I don't feel comfortable around boyfriend's mom. Help?

Courtney - posted on 06/20/2012 ( 7 moms have responded )

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I needed help with my boyfriend's mom and knowing how to react to her behavior. I know this site is for moms but I needed some motherly advice. I talked to my own mom but she just turned me away and I don't discuss with her any longer.

I'm 20. My boyfriend is 21. We've been together for 16 months. He is my first serious boyfriend and was even my first kiss just last year. Everything hasn't been perfect ofcourse but we do respect each other and love each other. We're both in colleges 20 minutes from each other so this has had constraints on the amount of time during the weeks and months we get time together. All in all we do the best we can and are happy together.

My boyfriend's parents are getting a divorce. From what he's told me it's been prolonged for more than 15 years. I met his dad once and saw him once more. That was the last time, he never comes home, only every few weeks then leaves for weeks. He has another adult son who is my boyfriend's half brother but they don't seem to be very close. His 19 year old sister is nice and lives at home when not at college.

The only person that seems to be having any outward issues consistently is his mom. He's said that she ignores people on purpose, loves shopping and hair, doesn't like quiet people (I can be quiet but am polite and respectful. My parents raised me well to treat others with respect) and belittles his opinions and is very reliant on him.

I can see that and it's in the way that he's HER husband and his sister's dad. She's implied I was ugly (on the first meeting with her), is extremely defensive, talks over me, ignores me when I ask a question but answers later when talking to her son or daughter, and has made snide remarks about my boyfriend being a cheater and a coward, our relationship and that i'm his "little girlfriend", and worst of all my parents. She's never met them and it makes me angry because my parents have been kind, generous and thoughtful to my boyfriend.

I am always respectful to her and never say anything mean back. But it makes me feel like protecting myself and not being around her. His family is ok but she's the one that makes me feel unsafe and even judged.
What to do?

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Kristi - posted on 06/20/2012

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Have you ever let your boyfriend know how his mother's behavior bothers you? I mean really given specific examples? You need to let him know how you feel and give him an opportunity to correct the situation.

Has he ever stood up to his mother's bad behavior and come to your defense? He should recognize rude behavior and stand up for your feelings - even to his own mother - if she is in the wrong.

It might be helpful if you practice standing up for yourself a bit too. Being too polite can sometimes give a loudmouth an opportunity to run right over you. You don't need to be rude back, but don't always let her get in the last word either. Practice being assertive in conversation and defend your stance on things when you don't agree. If she makes a stink, say something non-combative like, "I think the world is a more interesting place when people have different opinions." And deliver it with a warm smile... Keep her guessing.

In the long run, if this relationship becomes too hard on you, keep looking. It's okay to learn from your first relationships and move on. Young men are often tools of their overbearing mothers in their 20's. They are still learning how to navigate the world, too, and it takes some guts to break away from the most important woman in their lives and make room for someone else's feelings and thoughts. If he's really worth it, he'll listen and try to do better. Many do better as they get older, but not all. Trust your instincts and act accordingly. Good luck!

Elizabeth - posted on 06/20/2012

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Oh, and you can still be polite and stand up for yourself and your parents. And your boyfriend should be doing the same if he respects you.

Elizabeth - posted on 06/20/2012

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Tell him that you care for him but don't really care for his mom. Their are thousands of couples who one or both don't get along with the others parents, it's normal. You just have to make a decision to tolerate it or talk to you boyfriend about spending time some where that his mother is not.

Kristi - posted on 06/20/2012

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I agree with Louise in that you need to stand up for yourself but I wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket when it comes to her respecting you. She doesn't even respect her own son. I'm sorry if this sounds mean, but why hasn't he been defending you or himself for that matter? I don't know all the facts so I'm not judging, I'm just wondering from what you have shared. Either way...

I think she views as a threat. She is using her son as a substitute "husband" to belittle when she needs to feel powerful and as a safeguard so she doesn't have to face life alone. You could potentially ruin all that by taking him away from her. You're like the "other" woman. She gets in her little snide comments and put downs here and there but since your "affair" isn't public, in real life, your relationship with her son shouldn't be an issue at all, social graces dictate that she can't out right start a brawl. She will continue to nit pick you until you explode, thus looking like you have no self control and went way off the deep end, making her the wounded victim of an insensetive girl who couldn't let go of a little grouchiness from an elderly woman under her "circumstances." I have been around people like her. It is scary. I was brought up to be respectful and kind as well. My impulse control my not be as strong as yours because eventually the fight or flight instinct kicked in for me and I gave into the fight. Not a physical fight. lol

Have you talked to your boyfriend about this? I do think for the sake of your relationship you two should be on the same page before you confront her. Imagine the shock you would feel if he stood up for her and said something negative to you after you worked up the courage to stand up for yourself and then the smugness and satisfaction she would get from that. If he can't support you in this, maybe you'd be better off just not going over there anymore. Why subject yourself to that? Depending on her reaction, it might boil down to that anyways. IMO, the best way to go about this would be if both of you together sat her down and pointed out what kind of behavior is acceptable and what kind is not, towards each of you. If she can't treat either on of you accordingly, neither of you will be coming over for awhile or until she's sincerely sorry, whatever you guys think is suitable. Otherwise, I don't think it will matter what you say or how you say it to her. This all just my opinion, based on my experience with people who have behaved as it sounds like this woman has. I'm not judging anyone. I hope you're situation is resolved peacefully as Louise suggested. Good luck!

Louise - posted on 06/20/2012

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I would stand up for myself. I know this is hard to do when you are young, especially to an older person but if you do she will respect you and leave you alone. If she is calling you ugly or incinuating that your boyfriend is cheating then just say quite firmly thats not very nice. Then walk away and leave her with that thought. If she picks on your parents again firmly say its a shame you dont know them very well, if you did you would not say that, perhaps you would like to meet! Again leave her with that thought.

She is stamping all over you as a woman to show you she has control of the situation, no, this has to stop. Be firm but polite and show her that you are not going to be pushed about by her, no matter how hard a time she is going through. She will respect you for this and eventually learn that you are not going to take it from her any more.

Good Luck!

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Courtney - posted on 06/20/2012

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But you are both right, standing up for myself even if he doesn't is a very good idea. It seems that when I am polite to her but don't speak to her she doesn't bother me with her rude behavior. Thus I've thought it's best to stay away from the house because when we're there his mom and sister will sit there the entire time we're in the living room, her not talking much and his sister talking constantly. And my boyfriend just looking dead, not looking up and slouching. So I just act like myself and make conversation with her and keep things flowing and nice. But thank you both for the advice.

Courtney - posted on 06/20/2012

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Thank you both. I have discussed this with him and he said he is sorry I have felt this way and is very upset. I think he's most upset because his mom would say he was a coward and he's feeling like not helping me or protecting me really has made him a coward. He's a nice guy but against his mother and sister, especially his mom, he has no back bone and let's say and do whatever they want to him. I'm not family but knowing that no matter what I did they'd come before me at this time in his life is unnerving so I had to speak up for myself since I gave him respect.

The major reason I told him this is that his mom would guilt trip him if his sister said "Why don't you bring "so and so" over more so we can all hang out."

But when his mom found out she was upset she told my boyfriend he should hang out with his sister more and he hurts her feelings. His younger sister wasn't wrong for saying that but she's wrong because her intentions are selfish and really about her feeling left alone from his life. She's apart of his friendships. time alone, sometimes school life, tries to get her in her friendships...she loves him but she doesn't really know how to make her own life for her so uses his for fulfillment.

It pretty much puts him in the middle of their wants ALL the time and when he sticks up for himself they guilt trip him and make him feel taken advantage of.

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