Question: Dear Luise: I’m in a relationship that been on and off for thee years. My question is why won’t my partner leave is mother to settle down. He’s said he wanted to in the past but then kept saying he can’t because he would lose his house. Still, he says he doesn’t want anyone else. I can’t really feel welcome at his place. I do have feelings for him but they are weakening. He tells me he wants a loving relationship but says he can’t stay with me all day because his mother pays him, as a caregiver. I broke up with him several times and it was very painful for both of us. Have you got any answers? I am independent like he is. He tells me he does not want to settle down as we would have less money and not be able to go out to dinner, etc. I think he wants to have his cake and eat it, too. It is his house but used to be his mother’s. I have my own place. He feels sorry for her because he was an alcoholic and she looked after him. His ex-wife left him for another man 13 years ago. He’s had several relationships but nothing worked out. They don’t last. I hope this make sense to you. M.
Answer: Dear M. Your guy and his mother have some pretty complex dynamics. She was his caretaker and now he’s hers. Money is involved because she’s paying him. He may have purchased her home or, if you haven’t actually seen the title, his ownership may be a lie and he may just expect to inherit it. It’s a pretty sticky set-up. It may work for them but it’s clear that there isn’t any real place there for you.
One of the most difficult things to cope with in life is when we find that we love someone dearly that isn’t a good candidate for a long-term, live-in relationship. We can have very tender feelings yet find no balance or equality in co-existence. Getting together is off-balance and so we leave and then we are drawn back by the pull of our emotions. It’s usually a no-win situation.
Perhaps your first move toward freedom…is to see that he is not free. Isn’t that what you are describing when you say he wants to have his cake and eat it, too? What you have between the two of you works for him. He gets to be paid by his mother, have a free place to live and he will eventually get her house. In the meantime, he has you as well. He can’t/won’t commit because he is already committed…while you continue to be “handy.” What’s wrong with that picture?
What’s wrong is that your relationship is about words…promises, endearments, and excuses. He isn’t free to act on any of them and he probably doesn’t even want to because he is deeply entangled in his relationship with is mother. Since you are a very independent person, (I don’t see him as independent at all), and already have your own place, it would serve you well to notice that he isn’t really offering you anything…beyond words.
You are asking me but I think you already know the answer. Isn’t the guy pretty much a lovable-looser? Look closely, there’s a reason his relationships don’t last. I see you as someone who deserves better…a lot better? Blessings, Luise