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Should I Stay Or Should I GO?

bonesbugy's picture

Years ago when I was a freshman in college I had a class with the most handsome man. He was foreign and a member of the University's ski team. I don't remember anything about the class because I was besotted with this guy. He didn't know I was alive, like, he didn't even look at me.

Last year I went skiing by myself, riding single on the chairlift and who should sit next to me? Yes, the guy from class!!! We started chatting and skied the whole day together and started dating soon after. We are both divorced. I have a 9 year old DD and he has a 19 year-old DD who was living in his home country. We have been dating about a year and things have gotten serious. We are talking about our future a lot, moving in and possibly getting married.

 He never talked much about his DD, almost avoided it until recently. It turns out that she has some severe mental illness and possibly a high-functioning autism or Asperberger's Syndrome. She has severe OCD and has panic attacks. When she was younger she would have violent outbursts and would try to stab her parents (he has scars on his hands and arms). Now she is somewhat stable and studying online and trying to finish HS and apply to college but it's questionable if this is happening. She is living in a house he owns and he sends her an allowance every week to live on. It is generous but she is constantly asking for more money. Last summer she went to Paris and it was a disaster, she missed flights, double booked hotels and lost her handbag. She is intolerant to noise. The worst part is that she is horribly rude and condescending to him and it seems to be getting worse. Over christmas she wanted to go visit a friend in Coppenhagen and when he refused she went into a rage, screaming and crying and threatening to kill herself. She won't let anyone in the house and refuses to see any relatives. Her BM hasn't spoken to her in some time. I think she got fed up and left them and that was the end of his marriage. He is soley responsible for her.

I feel so sorry for him. On one hand I don't even know how I could beging to cope with a child who has such profound problems. On the other hand I think there is a fine line between helping a person like this and enabling them. The child is an adult and will need to get it together sooner or later but I don't know if he is capable of being able to force her to do anything. I know that if he really wants to push her forward he is going to need to set some boundaries about how long he will support her if she is not going to college. The country where she lives has strong social services for people with disabilities so she could get a lot of help if she wants it. Also, I think he is really traumatized and probably needs therapy himself. 

I don't know if I should stick it out with him or cut my losses and leave. If things continue like this with the DD I'm not sure I can stick around. About 3/4 of the time he is wonderful. He is so much fun to be around, is so handsome still and so nice to me but the other 1/4 of the time he goes into the darkest of moods. His DD is like a cloud that hangs over him. I will never want his DD to be around my DD because I fear for her safety, not that that is any sort of option because DD doesn't want anyone around. So tell me, shoud I stay or should I go? Is it worth it to stick it out? If I do stick it out what do I need to do so that this DD doesn't murder me or ruin my relationship?


JRI's picture

She will be in his life forever, poor guy.  But she doesn't have to blight yours.

bonesbugy's picture

OP: I know but I love him and I don't want to leave him because of something he doesn't have much control over. I'm really conflicted and scared.

Findthemiddle's picture

You posed a simple question. Got two simple clear answers- and promptly came back with the old “yeah, but you don’t understand, I really love him...”  What are people to make of that?  Do what you want - just remember that you are dragging a 9 year old girl into this disaster waiting to happen. Situations like this are fluid and can change at anytime.  The daughter will not launch - regardless of your fantasies of boundaries and college graduations.   

bonesbugy's picture

I think he is the one with the fantasies about his DD going to college. I know she isnt interested now or at least has unrealistic expectations and won't get into the places she wants to go. Also, she hasn't asked for $$ for college applications and surely she would want him to pay for that and would not pay for this out of her allowance. Kids like this don't thrive at college. They have panic attacks and leave.


futurobrillante99's picture

I have a son with high functioning Autism/Asperger's. He is 24, struggled with college unless he had constant support and tutoring, fired from his first job because he was overwhelmed, etc. He's living with me and was finally awarded SSI, plus he has a very part time job cleaning offices which he seems to like. It's not very stressful and he takes his orders from one person. The house I currently share with him will eventually become his, and I am moving myself to the basement to make room for him to have a roommate. The goal is for me to eventually move out with my SO so my son can be "independent." I say independent, but he'll always rely on me, his father or his siblings for guidance and some degree of financial assistance.

I'm not proud of my son's outbursts when he's agitated and we are constantly working on that, but it's part of the disorder to a certain degree. You have to accept her limitations but you don't have to be exposed to her garbage behavior. I pull my son up each and every time he's out of line.

