UPDATE to Really need advice. Thinking of ending 4 year relationship

posted 4 days ago in Waiting
Post # 16
4928 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

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@feelingsadandhopeless:  I agree with PP that he really needs to move out, even though he will feel terribly about it.  It’s not his responsiblity to take care of his family, financially or otherwise.  I really feel for him; it’s not his brother’s fault he’s in that situation and your SO is probably terrified of what would happen to his brother if he didn’t continue everything he’s doing to support his family.  His parents are responsible for hiring additional care for his brother and figuring out their financial situation.  My DH’s family has a similar dynamic, and regularly struggles financially.  Though DH still occationally feels guilty for escaping that dynamic (we’ve lived out of state from them for 10 years now), he will tell anyone who will listen that it was the best decision he ever made and the only reason he is in a better situation than his siblings.  It is way easier said than done, but if he doesn’t extract himself from that, you’ll both be in difficult situations later where you may not be able to afford the things you want for your lives together (house, kids, etc.) because of this obligation to his family.  I would definitely not want to get married until that was sorted out (though I was team wait until your mid to late 20s anyway in your last thread) as that can be a huge source of contention.  

Post # 17
1929 posts
Buzzing bee

I was engaged at 18 and 19 to someone I had loved very deeply and had dated for a few years. He was a great guy and we were inseperable. And then we moved in together and the relationship quickly turned abusive, because we both were suffering and had no way to channel our extreme anger and trauma except to direct it at each other. I began another long term relationship at 19-22 and that relationship also became awful, because I didn’t know myself or men enough to be able to make a good choice in a partner. 

I am so, so glad I didn’t marry these men. My best friends got married during those years. Both of their relationships were riddled with issues from the beginning. They are also both still together, but it required a lot of compromise and unhappiness on their part. Are they still unhappy? Don’t know, because I outgrew those friendships. 

The point is, the things you think and believe now, the priorities you have, the way you see yourself and the way you see others aren’t things that will remain the same. As you mature and your brain continues developing, you may find that the things that are so important and valuable to you now will change, and this will impact your entire life including who you marry. That’s why most people don’t end up with their childhood sweethearts. It’s like walking into a fog that slowly clears. Sometimes you find it was the right choice, but most of the time given additional perspective, it’s not. 

All that to say that you should continue dating this guy. Focus on careers, focus on moving away from parents. Focus on becoming independent and establishing yourselves. Then in a few years, revisit marriage. If this relationship is meant to last, it will, and you will both be better – and your relationship stronger – for taking this time to grow and mature. If it isn’t meant to be, it will end naturally but you won’t be dealing with a divorce at a young age. Regardless, don’t push for marriage, don’t worry about timelines, and let things naturally fall into place. There’s plenty of time. 

Post # 19
529 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2022

I agree with PPs who said he needs to move out. He is not the parent. It’s not his job to support his parents and brother. They’re all adults and it’s on them to figure out their finances. I remember a thread here a while ago posted by a 34-year-old woman who wanted to get her life started with her BF, but felt like she couldn’t because she was still living with her parents to help pay part of their mortgage. Don’t let that be your BF. He can tell his parents when he’s moving out and they can plan their finances based on that. If he feels like he “has” to stay, that’s yet another thing to work through in therapy.

Post # 20
2805 posts
Sugar bee

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@feelingsadandhopeless:  That is complicated, but at the same time it’s not. His family situation is not going to magically change. He can’t be financially or physically responsible for his sibling or parents forever. If you were to get married, he’d have to move out to begin a new life with you. He wouldn’t be able to support them and also work on creating financial security with you for your new family. Really all he’s doing is delaying, and delaying is only hurting him and, in turn, you. The best thing for him to do, would be to sit down with his family and be upfront that he’s moving out. If it helps his guilt (which is unwarranted, but I understand that’s hard to accept) he can give them a timeline so they have time to prepare and make arrangements. He should stop the financial support first, as he’ll likely need to save to be able to move out. I’d be far more concerned with these issues than him not being ready for marriage yet. 

