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Love Letters

He’s dependent on a parent

A note from Meredith: A handful of Boston Globe readers reached out to me last week to ask whether I was sure about the gender of last Saturday’s letter writer. The headline and my answer referred to the letter writer as a “she,” even though the writer in question didn’t use any specific pronouns. The answer is: Yes, in last week’s case, I did know that the letter writer was a woman, and it was no big secret. In some cases, I just don’t know the gender of the day’s letter writer. In others, the letter writer is clear about gender identity. Sometimes letter writers are intentionally vague to protect their privacy. Sometimes I can even see pictures of the letter writers when they send me personal e-mails (which is weird). I try to give you as much information as I can and to be as accurate as possible. In last Saturday’s case, I don’t think that gender influenced my advice. But I’m happy you asked, and thanks for reading so closely and thoughtfully.

Q.I’ve been dating a guy for about 8 months. We have a lot of fun together, enjoy each other’s personalities, and have similar family values. He makes me laugh and he mostly makes me happy. There are two issues though. The first is that he had an injury when we first started to date that had him bedridden for about six months. He said the injury ruined his motivation and made him depressed and that he’s just starting to come out of it. So during our “honeymoon” months I played the doting nurse, tried to cheer him up, took him out to dinner, and tried to get him out of his apartment. I grew very tired and resentful of playing mom. Toward the end of this injury I felt like he didn’t really do much to push himself and just sort of wallowed in it. I tried to break up with him and he said “you haven’t even seen the real me because of this injury’’ and begged for a second chance. I gave in and we are still together.

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The second part of this issue is that he’s a young 30 and I’m an older 34. I am a very independent driven person who pays all her own bills, has a house, and a good job. At many different times in my life, I have had two jobs to support myself. He is, well . . . a stop and smell the roses kind of person. He is financially dependent on a parent who is extremely involved in every aspect of his life and employs him. It doesn’t seem like he’s very motivated to become independent and I’m wondering how much longer I should wait to “see’’ who this guy really is. If we go out on a date, I know his parent is footing the bill. He’s asked me to move in, and I said no. He’s a great guy and my family likes him and he tells me I’m the love of his life, but I’m just concerned that he will never outgrow this “take care of me’’ mentality. This is impeding our moving forward and every time I try to talk to him about how I’m feeling he just keeps blaming things on the injury and says that he’s working really hard trying to get his career going and that I haven’t “seen who he really is.’’

I want to get married and have a family, not a 30-year-old child who needs to be taken care of. I feel like I’m at a crossroads and should just move on. Am I being too harsh? How much time do you give someone to “prove who they really are’’?

A.You know who he is. If he shared your priorities, he’d be on the computer every night preparing his resume. He’d be obsessing about his plans for the future. At the very least, he’d be expressing some serious frustrations about his lack of independence.

Based on what you’ve told us, this guy is pretty content with the status quo. He had a rough time during the injury, but he’s OK with how things work.

You can give this another month or two if you want to be 100 percent confident about your decision, but you know what’s happening here. You want someone who can be a caretaker. This guy just doesn’t have that in him. He’s great for someone, but he’s not what you’re looking for.

After eight months, you’ve seen who he really is. At the very least, you’ve seen his potential. I like him for being so into you, but that’s just not enough.

READERS RESPOND:

How much time? About 8 months. If the parent was taking care of him before the accident you have the “real” dude. Break up and good luck.

I‘m going to be very blunt by throwing down the therapy card. For you, not him. You’ve got a serious case of controlling codependency, where you are driven to control someone in the guise of taking care of him/her in order to for you to feel needed and loved. And then you resent the other person because he/she hasn’t filled the void inside you — it’s impossible for the other person to fill the hole.

You don’t even like this guy. Break up.

You’re 4 years older than him. Chances are that one day he will grow up and be all that you want him to be but it ain’t gonna happen now. So, the real question is: “Can you wait for him to grow up”? Doesn’t sound like you can — so move on.

He sounds like a boy who will eventually move from his doting family to the doting wife without ever really learning to make his own way in between. Meaning he never learns how to do a load of laundry. Some women are OK with this but you sound like you are not.

Nobody should have to “prove” who they are. We simply are who we are every single day of our lives. Anything else would be persona manufactura.

This column and reader comments are edited and reprinted from www.boston
.com/loveletters.
Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com.
She chats online Wednesday at 1 p.m.
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