Updates: “Parent Trapped” Responds

updatesIt’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Parent Trapped” who wrote in in the fall of 2016, when her boyfriend of a year asked her to move in with him and his mom–a boyfriend who treated her son like crap while he supported her through the financial mess she found herself in. “She had a run-in with identity theft a few years ago, and since then she has not used her social security number. Everything she has her boyfriend pays for or it’s in his name. She even works for him, and he pays her by housing her and feeding her. She has literally nothing without him.” The LW decided she didn’t want to move in until the mom moved out, but the mom wasn’t budging.

“This is putting a lot of pressure on our relationship, and I’m not sure what to do. Should I talk to her and tell her my struggles and that I feel held back in my relationship with her son? Do I just let her do her thing and hope to God she moves out soon? My boyfriend won’t push her out and I don’t want her pushed out if she’s not ready because she’ll just be back at his door a month later. I’m just hoping for an outside perspective.”

Keep reading to see what has happened in the fifteen months since she wrote in.

Since the last letter, it did get better. I didn’t move in with my boyfriend and he didn’t “officially” move in with me, but he was at my place almost every night. My lease ended this past September and we both moved back to our respective homes. I asked how he plans on handling his mom in the future since she’s so dependent on him now, and I never got an answer. Their relationship is still the same; he’s still earning her degree for her.

As far as our relationship, whenever I try to ask about ANYTHING regarding our future, he either gets silent, gets mad, or cries. In the beginning of our relationship, I told him that I didn’t want to be a five-year girlfriend, and with the exception of the year we were on a break, we’ve been together for six years now! At the beginning of last year, he promised that he’d propose by the end of the year. However, he didn’t propose and hasn’t mentioned it since.

I love him and I feel that he is perfect for me. I want to get married and I want a large family. I’m ready to move forward. I turn thirty next year and my clock is ticking loud as hell. It’s honestly embarrassing at this point when people ask when we’re going to get married. People get engaged and married every day; I don’t get the delay. He tells me that he wants to marry me and that he’s working on it, but I don’t feel as if it’s a priority. I see him spending and giving away money — money that could go towards a ring. He gave me really good Christmas gifts this year, which was sweet, but he literally could’ve gotten a ring with the money that he spent on my gifts.

I’m not sure how to proceed. I don’t want to force him to marry me or give ultimatums, but I also don’t want six more years to go by and realize that we’re in the same position. His mom and both my friends and his keep asking what’s the rush, but I don’t feel like six years is rushing at all. What should I do? — The Forever Girlfriend

Why would you want to marry someone who has this mother problem he hasn’t figured out and has no plan to figure it out? What do you think is going to happen if you get married? That she will miraculously move out of the house he pays for and go live her own life and leave you two alone to set up house and have a life together independent of her? No, that’s not going to happen. And isn’t this, like, a HUGE big deal? Isn’t it why you wrote to me in the first place back in 2016? Isn’t it kind of important to figure this out before you go making plans to get married?

I have to agree with everyone else in your life: WHY are you so eager to move forward with a plan that sounds pretty awful for you (legally binding yourself to a guy who is so entangled with a dependent and, frankly, messed-up mother whom he lives with)? Are you just so desperate for marriage and a big family and so afraid of that ticking clock that the circumstances (for marriage and parenthood) don’t matter to you? They should matter to you. This is your life. This is your future. When you look at the life your boyfriend lives — how involved his mother is, how dependent she is on him, how your boyfriend spends and gives so much money away, and how resistant he is to marrying you, is that really what you want for yourself? Really? That’s what you’re super eager to put a ring on and legally bind yourself to?

I think you need to give this a lot more thought than you have. You need to be honest with yourself about what your life and future would really look like if you were to marry your boyfriend as he and his life are now and not how you wish he was or how you dream life together could be. You’ve had years now to see what his priorities are, how he lives, how he treats you, how he deals with his mom. I don’t believe you’re looking at all of these examples and thinking they’re awesome. You should think these things are awesome if you want to marry a person. You should think the way he treats you is awesome. You should think the way he deals with challenges is awesome. You should look at his life and want it for yourself, want to be part of what he has going on. If you can’t honestly say that, then you shouldn’t be pushing for marriage. Instead, you should probably MOA. At 29, you still have plenty of time to meet someone new — someone who actually has room in his heart and life for you — and start that family you so desperately want. But as long as you stay in this dead-end relationship, you are wasting that time.


