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Over-Protective Mother

Question:

I have dated a man for over a year now. He is 51 years old and, at first, seemed to be quite the independent fellow. However, after a couple of dates he told me he was still with living with his mother. In fact, he sleeps in the same bed he slept in when he was five years old! He sleeps in a half bed upstairs. She waits on him hand and foot and his perception of a wife is one of 1935. All of his social interaction is with family. For example, Tuesday and Saturday nights are reserved for dinner with his mother and sister. Of course, I’m included, but she has never approved of us, and I have become quite tired of trying to win her affection. She has taken care of him as a child. He is a very good man, but lacks self-confidence and boldness to stand up to her. He wants to marry, but can never get the muster to be serious about it. Also, there is an inheritance involved. If we marry this is the plan: his mother must live with us or next to us. What are your thoughts about this situation? I think it is VERY STRANGE that a 51 year old man, who owns a business, is still with his mother, doesn’t pay rent, waits for her to make him breakfast each day and dinner each night. Do you think there is a possibility that anyone else can become first in his life? I certainly am not. He tries to placate me. He tells me to go over and offer to clean for her, or to make her something or to socialize with her. She refuses to even acknowledge me when we go out to dinner. Her opinion of me is that “I’m after his business!” I’m ready to quit!

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Answer:

I agree that this is a very strange and difficult situation. After fifty years of living with his mother, it will be very difficult to change how he relates to her, but I doubt your relationship will be satisfying if you don’t. Talk to him seriously about what kind of relationship you would like to have. Be specific. Let him know that you are not trying to compete with his mother, but that you expect to be at least as important to him as she is. Most importantly, let him know how close you are to giving up on the relationship. He may not even realize how his actions are affecting you. It sounds as if you are pretty understanding regarding the difficulties he has dealing with his mother, but expect him to make a serious effort at changing the situation. If he continues to try to placate you, realize that he is not ready or willing to put your relationship ahead of his mother, and leave him. You deserve to be valued and respected by your partner, not the third person in a very tight relationship. Best of luck, – Anne

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Comments
  • CAROLINE

    Woman, you should run as fast as she can for the nearest bus stop, and don't look back! Even if you should get lucky enough for mama to croak, sonny-boy will always reminisce about his wonderful mama. And you are never going to be good even to carry her, uh, bra...There are plenty of real men who can stand on their own two feet. You're better off lookin for one of those than being miserable with Casper Milktoast!

  • Sam

    I'm in your boyfriend's situation, except I'm 20 years old. I've lived for 20 years with a controlling and overprotective mother. I can relate and perhaps even write a book on the subject. What I can tell you is that the mother is overly controlling because she was conditioned by her mother, who was perhaps a strong figure. This happens in divorced families who's father walks out, or families whos father dies. The mother is forced to take on a huge burden of raising kids and taking the man's role for them, and being a woman not used to this kind of task, she will constantly seek to control things- perhaps out of love, but this love is poison.

    This love stunts social growth and the only way to get out of it is for him to cut contact with his mother immediately. All contact. It's a painful shot to take but it will help him live the next 50 or so years of his life as the confident, normal human being he always aspired to be. By being so controlling and protective, the mother will manipulate her son- which is why your boy doesn't have "courage" to speak up. I've spoken up against and at times verbally attacked my mother but in the end, she will distance herself from me, and being raised my whole life depending on her judgement for everything, I will beg for her to come back. It's like an unhealthy boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. I'm glad I've left for dorm life and perhaps won't speak to her again after I graduate.

    My mother used to accuse my girlfriends of being whores, abusers, doing all sorts of whacked out crap that is inconceivable. Do NOT engage in a relationship with this guy. Don't give him a chance, because if he realizes that living with his bitch of a mother is making him fail with women, then he will eventually do something about it. I've been single for three years and I'm starting to fight back. Don't give him the chance to think he's normal. It's best for him.

    Fight on.

  • AZgal

    You are an independant woman why would you want to take on some man that is dependant on his mommy? Please respect yourself and not put your sanity through this. He will expect you to take care of him just like his mommy does. You will be miserable. Get out there and meet other men who are independant and secure.

  • wayne

    Sam I am a 60 year old man, and I can relate to you. My father walked out on the family when I was just two years old. I know that she loved me and meant well, but she became over protective and controlling and manipulative of me It became my job to always please her and do as I was told. As you experienced, she would call the girls I dated names. And, she once accused a girl that I was dating of wanting to get pregnant so that I would have to marry her. She also seemed to resent my male friends, and the time I spent with them. I think her biggest fear is that I would make the same mistake that she did and marry the wrong person. I spent a lot of time in fear of incuring her anger or manipulative tears. After I completed college, I moved as far as possible away from home, and I would only see her ever three months or so. the move, and her marrying my stepfather took some, but not all, of the pressure off me. I've been married for 35 years now, with two grown children and a grandchild. As for the lady who wrote the letter, I can relate to this guy, and I feel empathy for him. However, I feel that he needs to create space, as in mileage, between he and his mother. Otherwise, she is involved in a situation where she will always come in second.

  • Blaise

    Placate may not be what he is trying to do. Even if he is when and if you marry one another. You will instill the confidence needed to for him to be loved by a "Woman" not a "Mother". It is possible that he is trying to invovle you in such a way of acceptannce within their structure.

    I agree it is strange, but living with "Mother" could be for various reasons, none of which you could possibly know, since you are "not sure" and not at counselling and asking a website for advice.

    Your situation sounds desperate. If you feel uncomfortable, maybe you should step away and save yourself the "agony".

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