Dear Annie

Deadbeat son enabled

Dear Annie: My girlfriend, “Lenna,” and I have been together for about 2 1/2 years. She and her 30-year-old son, “Josh,” moved in with me about a year and a half ago.

Josh has been nothing but a liar and a thief for most of his life, to the point that Lenna has told me to keep an eye on her purse while she is in the shower. Then, about a week ago, I caught Josh rifling through her purse. She has fibromyalgia and chronic back pain. I caught him stealing her pain pills, and he insisted that he was playing with the cat. I called him a liar, because the cat was sunning himself on the dining room table in front of the window. He said that he is always getting accused of things around the house and that he was going to move out.

The next thing I knew, Lenna told me she would be leaving, too. She said that if her son isn’t welcome at my place, she doesn’t want to be there. It seems they believe that somehow I was the one who was at fault — just because I caught him stealing her pain pills and I said something about it.

I am just totally confused and feel betrayed. Lenna and I get along really well when he is not around, but when he is, everything falls apart. It’s as if he doesn’t want to grow up and she doesn’t want him to, either.

— Confused and Betrayed

Dear Confused and Betrayed: Set foot in this mess and you’ll discover it’s quicksand. If Josh is stealing painkillers from his mother, he probably has a drug addiction. If Lenna continues defending her son’s actions and protecting him from consequences, she is enabling him. If you tie this rope around your waist and get caught in the push-pull routine, you’ll sink.

Step back, and keep on solid ground by setting boundaries. Decide what you will and won’t accept in your home. Attend a meeting by Nar-Anon or Families Anonymous. Invite Lenna, too, but if she resists, don’t force it. It’s only a lifeline if the person is reaching for it.