Boyfriend has Overinvolved Mother

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been dating this guy for 10 months and to be honest although it has been rocky(he was drunk and cheated on me once in the summer, one night he was too drunk and ended up sleepwalking in my apartment and saying things that were very hurtful), normally he is one of the nicest people I have ever known. He has also had down periods where he wasn’t sure he liked his job and was a little depressed. Through it all I forgave him and tried to help him through all of it.

Since October things have gotten really complicated. His sister moved out of his parents house(where he also still lives he is 23, I am 27), since this time his mother has set all of her focus on him. When he is not at home she is always calling to see where he is. Saying she wants to hold him in her arms. I stayed with them at christmas(because I am living in germany and couldn’t go home this year) and she was coming into his room tucking him into bed. He has no responsibilities at home(laundry, cooking, etc.) She does everything for him.

About a month ago, she had an hour long talk with me while he was still working. Telling me that I should think if I really want to stay in Germany and what I want for the future, because she doesn’t want me to hurt her son. Since this time she has talked to him everyday about leaving me because ‘what if we got married had kids and I ran off to america with them’, or that what will he do when I just up and leave without saying anything to him.

I have noticed a strain on our relationship and everytime I wanted to talk to him about it he ignored it and didn’t want to talk. Until last Sunday. He was talking to me and said that he has been thinking a lot about ending things with me because he is not sure he is the right guy for me and he doesn’t know if he still loves me(and all the stuff his mother told me in our conversation). So he was ending things to me.

Well two days later he comes over with a list of things that have been bothering him(same things he said on Sunday) except this time that his family didn’t think I was good enough for him. I told him it was all pretty crystal clear and we should end things and he went on to say how he wants to fight for our relationship and love. As much as I love him, I am scared to death to stay with him. I mean if he already thinks he’s not the one after 10 months then it is pretty much over isn’t it? I also have no chance against his family and to be honest I can’t see myself going over to his house anymore because I will feel very uncomfortable. I love him and our time was great together, but I don’t know if it is wise to give it another chance.

The last 10 months have been a rollercoaster and I have forgiven him for things a lot of other people wouldn’t be able to. Just because his mother is scared of him moving in with me and leaving her I am getting the short end of the stick. Is it worth all this pain?

A: Probably not. You do understand that the problem is not your boyfriend’s mother. Yes, she is overinvolved with him. But she could not do things like tuck him in at night and do his laundry if he didn’t let her. At 23, it’s not that unusual for a young person to be struggling to establish new boundaries with his or her parents. But you are well out of that stage. He’s still in the thick of it. You are living independently, far from home, navigating a different culture. He is still in his parents’ home, living like a teenager.

My vote is that you take a huge step back. Get to know people your own age who are establishing themselves in their careers and in their adult lives (and doing their own laundry). However much fun your guy may be at times, he can’t give you the mature love you deserve.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Boyfriend has Overinvolved Mother. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/12/boyfriend-has-overinvolved-mother/