’t think either he or his parents encourage this kind of behavior or that the behavior is even weird. If I ask him if we can just stay home for the weekend, he will agree but then he will also make me feel like the bad guy for it, and he doesn’t understand why it’s a big deal to go there instead of sitting at home. And if we don’t decide to go there a weekend he’s home, his mom will ALWAYS think of an excuse to drop by — for hours at a time.

We have a great relationship and I don’t want this issue to grow into such a large issue that I can’t handle it anymore one day. Like I said before, I get along great with them and don’t mind visiting them, but I also need privacy and a chance for my boyfriend and me to have a separate life from them. I need for both him and his parents to realize it’s time for him to grow up. What should I do? — Tired of Sharing So Much of Him

I hate to say it, but I don’t think your boyfriend — or his parents (especially his parents) — are going to change. You’ve already talked to your boyfriend about your feelings and he doesn’t think he’s doing anything “weird.” The thing is, whether or not his behavior is weird is irrelevant. What matters is how his behavior and how his lifestyle make you feel. Have you explained that to him? Have you told him it’s not a matter of him being weird or not weird for spending so much of his limited free time with his parents but that it’s about you wanting more alone time with him?

If you’ve explained that to him and he doesn’t care or doesn’t have any interest in meeting your needs, there’s not a ton you can do. You can accept that this is how it is for as long as he works a job that has him away from home for months on end — and if you ever have kids, it will be worse because his parents will have grandkids they’ll want to spend time with in addition to their son — or you can decide this is a deal-breaker and move on.

One thing you can try before just accepting things as they are or moving on already is to start scheduling activities and day trips on the weekends that your boyfriend is home. If he chooses visiting his parents because the alternative is “sitting at home,” plan some fun things for you two to do together that will be too good for him to pass up. If you have something like, oh, I don’t know, a skydiving excursion planned on, say, a Saturday afternoon that he’s home, and maybe a float trip on Sunday morning before he leaves, that leaves just a small amount of time for him to see his parents — enough for a short visit, but not so much that you’re spending 80% of the weekend with them. It also gets you out of the house so that, when his parents drop by, too bad, you aren’t there.

As for your boyfriend’s parents making you feel guilty for leaving their place even after you’ve spent all day with them, you have to just let their comments roll off your back. Some people are just like that and you have to try not to take it personally. They just enjoy your and your boyfriend’s company and would be happy, it sounds like, if you never left. You could always lighten the mood a little by telling them you need time together to practice making their future grandkids. That’ll probably shut them 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.


  1. I totally agree with Wendy’s 2nd paragraph. Make plans for activities. I can see his point about just sitting around the house so get out and be a tourist in your hometown.

    1. I’m in the same boat. Although that is a great idea, unfortunately, those plans aren’t going to work for me as my boyfriend likes to tag along his parents whenever he goes on trips. They’re always around and we don’t get to do stuff together anymore. He also has a kid so I’m basically competing with so much people. It’s sad cause I know for a fact this is a losing battle. After knowing and hearing most people’s story, it all comes down to men choosing their family over their partner. I’m also close to my family, however, I never make my boyfriend feel left out and I always make him feel that he is the priority. I purposely do this so he’ll not do the same with me. Unfortunately, men don’t seem to pick up that way. On top of that, he got sisters who also constantly texts him and hangs out with them a lot as well. I never feel like I’m the priority and always in the backseat:(

      1. Sorry, but it’s not men — it’s your man and OP’s man. If you feel like you’re not the priority, then you almost certainly aren’t. Your problem is thinking you can change him. You can’t. You accept him as he is or you leave. I think you should leave, but it’s your choice, obviously.

      2. allathian says:

        Yeah, I agree with ron. It’s not all men, it’s your man and the LW’s.

        When my husband and I got together, he was working a 4-hour drive from me and we’d only see each other on weekends and vacations. For the first two months we dated, he’d go and see his mom for an hour or two during the weekend, because I lived in the same town as she did and as my parents did. The rest of the time he spent with me. When we decided it was serious, he introduced me to his mom one weekend, and I introduced him to my parents the next. I’d never visit my parents alone while he was in town, but sometimes we’d go there for coffee and a meal. I got to see my parents occasionally after work even when he was away. He’d schedule one weekend a year when his best friends came to his town to party. This went on for two and a half years, and after that we moved in together. Five months later I was pregnant…

        Now, I usually call my mom once a week and my MIL occasionally. My husband calls his mom about once a week as well and his dad a few times a year. Before the pandemic we used to visit every few weeks and celebrate holidays together.

