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My Boyfriend is Wonderful Except I Overthink…

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  • #741745 Reply

    Hi everyone,

    I will try to make this as short as possible. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a little over 2 years – we live together. He is 33 and I am 34. We have talked about marriage, kids, getting engaged, buying a place together, etc. He is very thoughtful, kind, smart, open to trying new things (he is a person of comfort), and I love him very much, I want nothing more than to see him happy and support him as a future wife.

    I am getting tripped up and overthinking in a couple areas. I’ve read Wendy’s article, 15 Things You Should Discuss Before Getting Married, and the “Location” piece and “Family Obligations” have been tough for us.

    I grew up 20 minutes away from where we currently live in PA (aside from a 5 year stint in CA when I was younger, because that is where my mom is from, and where my mom’s side of the family still lives), and I ended up going to college in CA and living there for 10 years. I came back to PA to take care of my mom in 2012, who has since died from a terminal illness. I’ve been back here ever since. I have one sister in CA and one sister here in PA. My dad is also in PA.

    My boyfriend grew up an hour from here, and his parents still live in his hometown. He went to college 20 minutes from his house, lived at home after college and while in grad school, and only recently moved away and has been “on his own” for about 4 years now (2 of which he has been dating me).

    My boyfriend is very close with his family. I’m close with mine, too, but mine are spread out between PA and CA. I’ve had a desire to go back out West, but my current job that I love and my boyfriend has kept me in this area.

    When I think about the future with me and him, he says he never wants to be far away from his family. He doesn’t want to ever move to CA, and he said he would consider another state nearby (but I don’t know if I really believe this.) While CA would be nice, I can live with not residing there for a while, as long as I can take trips to see my sister and extended family.. I mostly just DO NOT want to live in the vicinity of my hometown forever (I want something new) and I don’t want to raise my kids here. I also want my boyfriend and I to start our life together someplace that is new to us as a couple, and do it together. But, he says he doesn’t want to live more than 1-2 hours from his family. I feel like that is very limiting, and it scares me. And also makes me think that his family is more important to him than me.

    The other small issue is, my boyfriend and his mom talk on the phone almost every day. Often it is him calling her. He goes to his family for advice all the time. It’s not that this is the problem, per se, it’s that I fear that my advice or my support isn’t enough and won’t be enough in our future. I worry that he will call his family all the time to get advice about kids or jobs or finances – he says that I am like “a part of his family.” I don’t want to be “a part” of his family, I want to BE his family! When I say this, though, he thinks that means I want him to forget about his family. I don’t think that at all! I just think there needs to be some kind of boundary or some recognition that if he and I get married, we will be a new family and we need to figure things out together, not always with our parents’ help.

    Recently, he said he would like to be close enough to his family where his parents could come over and see their grandkids (our future kids) twice a week. I calmly said that honestly, that would be too much for me. I expressed that, while I love his mom, it will be hard for me NOT to have my own mom around, and I might be pretty emotional about that (it makes me emotional now). He seemed to understand that, and he said “Okay, well then just my dad will come over.” I don’t really want ANYONE over 2 times a week!

    I’m having anxiety because I love him and we are great together, but instead of marrying him and growing wings, I feel like I’d be marrying him and walking into a cage.

    I don’t want to break up and move on, I have seen so much growth in him over the last couple of years – just being more independent, trying new things, getting outside his comfort zone. At the same time, we are getting older and have to consider the “having kids” piece of all this, and that I want to see where we are heading with each other, and if we can start a life together.

    Has anyone been in this situation before? Any advice?

    This was probably all over the place, so sorry for that. Thanks for your help!

    #741753 Reply

    You two do need to be on the same page. You need to decide if you can live with never living in the place you want to be. Maybe you can be happy either way, maybe not. You need to make that decision. Do not assume he will change his mind. Also, he does sound like he needs more time being an independent adult. He seems a bit too attached and lived with his family late into his life. I personally wouldn’t be rushing into living with someone who hasn’t really spread their wings yet. Just wouldn’t be for me. Just don’t assume you an change it. Never go into a relationship hoping or assuming anything will change.

    #741754 Reply
    Northern Star

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think think what you want from your boyfriend is A.) something he’s able to give you, and B.) all that reasonable.

    You want to be his “everything,” and that is just not going to happen. With anyone, really. I’m so sorry you lost your mom at a young age—that is absolutely terrible—but making up for that by kind of “taking away” your boyfriend’s family so you BOTH are in the same boat is not going to work. He doesn’t want to start fresh, because he likes many elements of his life right now.

    No matter how much he loves you, he’s not going to cool his close family ties for your sake. Maybe this isn’t meant to be.

    #741756 Reply

    “I’m having anxiety because I love him and we are great together, but instead of marrying him and growing wings, I feel like I’d be marrying him and walking into a cage.”

    I think you’ve answered your own question. You and he have very different ideas about family time and neither of you will be truly satisfied/happy with the other’s model.

    #741761 Reply

    What @NorthernStar and @List said.

