She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
So this one's a little complicated, and I’m not really sure how to explain it without it sounding insane.
My partner and I have been together on and off since we were teenagers, which is now well over half a decade. I love him, and I think that where we are now, I’m probably going to end up with him permanently. This terrifies me.
The main problem is that his father hates me.
He is a very controlling man and tried to split us up last year. This included a personal assassination detailing every aspect of my personality, family and background that makes me not good enough for his son before sending a concluding text message declaring my relationship with his son over and threats if I tried to get back in contact with him.
All of this just resulted in lots of heartbreak and stress, disrupting both of our studies at university, us getting back together and dating in secret for some months, and me now suffering from anxiety.
It all happened a year ago now, and my partner’s family have known we got back together for a number of months. However, I am banned from the family home, and I have had no contact with them since (despite having been good friends with my partner’s sisters before having even met my partner).
My partner and I are now planning on moving in together in the summer when we graduate. I feel like this is really the turning point at which there’s no going back, and I’ll end up married to him, which actually would be something that I think I might want, but I am scared that it will all be a horrible mistake.
I am scared that my partner’s father will always hate me and that one day my partner will resent me for causing him to be distant from his family.
I am terrified that his family will decide they want to reconnect and will just expect me to pretend that nothing ever happened and try to influence our lives.
I am scared that I have never really been with many other people in my life or explored much, and that maybe us having to fight to be together has meant us sticking with each other rather than coming to an end on our own and doing other things (how many people end up with the people they dated in school anymore?).
I am scared of the future and how much this nasty relationship with my partner’s father will cause problems going ahead. I don’t know what to do or if moving in together is even a good idea. Any advice you have would be really helpful.
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This is a challenging situation. Having a long-term partnership with someone whose family is at odds with you is complicated at best. I can understand your hesitation.
You don’t want him to resent you, nor do you want to have to grin and bear it around people who have treated you so poorly.
Before (BEFORE) you move in together, I strongly suggest the two of you speak to a therapist about the situation. You are young, you are dealing with familial relationships that sound pretty toxic, and they were probably that way long before you were in the picture.
You didn’t mention how your partner handles this. You are banned from their home. Does your partner see them without you? Has he taken a stand? The two of you need to establish a united position in dealing with his family BEFORE you move in together.
But there’s something else that struck me about your email. You mentioned another fear you have regarding this relationship. You noted how young you are, how you haven’t had much, if any, experience outside of this relationship, and questioned if the fight to stay together is what has kept you together. You’ve hit on something there. You need to evaluate your other very valid concerns about this relationship.
Your fears have consolidated on this one issue — and it’s a big one — but your hesitance is really about a whole lot more.
I was young once, too. Relationships when you’re young, particularly when they started in high school and continued into adulthood, can feel like they are meant to last forever.
It’s important to acknowledge that sometimes we outgrow relationships.
And that’s okay. That’s normal. The only people who can figure this out are you and your partner. My gut tells me that there lies the issue behind the issue.
First and foremost, I urge you and your partner to speak with a therapist. It’s going to be necessary, if you move forward together, to have some objective guidance, particularly in setting boundaries.
Lastly, please know that his father’s feelings toward you have less to do with you and more to do with his own crap. And that’s family baggage you are not required to take on.
The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I’m not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, dating, friendships, depression, parenting, sex, consent, what I’m watching, what I’m reading, Magnesite, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. Lastly, I’m so excited to share with you my Ask Erin Self-Care Guide, free when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. xoxo