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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Stunting your partner's development

Ok, I'm purposefully not going to be long-winded. I've posted here before, so go ahead and get some back story if you must, but it shouldn't be necessary. I'm more curious of the answers from people who don't know any further details.

Say you met a partner when they weren't even a legal adult yet (you weren't much older, but an adult). The person has a million qualities you love. At the same time, as a 17 year old, there are things about them that are under-developed due to lack of life experience, but you figure it's safe to assume they'll grow, learn, and figure adult life out, just as any other reasonable growing young adult would...just as you did yourself, and continue to do. As their devoted partner, you do everything you can to help them, guide them, support them, be a safety net for them, be understanding when they fail, help them onto their feet, all the things a person who loves another person would and should do. As the slightly older and more experienced one, as the one with the good job, savings, a good outlook on life and good track record so far, you understand that majority of the helping that goes on between the two of you is going to be you helping them, and you're mostly OK with that.

Fast forward 10 years. Now this person you fell in love with is almost 30 and you've had a glowing relationship with one and other, you're madly in love, more than you ever dreamed possible. However, over the years they have failed time and time and time again, constantly looking to you for the bail out, constantly depending on your safety net, and worst of all, not learning from their own mistakes and experiences, no matter what the specifics are. What's even worse, is that you observe them making obvious mistakes and watching them suffer as a result (not to mention having to deal with the consequences of their mistakes yourself because you share a life together), and when you offer advice, they agree, but then don't act on the advice, and low and behold, they make the same mistakes again, suffer again, lather rinse repeat.


Is it partially your fault for acting almost like a parent to this person, that now they can't handle themselves? Never letting them suffer too much from their bad decisions and mistakes, never letting them hit rock bottom, ALWAYS being there for them to the point where they don't instinctively learn and develop because they subconsciously know you will always be there to catch them, support them and guide them to safety? Is it fair to be upset with this person because it's now dragging YOUR life down and holding you back from making strides because they have to play catch-up?

Thank you.

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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 03:06 PM
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

Look into Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA).

One of their tenets is to love someone enough to allow them to fail.

This is for the very reason you bring up. If someone can always count on someone to bail them out, they rarely learn the skills to do so themselves, or they just continue to count on that person; enabling.

"Our ability to feel joy is directly related to how much pain we are willing to feel." - Mavash.

"The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for." - Bob Marley
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

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Look into Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA).

One of their tenets is to love someone enough to allow them to fail.

This is for the very reason you bring up. If someone can always count on someone to bail them out, they rarely learn the skills to do so themselves, or they just continue to count on that person; enabling.
Thank you for this. Enabling, I never thought of it that way. How do you stand back and watch someone you'd take a bullet for fall, and stop yourself from rushing over to help them up? This really sucks because I love her so damn much, but almost in a fatherly way. She's my partner without question, and I love her as such, but I feel this weird responsibility to care for her, support her and watch over her like a parent would.

Here's the really f-ed up part. She's finally starting to realize this, and not just because I've said something, it's actually starting to sink into her head that she has let her life go for so long and has so many messes to clean up in her life. It's understandably getting her down and bothering her, and she expresses the desire to change and get better at life, and she's starting to understand how badly it has affected me, and we're at the point of discussing "Should we be together?"........the wedding is in 2 months.

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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 04:18 PM
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

Are you okay with that?

"Our ability to feel joy is directly related to how much pain we are willing to feel." - Mavash.

"The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for." - Bob Marley
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 04:24 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

Assuming you're asking if I'm OK with feeling like a father figure, and the answer is no, I don't. I hate it. I want my partner to be a WOMAN, a real 30 year old WOMAN who knows who she is, what she's doing, where she's going, what she wants, has confidence, takes pride in herself, her body and mind, just the normal qualities that your average 30 year old WOMAN would have. Someone who is capable of finding their own hobbies, finding their own job/career and KEEPING it, making their own friends instead of just my friend's girlfriends, motivating themselves to always be better, always moving forward, always making strides, just normal, average human being stuff. I feel like I need to do everything for her, literally everything. I have to remind her to wash her hands after using the bathroom. YEAH it's like that. 30 years old.

I edited my previous post, I added some critical info.
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 04:25 PM
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

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Originally Posted by farsidejunky View Post
One of their tenets is to love someone enough to allow them to fail.

This is for the very reason you bring up. If someone can always count on someone to bail them out, they rarely learn the skills to do so themselves, or they just continue to count on that person; enabling.
Most definitely true in my experience. There was a 'fatherly' dynamic in my last relationship as my ex was twice my age. Oh boy, I got plenty scolding for my mistakes, and there were lots of them. However even when it was warranted it didnít help as much as he would have liked. Eventually I was fine dealing with the scolding, it was less work for me and I knew he would always find a way to fix things. Never met a better problem solver than that guy.

