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You Asked: His Mother Is Trying to Control Him!

Dear Sugar,

My boyfriend and I have been going out for four years; since I was 20. Despite working full time, he still lives at home with his mother who is very controlling, and in turn, he lets her treat him that way. The problem is he can't say no to her. She frequently makes plans for him and guilts him into staying home. It's gotten to the point where he doesn't have any friends he sees regularly besides me.

The other night we arranged to go out for dinner. When he got home from work, his mom had made him dinner because he forgot to tell her we had a date. Rather than saving the dinner she made for another day, he called and told me he changed his mind about going out and then he got mad at me for being inflexible when I got upset.

Clearly his mother is causing a rift in our relationship. It feels like she is trying to fight me for his attention all the time. This has been going on a long time now so I guess it is my own fault for putting up with it, but I don't think he will ever change. Do you think I should wait until he moves out or see if things change on their own? — Competing Courtney

To see DearSugar's answer


Dear Competing Courtney,

First thing's first — talk to your boyfriend about how his actions affect you. He might be feeling pulled in two directions by the two women he loves most. So if he's not aware that he's hurting your feelings, he might just be trying to avoid hurting her's. Since your boyfriend has a full-time job, I think it's time he looks for a place of his own. I understand money is tight for almost everyone right now, but there are always options: roommates, a small studio, or a sublet.

Waiting for something to happen on its own isn't your best bet here, so voice your concerns and set some ground rules. If he's unwilling to make time for both of you, you'll need to decide if this rift is something you can tolerate. Good luck.