  2. lets_be_honest says:

    Oh, great idea about making plans so that alternative isn’t just sitting at home.
    But if that doesn’t work, I think you need to accept it or move on unfortunately. My boyfriend’s mom can be like this – wants to spend all her time with him/us – because she doesn’t work much anymore and is bored, and obviously loves him. Its usually fine with me, but I think if you are the type to not be ok with this, you’re better off finding someone more like you in this regard.

    1. Yes. This too. Some families really are just that close. Growing up, we went over to our grandparents almost every Sunday. A lot of Saturday’s, we saw the other set. When family is in town, we spend almost every waking minute visiting. If you’re not into the family bit, I would suggest not dating someone who completely is. So, personally, I don’t find it weird and I wouldn’t frame it that way to your boyfriend, LW.

    2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      I agree with you both. Some people are just family people, and want to spend a TON of time with their parents/siblings/etc. If it doesn’t work for you LW, then this might be a dealbreaker.
      I am curious of y’alls ages though. And if they live together. I could sort of see this also playing into the bf still seeing his parents as his nuclear family, thus the #1 priority for his free time.

      1. I’m also curious about how far away the parents live. If the mom’s just dropping by it can’t be *that* far away.

  3. Ditto to the making plans paragraph. Honestly, if my only options after being away for so long are sit at home or visit with people where things are happening, I would choose the later. If money is tight, you don’t even have to plan expensive excursions. A picnic in the park? A day at the lake or beach or some body of water? Bike riding? A movie? Explore a new neighborhood or close-by town?

    1. YES! Get out and DO something. “Alone time” doesn’t have to be at home (even if it’s sex – wink wink), and if you’re not there, they can’t drop by!

    2. My husband and I will go to a public driving range and a large bucket is $9. Or go to batting cages. Also, make plans with friends. Have a bbq with friends.

      1. also, go on Pinterest and put in cheap date ideas.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        Or rob a bank to pay for the more costly dates.

      3. YES! Hosting a BBQ is a great idea. Also, the ex use to work on a project, like something with his old truck or building something, or whatever, and I would sit outside by him and read, which is something I enjoyed doing. We were together but doing our own thing.
        There is so, so much you can do with your boyfriend LW! Just plan something, anything. If he’s not receptive, as others have said, I think you have your answer on how to proceed.

      4. Right, If these things fail then she has to make decisions.

    3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      Our favorite free activity is to find new parks/trails in our area and spend the afternoon on them. It’s completely free, gets you out of the house, and we leave our phones in the car so no chance for parent interruption!

      1. Lemongrass says:

        Geocaching!!!! So much fun and it’s free!

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Gah what is that. I see people post or check in or what ever and I have no idea what it means.

      3. Lemongrass says:

        It’s a worldwide treasure hunt. So much fun and you find really cool new spots to hang out too.

      4. Ooo, I might try that out this summer, that looks fun!

    4. Agreed, there is too much time spent sitting on the couch in this letter. Go to a zoo! Play frisbee in the park! Everyone knows how to throw a frisbee, right? Find a free movie or concert in the park, those seem to be like everywhere. Or pick berries. Or drive somewhere without lots of light pollution to go stargazing.

      1. right! every place has natural wonders. Like, I just went to “The Niagara falls of Pennsylvania” it was no Niagara but a nice day trip. OR look up state parks. There are so many preserved places that are paid for with tax dollars so you might as well use them.

    5. allathian says:

      Yeah, although all for non-pandemic times. Just the fact that his mom is dropping by unannounced makes me uncomfortable, considering the current state of the world.

      For that matter, so do many of the ideas posted here in response. Now, if ever, is a time when sitting at home binging on a favorite show on Netflix should be an acceptable and normal way to spend the weekend.

      But yeah, having a partner who’s very close to their family is not for everyone. Even if it isn’t a matter of cutting apron strings or anything, some people just enjoy spending more time with their families than others.

  4. I 100% agree with Wendy that you should bring this up in a “this is what I want/need” way and not in a “you’re weird and you need to grow up” way. Explain to him that you value your time together – just the two of you – and make some suggestion as to how you could spend that time. In my experience, if you manage to schedule some “quality couple time” – whatever activity counts as that for you – every weekend, you’re likely to care much less about visiting the in-laws etc.