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

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  1. dinoceros says:

    That’s your version of “better”? Geez.

    Look, your priorities are really messed up. Your concerned that people will judge you for dating someone a long time without getting married and seemingly that you will end up alone because you aren’t married by 30. The embarrassing part isn’t that you aren’t married yet. The embarrassing part is that you’re desperate to marry a guy who pouts like a child when you bring up the future, who doesn’t appear to want to marry you at all, and who spends all his time being attached at the hip to mommy.

    You’re so obsessed with achieving the goal of marriage that you don’t even care if it means marrying someone who appears to have no interest in it. Like your attitude basically is “Who cares if he even WANTS to commit to me? Just as long as I get that legal doc signed!!” And I get it, you love him and you seem to think that if you are single at 30, you’re doomed to be a spinster forever, but marrying a guy who doesn’t really want to be married doesn’t equal the happily ever after you expect. Most likely, he’ll drag his feet on kids because he’s a child himself, and then you’ll eventually get divorced. And then you’ll be like 40 and no kids and single. And along the way, he’ll spend all your joint money on his mom.

    1. TheRascal says:

      “The embarrassing part isn’t that you aren’t married yet. The embarrassing part is that you’re desperate to marry a guy who pouts like a child when you bring up the future, who doesn’t appear to want to marry you at all, and who spends all his time being attached at the hip to mommy.”

      This is so perfectly stated.

      LW, MOA.

  2. Sunshine Brite says:

    Wendy told you everything you needed back in 2016. MOA. That’s what you should do. MOA.

    It didn’t get better. The two of you just avoided the problem by having him stay over. Even if it’s every night that’s not the same as living together. He is making zero future plans. You appear content continuing to see it as an issue but putting up with zero changes. Not sure what you mean by earning her degree for her, but it would be a dealbreaker for me that someone I was involved with was cheating a school. Do you have any dealbreakers?

    Their relationship isn’t going to change without steps towards change. Your relationship isn’t going to change without steps towards change. He’s not perfect for you and there’s no such thing as perfect. A ring doesn’t make a marriage; working towards the marriage does and the two of you aren’t working on marriage. Your friends aren’t asking about the rush because this relationship is rushing. It seems like they are able to see that it is as broken as it is.

  3. Snap out of it, LW. It’s a dead end.
    [if you have to convince someone to marry you, it’s a dead end. If HIS MOM keeps asking what’s the rush to get married, it’s a dead end. If he CRIES when you want to talk about your future after SIX YEARS, it’s dead end]

  4. This letter is just big, fat refusal to acknowledge reality.

    His relationship with his mother is exactly the same (your words) and you can’t have a conversation about your relationship without him completely shutting down. Literally nothing about the situation has changed. How is this better? What was the point of asking for advice 2 years ago? Are you seriously asking how to get this man to marry you? WHAT ARE YOU GETTING OUT OF THIS?

    You got all the advice you needed two years ago and chose to ignore it. You’re willfully blind to how awful a marriage to him would be. This guy is so pitiful and weak but somehow you think things will work out despite any evidence that a happy marriage is even remotely possible.

    Nothing is being rush here. You’re dutifully waiting to end up miserable with a ring on your finger and kids that have a pathetic father, a manipulative grandmother and mother with terrible judgement. I wish them well in therapy.

  5. LisforLeslie says:

    He’s perfect except for this one gigantic overarching problem that is NEVER GOING TO GO AWAY.

    I get it, you love him. But you’ve put your needs on hold for a long time. Every time you bring up issues he pouts or cries. Is he 5 or 30?