Of course since things ended itís completely different. I remember and practice every single thing he taught me to a T. No one to pick me up when I fall now. Looking back, I realise I couldíve made way more effort and appreciated his willingness to help me grow.
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 04:30 PM
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

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... I love her so damn much, but almost in a fatherly way.
This is a big problem, when your spouse is more like a child. It frames the whole relationship. It's not an equal relationship, not really. I'm sure you didn't marry to end up being a parent and bailing your spouse out of issues constantly. If she heard you say you love her like a father.... I can't imagine she'd react well. My husband is 16 years older... If he said that to me... I'd feel ill.

Tough love is often necessary. It's unfortunate so many years have been spent saving her. It's all she knows now. Teaching her otherwise is going to take time and a lot of patience.

"If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you'll be unhappy for the rest of your life."

~ Abraham Maslow
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

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Most definitely true in my experience. There was a 'fatherly' dynamic in my last relationship as my ex was twice my age. Oh boy, I got plenty scolding for my mistakes, and there were lots of them. However even when it was warranted it didn’t help as much as he would have liked. Eventually I was fine dealing with the scolding, it was less work for me and I knew he would always find a way to fix things. Never met a better problem solver than that guy.

Of course since things ended it’s completely different. I remember and practice every single thing he taught me to a T. No one to pick me up when I fall now. Looking back, I realise I could’ve made way more effort and appreciated his willingness to help me grow.
Sorry if this is over-stepping my boundaries, but was he the one to end it with you? Obviously it's never this simple, but would you say a large part of the reasons you two broke up is for similar things to what I'm talking about here? Just not being on the same intellectual page?

Sorry if that's too personal, I don't mean to open any scars. You do seem like you've taken the whole thing constructively, that's quite commendable.
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 04:35 PM
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

Whoa, you are not married?

At a MINIMUM, postpone the wedding.

You need to see a year or two of sustained improvement before you legally entangle yourself with a child in a woman's body.

"Our ability to feel joy is directly related to how much pain we are willing to feel." - Mavash.

"The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for." - Bob Marley
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 04:39 PM
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

Your girlfriend has never had a chance to grow up. Experience life situations on her own and learn from them. She has always had you there to catch her when she fell. She will never be the person in your marriage that you describe: confident, knowing who she is, successful, etc. In a sense, she has never had a chance to learn to be that person - she is still 17 years old.

She needs to live on her own in the real world and be by herself in order to grow. I'm sorry, but I feel it would be a recipe for disaster for you two to marry. You would continue to enable and "parent", she would continue to rely on you and never grow. And, at some point she may need to "find her wings", either by leaving you to be on her own, or have an affair to see what else is out there.

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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

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This is a big problem, when your spouse is more like a child. It frames the whole relationship. It's not an equal relationship, not really. I'm sure you didn't marry to end up being a parent and bailing your spouse out of issues constantly. If she heard you say you love her like a father.... I can't imagine she'd react well. My husband is 16 years older... If he said that to me... I'd feel ill.

Tough love is often necessary. It's unfortunate so many years have been spent saving her. It's all she knows now. Teaching her otherwise is going to take time and a lot of patience.
Yep, I've said it, recently too. And yeah, she didn't enjoy hearing that at all, but couldn't argue or disagree. As of late I've been sort of hitting my wits end with this stuff, so I've let some of it spill out because I've been bottling it all up (mostly). She doesn't want to hear it, but has enough respect for me to listen and try to understand, and she's completely sympathetic to how I feel. She understands she's got quite a mountain to climb if she's going to figure her life out any time soon, and says that she thinks I shouldn't have to deal with it. If I broke it off right now, she'd be heartbroken, but wouldn't argue with me or ask why, she knows why, and knows that it honestly is probably better for her in the long run, but at the price of losing everything we've built together. I'd be paying that price too, and I haven't let my life slip, so I get both sides of the sword..

Sometimes I wish she would just cheat on me or do something really ****ed up so I could confidently break it off without feeling like I just made the worst mistake of my life... I'm not afraid of being alone, I'm afraid of losing this person that means the absolute world to me, not to mention completely breaking her heart.

Thanks for all the replies.
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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 04:51 PM
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

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Originally Posted by ThisIsAUserName View Post
Sorry if this is over-stepping my boundaries, but was he the one to end it with you? Obviously it's never this simple, but would you say a large part of the reasons you two broke up is for similar things to what I'm talking about here? Just not being on the same intellectual page?