    1. I’ll add that another strategy you could try – if those mentioned don’t work – is to simply spend less time at his parents’ house yourself. Just set a boundary that you won’t spend more than so-and-so-many hours there and get ready to leave when you want to. Let your boyfriend stay at his parents’ longer and do something else in the meantime. You don’t have to spend as much time with the parents as your boyfriend does & he might reduce his own time there if you’re not there with him.

      1. Yeah that’s what I thought too, that the LW doesn’t have to spend every minute there. I know it’s tough when your fellow is away during the week and you want to see him too but if it stresses you out, take yourself out of the situation.
        And I bet your boyfriend will come home a bit sooner if you do!

      2. Although the LW said that the mom finds a reason to drop by for hours at a time if they’re at her place.

      3. Oh yeah… I forgot about that.
        You know I was in a similar situation once, my ex and his parents like to see each other a lot more than I liked to see them. He and I are obviously not together anymore and I bet his new squeeze doesn’t mind. The LW and her fellow need to figure out a game plan together, she should be honest about her needs – rather than her annoyance.

      4. Er, the mom will find a reason drop by the LW’s place. Pronouns made that a little less clear.

      5. Yeah I think it’s just generally not a good idea to more or less automatically join every activity the boyfriend wants to do instead of functioning independently to some degree. She simply doesn’t have to be at the parents’ place with her boyfriend that often. I understand the problem with not seeing him enough, but I think she’s shooting herself in the foot by going with him all the time since that way she’s communicating that she’ll go along with whatever his plans are. He’s probably simply not used to her stating her own desires and needs if she always goes along with him. He’ll appreciate her more if she starts acting a little more independently.

  5. Laura Hope says:

    You’re right, LW, this is dysfunctional. In a healthy child/parent relationship, the cord needs to be cut before the child can become an adult and have his own family. At best, you will an appendage to his family. Personally, I would give him an ultimatum–therapy or you need to move on and find someone who’s actually emotionally available.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Haha, I think this is quite extreme. Wanting to spend time with family on the weekends isn’t exactly “dysfunctional.”

    2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      Really? Dysfunctional that he wants to spend time (a lot, I’ll give you that) with his family?

    3. I don’t know that I would use the word “dysfunctional”, but I do think that the parents and the son are a bit clingy. I base this on the LW’s statement that one or the other tries to make her feel guilty for not wanting to spend every weekend with the parents. I don’t think that is healthy. The BF is emotionally (and physically) unavailable and I don’t know that it will change without some sort of drastic action from the LW. Keep in mind that anything that upsets this balance is going to seem drastic. I’ve dealt with this type. You really do have to take strong measures to get through to them. They are content with the status quo. In my experience, though, it seldom works. He’s going to do what he’s going to do and if in four years he hasn’t changed, then he probably won’t, Your only choice is to accept it or move on.

    4. I agree that it is dysfunctional. Its over the top. That an entire day together isn’t enough? The evening must be spent together as well? It sounds codependent to me. And I don’t think therapy will help the parents… but it might be a good idea for the LW and her boyfriend. They clearly have poor communication if she states her feelings and he minimizes and ignores them. Doesn’t he want her to be happy, or is his happiness all he really cares about?

  6. Have you tried just not going? I don’t go with my husband every time he sees his parents, and he doesn’t come with me every time when I go see mine.
    Maybe if you stop going every single time he’ll decide to stay home with you every now and then.

    1. That’s what I wondered… why does she have to go with every weekend? Or stay the whole time? Doesn’t the LW ever have anything she needs to get done? Friends of her own?
      Then again if this is an issue of homebody vs. not-homebody, that is not so simple. I like to relax at home. I would blow my brains out if I were with someone who needed to do something every single weekend all weekend long, even if it were just go to a friend or family member’s house. Decompressing is a perfectly acceptable way to spend a weekend.

      1. allathian says:

        Yes, this. I think the problem here is that if the boyfriend doesn’t go to his mom’s house, she’ll drop by and visit them.

        This has been going on for 4 years and it’s not going to change on its own. The LW needs to talk to her boyfriend about how his actions make her feel. He’s not weird to want to spend time with his parents, and if she’s gone along with it until now, getting him to change won’t be easy. It’s entirely possible that the boyfriend is happy with the status quo, and if spending more time with his girlfriend means spending less time with his parents, he’ll choose the parents over the girlfriend.

