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Issues with My Long-Term Girlfriend and Mother

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From the U.S.: I recently moved to Philadelphia to be with my girlfriend after we have had a long distance relationship for 5 years. I have always had an issue saying no to my mother being somewhat of emotional support system for her since my father died when I was 12. I feel that my mother has some passive aggressive tendencies to get the things she wants from me. I also feel a level of guilt if I don’t give into her requests since I have been doing that for the greater part of my life. It has affected my girlfriend in that she doesn’t think I can put her before my mother. It feels like my mother is trying to manipulate our relationship so that I will return to her, and she can resume the early childhood mother role prior to me seeking my independence from her. I have also relied on my mother to tell me what to do for a majority of my life and now that I am away from her and with my girlfriend I look for her to do the same. I want to know what has caused me to be like this in my adult life. Thanks.

Issues with My Long-Term Girlfriend and Mother

Answered by on -

A.

I think you already answered your question about what caused you to develop these patterns. So I will answer a question you didn’t ask — which is how to make change. You are now 26. You’ve spent more than half your life trying to be supportive of your mom. It’s long past time for both you and your mother to shift your relationship from mother-son to adult-adult. Have a loving talk with your mom. Reassure her that you love her and will always be there should she really need you. But you need to turn your primary attention to your girlfriend or you will lose her.

If your mother was happy with her marriage to your father, she will understand that you want no less for your own life. If she was in an unhappy marriage, I hope she will want a better relationship for you. Either way, ask for her blessing and move toward making your own decisions and making your life with your girlfriend your priority.

If you find this too hard to do, you may want to find a therapist who can help you — and maybe your mother — through the process. You really can have your girlfriend and your mother too. Things just have to shift in a few important ways.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Issues with My Long-Term Girlfriend and Mother

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Issues with My Long-Term Girlfriend and Mother. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 24, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/10/20/issues-with-my-long-term-girlfriend-and-mother/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.