    Seriously, this is never going to go away. She will always be dependent on him. She’s working for him and he provides her with rent and buys her things and gives her a little spending money. I’m going to guess these are the things he’s NOT doing: Paying into her social security. You know what happens when someone doesn’t work above board for years on end…? THEY DON’T FEED THEIR SS ACCOUNT. This means when she decides to stop working for him – she gets maybe whatever little amount was socked away when she was using her social security number. But that’s probably enough to keep her in cat food and not much else.

    Move on. Stop with the sunk cost nonsense and MOVE ON. You’re 30. You have a little time to meet a nice man who prioritizes you, wants kids and doesn’t plan to support his mother for 40-50 years.

  6. In addition to all the other problems, if he wanted to marry you, he’d marry you. He doesn’t want that. 6 years is more than enough time to figure things out.

  7. LW – I think you are looking at this relationship for what you wish it was. It sounds like you guys are great when you are in your apartment alone. But you are not in a bubble.

    Are you ready to support his mother for the rest of your life? That is what you are looking at. Are you ready to support her along with future children and maybe have her live with you? Do you love him enough?

    Here is the thing about this woman. She should be the wealthiest she will ever be right now. If she is approaching retirement age with no money or job she will never get her act together. Now, many people live this way with multiple generations under one roof and in some cases it can be really helpful to share the load. You need to weigh your privacy compared to how nice it would be to have someone home to do some domestic chores. But, if you are not ready to live this way, then it is time for you to move on because this will not change. You are wasting your child bearing years thinking things will be perfect if he just dropped his mother.

  8. OMG Woman! Dump him and MOVE ON! I promise you, there is somebody SO MUCH BETTER for you out there. I was the 5-year girlfriend too, and in hindsight I learned that despite all his promises, he NEVER intended to marry me.

    This guy is not going to marry you and even if he did, you’d be divorced in 5 years. Seriously. This is not a healthy relationship.

    Once you gather the courage to leave him and face the unknown, you’ll be so much happier. I promise.

  9. This letter is a prime example of wishful thinking and the sunk cost fallacy. You’ve devoted 6-years to this guy, you’re getting older, you don’t feel like starting over as a single seeking a new relationship, so you convince yourself that a situation and a guy who haven’t changed in six years will somehow just magically change if you invest an extra year or two of your life. Nothing is going to change. You have two choices 1)agree that your bf’s mother will always live with and be supported by the two of you and hope to be married within a year. If you aren’t married within a year or you find you can’t handle his mother forever, then you MOA in a year or 2) you recognize that you can’t accept living with and supporting his mother forever and just MOA within the week. You’ve temporized for another year, with the expectable result. You need to realize that time isn’t on your side. Time is on his side. He’s happy with the status quo, you aren’t. He’s happy to just string things along. Look at what he does, rather than the being driven by your hopes and the meaningless words he says. He sees this as a choice between his mother and you. He doesn’t want to make that choice, but if push comes to shove, he has already chosen his mother.

  10. You should end it. He is somehow already married to his mum. If you really want to get married and have children, you are wasting your time with this man. And he is not “perfect” for you. He is avoidant. You can’t rely on him, and he has zero wish to have many children, I garantee you. Because he has already the full package with his mum, who is a bit his partner, his child, everything. You are the side piece, but he has no intention to go anywhere with you. Forget it.

  11. “I feel that he is perfect for me.” Lol in what universe? The one where he cares about planning a future with you? The one where he’s not going to live with his mommy for the rest of his life?
    “I want to get married and I want a large family.” If you do manage to browbeat him into marrying you (and moving you in with his mommy) I’m 100% in agreement with dinoceros, above – he will then proceed to fritter away your fertility by not “being ready” for kids either. I have a kid, and trust me when I say, you DO NOT want to have kids in a situation like this.
    “People get engaged and married every day; I don’t get the delay.” The delay is because he doesn’t want to marry you. When someone’s words don’t match their actions, their actions are the truth. You’ve shown that you’ll stick around as long as he occasionally says what you want to hear, but his words are not the truth. Dump him, find a guy who is an independent adult who is head over heels about spending his life with you.

  12. Every single time a LW use the words “perfect”, “awesome”, etc to describe a guy he is SO NOT!
    Aaaaahhhh…the stink of desperation…

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