My significant other has a tendency to be forgiving and nice, almost to a fault. It becomes an issue when it comes to her abusive father, whom she loves, but he has done nothing material to help her besides the occasional apology here and there over the phone.

Anyway, recently, my significant other told me that he got laid off. I told her that I am sorry to hear that, and that it is rough. She then told me that she was going to support him in the near future because "no one else was". I told her that he was 50 years old, has enough skills and know-how (he once worked for NASA) to find another job, and that she is under no obligation to support him. I also said that once her chickens are in a row and her life is in order, maybe then she can choose to support him insofar as she is comfortable, but even that (to me) is going way above and beyond what she has to do.

I understand that she still feels sorry for her dad, but if she exhausts herself supporting him, it will take a needless toll on her well-being, as well as mine. In addition, he has done some things (which my significant other has told me herself) to the point where I don't want to see him anywhere other than a public place. She gave only a curt "we'll talk later".


This is an important issue to me, and she knows well that I have a low opinion of her dad. It is also not in her nature to dislike other people close to her. That said, this is something I can't just let slide. She has gone to counseling in the past, but they said "I think she is dealing with this well". She has not gone to counseling since. I'm in a bind, where do I start?

  • Are your finances combined with your SO? That is, will this affect you materially or just emotionally?
    – Em C
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 14:15
  • I'm confused on the use of "abusive father" as it doesn't seem to be related to your issue.
    – Sidar
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


Your question contains a good bit of your answer. Start with "I understand that you feel sorry for your father." It sounds like she is a pretty great person and that is most likely a good reason you are in the relationship together.

Keep this about her, and nothing to do with you. There's no need to remind her of her father and what he has done. I'd suggest pointing out how it will affect her, however. Every couple has limits and I'd explore setting them together. How much support? How long? How will this be communicated to him?

When setting those limits, I'd say what you've said here: if she exhausts herself supporting him, it will take a needless toll on her and you don't want to see that. Help her to see what those limits are beforehand, and be there to remind her when she approaches them.

  • Great answer! I think I'm quite similar to the OP's girlfriend & one important thing to mention is the fact that there's no way to know how far this will go.If her father is/used to be abusive, she might have some dysfunctional views about family (I have), so it's very improtant to gently make her understand what's good to do for the people you love, not less, not more.
    – avazula
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 8:57

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