        I do think that the way the boyfriend and his parents are trying to make the LW feel guilty for wanting to spend time away from the boyfriend’s parents is a red flag. I frankly doubt that this relationship has a future. Even if they stay together and even if she manages to persuade her boyfriend to spend less time with his parents, the parents are going to resent the LW for it.

        Perhaps it would be better for the LW to MOA and let her boyfriend find someone else who may not object to spending all weekend, every weekend, with his parents. Who knows, he might even find a girlfriend who’d be willing to move in with his parents, and then he’d never have to make a choice about who to spend more time with.

  7. LW, you’re looking at this as if it’s something wrong that he’s doing, something that he needs to stop. It’s ‘weird’. It’s ‘time for him to grow up’.

    As a PP said, some extended families are close and spend a whole lot of time together, and girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses, get pulled right into the family circle. I know many families like this. It’s not weird to them. It’s different than what you’re used to, sure, and it’s maybe not something you would do yourself. If it’s something that you just can’t some to terms with, than it may just be an incompatibility that you two can’t overcome. He needs a lot of family time, you need a lot of just-the-two-of-you time.

    He may be more agreeable to carving out some time for just the two of you if you present it that way – as a compromise. Not ‘you’re wrong and you have to change’. Not ‘we have to stay home the whole weekend’, but ‘how about we visit your parents on Saturday afternoon and then go have dinner and see a movie Saturday night’.

    If that doesn’t work – if he won’t set aside some time for the two of you, or if you need more distance from his family than he’s willing or able to manage, then I’m afraid it’s MOA time. Not because he’s wrong, or you’re wrong, but because your lifestyles just don’t fit together well. It’s sad, but it happens.

    1. allathian says:

      I think a lot of it also has to do with the fact that his job takes him away from both his parents and his girlfriend every week. If they had more time during the week to spend together after work, maybe spending most of the weekend with the in-laws wouldn’t be such an issue. Or maybe the LW would be more willing to let her boyfriend spend time with his parents on his own during the weekend, if she could spend weekday nights with him.

  8. Laura Hope says:

    If they can’t spend an entire weekend apart, it’s dysfunctional. I stand by it.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      No one said they can’t, just that they like to see each other on weekends. I kinda think that’s totally normal if you love your family. You do like to see people you love, right?

    2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      It definitely sounds like there are some boundary setting issues here, but IDK dysfunctional is a stretch.

      1. Agreed. Yes, maybe it is a little TOO much time with the family. But I wouldn’t go as far to say he is emotionally dependent and his family is dysfunctional.
        I really would like to know if this LW is asking to actually do something with her boyfriend and he’s flat out refusing. I think that would be more telling than the “sit at home” or “hang with parents” scenario.

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I agree. If she is like “lets do XYZ” and he says “no, lets sit at mom’s”…yeah that’s a little off. But if it’s just sit on the couch at our place or theirs…that’s no big to me?

      3. Pretty much. Hey, we’re in 100% agreement today, as opposed to 80%.

      4. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Haha. I can totally see this though, wanting to chill at the parents. My parents have an awesome house with a huge yard with bike, 4 wheelers, space for baseball, a pool, tennis court (now I sound spoiled)…if we lived close enough I’d rather hang at their house than our little apartment.

    3. So, say a family gets together every week for Sunday Dinner- you think that’s dysfunctional?
      It sounds pretty nice, to me!

      1. That in itself is not dysfunctional, but putting a guilt trip on somebody because they would rather do something else is. That’s an attempt at emotional manipulation and it’s not healthy.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        Trying to see this in another light (or maybe just defending myself haha), I could totally see myself saying ‘oh come on, hang out for a while longer’ to just about anyone who comes over.

      3. Yeah, but every weekend? And would you make someone feel bad because they have something else to do? That’s what “next times” are for!

      4. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I think it’s every weekend during the parts of the year he travels a lot, so summer and fall. Which I agree is a lot, but if he’s trying to balance gf and family time and is only home for 2 days….that’s a lot.

      5. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        A lot to balance…not a lot of time spent with the fam.

      6. Summer and fall is half the year. That’s totally a lot.

      7. A lot of family time. But I’m talking about my family.

      8. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Yeah, it is all really about individual preferences. During football season we spend Saturdays and Sundays, all day, watching football with the same people. It would be a lot of some, but we like it.
        So LW, if you don’t like it, I think you should MOA.

