boyfriend and his mom are too close

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: From a 20-something on the American west coast: Me and my boyfriend have been dating for about a year. It was truly love at first sight. Everything seemed to be fine except his mother. The first months together his mom would call every half hour to see what we were doing. Finally he agreeed to stop answering. So she started calling me and if i didnt answer she would call my house. It started to get very scary and creepy. This affected us very much. I wouldn’t go to his house and we would fight about his mother almost everyday. Anytime I would go to his house his mom would be really rude to me and he wouldn’t do anything about it. Also she’s made it clear she doesn’t like me and wants us to break up. But finally after seven months she doesn’t call so much but he lies about talking to her. Even when I catch him lying he won’t admit anything. I love him to death and know he loves me but I can’t deal with this mother issue anymore. Please help me with any advice.
Thanks, Seeking Help Fast.

A: Your boyfriend is in a terrible bind. People who don’t have the support and “blessing” of their parents for their relationship often feel impossibly caught in the middle. No matter what they do, they are letting someone important down. Unless the parents and the partner can put aside their own differences for the sake of the person they all love, there will always be strain. Many relationships collapse under the prssure. Make no mistake, there are no winners in this kind of contest. Even when parents succeed in breaking up a couple, they lose. Their adult child will have lost some respect for himself and for his parents.

You can’t wrest your boyfriend out of his family without damaging your relationship with him either. Instead of fighting with your boyfriend about his mom’s behavior (which keeps him in the middle), you need to be talking with him about how to “tame” her. Find something to admire in her and let her know. Do everything you can to befriend her. If it works, you will win the respect of the mother and the admiration of the son. If it doesn’t work, your boyfriend will appreciate you for trying. Once you’ve partnered with your boyfriend to win his mom over and have seen the results, the two of you will be in a better position to decide what to do next.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Jun 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). boyfriend and his mom are too close. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/06/10/boyfriend-and-his-mom-are-too-close/