Is mom cheating?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I don’t know for a fact that my mom is cheating, but everything points to yes, what should I do?

I am married, and do not live with my parents anymore. But, I do, however still have a brother and sister left at home. They tell me all the time the “weird” things mom does. And, I see some of them myself. She has completely withdrawn from everyone. When my husband and I come over to visit, she stays in another room away from everyone else the entire time. She is constantly on the computer, texting, or calling someone. She leaves at all times of the day, and claims to be going to grocery store, Wal-Mart, or wherever. But then, you can try and call every single time and she doesn’t answer her phone. She is very secretive about her phone and computer. You can’t touch either without her right behind you. She got my sister her own laptop here recently because she said my sister just needed on there too much. I feel bad about doing this, but I asked to borrow her phone the other day when I didn’t have mine. She said hold on; I have something going on with my Internet or something. I waited, and then she handed it over. She had erased EVERYTHING off of it. Contacts, texts messages, emails, web history.

I know it’s none of my business, but at the same time if my husband was cheating on me, I would want someone to tell me if they knew. I don’t know if I should confront her to even see if she is. But, how do I know if she would tell me the truth. I’m just so lost right now. And I have let this completely consume me. I have always based relationships on what awesome relationship I thought my parents had. I’m hoping I’m wrong in all this, because I really don’t want to be angry with my mom.

A: What a miserable spot for you to be in! It is terrible for you to know something isn’t right but to be stuck in how to move through it. There are lots of different ways to approach this, so keep in mind that my advice is just one avenue.

I would talk to your mom and tell her what your thoughts and feelings are about how her behavior is affecting you. Don’t assume, accuse or blame, but rather give her feedback about how her behavior is affecting you. (“When I come over and you run off to the computer or leave the house on an errand it makes me feel upset because you seem so distant.”) Explain that it seems she is distracted and not focused on the family and that it gives you cause for concern. Let her know this isn’t something that has happened once or twice, but you have been feeling this way about her behavior for a while.

This allows you to stay focused on what is real between the two of you without going down the path of accusation. If your mother is having an affair – which it sounds like she is, an emotional one at least — these tend to end badly for everyone. The chances are that your father has noticed the change in her behavior and they will have to deal with the eventual conflict. Stay focused on your relationship and how her behavior affects you. This will keep everything on the table as to the dynamics of her relationship with you. It gives you the chance to say something about your discomfort, and may give your mother a wakeup call that her (not-so-secretive) behavior is affecting others.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Sep 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Is mom cheating?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/09/13/is-mom-cheating/