My Mom Doesn’t Like My Girlfriend

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

I’m 21 and me and my girlfriend have been dating for a couple of years. Recently my girlfriend stayed over at my house for a few days. This is not the first time she has stayed over or met my parents, but after she left my mom started asking for my plans of our relationship. I sensed something was wrong and eventually found out that my mom does not like my girlfriend. When I asked her what specifically she does not like about her, she said that there wasn’t anything particularly wrong about her or anything in particular that she did wrong, but “sometimes people just aren’t likable.”
Something to mention is that my parents are first generation immigrants and have a little bit of a language barrier when talking to my girlfriend. They can communicate and understand each other just fine, but there is a definite cultural barrier that makes them feel distant. My girlfriend expressed to me that she finds my parents super shy and thinks they’re watching and judging her all the time. Still, I don’t think this is a reason not to like anybody.
After a long winded discussion, I found out that my mom feels the way she does more specifically because my girlfriend isn’t bubbly and cheery (the type of girl that smiles at everyone and radiates warmth and stuff) and I guess that’s who she imagines the ideal girl for me is. I completely don’t care about any of that and I love my girlfriend for who she is. I also pointed out to her that my girlfriend is intimidated by them because of the language barrier and its hard to be really bubbly when you are intimidated and feel distant. She then said she was shy and not confident. Then I got kind of mad that she was being like that, so after a bit of arguing she said “I don’t know how to explain, I haven’t liked her from the first time I laid eyes on her” and also “It’s okay because I don’t see you two being together in the long term anyways”. This infuriated me because she has zero reason to say that and then I blamed her for being jealous and didn’t even give my gf a chance.
Now I have no idea what to do, and I’m wondering if you could help. It’s not like I have thought about marriage or anything like that, I understand that I’m only 21. I don’t really know how to dissect all of this. Help.

A: You don’t need your mother’s blessing to go forward, but it would help to explain that it is her issue — and that there isn’t much you can do to help her with it. It sounds like your parents have your best interest at heart, but don’t really understand that it pushes you further away when they act like this.

Explain to your parents that you are an adult, and you need them to appreciate that. Let them know that approval of your girlfriend is not a requirement for you dating. Don’t try to fix this. Don’t try to be the go-between between your mother and your girlfriend. Focus on your relationship with your girlfriend and keep putting the responsibility for your mom’s feelings back on her. Don’t live your life trying to please your mother.

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

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). My Mom Doesn’t Like My Girlfriend. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/08/my-mom-doesnt-like-my-girlfriend/