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Issues getting along with Girlfriends family

Community Member

22yr male, fourth year psychology student.
I have been with my girlfriend (gf) for 16 months. 3 months into the relationship I become aware of her drug habit. She was open with me about her drug use, depression, anxiety, suicidality and history of self harm. I offered support and asked her to see a psychologist . I have helped her with her drug habit , she is now 8 months sober. She stills suffers from some depression but expressed that her life is much better now.

I am now struggling with my gfs family. Since i started seeing my gf I tried my best to get along hith her family. However her older brother, locks himself in his room and hasn’t spoken more than 20 words to me in the past year, and her mother rarely puts any effort into getting to know me. I see them atleast once fortnight.

Their family dynamic has led me to become very uncomfortable when visiting and as such I rarely go to my gf house. Further complicating the issue, her mother is chronically ill. She will often say she wont live past 2021 but according to her doctor she is set to live for atleast 15 more years. Understandably it has led to my gf being in constant fear of her mom dying tomorrow although her recent tests suggest otehrwise Her mum also constantly guilt trips my gf whenever we leave the house and says things like "im stealing her away" which makes me feel guilty.
Mostly, I struggle with how she treats my gf. When my gf was younger she experienced bouts of self harm  however her mother has never addressed them. Additionally her mother failed to see obvious signs of drug use in her own house. I understand its often the people closest to a situation that fail to see signs. However 7 years of signs including my gf crying in the car drunk saying she doesn’t want to live anymore, only to be followed by no empathy and dropping her off at her house which led to a suicide attempt, has made it very difficult for me to respect or trust her.

I now harbour resentment towards her mother. I am seriously considering leaving my gf although I still extremely love her, as I don’t want to deal with the added stress of her mother’s presence in my life for the foreseeable future.I have told my gf this and she understands and we are trying to find a solution.

I am looking for any sort of advice or differing perspectives. I welcome all suggestion and opinions (including criticisms).

Thank you all very much.

1 Reply 1

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello S,

Welcome to the forums. It sounds like you are in quite a stressful situation and just want to do the best for your girlfriend and yourself. I think it's great that you've come here to ask for opinions and advice.

As a quick side note, I did notice you haven't talked much about how you are generally feeling and I am guessing you came to BeyondBlue perhaps to talk to others who may understand a bit more about your girlfriend's mental health. If you are also struggling mentally with all this, we don't have to talk about it, but I did want to just note that I would absolutely understand if this stressful situation has started to affect you.

I think this kind of situation is really taxing on you as her main source of support, especially with the mother's influence on your girlfriend. I understand that you are starting to feel that perhaps it may be overall better if you were no longer in the situation so you didn't have to deal with the mother's influence. It is good that you've spoken to your girlfriend about this so she understands the pressure you are also feeling, and hopefully it is something you can both come to some kind of understanding about your future path.

I think the only other perspective I might want to throw in there is that while the mother is a very large influence in your girlfriend's life, at the end of the day, you are dating your girlfriend, and not her mother. It can be challenging, but I feel like there may be an opportunity to continue to see your girlfriend, but emotionally distance yourself from her mother. When I was young I dated someone whose mother just didn't like me. I don't know if she was racist or maybe she just thought I was a bad guy, but either way, we didn't get along. But to preserve our relationship, I kind of just learnt how to not be affected by her mother - she could say or do what she wanted, and I just learnt to accept that 'that's just who she is'. It didn't really bother me.

Still, your situation and mine were probably very different so I certainly don't presume the solution is the same. I just thought it might be another perspective to consider - rather than leaving the relationship with your girlfriend, can you instead emotionally 'check out' from the mother? You don't have to tell your girlfriend, but just do it for yourself so her actions don't stress you out.