Dear Coleen: My daughter wants to go to the US to see her boyfriend who she met online

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Dear Coleen

My daughter is 24 and still lives at home with us. She has Asperger syndrome but does well at university.

She met this man online who lives in America and they’d been talking to each other for a few months when she asked if he could visit. I thought it was only going to be for three days, but it turned out to be just over two weeks.

Her dad and I paid for his fare, meals and so on, but now we’re worried because she is saving to go out there.

The reason we are so negative is that we disliked him. He was so rude, the room he stayed in was a mess for two weeks and I felt used.

I took a week off from work to help and he just sat around all day getting waited on.

Our daughter was also different when he was here. She wouldn’t let me talk to her and she complained that I didn’t talk to her boyfriend enough. I believe my husband and I were very open and chatty – it was him who wasn’t.

I feel so stupid for being so trusting and letting this person stay with us.

His family aren’t very nice folk either – they are always on Facebook using foul language. I have had so many rows with my daughter that we’ve arrived at an impasse. What do I do?

Coleen says

First and foremost, please don’t lose your daughter over it.

She’s 24, so you can’t prevent her from going to the US if that’s what she wants to do and she funds her trip.

However, what you can say is that you don’t want her boyfriend staying under your roof again and tell her why.

He disrespected your home and made no effort with you or your husband. You wouldn’t let your daughter behave like that, so why would you let a stranger do it?

Add that you have doubts about him, but if she wants to carry on seeing him, then you’ll have to accept it. And then leave it at that – don’t get drawn into arguments over it.

Let her think about what you’ve said. The more you row about it, the more likely she is to dig her heels in.

It’s really hard when you don’t like your child’s partner, but sometimes the worst thing you can do is keep bringing it up.

Hopefully, your daughter will go off him in her own time. And maybe the practicalities of such a long-distance relationship will mean things will fizzle out anyway.

As for his family – don’t follow them on Facebook. Don’t torture yourself with it. Also, just because they swear doesn’t make them horrible people. They’ve been brought up in a different environment.

I think you should also be proud that your daughter doesn’t see having Asperger syndrome as a barrier – she’s doing well at university and clearly has an independent spirit.

And that’s down to how you have raised her. I know you want to bubble wrap her and keep her at home forever (I feel exactly the same way about my kids), but you have to learn to let go a little and trust them.

More of our agony aunt Coleen Nolan’s advice on your sex, family, health and relationship problems

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