Sorry if that's too personal, I don't mean to open any scars. You do seem like you've taken the whole thing constructively, that's quite commendable.
Yes he ended it.

A large part of the reasons we broke up had to do with him being a classic nice guy (the way it's defined in the No More Mr. Nice Guy book). He had a lot of abandonment issues from his childhood that contributed to him being this way. It manifested itself in his overwhelming presence and excessive (conditional) giving among other things. It killed my sexual attraction to him very early on. I didn't quite connect all the dots and recognise exactly what caused my loss of attraction so I was clueless as to how to fix it. I found this website searching for a solution and suggested it to him but like many of my other suggestions (which looking back, would have certainly helped), he just did not act on it.

By the end, I was very happy to end things. However, I learned a lot from that relationship that has contributed to me being a much better partner today. I've admitted to him my own wrongdoings and my gratitude for all he's taught me because I'm always grateful for learning opportunities. Even the super tough ones.
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 05:10 PM
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

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If I broke it off right now, she'd be heartbroken, but wouldn't argue with me or ask why, she knows why, and knows that it honestly is probably better for her in the long run, but at the price of losing everything we've built together.

...

Sometimes I wish she would just cheat on me or do something really ****ed up so I could confidently break it off without feeling like I just made the worst mistake of my life... I'm not afraid of being alone, I'm afraid of losing this person that means the absolute world to me, not to mention completely breaking her heart.
What have you built together?

And... Nothing good ever comes easily. It'd be convenient for her to cheat on you, but only because you want to avoid the responsibility of making the final decision. Considering the theme of your post, I'd almost think you were avoiding an adult decision.

You'll be OK. Heal well, learn what you did wrong, forgive yourself, then go find a woman with her stuff together. Your stbx will either find her own way or she'll just run to the first savior she can find and cling like velcro. More likely the latter, but it won't be your concern any longer.

"If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you'll be unhappy for the rest of your life."

~ Abraham Maslow
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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

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Yes he ended it.

A large part of the reasons we broke up had to do with him being a classic nice guy (the way it's defined in the No More Mr. Nice Guy book). He had a lot of abandonment issues from his childhood that contributed to him being this way. It manifested itself in his overwhelming presence and excessive (conditional) giving among other things. It killed my sexual attraction to him very early on. I didn't quite connect all the dots and recognise exactly what caused my loss of attraction so I was clueless as to how to fix it. I found this website searching for a solution and suggested it to him but like many of my other suggestions (which looking back, would have certainly helped), he just did not act on it.

By the end, I was very happy to end things. However, I learned a lot from that relationship that has contributed to me being a much better partner today. I've admitted to him my own wrongdoings and my gratitude for all he's taught me because I'm always grateful for learning opportunities. Even the super tough ones.
Very interesting. I'm interested in this "nice guy" stuff. It's a bit off topic, but I think that whole theory is flawed. It comes down to WHY you're being nice (because it's how you'd like to be treated vs being nice out of fear or childhood trauma) and also how you carry yourself. If you're a stare-at-the-ground-with-hands-in-pockets kind of timid dude, but super polite and kind, yeah I can see why that's not attractive. However if you carry yourself with confidence and have a don't-f***-with-me kind of demeanor, but still are a gentleman, I can't see why that wouldn't be attractive. Anyway, that's wayyyy off topic... I'll find a thread about this and post in there.


Quote:
What have you built together?
An entire life. We have all the same friends, we share a car and a home, we are completely involved in each other in every way, which I guess is part of the problem. There is no her or me, it's US. We met when we both just moved to a new area where we knew no one. I was actually completely alone and 20 years old, she filled my world with warmth. We spent every waking minute together for years, and to this day, we spend 90% of our time outside of work together. It simply has worked out that way, and yes, this thread is a CLEAR reason why we should spend a whole lot less time together, but regardless, when you spend that much time with a person, you build a life together. We have so many experiences behind us, so many things we've learned and gone through together, it simply would not make sense for the two of us to marry anyone else in the world.....but, there's this caveat of her development. I've always been motivated and never satisfied, so it doesn't matter how much time I spend with her, I'm always bettering myself. She doesn't work that way. She's more of the complacent type that achieves "good enough" and then gives up, which she is working on.

God I love her.....
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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 06:01 PM
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Re: Stunting your partner's development

The fact that you wished she would cheat so it would make your decision easier tells me that both of you have some growing up to do.

"Our ability to feel joy is directly related to how much pain we are willing to feel." - Mavash.

"The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for." - Bob Marley
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