I once dated a guy who had a very odd relationship with his mother. For a while, I thought it was very sweet. After a few months, I kept telling friends “my boyfriend’s Mom hates me” but I didn’t fully believe it. Soon, it became “I hate my boyfriend’s Mom.”
The parents of my friends always loved me, as did the parents of everyone I had dated. I was always kind and respectful. I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way.
Looking back, I was having an allergic reaction to an inappropriate relationship that I felt too guilty at the time to label as inappropriate.
Inappropriate relationships are easy to recognize. Eventually, it gets to a point where the creep factor and the alarm that your gut sounds off become too loud to ignore.
Although a weird relationship with a family member is as easy to identify as a pink elephant in a room, it’s tough to acknowledge – especially when everything else is going so well.
You try to convince yourself it’s a good thing; that he’s either “such a family man,” because of how close he is to his mom, dad, sister, etc. Or, if he has a hateful/dysfunctional relationship with a family member, you tell yourself how great it is that he’s able to have “boundaries,” despite a familial connection.
The bs eventually and inevitably becomes too hard to ignore. You find yourself more and more creeped out, frustrated, and in a state of perpetual competition with the one thing you’ll never be able to compete with – FAMILY.
I’ve been in relationships where I’ve been extremely happy. But eventually, I had to acknowledge…
“My boyfriend and his Mother are too close. Why is he telling her personal details about me/our relationship? His mother shouldn’t know that I’m on my period. Why does he have to run everything by her? How come he’s capable of emotional intimacy with her and not with me? Why do I feel threatened?”
“My boyfriend and his sister are too close. Why does she always get in our business? Why does she seem jealous, sabotaging, and spiteful/competitive? Does SHE want to sleep with her brother? What the f*ck is this?”
“My boyfriend hates his Mother and subsequently doesn’t have a relationship with her. Why? How?”
“My boyfriend doesn’t speak with or have a relationship with his Father. Why?”
Here’s what to do if you’ve identified that your boyfriend has a weird relationship with a family member…
If he’s got a relationship with ANY family member that makes your stomach crawl, creeps you out or at best, seems “off,” listen to your instinct and RUN. Seriously.
Save yourself the time that you’ll never get back, the tears, the confusion, and the anger. There’s nothing confusing about an iron-clad, emotionally-incestual-Teflon relationship that was established way before you ever came into the picture.
Sprint and don’t look back. You will never, I repeat never be able to compete with dysfunctional, emotionally ancestral relationships (nor should you ever want or have to). If you do, you’ll just end up getting vilified and be made to feel crazy.
This is all, obviously, easier said than done. So, let’s break it down…
If he’s too close for comfort with his Mother, sister, etc., you have to understand that just like dating an addict. You will never be in a mutual, one-on-one relationship with this man. You will ALWAYS be in a perpetual threesome: you, him and the family member.
Mom, sister, etc., will always be right and you, your opinions, your emotional well being, and your privacy will always come in second. And if you’re okay with coming in second (not including children), you have no business dating. If someone makes you feel like you are asking too much by not wanting to be with an emotionally incestual swinger, you need to work on YOUR boundaries and self-esteem. Instead of getting a Ph.D. in his f*cked up family dynamic.
If you’re in a relationship where loving him means that you can’t love yourself… and as far as he’s concerned, loving him means that you have to accept that he’s having emotional sex with mom/sister/both, that’s called a toxic relationship that you need to exit.
The ultimate liberation in life is when you get to a point where you don’t need to be “right,” you don’t need to be “chosen,” you don’t need to be “heard,” or in “control.” You don’t need to “win.” You just let the chips fall where they may and most importantly, you know when to fold. You’re kinder to yourself and you cease feeling guilty for putting one foot in front of the other. You know who you are, you know what you’re worth, you know what you want and honestly… that’s all that matters. It’s none of your business what other people think of you. What IS your business is having your own back so that you’re able to exit toxic dynamics with dignity on your white horse.
Years ago, I overheard my boyfriend listening to his Mother criticize my looks, my family, and the fact that I was broke. He did nothing but listen and his silence translated as this kind of passive agreement that broke my heart and shattered my confidence.
My boyfriend had never cut the cord with mom. Why? Mom always forgave him, made excuses for him (she still referred to him being out of shape as “baby fat.” He was 31.), and mom put him on a pedestal. So, when I didn’t put him on a pedestal and didn’t continue to excuse and forgive him for his consistent lies, cheating, and disrespect, he wrote me off. My boyfriend was unable to have a relationship that was independent of the one he had with his Mother. This sabotaged every relationship he tried to have.
In a relationship, there should be 2 grown adults that love, respect and care for one another with honesty, integrity, and availability. There isn’t room for 3 adults to be in a single relationship.
Can there be exceptions where the guy will recognize that he wants a future with you and that will motivate him to deal with his dysfunction? Yes of course, but that takes time and you need to see the want and willingness in both his actions and his words.
Talk is cheap. And talk only works on people who cheapen themselves by believing those words without any action backing them up.
There are AMAZING mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters out there who will support, love, and will enrich the relationship that you have with the RIGHT man.
If you’re in the “my boyfriend is too close with his mom/sister/has a weird relationship with a family member,” dynamic, don’t waste your time trying to get him to see what you see and don’t embarrass anyone or do anything to highlight the inappropriateness of what you feel. It’s not your job. Stay kind and be kind to yourself by making a dignified exit – not by trying to “win” a casino game in which the house ALWAYS wins.
If he hates his Mom… This is another huge red flag. If you’re involved with a man who hates his Mother (he may not even be aware that he hates her), you probably confuse being needed with being wanted. Unless it’s a pet, a senior citizen or a child, no one should ever need you.
As I’ve said before – going for people who need us is like taking a crap insurance policy out on our own abandonment issues. Even if he leaves, he won’t ever entirely exit because he still needs something from you. Men who have a hateful, negative, angry, nonexistent or vengeful relationship with their mothers tend to need the women that they date. They are trying to fill a void that is un-fillable.
Are there great guys out there who have a nonexistent relationship with their mother? Of course. But when they have hatred and/or anger toward mom, they will forever be incapable of a fully connected and mutual relationship. Because of the underlying anger, they won’t be able to stick to valuing you or devaluing you. Many times, they end up resenting you for the very reasons they fell for you.
Remember – “hate is not the opposite of love.” When you hate, there are still very strong feelings there. The only place that love cannot reside is in a state of indifference. If he hates his Mom, he won’t be able to stop the wash, rinse, repeat, “value/devalue,” cycle (that he puts everyone through who’s unlucky enough to date him).
Men who hate their mothers tend to be hot and cold, have major jealousy issues and are control freaks. Because they have such a painful lack of a positive relationship with a female mother figure, they will indirectly (or directly), try to make you feel crazy, guilty, and anything but sexy or confident because their confidence was obliterated by mom’s (emotional and/or physical) absence. Communication with him will also be impossible, as will extracting any empathy or understanding.
Can these issues be worked on if your man has them? Yes, they most definitely can. Just make sure that you’re being met halfway and that you’re not betraying yourself. Listen to your intuition and make sure that you’re not wasting your time, handing over the pen for others to write YOUR story while you sit in the passenger’s seat of YOUR car.
+ If you need further and more personalized help with your relationship, please look into working with me here.