Adult Children of Enablers

I'm wondering how to get over my anger and hurt feelings about a 10-year relationship that just ended. I understand that we wanted different things in the relationship. I wanted us to be a couple; she wanted me to be part of her extended family.

She has four adult children who seem unable to live on their own. (Sorry, I am being a little nasty here.) In early 2003, her oldest son moved back home with his two toddlers. In February of this year, her oldest daughter came home, with her son and another baby on the way. When our relationship first started 10 years ago, I thought by this time we would be living our life together. There'd be large holiday dinners with the children and grandchildren, but they would actually go home after dinner. Needless to say, there was no time for us. I no longer felt needed, special, or important to her. Of course I feel guilty and self-centered for wanting to just be with her alone.

I wasn't needed—any adult that could do day care would be needed. I withdrew. I left. She then ended the relationship. The thing is, I love and care for this woman a lot. She is a wonderful person, and I wish I could spend the rest of my life with her. That's what hurts so much. What makes me angry is that she is starting to date other men. She has time to date other men, but she didn't have the time to be with me. I get angry just writing that statement! Of course she will find someone that she really likes, and for a while she'll make an effort to show him how special and important he is. If she would have done that with me, I would be happy to be part of the extended family.

At the moment, I feel that there is no hope for me to find that special someone. On the plus side, I learned it is very important to tell your lover what you need and what you're feeling. If you don't talk about that, you may not get your needs met. I am exhausted by these feelings of anger and hurt. I can't sleep at night. I keep having these imaginary talks with her about what happened. What do I do with these feelings?


One day, after being dumped by a cold, withholding prune of a man, I was sobbing to my shrink about how miserable and depressed he'd always been. I gassed on about how he never had anything nice to say to anyone about anything. How he was always late for everything, never wanted to fuck, and couldn't kiss his way out of a paper bag—and how I was absolutely positive he'd meet someone and fall in love way more quickly than I would. This chapped my ass more than anything else.

"So what?" was my wise therapist's reply.

"What do you mean? I loooooooved him, and now he's going to find someone prettier than me!" was my rebuttal.

"So what!" she repeated, with an ounce of impatience evident in her normally maddeningly impartial voice. "Do you think that once he meets someone new, he's going to turn into a good kisser? Or suddenly wake up happy and peppy and ready to greet the world with a smile?"

She had a point. Your lady may be dating, but any guy she's with is going to have to get very comfortable with coming in third or fourth behind her freeloading adult children. Your ex is coddling these maladjusted mooks, and not doing anyone any favors in the process. How are they ever going to grow up if Mumsy keeps bailing them out?

So yes, maybe she will meet someone new. And maybe that new someone won't mind living in a house filled with parasitic losers and their spawn, but that someone obviously isn't you. The situation was untenable for you (and who could blame you!), and so you left. You should have tried discussion before leaving, but it sounds like you have gleaned something from the experience. So next time, speak up before you check out. And sorry, pal; clichéd though it may be, time is the only thing that's going to heal your heart.

Heartbroken? Write Dategirl at or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.

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