Adult Daughter's Boyfriend Is Confusing Her. How Can I Help?

Updated on October 30, 2010
C.P. asks from Tacoma, WA
23 answers

My 30-year-old beautiful successful daughter hasn't had that many serious relationships but her boyfriend of 6 months has started pulling back - not returning calls, not saying "I love you" etc - plus he has a lousy work ethic, has no money and acts hot and cold. She calls me crying so often and I try and just listen but she asks me what to do. This is soooo painful. I think she's insecure, afraid to lose him but knows he's not good for her. How can I help? Thanks!!!!

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So What Happened?

Thank you ALL so very much for these wise words. This guy is 33 so if he doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up by now, he's trouble. Yes, I have been listening to her - a lot! But I will pull back on the criticism (even tho she's been asking my opinion), and focus more on her... Her values, her self-worth. I'm glad to hear someone suggest a counselor. I was thinking that as well. Again, thanks !!!!!!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

You can pass on this advice on men from my two, sweet little grandmas, both gone now, both in their 80's when they passed it to me:

#1. "Be choosy, you can find a loser any day of the week."


#2 "There's not a man on this earth worth shedding a tear over...."

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3 moms found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

Just listen and if you can remind her of how lovely and intelligent and caring she is. Talk her up on whatever good traits you can. My daughter at 27 needed to get out of the relationship she was in. I listened made a few suggestions and told her from time to time she did not deserve such bad treatment. She found someone else later on and is now a mother.

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answers from Detroit on

It might be hard to throw in the towel after investing 6 months, especially if she is 30 and thinking she wants to be married already and have kids of her own and has not had many "prospects" but better 6 months than years and years of marriage, kids, and then divorce. Just read all the separation and divorce horror stories that woman post on here - have her read them also and then maybe she can decide if this guy is worth it (my short answer would be "no".)

I would remind her of her own self-worth, of all the things she has to offer a someone who deserves someone like her, and that this guy is showing her right now who he is - and it's not good.

Favorite quote of mine: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

Don't get in the middle! Be there for her, listen sympathetically. Tell her she's amazing and deserves to be happy. Tell her to listen to her intuition. But DON'T tell her he's not good enough or talk badly about him. Women do stupid things when we're in love (especially with mr. wrong). She's 30 - not 13 and hopefully she'll do what's right for her. But you don't want to be the one who told her to break up with him if they work things out and end up happily married :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I wouldn't make any BIG suggestions or announcements, but you may want to say something along the lines of, "Well, unfortunately sometimes the one we think is right just isn't right. Take a step back and make a list of the good and bad qualities." Pump her up! Make sure she knows that, as hard as it is out there, no one deserves to be treated 2nd best. If he's keeping her in tears -that's her answer. Nobody needs it. GENTLY suggest to her that she deserves someone who is into her ALL the time and has his sh!t together. At her age, dating losers with no jobs or financial security really isn't worth her time. Take it from me -been there, done that -got a winner! I have many friends who didn't marry until 35 or 38 and they're all still happy because they held out for an EQUAL who appreciates them. I was 30, and I'm soooooo glad I never rushed into marriage or kids. Just keep pumping her up with anecdotes like that -especially if you can point out people you know!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

When your daughter calls, ask her what she wants. Does she just need an ear in order to vent, does she want you to problem solve with or does she want advise? Sometimes just a listening ear and validation of your pain is all that is needed and wanted. Unfortunately, witnessing your child (even when 30) is a painful experience for parents, so make sure you have someone to listen to you as you witness the painful experience of your daughter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Ask her to have a talk with herself. By 30 she should know what her Deal Breakers are and she should be able to decide what to do on her own after having that conversation with her self. She should know by now what her short term 5 are
ie: Can support himself financially, Wants kids, Has goals of his own, Simmilar interests, Relates to friends/family
Whatever is important to her when she first meets a guy. After that when you get into a long term (this is a good time), there are long term deal breakers things she CAN NOT LIVE WITH OUT, share with her what yours are and why and discuss with her what hers may be and how does this guy stack up? Are these things that can actually be obtainable by him if he does not already meet these? My bestie just broke it off with her fiance and I suggested to her to write down what she wants/needs in her mate and to determine how often those things need to happen.
Miss me when I am gone, 75% of the time is acceptable
Take me on romantic outings 50% of the time is acceptable
Returns calls, 95% of the time is acceptable
Verbally reminds me of his affection 80% of the time is acceptable
so on and so fourth and again see how he stacks up. maybe this will help her decide if he is Mr Right or Mr Right now ... and I think Mr Right now's are better than Mr Right because you Learn MORE from them and they lead you to Mr Right. Be open and honest, BUT please do not say anything negative about him to her or she will Shut Down and Close off to this conversation.