You're not a bad person if you don't want to deal with this. My son drives me crazy, but he's mine, so I have to stay. I wouldn't blame anyone who wasn't up to dealing with this. If I were you, with your concerns, I would honestly move on without Mr. Handsome and wonderful.

bonesbugy's picture

Thanks for your response. I think you are very realistic about your son's disabilities. I'm not so sure my SO is there yet. I think part of him wants to believe his DD will launch and be able to live independently. I don't think she has ever had a proper neuropsychic exam and it is not determined if she she is on the spectrum. The problem with her being highly functoning is that she is living alone and "independently" although completely reliant of financial support (and for the record, the financial aspect of this doesn't bother me. His money is his money and he can spend it however he wants to). The biggest challenge is getting her to agree to get help. I think she is comfortable where she is and doesn't think she needs to work on herself. She is very resistant to therapy and rejects all therapists for minor things (For instance, therapist is fat so how can she be a good therapist if she can't lose weight). It's all excuses. 

Haelsunderfire's picture

She will always be there. It will always bother you because he enables her. I'm where you are and. Ow going through a divorce. I love my husband. With all my might. But his daughter will always cloud his mood, make him resent me, make him unhappy. 

I know you love him, but if you chose this path it will be a difficult one. It's your choice Smile

Haelsunderfire's picture

She will always be there. It will always bother you because he enables her. I'm where you are and. Ow going through a divorce. I love my husband too but it's not worth my sanity With all my might. But his daughter will always cloud his mood, make him resent me, make him unhappy. 

I know you love him, but if you chose this path it will be a difficult one. It's your choice Smile

BethAnne's picture

Love is not enough, there is more to a successful relationship than love.

There are multiple barriers to the future success of your relationship. IF you and your partner can find ways to work out solutions to address the barriers and actively tackle them, then this relationship could be successful - but it will be hard work. 

1. This is an international relationship. One of you is going to have to move countries. This is not a small thing in any situation and even bigger when there are kids involved. 

2. Your boyfriend is not well and has the darkest of moods 1/4 of the time. That is a fair amount of time when you live with someone full time. It will drain you too if it continues and he does not seek help for his mental health.

3. A person that plays a major part in your boyfriend's life is so unstable that you fear for your child's saftey if she was around his daughter. Keeping your daughter permanently away from his daughter if you two do move in together seems unrealistic to me. 

4. Your boyfriend knew that his daughter would be a big detractor to a relationship with him. He deliberately kept information about how troubled she is from you until your relationship was more established so that your current dilema would be a more difficult decision for you to make. 

5. If your boyfriend were going to stop enabling his daughter so much, he probably would have started by now. If you persuade him to start, you will be the evil woman and get blamed for future problems. He has to actively want to change his situation with her and take steps on his own to do that, before any preparations for moving are made. 

So overall, I would probably back away from this situation unless this guy was actively trying to discuss and resolve these issues largely on his own. Even then I would hold off on moving until he is a lot further along the path of reducing his daughter's dependance on him. 

bonesbugy's picture

This is good advice. Thanks. I'm so mad that his DD sucks to badly. It's such a bummer. But you're right, at 19 she is too far down the rabbit hole to ever get the help she needs and to launch. I honestly don't even see her being able to hack it at school. She wants to go to school in Chicago or New York and I don't see how she can deal with the noise.

tog redux's picture

This is great advice. I'd stay with him if he saw the issues, wanted to work on them, took action ON HIS OWN to deal them, and actively made changes. Otherwise, he won't look so handsome 5 years from now when he's still sulking about a problem that he doesn't try to fix. 

Wicked stepmo.'s picture

I agree that you should not get your DD involved in this situation. You should not make any plans to move in with him. If you want to stay in the relationship as it is now that is fine. But it sounds like you already know that getting more involved will be a disaster waiting to happen.

My question is why has he not started the process to get her involved with adult services. It's sounds to me like she requires possibly living to an adult supervised setting. If he isn't working to get her the help she needs them he isn't being a very good father. He isn't going to live forever and what is she to do when he is gone.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

Sounds like there's too many mental health issues for much chance of a healthy, long term relationship. In fact, the father may have passed some predispositions down to the daughter.

I agree with everything BethAnne says - especially the point she makes about this man not telling you about his problematic daughter until he felt confident that your feelings were engaged. That was both dishonest and manipulative, and a humongous red flag.

The bottom line is, this guy is a cake eater. He already has a woman in his life, and she'll be a millstone around his neck forever. He should be focusing on getting her the help she needs, but he's more concerned with his own happiness. He's doing both his daughter and you a disservice.

It's your duty as a parent to give your daughter a safe, stable childhood. So do that.

DHsfamilyfromhell's picture

I would only stay if he provided evidence of her ‘diagnosis’ and what help she is getting. 

You are living with a bunch of what ifs - he is not being fair to you. 

She has to be getting appropriate  help through a psychiatrist (and possible prescriptions?)

My four year old has autism and can be occasionally aggressive. It can be part of the ‘neurodiversity’. I am fully prepared for the fact that when my daughter is older she may need medication. Some people progress better in life with  short term or long term medication. 

Your partners child has multiple diagnoses (you say some severe mental illness before you list the others?). You need to have another talk with your partner if anything is unclear.

In my opinion it’s sounds like she needs a chaperone to navigate things and places that are unfamiliar to her, (eg foreign holidays) at least for the time being.