      9. But according to the LW, they don’t have anything else to do…..

      10. Well, that’s separate problem. Although given the choice between vegging out at my house or my parents’ house, I’ll choose mine every time.

      11. Which is totally fine for you. But it doesn’t sound like it’s fine for the boyfriend. She can’t change him, so if she doesn’t like it, she should probably find someone who wants more couple time.
        All I’m saying is, neither ways are wrong. It doesn’t mean he loves her any less. It means they have compatibility issues they need to figure out or they need to break up.

      12. I agree with you. I’m not saying anyone’s wrong, either. Different strokes for different folks. But, guilting someone is wrong and there is a little of that going on here.

      13. But are they really guilting the boyfriend? Or is that the LW’s perception because she wants to be home?

      14. I think the LW is saying she’s being guilted, by the parents and the boyfriend. This is her perception. She should say something about it to the BF at least. (Which she did and he didn’t do anything about it.) I’m not sure how much leverage she has with the parents. They could deny it, and if they wanted to change, they could. But it sounds like they like things just the way they are. So, she will either have to accept that this is how they are, or leave.

      15. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        I would probably always choose vegging at my parents house over mine, or even my boyfriend’s. Granted I don’t live at home so definitely value all the time I get there, but some people just are more comfortable/prefer being around their family.

      16. Honestly, if she came back here and said she suggests things to do, or frames her conversations with boyfriend differently, I would have a different response. I think a lot of people on here are offering her good suggestions to try and help her with her boyfriend and to get him to spend less time with his family and more time hanging out with her.

      17. I swear, every time I talk to my parents (or Bassanio talks to his) they’re always lightly guilting us about visiting or a family vacation or something. Some people’s parents are just like that. Heck, some people are just like that. I used to joke with Bassanio that Jews and Catholics had a lot in common: the parental guilt. But this situation doesn’t even necessarily sound like heavy parental guilting (even though the LW says it makes her feel guilty), just like “oh we want to spend more time with you!” and the LW’s not as used to letting it go. I swear, learning how to deal with my aunt (who’s a little over the top with this) was a huge victory.

      18. lets_be_honest says:

        Ok, fine, I do this. Or I used to.
        Ok fine, I actually beg DWers even to move in with me (I’m looking at you, rachel!).
        I never realized it actually made people feel like shit though. Finally my sister was like, every time you think you jokingly say please move back home, I feel like crap. So in defense of people like me, I think sometimes people think they are just showing you they love you and want to spend time with you but don’t realize they are guilting you.

      19. lets_be_honest says:

        And obviously, I’m also someone who is really close with family. I would totally be cool with buying a compound and having my family and Peter’s family live on it in harmony with us. Haha. I live a minute from my mom and 3 from his. We are just those types of people though, which is why I said originally to the LW that this is usually just a fundamental part of people and not something you can really change that much.

      20. Exactly! I had to learn that people mean different things by it. Sometimes Bassanio feels kind of bad when his parents do this, but I just point out that they don’t mean that he’s the worst son if he doesn’t do something and that it’s ok to say no. I also remind Bassanio of reality: that they visit so often because of the grandkids, the kids are the focus, not him, and his parents won’t be crushed if they don’t see him, and they’ll be back next month anyway. This may seem obvious, but it’s so easy to forget and feel bad.
        No one’s a bad person for saying these things (except my aunt, she’s the worst and in a league of her own), but if you’re someone for whom this feels like guilting, it can start making you feel so bad.

      21. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, I mean this could be two things: a mere annoyance or an over the top mom. There have been times where I’m ready to leave Peter’s mom’s and it takes forever to try to leave and I get annoyed, or if she pops in and I’m just not in the mood for company, but I feel like those are just mere annoyances. If mom is like, begging them to stay every single time, that’s beyond just a mere annoyance obviously.

      22. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        It isn’t every weekend though, he is gone every week, “coming home only some weekends”. So its not like every.single.weekend. It is some throughout that entire period-IDK what that means but to me probably 1-2 weekends a month which isn’t really that many.

      23. allathian says:

        No, spending 1 or 2 weekends with the parents or your boyfriend’s isn’t that many, but it is, if you don’t get to see your boyfriend at all in between these times.