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answers from Dallas on

How can you help? Just be prepared for it to get worst before she sees the light. I know all to well.Ive been in your daughters position a couple of times. The more my mom and friends tried to tell me otherwise the more I wanted it to work with him.Its hard to admitt to oneself that you made a poor choice especially if you are successful in most other areas in life. Looking back Im embarrassed of my behavior but Im even more thankful for family and friends that stood by my side.

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answers from Honolulu on

Eeeewww.... tis' how boys are.
And SO many of these things will happen...
Just tell her not to chase after him, to keep her identity, not to base his actions on her self-image.
He is a jerk.
They are common.... common as house flies.
She will find someone else.
This is ONLY a 6 month 'relationship" so far...

No guy, is worth... beating herself up over him.
Yes it hurts, yes its not nice, yes its sad.
But.... its not worth it.

Tell her... to just do her own thing. Do not chase after him. Do not whine/cry... to him... about it.
He is a jerk.
Is he the same age as her??? Regardless... this is an ADULT "boy"... and he is just not nice.

She will find someone else... who WILL respect her and care about her... and show it... properly.

This guy... is not worth it... not worth hoping for.

I have had those so called boyfriend types too. They are a dime a dozen. They don't care. They treat girlfriends like spent kleenex.

She will get over it... and be wiser for it.
No man... is worth.... destroying your own self-worth, for.
AND, playing games like that, with a partner... is so not nice. Thus, he is showing his 'character'... and why would she want a guy like that anyway?

This guy, is a DEAD-beat.... no money, no work ethic, a jerk, and jerks her around like a toy.... does she want to be a "toy"? I would think not.

all the best,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charleston on

"Sometimes God does what we can't do for ourselves". I used to love the 'bad' boys. Oh how I got burned! I never settled for crumbs from there on out, but it took years to get it! All I can say from experience is that it used to drive me crazy when my mom would say "you should be glad". Really? rejection hurts no matter whom one gets rejected by! Just be there to listen, and let her know that even though it doesn't seem like it will ever happen, one day she will find a man that can fully appreciate her, and she will be in love with someone that will be wonderful for and to her.



answers from Pittsburgh on

This must be so hard for you to watch. But the thing is-this guy is a loser and she is much better off without him. Next time she asks you what to do you should tell her to dump him. And that she WILL find someone worthy of her. Tell her to jump on mamapedia and read some of the posts from women who MARRIED this kind of a guy and how unhappy they are now and how miserable their lives are and how stuck they are because they have kids with him. Many cautionary tales to be found on this board.

But I think we have all been in this situation at one time. You think that your heart is breaking and you are devastated. You don't realize at the time that things WILL get better-you only realize that once you make it out the other side. And at that time you also realize how lucky you are that you are not with the guy because he really was bad for you.



answers from Las Vegas on

Be honest and upfront.


answers from Biloxi on

Check out
Tracy Cabot has a Ph.D. in Psychology and offers some helpful advice on relationships and how to make them successful.



answers from Chicago on

One of my favorite quotes... "Anything less than mad, passionate, extrordinary love is a waste of time. There are too many mediocre things in life, love shouldn't have to be one of them." ...from the movie Dream for An Insomniac.

