DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I feel I’m losing my boyfriend. He just turned 30 in the new year. I’m 24, and over Christmas my parents gave him a very generous gift. We’ve been dating for over a year and he’s the greatest, and obviously my parents love him too and can see how happy we are.
Here’s where it goes sideways: He lives at home with his parents — in his childhood bedroom. His parents have not done anything to try and give him his own space, or even talk to him about moving out and becoming independent.
My parents and I see the potential in him. This is why they gifted him a nice sum of money at Christmas so he can pay off his debts and put a little away for comfort. My parents gifted me a deposit on a condo with the intentions we can move in together. My parents are very generous when it comes to their children. We are very grounded and pay it forward whenever we can.
The thing is, my boyfriend is afraid to leave his parents. They pressure him to finish their unfinished projects and take advantage of him. It’s like he’s being punished, and not receiving any support. I can’t stand to visit his family home. How do I get him to understand it’s not his responsibility and that he should not feel guilty for leaving to begin living his own life? He needs to cut the cord!
— Feeling I’m Losing My Boyfriend, River Heights
Dear Losing Him: It may seem to him that your parents are trying to buy him as a husband and son-in-law, with that large money gift and a condo. You don’t mention either of your jobs, if you have them.
He may not want you and your parents managing his life and making his decisions.
There are some other possible reasons for his failure to launch. He may not be as much in love with you as you are with him.
Also, he may not want the responsibility of being independent and having to make all his own money and possibly he doesn’t want to have children and the heavy responsibilities they bring. He may also be worried you wouldn’t want his parents around once you got him out of this family home, so he may be using his parents as an excuse to get you and your determined parents to back off.
So if you want to keep him, back off and let him breathe — and he may come back closer to you. You’re only 24. What’s the hurry?
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I met a divorced man who has full custody of his children with an alcoholic ex-wife who lives in Ontario. She gets drunk and phones him up as many as two or three times a day. He works out of his home and she is disrupting his business. On her first call of the day, she is sober or hungover from the night before. By call No. 2 she is drinking, and her third call comes when the kids are home from school and she’s drunk. He won’t let her talk to them unless she’s sober, and they cry because their mommy can’t come home.
I really like this man and he really likes me, but I’m not sure if I should get too involved with him. Why doesn’t he ignore her calls? I’m scared to ask him, because his family’s kids’ happiness is his responsibility, and I guess I shouldn’t get in the way. But it seems she’s still his wife, if you get what I mean!
— Messed Up Feelings, Winnipeg
Dear Messed Up: He can see who’s calling and could ignore the call — at least during working hours — but he doesn’t.
Most adults do what they want to do, and this fellow is choosing to pick up that phone. Maybe he’s still a bit in love with his ex, and her sober calls are still enjoyable. You need to ask him for a read-out on your growing relationship with him. He may be enjoying a friendship with you, as you’re handy here in town, and perhaps you’re providing a sexual relationship for him? Better check the reality of this situation out with him, and get clear on it!
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I eat a lot of Chinese food and there’s a build up of take-out cartons in my cupboards. I use them for lunch, as food carriers, and for other things. The other day this very new girlfriend of mine opened up all my kitchen cupboards and said, "Look at this! Do you live on Chinese food? Can’t you cook healthy food yourself? This is ridiculous!"
Hey, there’s nothing unhealthy about Chinese food and I’m big on vegetables, lean fried pork, beef dishes and rice. She embarrassed me by going through my cupboards. Should anybody you don’t even live with be able to do that and make comments like this? I’m only 21 and she is my third girlfriend in my life. What should I say to her?
—Embarrassed and Annoyed, Downtown
Dear Embarrassed and Annoyed: In order to show her the boundaries at your house, you might tell her, "I don’t want you going through my cupboards, just as I wouldn’t go through your cupboards and comment on your eating habits." That should work in getting her to be more polite — or she may just stomp out the door. If so, good riddance! You’re not looking for another mom.
Please send your questions and comments to email@example.com or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.
Each year, the Free Press publishes more than 1,000 letters to Miss Lonelyhearts and her responses to the life and relationship questions that come her way.