Growing a Backbone

Dear Neil: 2 years ago, one of my friends introduced me to his daughter, and she and I got close very fast. She moved to my town, and wants me to take on a father role to her 5 year old child. But she is disrespectful and jealous, and this relationship has cost me a lot of money. I am miserable, depressed and anxious. I want to leave, but I feel responsible for her since she moved here for me.

How Do I Get Out of This in Beaumont, California

Dear Out of This: You’re going to have to grow a backbone and tell her how you feel, and tell her you are thinking of ending the relationship with her. You do not have to take care of her financially and be the stepfather to her child if you don’t want that job. It appears that you don’t want to hurt her feelings, but you are ignoring your feelings, which simply doesn’t work.

But before you end this relationship, look carefully at what your girlfriend could do that would make this romance worth staying in. As an example, would you have any interest in growing into a stepdad role over time, rather than quickly as she has been asking of you? Is she financially leaning on you too heavily? Is there something you’re wanting from her that you’re not getting, but would make a huge difference to you?

If you want out, tell her that. Perhaps you will need to help her get on her feet financially for awhile so she is not left homeless and penniless, but create an exit strategy for yourself. Your feelings and wishes count also.

Dear Neil: I am 25, and have had a 5 year relationship with a boyfriend who lives in India. We have only met online, but we Skype twice a day. He is talking about plans for our future, and thinking I am the one he wants to marry. But I don’t want to marry him. I don’t know what is wrong with me. He is an awesome guy, and I don’t want to lose him.

What Should I Do in Canada

Dear Canada: An online/Skype relationship with someone you’ve never actually met is not a real relationship. It’s a hopeful fantasy, but it’s not real. How does he treat waitresses? How does he relate to his friends and family, and how would he relate with yours? How affectionate is he? How possessive or jealous? What is he like as a lover? You don’t know.

If you don’t want marriage with him, be honest and tell him that—and let him know you’re not committed to a future with him. Someone you can share experiences with will be more satisfying than a Skype relationship, no matter how awesome the guy is. Perhaps it is time you started dating guys where you live. You’ll hopefully find someone who you can touch and hold.

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