Ask Lisa: Losing My Boyfriend to his Grandma

It is four years since me and my boyfriend met.  He is an only child just like I am an only child.  He
lost his mother in 1994 and she was an only child too.  He is also the only grandson.  I lost my mother last year suddenly and he and my mother talked about us getting married and she approved.  My father is deceased as well.  So, I started staying with as his house.  Well, things took a different turn.

His grandmother is 91 years old and she is depending on him to do everything for her and he doesn’t want to.  At first, he talked about moving back home, which is 115 miles from me.  He doesn’t want to move back home either because it will be too much to drive back and forth everyday.  Lately, he hasn’t been doing that, which is good.  His grandmother goes to the nursing home to visit her friend everyday to keep her company.  Some of the business can be taken care of online and some have to be done in person.  I love him a lot and care for him and he wants me to be in his life forever as well.  He tries to make time for me as well.

This situation has created a big hole between me and him.  I am trying to debate whether or should I continue the relationship or let him go.  Some days I feel alone and cry sometimes and some days I am fine.  What do you think?  Thanks.

Lisa’s thoughts…

Four years isn’t a short period of time to be in a relationship.  Clearly you two care a lot about each other if you’ve talked about marriage.  It sounds like your boyfriend feels responsible for the well being of his grandmother – as really, he is all she has left in her family.  You likely have some understanding of this kind of dynamic being an only child yourself.

The truth is, many relationships endure distances and time apart.  This doesn’t mean it’s not difficult – but the point is, it’s doable.  However, you have a choice in what works and doesn’t work for you.  Before making any big decisions about “letting him go” I would think about the big picture, what if would be like for you to wake up tomorrow and not have him in your life?   Perhaps you really need someone closer to you all the time – which is ok too!  People have different needs and are able tolerate challenges in relationships differently.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  You just need to get really clear on what is going to work – and not work.

Communicate clearly to your boyfriend about how you feel and see if there’s some kind of compromise you can come up with – or at least make the situation tolerable for the time being.  Also keep in mind that his grandmother is getting up there in years.  How would you want your grandmother to be treated if she was yours?  Once you consider all of it, move forward with a decision that has considered every angle…compassionately and realistically.  If you do your due diligence with this situation, the chances of regret or guilt down the line are greatly diminished.

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