I'm sure your daughter knows deep down that this guy isn't "the One," but it's tough to let go, especially when she's invested 6 months in the relationship. Be there for her, listen, and help her to see that, in the long run, would she rather stick with this guy trying to make it work when it won't, and waste more time... or move on, and meet someone that can give her what she needs and deserves. I agree with some of the other posters about making a list of deal breakers. Nobody's perfect, but don't let her settle, she should be with someone who knocks her socks off! Another good one... "Not many guys are worth your tears, but the ones that are won't make you cry." Good luck to your daughter!



answers from Tulsa on

spend time with them if he lets you. my nieces both married total losers
and they always tried to isolate them and they were embarrassed over the men. if you are lucky, he will dump her.
hot and cold is a bad sign. i used to be that way in high school because i had major issues from being abused. my mentally ill in law acts this way too.


answers from Houston on

tell her he isn't worth it... it's best to loose a guy like that than to stay with a guy like that. maybe she is at that age where she is wanting to settle down, but is having a hard time starting over again so hoping this guy will work out.



answers from San Francisco on

I think the best thing you can do is to let her know that she is better than this guy.But don't say it like what I just said.Tell her to look into her heart and see if this relationship really going some where for her?Honest is probally the best policy.I am concern that she might ended up making the wrong choice for this guy.You might just want to take her to some far away place and show her that life is wonderful without him.I wonder if this guy is a manic depressive or have a split personality?Oh whatever is the case be there for her and hope that she will make the right decision.She sounds like a wonderful person so she should not have a hard time finding someone better.Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

Sometimes people don't say it is okay to be sad in times like she is going through. All they say is he is a louse, get rid of him.

But, support her in her pain. Help her to grieve. Then, tell her he is poison. Tell her to run from him. Help her to keep her from going back to him because he will try to come back. Take her interesting places on Fridays or Saturdays to keep her mind off him.



answers from Spokane on

Two choices: Break it off now and expect a shorter amount of heart-break; or spend a life time of heart ache with him.

Your heart ache will heal; you'll find someone better.



answers from Portland on

Say "Dear I will give you my opinion only because you asked for it" & then tell her what you feel. Everyone is more receptive to feelings. " It makes me feel sad to hear you have chosen to be with someone who upsets you. I would be happier to see you alone than with someone that upsets you emotionally." Talk about your feelings on the situation & choose your words carefully. I let her figure it out by listening to her.

Let her know if she wants to take back the power in this relationship to act just like him. Stop calling him & stop saying I love you. Ask her to listen to the song by Ciara - Like a boy. Ask her to find some music to help her.
Beyonce- Me, myself & I, To the left. TCL- No Scrubs, Destiny's Child - Independant women. Sounds silly, I know however it usually gets the wheels turning in a woman's head. Beyonce & Shakira - Beautiful Liar. Destiny's Child - Bad habit. Pink- Just like a Pill, U & Ur Hand. Kelly Pickler - Don't you know your beautiful. Pet Shop Boys - What have I done to deserve this. Van Halen - Jamie's Crying. Winger - Headed for a heartbreak. Daughty - Over You. India Arie - Because I am a Queen, You Made A fool of Me. Jenny Owen Young - F**k Was I. Please listen to them, I am sure you will find them message in them you will want you daughter to hear.



answers from Las Vegas on

His lousy work ethic, having no money and acting hot and cold is enough reason for her to stop returning his calls and telling him "I love you." I know that she doesn't feel this way but it sounds like his withdraw from the relationship is actually a blessing in disguise.

There's no easy way to go about this but somehow I think she needs to work on her esteem issues so that she can be able to not focus on the guys who reject her and start allowing men who are open to loving her for who she truly is. Being her mother, you have to walk a fine line but maybe you can suggest to her that she can speak with a counselor to help her sort out her feelings for this wayward boyfriend or help her grieve the loss of this relationship if that's what she needs to do. Also, I've been listening to this really great CD called Self-Esteem by Caroline Myss. I wasn't sure if I was going to like it or how it would apply to me (I have self-esteem issues like most people but I'm not big on dwelling on those issues) but the information that she provides is positively enlightening. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Hope this helps. I wish you and your daughter well.



answers from Toledo on

This isn't about him---she knows he's a loser. This is about her fear that she won't be OK without him. When you stress to her how wonderful and strong and capable she is, she'll get the courage to cut him loose.



answers from New York on

He doesn't sound like a great guy, but don't you be the one to criticize him. Ask her if she is really happy in this kind of a relationship. The guy is not likely to change so she has to make up her mind if she wants to be in a relationship with some one who treats her this way. I watched 2 of my friends waste years in relationships that were not quite right before breaking things off and then finding a happier relationship in their later 30's.

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