  9. Wow it’s creepy how similar this is to my ex boyfriend! He lived 4.5 hours away. I lived in his hometown and so did his parents. it was a constant struggle for almost 5 years because when I’d drive to see him, we’d get alone time, but of course i had to drive there. If he came back home, he would insist that we spend the whole weekend out in the rural area hanging out with his parents. I asked him all the time if 1. we could have weekends where we spent more time just with each other and 2. maybe even have one every once in awhile where he didn’t see his parents, that was just us – my argument being that I never got a weekend to relax at home and have him come to me…i was always either driving to him or driving an hour out to his parents for the weekend and spending the night and all that. Plus his parents never made him feel like that’s what he had to be doing.

    Long story short even though we saw each other almost every weekend for 4.5 straight years, not once did he agree to this. In fact toward the end, when I was tired of the distance and really pushing for us to have a normal weekend together, he started accusing me of trying to take him away from his family (nvm the fact that in the four years prior to our relationship when he was away at college, he would come home and visit his family once a semester but then he started dating me and coming home every other weekend…)

    My point is that this guy is not going to change and if you try to change he may lash out at you and say hurtful accusatory things like that!!! You’re lifestyles don’t mesh and they probably never will.

  10. I can understand both sides. I would not enjoy feeling like I couldn’t just be at home some weekends. I would say I prefer half my weekends to either be spent relaxing at home or sitting on a beach. I think it’s also different when it isn’t your family. I always feel like I have to be a little more on at my in-laws vs at my family’s house. But, if I were you, I wouldn’t go every time. I would plan some things. But, I also wouldn’t feel bad saying it’s been a long week I really want to binge watch Netflix and catch up on laundry today. At the end of the day though like Wendy said, the situation itself isn’t going to change, so either find ways to deal with it, or leave. Are you far away from your own family? Do you guys never visit/spend time with them?

  11. Laura Hope says:

    Did you guys actually read this letter? He spends 80% of his free time with his parents AND they guilt them when they leave after an entire day AND they show up Sunday morning before he leaves. Not normal. But I’ll tell you what. If Bitter Gay Mark disagrees with me, I’ll reconsider.

    1. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

      No he actually does not spent 80% of time at his parents. This LW specifically has a problem during the summer/fall months (so 6 months tops, depending where she lives) when he gets to come home *only some weekends* so not every single weekend, and he spends a majority of his time with his family and the LW. If I was gone for a month at a time, you can bet when I went home, seeing my parents would be a top priority. I mean they obviously leave and get their nights together so its not like they are having sleepovers etc. To me it would be so weird if I came home and was a short drive from my parents, but just sat around my own house vs going there and socializing and seeing my family. If he lived in town permanently and this was happening every night, I think its a different story but we are talking sporadic weekends over a 2 season period.

    2. lets_be_honest says:

      I never read the letters, just the headline, but I can tell by the headline alone that its normal.

    3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      Welp, guess it’s time to reconsider.

    4. BGM never agrees with the woman. So don’t wait around for that….

  12. bittergaymark says:

    NEWSFLASH: This is WHO he is. If you don’t like this? Well, then you are simply NOT a match. Yet another letter from a LW who has the “perfect” boyfriend EXCEPT for one small, oh, you know, majorly epic, MASSIVE tiny thing she wants changed. Will you LWs simply never learn?

    1. Come on, BGM! if the LW’s learn this, we will have to find another source of entertainment…

  13. findingtheearth says:

    I have a friend whose husband is like this. He was this way through their entire dating, engagement, and now marriage. She kept trying to change it and regularly fights with him about it. When they were planning on adopting, I told her that if this is an issue to where she is left with baby a huge amount of time and resents him for it, it’s not going to be pretty.

    She thought he would change, and he hasn’t. Even with stuff planned, spending time with his daughter, etc., he still prefers to spend his free time at his parents’ home. She does go with him on occasion, but it is something that is always an issue between them.

    My dad’s side of the family is like this- I have an uncle and aunt who spend every day at my grandparents for at least a few hours. It is what they like to do. My dad did this too, until he met his fiance and she moved in with him. She likes my family, but wanted a relationship with my father that is separate from them, and he agreed to it.

  14. Laura Hope says:

    Okay okay. I give up. All I will say is that I could not be with this man.

    1. Laura Hope, I totally agree with you. And I did my bit in the thumbs war on your side! 🙂

      And BGM made the point also that except for what seems like an obvious dealbreaker to most people, they have a wonderful, amazing, great relationship. Except for the part where they are not spending much time together at all…

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        I guess I just don’t get why this is dysfunctional exactly. So many people spend a ton of time with family. I get that many don’t, but I don’t think that’s dysfunctional.

