My [22F] mother's long-term boyfriend [35?M] insists on referring to me as his daughter. I don't like it. Is it too late to ask him to stop?
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Nov. 06, 2019
My mother (39F) has been in a serious relationship with her boyfriend Walter for somewhere around 5 or 6 years, and they have a child together (3F). I met him around age 14, and he started living with us when I turned 15. Things were awkward between us at first, but we've mainly meshed as a unit, and on a superficial scale, we get along fairly well.
Unfortunately, whenever he talks about me or to me, he insists on treating himself as if he is a father to me, often calling me his daughter or stepdaughter, and I just don't see him that way. He came into my life when I was in my mid-teens, long after I had already been dealing with two neglectful father figures - my bio dad, who was not around very often in my formative years, and my mother's ex-husband, who was emotionally abusive to me. By the time I met Walter, I was burned out on the whole "fatherly" experience, and was much happier contending with just my mother as a parental figure, as I'm very close to her. I wasn't hostile, but I also didn't care to get to know him or bond with him.
In addition to this, I knew from the start that Walter had some kind of drug problem, which turned me off to his presence even more. When he started living with us, my mom suddenly began hiding prescription medicine and other substances in my room, a practice she still follows (although he's been sober for about 2 or 3 years). I am extremely resentful of the fact that we still have to do this even years later, and have mentioned that to my mother multiple times.
There was a brief time where I started to view him more positively - he is great with my little siblings (14F and 13M), made some great strides with his sobriety, and seemed to really be improving himself. I started to believe that, perhaps, he'd become deserving of my trust. This lasted about a week, and crumbled when he picked me up from college during my junior year. He took me to the doctor to refill my prescription (I have ADHD, and take Adderall), and when the doctor asked who he was, I said for the first time, "My stepdad."
That must have made him feel guilty, because when we got in the car to leave, he finally fessed up and told me that, while I was at school, he'd found my mother's hiding place for the Adderall that she was going to ship to me, and took almost the entire bottle at once. (When I finally got to it, there were 15 of my 60 pills left.) I thought he was joking at first, and laughed it off, until I realized he was serious and that he had stolen from me a medicine that I needed to get through each day. I was silent for the rest of the car ride and didn't speak to him for about a week after. To this day, I still haven't forgiven him, and I lock all of my pills away in a place he can never get to.
After this incident, my trust in him was completely shattered, and I still don't view him the same way. This is why him referring to me as his daughter/stepdaughter feels so grating and disrespectful - I don't think he's earned that title, especially not after what he did to me. My mom disagrees and every year on Father's Day asks me to wish him a happy holiday/thank him for being a father to me, which I vehemently refuse to do every time. It makes me uncomfortable that he is essentially taking credit for raising me when the most he's ever done for me (not counting monetary contributions to the house as a whole) was driven me when I needed a ride somewhere, including taking me to and from college.
I know that the reason he does this is due to his disconnect with his own family, and that he seeks familial bonds out with my immediate family because he doesn't have them with his own, but it feels unfair that he gets to take credit for the work that my mother did. My mother is the only parent I've ever had, and the only one I've ever needed - having this man who barely knows me insist that he played that role feels so gross and wrong.
My mom thinks I'm too hard on him and that I need to get over it, but I don't think I ever can. I want him to stop talking about me with his coworkers and friends as his daughter, and to acknowledge that we will never have that kind of connection - but I worry that it's been too long, since he's been doing it probably since I was 17 or 18. Should I just let it go?
TL;DR My mom's boyfriend that I met in my mid-teens keeps referring to me as his daughter. For a very short time I started to reciprocate that familial feeling, but then he betrayed my trust by stealing my prescription medication, and I still haven't forgiven him. I've wanted to ask him for years to stop, but I feel guilty doing so because of his issues with his own family. Has it been too long?
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