Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My 20-year-old daughter is in love with her former soccer coach, who is 53. When she was 16, he started coaching her team in high school. After graduating she assisted him as a coach. Apparently the affair started in earnest last year. He is not employed and is married with three children; his oldest is the same age as my daughter. He and his wife are now divorcing. She saw a therapist and was dismissed due to her disinterest in the process. My husband and I have spoken to four different therapists; all say she should be released into the world, because she wants to control her own life. I agree with this. My husband wants her to stay home. We are divided about what to do. We have agreed that she will get financial help only for school. If she communicates with him with the phone we pay for and sees him with the car we pay for, then she has to pay for them. Her goal is to save enough to move out. She has a part-time job and goes to college full time. They can’t make it on her part-time salary. Please give us your thoughts.
DEAR UPSET: You obviously deplore your daughter’s choices and her judgment. I assume you have an extremely low opinion of the man she is in love with.
You have set up strict financial controls with the phone and car, requiring that you monitor her (impossible to do). Either pay for them, or have her pay for them. Don’t use these things to control her.
You should continue to offer housing and school tuition as long as she stays in school, full time.
You should decline to fight with her about this. You don’t want to make things so difficult that she clings even harder to this other relationship.
If she doesn’t like the deal she has at home, then tell her she is free to leave, but she will lose your financial support. She will face the natural consequences of her actions, which include disappointing her parents and being a party to the hurt and heartbreak of another family.
You should let her know that you will always love her, no matter what. Don’t disown her out of anger, but allow her to leave home with your blessing. There is a big difference between the two.
DEAR AMY: I’m a 30-year-old man who was in a relationship with a girl (28) for about a year. It was an up-and-down relationship, but we started talking about the future together in a serious way (moving in, having kids). We got into a big fight. The fight started because she was being bitchy, put me down and said some hurtful things. I yelled. I said sometimes she made me feel like an idiot. I used a vulgar profanity. I immediately and genuinely apologized. She said no one had ever talked to her that way, although she told me a previous boyfriend hit her, and she was also abused when she was young. I was not aggressive, just frustrated and loud. She fell out of love so quickly. She said she was now completely “indifferent” toward me. I know she has issues with trust and intimacy, but I still feel like she sabotaged and threw our relationship away. I’m depressed.
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: Your former girlfriend drew a line in the sand, choosing not to be with someone who refers to her as being “bitchy” and who uses foul language with her. I’d say she is on a path toward trying to heal her previous hurts, and this is probably a good start for her.
You seem to be comparing yourself favorably to others who treated her worse. That is too low a standard. Unfortunately for you, there is no antidote to indifference.
DEAR AMY: “Conflicted” was adopted and wondered about contacting half-siblings. I was also adopted. Once I became aware of my bio-relatives, I very respectfully reached out to two half-siblings. One welcomed this, and the other didn’t. I am aware of the impact on them, but I’m also glad I did it.
DEAR ADOPTED: Thank you for offering your perspective.