      2. Yeah, I don’t see the dysfunction either. I see someone who wants to maximize the amount of time he spends with people he cares about, and I get not caring if it’s the LW’s couch or his parents’ couch, hence the activity suggestions. I do think it’s a valid point to want more alone time with your significant other regardless of how he’s spending the rest of their time, but I also don’t see it as a dysfunctional family dynamic.

      3. i think the dysfunction wouldnt come from just the time spent, like the literal hours, i think the dysfunction would come from the things surrounding the time spent- the guilt, ect

  15. There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to spend a ton of time with your family. In many cultures that is the norm. I could go off on the US’s unhealthy obsession with pouring all energy and time into romantic relationships and nuclear family only, and how it’s bizarre how much we focus on what a loser and mama’s boy you are if you don’t move out at 18 and hate your parents. But I have too much shit to do at work today so I’ll spare everyone my tangent.

    LW, what everyone else said. This isn’t a minor trait that you can ask someone to change for you, like throwing away your toenail clippings instead of leaving them on the floor. If you can’t deal for the long haul, then don’t. Spare yourself and him a relationship that makes you both resentful.

  16. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

    LW real advice. You say “We have a great relationship and I don’t want this issue to grow into such a large issue that I can’t handle it anymore one day”.
    I think you are already there, and having a great relationship *except for this one huge thing I want to change about that person* isn’t the same as simply have a “great relationship”. This is something about him that will likely never change. He values his family and wants to spend his free time with them (and you). Added to that it already is a large issue (for you), because you are writing in to an advice column about it. You are asking how you can change him and his feelings on this and get him to “grow up”. The thing is, he is grown up and he has chosen to place a large emphasis on his family time. You have the option of talking to him about it-without that context (this is weird, grow up), and from the place where your needs are not being met–aka “Honey, it would mean a lot if instead of both Friday and Saturdays you are home, spending all day with your family, we set aside a block of one of those days for just us time. Relationship time without your family is really important to me and I hope we can work in implementing a date day/night where it is just us.”; your other option if he still doesn’t agree to this or guilts you, is ending the relationship, because this is not going to change.

  17. Laura Hope says:

    DesiDad– Thank you!

  18. BIg difference between loving your parents and being codependent on them…

    I married an apron-strings boy like that. At first I thought it was sweet that he spent so much time with his folks (my mom died when I was 7 and my dad’s parental rights were terminated by the state, so I had no idea how families worked). After marriage, EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY was spent at his folks’ house. The only respite I got was working on Sundays occasionally. After a year and a half of this, I asked my ex if we could have a parent-free Sunday, just us. It was a huge fight, and the beginning of the end for us – like I’d asked if we could murder his folks! A lot of other things contributed to our divorce, but the parental involvement in our life didn’t help.

    Fast-forward almost 30 years: I become friends with several ppl who all are super tight with their moms. Not just loving-tight, but codependent-tight. Spend most of their spare time with Mom, and significant others take a backseat. Well, nobody lives forever, and guess what happens when we’re all in our 40s-50s? Parents get old and die. My friends’ personalities changed drastically – bitter, enraged, drug and booze binges, even suicidal ideation – because losing Mommy destroyed them. Years later, they’ve never recovered.

    Of course I’m describing a worse-case scenario, but think of what feels right for YOU as far as family interaction & seek that out. Don’t settle for an interaction that feels stifling, or you’ll be dealing with a bigger issue when the parents pass away.

  19. My bf is exactly the same and we have a kid he sleeps there tho and we have been together for four year i am at the end of the line now i cant deal with it no more rather than spend the nigt at home with me and his son his mam and dad showrd up and said av come to take u and he had the cheek to ask me as he was already out of the door u alright er no am not alright but get on with it

    They are ruinin our relationship we just lost a baby in septemeber and things are just bad i feel lile he doesnt want to be here and doesnt love me cos if he did he wudnt want to be up there he spends 5 out of the 7 days up the in the last two month we have lived together for four years. It is starting to really upset me he wants me to move the 30 min ride closer to his family for what ? For me to sit in the house miles away from my family because his family dont live over the road no more they moved may last year and he was up there alot by bus but now they have a car i never see him and i am not exagerating even when he is here he sits up in the bedroom and i dont see him unless he wants a cup of tea and to use the bathroom how ever when i go to bed and my son is asleep thats when we connect and have a good time chat cuddle but in the back of my mind i am worrying that there is more to him staying out all of the time and if its over i wud rather him just say so i can adjust to life with out him rather than live like this something has to change

