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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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  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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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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