Have you and your bf discussed the future with his family’s dependence on him? If something were to happen to his parents, would the two of you take in his brother? Are you anticipating him sending monthly payments to his family (I don’t advise this)? Are you in agreement with how you’ll handle a scenario where his parents come to you for money? What if it happens frequently or is a large amount? Are you planning on children? If you agreed to help his family financially, would that continue after children? Money and family relationships are some of the biggest hurdles marriages face. You’ll give your relationship the best chance of survival and happiness, as well as avoid a heck of a lot of resentment, if you iron out these things now.


Post # 22
1929 posts
Buzzing bee

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@feelingsadandhopeless:  Honestly, I think it would be hugely beneficial for your boyfriend to move out and start therapy to learn how to move forward and establish boundaries. He has some growing to do in this area, because his family has stunted him. It wouldn’t be a good idea to tie yourself to someone who hasn’t processed and dealt with such things, because you don’t know how it’s going to impact him and your relationship yet. As I mentioned before, once my first boyfriend and I were away from our families, we both sort of went haywire and it destroyed us. We had an amazing respectful and loving relationship before that. If we would have focused on living apart, dealing with our trauma, and growing up…well, who knows. We may have ended up together after all. 

Post # 26
168 posts
Blushing bee

Hey there bee. I don’t usually comment on excited “we’re ready to be engaged” threads, because I’m completely aware that I’m REALLY biased against marriage at present, so I’m looking at it all through a rather cynical filter. (Working on it)

So take this comment with that in mind:

that you both are willing to work on your stuff and go to counseling is a really good sign! If he follows through without you being “mommy” and checking in on him. 
There needs to be a great amount of space for someone to truly demonstrate (without feeling “tested”) that they’re aware and committed to improving, when they’ve learned to avoid confrontation by lying. Once that path is taken, the stress and fear  of confrontation will have them go the “easy” route, and you can’t mother him and tiptoe and excuse behaviors and be overly understanding (thus enabling hurtful things), either. 

still, I think this sounds good. It’s refreshing that you’re both willing to work on your stuff. 
best of luck, bee – from an older cynic- you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. 

also: I most emphatically advise not “unconditionally” committing to this man until he has taken all the steps to improve his situation and his patterns. 
Focusing on yourself and counseling for yourself would be a very smart thing to do. 
That you say you love him and know he’s the one for you gives me a little pause, because basically, anything he does or does not do will be met with understanding and acceptance by you. And that’s ultimately not going to put you in a good situation. Don’t think “unconditional love” is kind, bee- it just enables really crappy behavior. 

being in the inquiry of whether this is your future husband is good. Deciding now that he’s your future husband no matter what – is a recipe for many more unpleasant “thinking of endings.”

Post # 27
88 posts
Worker bee

I’m very happy to hear that this was worked out 😊😊😊

Post # 28
1337 posts
Bumble bee

Thanks for the update – I’m so glad you’ve been able to work something out.

In view of both your family backgrounds, I would suggest that you both need to be putting some distance between yourselves and your respective parents and both get some counselling.  Children from toxic homes can totally heal & recover and go on to have stable relationships of their own, but it doesn’t ‘just happen’.  You will both need to put the work in to healing, unlearning unhelpful behaviours and learning new, helpful ones!  

I can appreciate why your boyfriend feels he ‘can’t’ move out, but look at it this way – supposing he’d never been born?  His family would have had to cope without his help then!  So if there would be a way for them to cope if he never even existed in the first place, there is definitely a way for them to cope without his presence in the house now.  I ‘m usually 100% in favour of family commitment and caring for dependent relatives, but in this case, I really feel he needs to put his own mental health first.

Post # 29
528 posts
Busy bee

I agree that counselling is a good idea, both for you as individuals and as a couple. When a 21 yr old has atypical ‘dependents’ it can be very complicated drawing appropriate boundaries. Especially if some of those people are emotionally abusive. It can be difficult to really grasp what they actually need vs what they are trying to manipulate out of you, as well as what you are capable of offering without damaging your own life.

It’s great that he is generous and has a strong sense of familial obligation, but he needs to find the line between those traits and succumbing to abuse and manipulation. His perception is likely a bit warped if this has been going on his whole life. 

Moving out will also be incredibly important for this. As long as he’s in their home and semi-reliant on them, it will be impossible for him to see the situation clearly. 


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