    Trust me girl im glad am not the only one that is going thro this i know exactly how u are feelin

  20. Angelique says:

    The relationship this man has with his family is dysfunctional and here’s why. In a typical family dynamic there are common roles assumed by different individuals. At the center, authority figures in a power position, you typically have parents or other guardians. Parents are supposed to prepare their kids for the real world, the best that they can. Hopefully by the time you are an adult you have been given and shown the coping skills you’ll need to support Yourself. In a family dynamic where an adult person is tethered very closely to the authority figures in particular, this does have a psychological effect on the adult child or children. The adult children often rely heavily emotionally on the parents, depend on them to decide many or most of their decisions(particularly ones that are important), and so on. The parents, being in a position of power, are influencing their adult children by complying to this routine or set up. In being present in any matters their adult children bring to them, they reassert their power and “superior” knowledge. This is how children are taught. Once upon a time when you were little, mom and dad did know more than you…but entering adulthood is when you yourself should be acquiring knowledge just as your parents did. They made mistakes and making mistakes and taking risks is what being an adult is all about. But, in a very close and codependent family dynamic this doesn’t get to really happen much. The adult children are taught to never make a decision without consulting the parents or family. So, instead of an adult who’s ready to take on the world the result is someone with severely low self esteem that does Not seem to be able to take responsibility or make many if any decisions on their own. If you can be open minded, it’s very easy to compare this way of life to a cult truly. On one side you get the parents who reinforce their power and “superior knowledge” over and over again by holding their adult children in the nest, on the other side you get an individual who rather depend on the parents because by the time they are adults its just much easier and normal for them to continue letting mommy and daddy do all the hard thinking for them.

    This is typically how this dynamic functions. It is not wrong to Want to spend time with loved ones, but as an adult you ought to be fair and accommodating of your partner and potential kids. His lack of action in making his partner a top priority in his life because he prefers spending time with his parents is abnormal. At the end of the day lots of things get labeled. There’s no need for anyone to take offense if others would have an opinion that something that pertains to you is abnormal. It’s just that based on textbooks and the definition of words and so on, yes sometimes things will be labeled as normal or dysfunctional.

    Sources: I’ve studied psychology and dysfunctional family dynamics for years

  21. I completely agree with Angelique in that this family dynamic is dysfunctional. It’s called enmeshment. While there is nothing wrong with being close with your family, it becomes a problem when you prioritize your family of origin over your significant other. He is an adult & his main focus should be on his relationship. He is not making her a priority & placing a lot of his focus & free time with his parents. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her wanting him to spend more time with her. She’s not being selfish or mean, she’s simply asking for him to place more importance on her & their relationship. If the amount of time he spends with his parents is causing an issue in his relationship, then I would say it’s definitely a problem he needs to address. Although, if this has been a pattern for him & it’s all he knows,& him & his family think it’s completely normal, the chance of getting him to acknowledge there is an issue is very slim.

  22. I’m in the same situation as well. We live down the street from my boyfriends parents and he’s always at there house on his days off. He will come home maybe 1 or 2 days out of the week to spend the evening with me and then legitimately go over to his parents to sleep over and stay there most of his time. I try to suggest fun things to do but it’s as if he doesn’t feel like doing them. I don’t understand why we’re in a relationship if he rather stay at his parents instead and not trying to build a life with me. I’m very independent , so it doesn’t bother me too much just because I do my own thing anyway but it is still frustrating. I do care for his parents and they are nice people but at the same time I want a separate life with just me and my boyfriend.

    1. Anonymousse says:

      Then you need a different boyfriend. It’s super weird that he’d rather bunk at mom and dads than yours. Break up and date a man who wants to spend time with you.

    2. spending evenings with his parents is one thing but choosing to sleep over there when they are literally down the street seems bizarre unless they are elderly and he is worried about them. If it is that then work out a way so you can spend most nights together whether at yours or theirs. If not, you need to sort this out. Do you both work very long hours or something that he can’t muster up enthusiasm to do fun things with you? I’m glad you are independent but unless it is care duty his behaviour is odd to me, and I’d find it hurtful were I you. Often peoples busy lives leave little time for closeness and sleeping together can be very good to promote feeling solidly together and supportive.

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