Dear Bossip: He’s Experienced Setbacks & I Want Him To Know He’s Loved

- By Bossip Staff

Dear Bossip,

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 3 years. I’m 28 and he is 27  years old. We have a beautiful 16-month-old daughter together.

We have been through some things together from living in a car to struggling for food. I don’t have any family. My mother passed and my father is a (for lack of better term) lazy, selfish, jackass. His mother by no means would win any award for her mothering. His mother was 15 years old when he was born and his father was killed when he was 4 years old.

His mother hasn’t been the type of mother she should for her son. For example, for years he believed that he had graduated high school. After talking about his dreams we started the process of enrolling him in college. Since he was the first graduating class after Hurricane Katrina his graduation was held at night. He missed it due to a work conflict. Due to that he had never received his diploma nor did he go to the school board to get it. When we went to get it for his financial aid we found out that he didn’t pass his English IV exit exam. The school sent letters and had spoken to his mother, but she never relayed the message that he needed to attend summer school. I couldn’t believe it. He doesn’t speak to his mother anymore due to other issues.

We have a great relationship. However, due to his lack of love as a child he isn’t great at showing it. Since we’ve had our daughter he has gotten better, but he still has anger issues he needs worked out. He isn’t violent or anything. He just tends to get upset and yell or get in really funky moods and go into a shell.

He recently lost his job and I’m the only one working. I don’t mind because he supported us and worked hard while I was pregnant to get us an apartment. He hasn’t taken it so well. Since I’m the only one working we can’t afford day care, so he stays home with the baby. He’s beginning to seem depressed and feel like less of a man.

I try to make him feel better, but he grew up with his mother and grandmother calling him “Lazy,”  “Stupid” and saying how he should have been an abortion. So, not working makes him think that they’re right. With his depression he hasn’t shown the affection to me that he used to. It’s rare to see him smile like he used to unless we’re wrestling or playing with our daughter.

I’ve been trying to make him feel better by doing extra little things for him and helping him to pursue his GED, but they all seem in vain.

I say all of that as foundation to ask the following questions. Am I wrong for feeling neglected during his time of depression? How do I make him see the love he has now (from our daughter and myself) and not worry about the love he didn’t get? It’s all starting to take a toll on our relationship, but I know he loves me it’s just hard for him to show it. He’s a good man he just came from an awful background. What do I do? – Confused and Wanting to Help

Dear Ms. Confused and Wanting to Help,

No, you shouldn’t feel bad for feeling neglected during his time of depression. You are human. You need love, attention, and to feel desired. And, he is not giving that to you because he’s too busy sulking.

Look, you’re young and you have a full life ahead of you. You sound like a great mother, and a great person overall. You are raising your daughter with your boyfriend. Unfortunately, he lost his job and you’re the breadwinner of the family at this time. You are trying to be encouraging and supportive of him while he reconsiders his options since he learned he doesn’t have a high school diploma, and he has no job.

Now, notice everything I wrote and the role you are playing in his life. You are acting like his mother, therapist, caregiver, lover, and partner. None of those things you are. You’re not his wife. You’re his girlfriend. You’re not his mother, so stop acting like it. And, you’re not qualified to be his therapist, so, trying to resolve his issues is not your job. I get that you want to support him, and be there for him, but he has to want it for himself. You can’t make him want it. Also, he should be taking care of his daughter, and pitching in, she is his child also. Don’t make it sound like he is doing you a favor. He is her parent as well.

Sweetie, I feel bad for him and his situation, but he is going to have to suck it up, get off his ass, and do something about it. He keeps waiting on someone or something to fix his life, and no one can do it but him.

He’s mad at his mother because she did not relay the message that his high school was trying to contact him to let him know that he did not pass his English IV exit exam. Well, yeah, she could have told him, but it’s his job to know how he’s performing in school. I’m sure he knew he wasn’t doing well in his English class during his senior year. Hell, he could look at his English tests to know his performance in the classroom. And, I am sure he had conversations with his English teacher. They usually will give warnings to the student if they are not doing well and if they won’t graduate. So, he knew what was going on, but he is trying to blame his mother.

The point I’m making is that he has to take responsibility for himself. He has to grow up, be a man, and stop waiting on his mother, you, or someone else to come along and tell him what to do. He should know what to do. If he lost his job, then he needs to be out there looking for another one. If he needs to get his GED, then he needs to enroll in a class and take the course so he can attend college. You can’t do it for him. He has to want to do it for himself. So, babying him, and trying to act like his therapist because his mother and grandmother were not the best role models or parents is not your job.

If he has issues with his mother and grandmother, and how they treated him growing up, then get into therapy and resolve those issues. Walking around angry, upset, and mad over what they didn’t do is not going to solve the problem. And, he can’t keep blaming his mother for him not going to GED and attending college. He can’t blame his mother for losing his job. His attitude, anger issues, and yelling at you because he’s mad at his mother is something he needs professional therapy and counseling. He can’t misdirect his issues toward you and not resolve the underlying issue which is his mother.

Therefore, he needs to be in therapy and counseling. You are not his therapist. You are not his mother. You are not his problem. And, you shouldn’t be taking all of this on. So many women get caught in this trap with men by trying to be the loving, doting, and wonderful supportive and nurturing girlfriend to a boyfriend who is miserable, sad, angry and upset with the world because of his mother issues. Sorry, that’s not your problem. He needs to work that out because if he doesn’t then you will become the source of his outbursts. You will become the source of his anger and displaced frustration. He won’t work. He won’t go back to school. He will sulk, be miserable, and blame the entire world for what they did to him, but won’t work on how he can get out of this depression, and heal himself.

If he can’t manage and deal with this, then what’s going to happen when he gets to college? The professors don’t care if you don’t do the work. You are an adult. You’re grown. They don’t baby you and follow behind you to get you to do your work. You do it or you don’t. They don’t care and they will fail you. So, who is he going to blame then? Who is going to blame when his academic advisor tells him he doesn’t have the credits to graduate, and he needs to repeat a course? He can’t blame it on anyone but himself.

You can’t make him see the love he has in life with you and his daughter. If he didn’t get love from his mother, then he doesn’t know what love really is. And, you will be spinning your wheels trying to get him to see and know that you love him.

Sorry, but he is going to have to grow up and start acting like an adult. The world is full of obstacles, challenges, and setbacks. He is going to have to learn how to be responsible for himself, take care of his business, and be on top of things. And, he better start learning how to deal with them now, or he will always be your problem, and you will forever be trying to mother him, nurture him, and baby him. – Terrance Dean

Photo courtesy: Shuttershock

Hey Bossip Fam, what do you think? Share your opinions and thoughts below! Also, e-mail all your questions Terrance Dean:  Follow Terrance Dean on Twitter:  @terrancedean and “LIKE” Terrance Dean on Facebook, click HERE!

Make sure to order my books Mogul: A Novel (Atria Books – June 2011; $15); Hiding In Hip Hop (Atria   Books – June 2008); and Straight From Your Gay Best Friend – The Straight Up Truth About Relationships, Love, And Having A Fabulous Life (Agate/Bolden Books – November 2010; $15). They are available in bookstores everywhere, and on Amazon, click HERE!


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