12/19/2022 | By Amy Dickinson

An older dating couple in their 70s have been threatened by the woman’s daughter, who says she’ll block access to the grandchildren unless they break up. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson advises in this installment of “Ask Amy.”

Dear Amy: 

I’m a retired man in my early 70s.

For almost a year, I have been dating a woman my age. (We met online.) We live over two hours apart, but enjoy visiting each other and meeting in other destinations. We have developed a caring and intimate relationship.

Recently, she visited her daughter. This kept us apart for several weeks.

Then she caught mild COVID and so we kept our distance, although we have stayed in daily contact by phone and text.

I was shocked, disappointed, and concerned when my friend then abruptly called to say that she needed to end our relationship because it was a moral conflict with her belief system. We are both people of faith, although I am rather more liberal in my beliefs than she.

We both lost our spouses after decades-long marriages and we had discussed how we were on the same page about letting our relationship develop.

After a tearful second phone call, my friend shared that her daughter had told her that our intimacy outside of marriage was very wrong on religious grounds and that if she didn’t break it off with me, she wouldn’t be allowed to see her grandchildren. My friend ended the second call by asking me for a do-over and to not break up.

I don’t think that our relationship is morally wrong, and I don’t want to lose it, but this is troubling.

I’m angry that the daughter would try to control her mother’s life through coercive means.

I’m disappointed that my friend would let herself be bullied and wasn’t truthful about the daughter’s ultimatum at the outset.

I’m also inclined to think the COVID brain-fog may be playing a role.

Should I allow the do-over, or should I rethink this relationship?

– Lost in the Fog

Dear Lost: 

Yes, you should allow the do-over. You should also rethink the relationship, for all of the excellent reasons you mention in your question.

The way some parents use contact with grandchildren as a way to bully their folks is mean, coercive, controlling and – unfair. Threats of estrangement also demonstrate terrible judgment, as well as deeply flawed parenting.

But a threat of estrangement won’t work if the other party refuses to play. And in this sense, your friend has enabled her daughter to control her life, essentially opening the door and inviting her into your relationship – where she has no business being.

You’ll have to see how this plays out, but, realistically speaking, if forced to choose, a mother and grandmother will almost certainly choose her kin.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from an older dating couple threatened by a controlling offspring to grandparenting to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

© 2022 by Amy Dickinson

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