Conflicts with Family and Boyfriend

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What should you do when your family doesn't approve of your boyfriend? See if our dating coach's advice can help you.

Conflicts with Family and Boyfriend

Reader Question

Dear Lori, I am 21 years old and I have been dating this older man for a number of months now. He has been living with us because he had been between jobs and places right now because of his family and other reasons. Now my landlords, whom are also my family, want him out and he doesn't have anywhere to go until his money comes in on Friday. The worst part is I might be pregnant and I cannot tell my family because they are very judgmental. I already have one child out of wedlock due to a rape but these particular family members don't believe me. I cannot tell my mom either because she would throw me out. I would then risk losing my son, and if that were to happen, it would kill me. I don't want my boyfriend to be out in the freezing cold. What can I do????-- Contributed by: Stephanie

Expert Reply

Dear Stephanie,

One of the advantages of having your boyfriend living under the same roof you're living under is how convenient and easy it is to maintain the relationship. You don't say why your family wants this guy out of their house. Is it because he has taken advantage of their generosity and not contributed financially? Is it because of your relationship with him and they don't approve? Or is it some other reason? I am guessing that it is a combination of many things. I think the fact that your family/landlords don't want him in the house says a lot about his behavior. This is important information for you to take into consideration, especially if it means the difference between providing a roof over you and your son's heads. As long as you are dependent on them, you and your son's safety depend on you following their rules.

While you may care deeply for this guy and worry about his safety, keep in mind that he has managed this far in life on limited resources. This makes me wonder if you are concerned that if he leaves your relationship with him will end. If this were to be the case, your reaction and feeling anxious to your family/landlords kicking him out would make a lot of sense. Like your family, you may wonder how reliable he will be once he leaves. This would be especially worrisome if you think you might be pregnant.

Your first priority is keeping a roof over you and your son's head. To do that, you're going to have to let your boyfriend find other shelter. As for the rest, take it one step at a time. First, if you think you might be pregnant, let your boyfriend know and if possible, together or alone get a test to find out. If you are pregnant, you'll need to find out what your boyfriend's commitment is to supporting you, your son and the baby to be. Is he going to help you or not? Should he take responsibility, the two of you are going to need to talk with your family and let them know the situation.

Should he abandon you, you are going to have to take matters into your own hands. Since you think your family will kick you and your son out, I would suggest that before you tell them of your pregnancy, you first visit a welfare office in your area. Find out what kind of housing, medical care and financial assistance you can get and take the steps necessary to secure these resources. This way, should your family kick you out, you'll know where to turn next.

While addressing all these issues head on won't be easy, taking the necessary steps will help you to provide a safe and warm environment for you, your son and possibly your unborn baby.

~~Lori

Dating with Depression

Reader Question

I've been dating this guy for the last 2.5 years, and we still seem to have some differences. First, he had two mental breakdowns within a year, both events resulting in hospitalization. He's bi-polar and a recovering alcoholic (he's been sober for over 6 years). Even though he's come pretty far in the last year, I still think he has a lot of growing up to do. When we first started dating, he was really messed up mentally, and I've had the patience of a Saint in dealing with the relationship. He's 35 and I'm 39, and I feel like I've wasted so much time and energy worrying about him instead of myself. He really is a good guy, with a good heart and good intentions, but I can't help but still feel unsure about my future with him. On top of that, I live in the same small town as my mother, and she liked him at first, but no longer wishes to be around him and does not approve of me seeing him. (She and I both know that I'm a grown woman who can make my own decisions)... but if my family is not too keen on him, is that fair of them, or should I just decide to end this relationship?Sincerely, Very Confused

-- Contributed by: Laura

Expert Reply

Dear Laura,

It sounds like you might be thinking about ending this relationship after 2.5 years. Perhaps what is confusing for you is that you don't know if your reasons for ending the relationship are impacted by your mom, your boyfriend's behavior, his mental illness or because the relationship has run its course. Your mom may not be educated on bi-polar disease and she may find your boyfriend's behavior unacceptable. Alternatively, she could feel protective of you and knowing that most relationships are hard enough, she doesn't want you to have to deal with mental illness on top of everything else. She could also worry that should the two of you have children, mental illness can be passed down from one generation to another. Regardless of your mother's best intentions, your reasons for being at this crossroad are impacted slightly by your family.

It is not just one thing that is contributing to you thinking about breaking it off, but also a combination of all of the above. Dating someone with a significant mental illness can be difficult in and of itself. Add to that how his behavior influences the relationship. Sprinkled with a dash of your family member's feelings and before you know it you have a recipe for breakup. Part of what you feel is guilt. Wanting to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't have a mental illness is not bad or wrong. In reality, many adults living with mental illness live relatively normal lives. Those adults accept their illness and take the necessary steps to live with their disease. From your question, it doesn't like your boyfriend is at that same level. It is not your role to be responsible for him; it is his responsibility. Likewise he has to live with the consequences for the choices he makes as well as the ones he tries to avoid making.

If after reading this you are still confused about what to do, talk to a professional. Someone who will help you sort out all your thoughts and feelings. This will allow you to make an informed decision. It doesn't mean it will be an easy decision, just one you can feel confident about.

~~Lori

Conflicts with Family and Boyfriend