    Neither of you are wrong, you just want different things out of family life.

    FWIW, I’m more like your boyfriend’s family and personally, I wouldn’t have married someone who didn’t have the same ideas about family that I did. I have friends who are more like you in respect to family and they found partners who fit better with their lives.

    #741765 Reply

    You aren’t on the same page. He is very close with his family and that’s not going to change.
    Have you been the reason he’s had growth in the last few years? More independence?
    You are falling into a trap in a way. It seems like he considers his family over you, and will continue to. His bizarre comment about just his dad is just…strange.

    (edited to add..I see really that your comment was the bizarre one. Why would you deprive your MIL?)
    Have you consider a few couples counseling sessions? Explain this to him, you aren’t trying to push his family away, if you marry, you need to know you are the most important person, not his mother or family.

    #741768 Reply

    I had a traumatic childhood and have very loose ties to my family. My husband’s family is amazing. They’ve taught me what a family really is, and I’m grateful. I love hem so much and I’m happy to have married into this fam.
    But I married him before I’d spent much time with any of them. I was very much about being in the West, as any long term DW commenter would tell you. We’ve recently moved to the NE, and while it wasn’t my dream, it makes much more sense to start a family near your support system.

    Take it with a grain of salt, I can’t quite tell if he’s a ‘mamas boy’ or if you are just not into his family.

    #741783 Reply


    Definitely I would not want to deprive my MIL from seeing her grandkids, it’s more – why would it need to be two times a week? Even once a week would be too much for me. I saw my grandparents once a month or so… I know that he and I were raised differently in that sense. But, I am still close with my extended family even though I didn’t see them once a week or more and though they live 3000 miles away, I did have some hope I would possibly live near them again or see them often.

    I do like his family a lot. I want to add that I have one sister here and one in CA. I’m trying to keep ties with my family, as well, but feeling like the closeness with his family will always be greater than mine because how often he lets me know they are close.

    #741784 Reply

    I also want to add that I would love to have his family over for Easter this year And have a combined celebration with my boyfriend’s family and my family. But, their Easter tradition is to go over to my boyfriends aunts house. I just feel that if we are looking to get married or spend our lives together then maybe our family should be doing something together?

    I’m just struggling to see where there is room for me.

    #741786 Reply

    LW —
    I don’t understand your position at all. You want to be near your family, but 2/3 of the nuclear family you grew up in — your Dad and one of your two sisters are in PA. The only part of your birth family not in PA is your other sister. Your mother’s extended family is in CA. It sounds like you are still grieving your mother badly and see living amongst her extended family as a way of re-creating your attachment to your mother. It’s unlikely to work that way. Grief counseling should help you sort out all these thoughts, especially how your wording suggests that you feel it is disloyal to your mother to allow your MIL to have a close relationship to your children, while your own mother is no longer here to enjoy that. This is very destructive thinking which will follow you to any new relationship, which is why you desperately need the grief counseling, whether or not you stay with this guy.

    I think it unreasonable to meet a guy in placed X, build a life with him, and expect him to move back to your mother’s family. You should have addressed this before moving in together. Couples do have to move, especially to find good jobs or for big promotions or to care for aged parents, but your motivation is to move from all of his family and a big part of your family to be another part of your family. Is your relationship with your father strained and you’re fleeing that?

    You talk about wanting to move somewhere new for both of you if you marry. You say that your bf is willing to move a state away from where you are now, but that you don’t believe him. Why don’t you believe him? The two of you could make such a move prior to marriage, as a test. In all of this you just talk about your emotions/wants with no practicalities of how you will support yourselves/handle child care in a new place.

    And… your claim that you want the two of you to live in a new place for each of you isn’t consistent with your actual desire to move back to CA.

    If you REALLY need to move to CA, then you should do this guy a favor and breakup now, because you will never be compatible as he is never going to want to be a continent away from his family. I’d go to grief counseling before making this decision, since CA seems a reaction to your mother’s death.

    #741789 Reply

    If the idea of marrying him makes you feel trapped, and he still runs to mommy & daddy for every little question about his life, maybe neither of you is ready to married.

    I understand there’s a certain biological pressure you feel like you’re under since you want to have children, but that’s not a good enough reason to rush into a marriage. Imagine 10 yrs from now, divorced with a kid and still stuck there because your custody agreement doesn’t allow you to move the children out of state.

    Maybe some good pre-marital counseling would help you guys work through all of this (or help you see that maybe it’s not meant to be). I’d slow waaaaay down on the marriage/babies front until this is all resolved or at least on its way.

    #741790 Reply
    Northern Star

    Sarah, you seem resentful of the closeness of your boyfriend and his family. It’s normal to set up some new traditions, but your goal seems to be to cut WAY back on the theoretical time his mom and dad will have with him/potential grandkids—and your reason seems to be jealousy more than anything.

    It’s good to discuss this now, since you’ll find out you’re not compatible BEFORE committing further. Find someone who doesn’t have strong ties to his family.

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