baybelle baybelle 8 years
Run for the hills!! Sounds exactly like the guy I used to be engaged to! He didn't live with her, but he had no spine either. I won't even tell you what she expected of ME! That's why, before I married my husband, I absolutely insisted on spending a bit of time with my in-laws - and told him not getting along with them - at least superficially - was a deal breaker. Today I am very close to his mother and she is a major support for me. I really admire her for giving us our space and totally understanding that I come first with him now.
GScott86 GScott86 8 years
Talk about life story. I think mom's have issues cutting the umbilical chord. My mother is very controlling and frankly gets in the way of my relationship, frankly, if she could she would find the best way to interfere with it and deter it from ever happening. Don't think he can't change, because it's not true, have a serious talk with him about it and how it's affecting your relationship, and even tell him to grow a backbone if you have to. Mine seems to have a need to make snide comments about everything, and loves to play the guilt card on everything. I try not to take it the best as I can, and due to other issues I have with her, I frankly avoid any conversation I can with her, especially when it comes to relationships. There's nothing much that can be done here at least until he moves out. As this is the same situation I'm in, I know I won't be able to freely enjoy the full joys of being with the one I really love without residual everyday interference. Once I move out however, she won't have even 1% say in who I get involved with, my life, my decisions. As long as you live you, it's basically their rules, and they get to run ground control to the point where you get migraines. Well, if you need any more advice on this feel free to message me, as I am basically a clone of your boyfriend (except that I refuse to take the mother crap anymore).
Marci Marci 8 years
I dated a guy who would cancel plans with me for his mother. I told him he either had to find a way to make the apron strings a little looser or we'd have to end things. He just couldn't do it, so I broke up with him. It's his issue to figure out, not yours, so you have to decide that you're either fine with it or not.
lilCROAT03 lilCROAT03 8 years
"This has been going on a long time now so I guess it is my own fault for putting up with it, but I don't think he will ever change. Do you think I should wait until he moves out or see if things change on their own?" it's easy for other people to say 'RUN! GET OUT!' but it's hard when you're in an invested long relationship. so to further my point, it's def a situation i can understand and you will notice a change when you live together. in fact, after a little while he'll be annoyed if his mom keeps calling him to come over bc he'll be with you in your guys's place with his own life in rhythm. trust me!!!! bc we're neighbors and it's EASY for him to just hop over but he doesn't anymore! (with the way he was before you would have never thought he'd EVER change) so there's HOPE! you admit that you haven't been 'talking' but you should! no one can hate you for it b/c it shows that you have character. you've been a total push over which makes them think that you're really just 'whatever' about it. the fist time you'll get nervous but after a while saying 'oh but we had other plans' will fly right out. if he loves you, she'll see that she has to back down. don't leave him- it's not a lost cause YET. trust me! and personal message me if you need to talk bc i go thru this everyday!
lilCROAT03 lilCROAT03 8 years
hold UP. i have the same situation going on. except the worst part is that i'm in europe and this is completely normal here bc when you 'find a wife' she is a direct replacement of the man's mother. ahem we're not married YET but we do live together. BUT. i HAVE become the replacement until his mother decides to come back in and pull him by the embilical. we're nextdoor condo neighbors. (que the horror music) i try to be understanding bc we do all really get along great but i do get mad that i have to stay in and eat stuff i dont want to eat esp. when its saturday night and im dressed to go out. i can admit to myself that his attachment is unhealthy. but there are other ways to hint to your guy that it bothers you w/o being so direct that it will offend him. for example: in this date situation you should have said out loud 'oh so we're not going to xyz's tonight? i was really looking forward to eating some of their lmnop.' and if you start saying it in front of everyone he'll start feeling guilty that he keeps breaking plans. and unless his mom is a complete jerk she'll notice and say 'you guys should go ill leave leftovers int eh fridge'. it was hard for me at first but after a while i just started talking and it really fixed things...try it?!
vmruby vmruby 8 years
This whole situation sounds very unhealthy and in most cases the apron strings never get cut.If he is incapable of taking control of his own life (which is exactly what it sounds like to me) then my suggestion to you would be to put your fastest running shoes on and get the hell out of Dodge.....
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
All I have to say is - if and when he moves out, make sure it's not into a place with YOU. You will find yourself being his mother, and then his mother will compete with you, neither of which you want.
nicachica nicachica 8 years
Sorry honey, but he's not changing! It's always nice to see a man who's close to his mother and family but there comes a point where its unhealthy and this is one of those times. If they are this attached, then think about how its going to be if you two get married! RUN FAR AWAY!!!!
K-is-For-Kait K-is-For-Kait 8 years
You can't blame the mher when it's your boyfrined who's allowing this all to happen. He has to be the one to talk to her and tell her he's NOT okay with the way she manipulates his relationships. Also, suggest that he moves out of his mother's house and gets a place on his own (even if it's not with you.) If he refuses to do either of those things, dump him and find yourself a man who can actually handle his life.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
well i think that since you've been together for such a long time, you should be able to talk to him about things, and you SHOULD talk to him about things. i feel like sometimes with guys, they just don't think about things in the way that we do - and i hope that it's just that case with him. that he's just not so aware of things. maybe if you tell him how you're feeling, he'll make more of an effort to push back with him mom.
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
He cancelled dinner with you to eat a dinner his mother made for him? REPEAT THAT OVER TO YOURSELF. This isn't just his mother with the issues, I'd wager he LOVES the attention or he'd have moved out years ago. Short of any serious mental health issues I would run like the wiiiiiiiiiiiiind~
hope2be hope2be 8 years
First thing first, it's not his's HIM. He's an adult now and if you say that he's actually capable of being financially independent, and yet won't leave the house...then it's HIS choice. When his mom made him dinner and he has a date with you but decides to cancel on the date's HIS decision. You can't keep blaming his mother for your bf's lack of independence from his mom. It seems that HE's the one who's also incapable of cutting off the umbilical cord. My mom spoiled my brother rotten (he's her fave son ever), and out of her mommy-duty, she'll cook for him, wait for him to get home (this is when he was living at home to save up money so that he can buy a house), and so on. She's very controlling as well. She also wasn't keen on this girl my bro was dating. But you know what, the fact that mom was doing all those nice things for him, didn't stop my brother from treating his ex like a queen. So really. It's really your bf's problem. Talk to him about it and demand changes if you want to stick around, but I'm doubtful that he'll change. In 4 years, he hasn't showed any movement to move out or start to not take you for granted. If he wouldn't want to budge on his own action, you need to leave, it won't change if he doesn't acknowledge that he needs to grow a backbone. Or maybe your bf is using mom as an excuse because he actually isn't into you that much anymore. Who knows. Find out.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
subtle- that's like a horror story! :( Sometimes I feel that my bf compromises his values (which are fairly liberal, both socially and politically) because his mother is extremely conservative. For example, she freaked out when I told her that I wasn't changing my last name when we get married, and he didn't really stand up for me. He isn't really a momma's boy, I mean he lives 3,000 miles from her and is plenty self-sufficient, but it was still irritating. The thing is, you don't want to get to the point where it's basically between you telling him what to do, and his mother telling him what to do. My response to the name-changing issue was, "well we believe that it's okay for a woman to keep her last name, so deal with it." Which didn't really satisfy me that much, because he was still just listening to what someone else was telling him to do! I mean, your boyfriend has to stand up for himself because he thinks it's the right thing to do, not because you're angry he's canceled plans with you. I think that can be a really hard thing to do, to encourage him to start standing up for himself, without really just telling him what you want him to do! I would lay it all out explicitly. He should move out, start going out with his friends, and start taking care of himself, but because he wants to. I don't really know how you can inspire someone to do that, but if things don't change drastically, or he doesn't get it, I'm with the people who say "run like the wind." Good luck!
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
Run like the wind and don't look back. Trust. He's a momma's boy, he's immature and it'll only get worse.
Muirnea Muirnea 8 years
Total deal breaker for me. It's not just about the mom. It's about him standing up for himself and deciding what's/who's more important in his life. He's a doormat, and no one, not you, NO ONE, can change that but him. He picked her over you because she takes care of him. If your relationship got very serious, I'm willing to bet he would expect you to take care of him, to do his laundry, cook and feed him, clean all the house, pay bills, take care of kids/pets, yard work, house repair, appointments, shopping, etc. etc. Don't get stuck with a baby who's to lazy to take care of himself. I would leave right now if it was me.
subtleheights subtleheights 8 years
It seems you do have a problem. this is my case. i got married to a man who was 36, thirteen years my senior and still living with his mother. we moved out when I found us an apartment. I left after 1 1/2 years with our young son.his mother was always involved. she decorated our apartment. he never stood up to her. she always meant well. he moved back home with his mom after i left. that was six years ago. he still lives with his mother. she is still very much a big part of his life. he is going nowhere. the point is if he does not realize his problem and work out getting away from his mother you may be fighting a losing battle. sometimes the bond between sons and mothers can be so unhealthy that it affects everyone around them and they are the only ones who does not see it. don't set yourself up dear. talk to him about it, let him know your concerns, if he is not willing to meet you halfway then you need to cut that cord. You may have one of those on your hands. i fight evryday to make our son so independent of me so that he will never be a mommas boy to that extent. good luck.
girlA girlA 8 years
It's your man who has the problem. If he can't stand up for himself AND you, then he's got issues. He ALLOWS his mother to do this to not only him, but you as well. If he cares about his relationship with you, then he needs to grow up and be a man.
psterling psterling 8 years
Run. Guys with trouble cutting the apron strings don't change! And it'll only get worse for you.
angelinamichael angelinamichael 8 years
Sounds like his mother has many deep seeded issues that are beyond your immediate control. When it comes to loved ones families there is little you can do about things when problems do come up like this. There's that, as well as dating a fellow who is 24 and still lives with his mom. WTF? Your time and heart are worth more than that. Find a more financially secure and independent boyfriend and you wont have this problem.
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