Ross has a serious drinking problem. He also is known to have major anger issues. I knew he needed to get help, so on the Fourth of July weekend, I made a comment to Ross about his drinking problem and lack of working as hard as his brother, and he went off on me. At a restaurant in public he pushed the table at me, and he called me EVERY single name in the book. Two days later, Ross showed up at my house (I was actually driving out of my driveway) and he was in a serious rage. He pushed me, threatened me, and verbally and emotionally abused me. He even kicked, punched, and jumped on my truck while I was in it trying to drive away. Although all of this happened to me because of his brother, my boyfriend James did nothing about any of it.
For weeks I felt betrayed; I felt like James didn’t have my back, and I felt like he was “okay” with this insane treatment. It really upset me. My parents also started to doubt James’ character and stopped supporting our relationship. In time, I realized that James does have my back, he is just in a very hard situation. I would NEVER ask him to disown his brother, but at the same time, I cannot have a relationship with his brother ever again, an this has torn James and me apart. Not only do my parents not support us, but his brother and mom are serious issues that we have to deal with.
So my question is: What do I do? I hurt so much knowing that James will never be able to have the relationship with his brother that he had if he is with me, but at the same time, he’s not trying to marry his brother while he claims to want to marry me. Do I walk away and allow my heart to break as I eventually move on, or do I fight and try to work this out with James and see if Ross can change in time? — Feeling Betrayed
Sorry, but if James actually “had your back,” he’d be railing against his brother’s behavior toward you and doing everything he could to protect you from him. He’s not doing that at all from the sound of it. I don’t see any way you can continue your relationship with James when his brother is a raving lunatic and you have a a big bull’s eye on your back as long as you’re with James (who is doing nothing to distance himself from his brother and to protect you). Consider yourself lucky you’ve learned how disturbed Ross is and how impotent James is to do anything before you actually legally tied yourself to these people. What a nightmare that would have been!
I’m sorry you’re hurting, and that you will likely hurt for a little while. Breakups are never fun. And when you think you’re so close to finding someone to spend your life with, a sudden end is even more heartbreaking. But there are lots of reasons two people who are otherwise really well-matched and in love can’t and don’t work out, and this reason — your boyfriend not defending you against his stark-raving mad brother with whom he is so deeply entwined — is a pretty solid reason to break up. Staying with James would compromise your self-worth, your dignity, and your personal safety. You have to move on.
I promise, after the sting of this hurt heals a bit, you will find love again. In the meantime, if you ever know someone again who has a drinking problem — or any problem you think it’s your business to address — I would advise you to find a private and sensitive way to do so. (And for the record: reprimanding someone’s work ethic probably is NOT your business to address unless you’re his or her boss…)
I’m sure it must be disappointing and sad that your son and his girlfriend have broken up and the fate of your relationship with this little girl you’ve thought of like a granddaughter is now uncertain. I’m sorry for that. Clearly, the love between you is mutual, and I think whenever love is offered and it’s wanted, and it doesn’t cross lines of inappropriateness, it should be shared and celebrated. Your question is one about appropriateness, and while the situation is certainly more complicated than it was before you son and his girlfriend broke up, it’s not really as complicated as you might think. Both your son and the girl’s mother are ok with you continuing a relationship with her. So, I say, continue along. Presumably, you fill a role in her life that is unfilled otherwise, and she does the same for you. And as long as all the adults in the picture are ok with the relationship continuing, then it should.
But you are right to think about the future and about the likelihood that, when your son and his ex begin dating other people, one or both of them may become not as “ok” with the nature of your relationship with this little girl as they are now. The best way to deal with this is to keep the lines of communication open as much as you can, be respectful of boundaries, ask for clarification when you aren’t clear what or where the boundaries are, and start dialing back the frequency and the length of time you spend with this little girl (for example, maybe instead of her staying with you for two weeks at a time, you can offer to have her stay with you for an overnight or weekend visit every couple months). Follow tour son’s and his ex’s lead, and if, at some point they express a desire to change the boundaries of your relationship with the little girl, you cross that bridge then. Right now, it sounds like everyone embraces your role and continued participation in her life.
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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.