Annie's Mailbox: Daughter living separate lives

Dear Annie: My husband and I have a 22-year-old daughter who still lives at home. “Ashley” has been dating the same guy for five years, but we can count on one hand the number of times he has come to our house. We go out of our way to make him feel comfortable and have tried to get to know him, but nothing helps. He seems to have a serious social disorder.

We are a close family, and Ashley loves our gatherings. Many times she will celebrate with us and then go see her boyfriend later. It seems she is living two separate lives, and they seldom intersect.

This young man cannot look us straight in the eye, which makes us worry he has something to hide. At first, we thought it was shyness, but after five years, it’s a little tiresome, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to like him. A few times, I’ve brought up the subject with Ashley, being careful not to push the wrong buttons. We thought she would tire of his behavior and move on, but she hasn’t, and now we’re scared to death this might be the guy she ends up with forever. It appears to us that she is not really in love with him but has simply become comfortable. How do we handle this?

— Desperate for Her To Have a Normal Life

Dear Desperate: Ashley has been seeing this guy since she was 17 and may be too scared to end it, fearing she’ll never find anyone else. It might help to discuss the relationship in those terms, letting her know you think she’s a terrific person and want her to be truly happy. Ask her to tell you what she likes about this young man because you want to appreciate his positive attributes, too. Still, Ashley is an adult now, and you have to let her make her own choices, even if you disagree.

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