Ask Ellie: Find out what's behind girlfriend's arbitrary ultimatum

Advice columnist EllieDear Ellie: I’m 49 and met the woman of my dreams five years ago. We’ve been having problems because I’d previously lived with my ex for 20 years. I’ve never lived alone.

I moved back with my parents four years ago and she was okay with that. But last year, she insisted that I get my own place.

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She’s a couple years older than me and owns her house. She’s said it’s time for me to have my own place where she can decompress, sleep there, come-and-go.

We now pass weeks without contact. But breaking up isn’t an option for me. I’m scared to live alone. But I also don’t want to abandon my elderly parents when they need me. Though we’re magical together, she blocks my coming to her house and doing things, which is causing the physical flame to dwindle. Is there a way to make this work? She’s welcomed here anytime. My parents think the world of her. Why is she doing this? I can’t go on not seeing her for weeks. She gets so angry she disappears to cool off and then we see each other and it’s magical again.

Then, it’s again “No” to everything unless I get my own place. She always says we’ve invested five years; she loves me, and breaking up isn’t an option.


When something makes no sense, you’re missing what it’s really all about.

The woman you love has issued an ultimatum that challenges how you’ve always lived.

It may relate to your fear of living alone, since even before you worried about your parents. She may be worrying about your eventually moving into her place, with the possibility you’d become a common-law couple (and claim part ownership if you split up.)

She also may fear your becoming dependent on her, as you don’t mention having a job.

You’re deeply in love but you need answers, not just orders. E.g.: Why is this so important to her? Why can’t she “decompress” at home?

No matter how magical things can be for you two, she’s arbitrarily changed the pattern of four years. Maybe she’s wise and is only thinking of your benefit. But you need to insist on knowing more logical reasons than she’s offered so far. Currently, she’s saying it’s her way or you don’t get to see her. This relationship won’t work until you find out why.

Dear Ellie: I’m a woman in my 60s. My cousin is 46. I re-connected with her and her mother after my mom’s death. My mother and other siblings had distanced from my aunt’s family, due to her husband’s abusive nature. His schizophrenia is now under control. He’s in a nursing home. My cousin bought a house for herself and her mom. I’ve repeatedly helped my aunt/cousin — with drives to medical appointments/emergencies, assisted two moves, etc. We also socialized. Now, my husband and I are moving. I asked to briefly borrow my cousin’s carpet cleaner.

She texted that she doesn’t lend such things. Asked weeks later about the move, I replied “ok.” Should I fix this relationship? I don’t think she realizes anything’s wrong. Yet, I worry about my aunt and uncle.


Your cousin grew up in an atmosphere isolated from the rest of family, including you.

You’ve since showed how family can work together — caring, helpful, responding to emergencies. Your cousin didn’t help you. Call to inquire of her parents, since you care. Just don’t expect your cousin to change.

Feedback: More regarding the adult daughter concerned that her father, diagnosed with dementia, may be influenced by his second wife when writing or changing his will (October 26):

Reader: What makes her think her father owes her anything in his will? He’s been with his wife for more than 20 years, so of course she “has influence over him” and their assets. I don’t know why children think that they are owed an inheritance. As a financial planner once said: “Spend it and hope that your last cheque bounces.” Ellie: In my experience with countless questions sent to this column, I’ve seen an interesting divide on an age-related basis regarding parents’ wills.

If the aging parents — and especially if one partner is a stepparent — lives comfortably well, some adult children start to anticipate their potential inheritance. Problems arise when they start planning on it.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Giving a relationship partner an ultimatum that doesn’t make sense, equals issuing “controls” that must be avoided.

Send relationship questions to Follow @ellieadvice.

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