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You Asked: My Boyfriend Treats Me Like I'm His Mother!

You Asked: My Boyfriend Treats Me Like I'm His Mother!

Dear Sugar,

My boyfriend grew up with an irresponsible mom and a bratty sister. His mom never took care of him, never cooked a meal for him, didn't know his favorite food or shirt size, and never paid for anything. His sister is just the average bratty teenager. I grew up in a loving family, both parents love me so much and I love them back. I know when and how to take care of a person, how to cater to his/her needs, how to help friends or family, but my boyfriend hasn't a clue. We now live together, and ever since we passed the honeymoon period, things changed. He used to pay attention to detail and now I'm starting to feel like he's taking me for granted. Whenever he forgets to do something, he screams at me for "forgetting to remind" him. He yells at me if I don't buy his favorite things at the market and if I can't go out and do what he wants for the night because of too much work, he calls me boring (mind you this is all the same attitude that he gives to his mother.)

The truth is that I do my best because I love him — I learned how to make his favorite food and I pick out the best clothes for him, I make sure I do his laundry the way he likes it, and help him in every way I can. Sometimes I mess up, I'm only human, but I know I don't deserve this kind of treatment. My boyfriend in return almost never does anything appreciative or loving for me. The only time he does is when I've broken down, crying, and he tries to make it up to me, but his good behavior fades after a day or two. I love him and he tells me that he loves me too and he's trying to change for the better, but I haven't seen any results. Is this really who he truly is? How can I change his attitude? Does he really love me?
— I'm Not His Mother Mandy

To see Dear Sugar's answer


Dear I'm Not His Mother Mandy,

Having your boyfriend treat you like you're his mother is not a good foundation for a relationship. It sounds as though you enjoy being the caregiver to him, which I can completely understand, but when you're catering to his every need and not getting anything in return, something needs to change. The saying "spoiling him rotten" seems to describe your situation perfectly. You must set boundaries with your boyfriend ASAP. Just because you feel badly that he didn't have the most supportive mother growing up, you shouldn't feel the need to step in and be that person for him now. Relationships are about give and take, mutual respect, and most importantly love, so you guys have some work to do.

Have you ever talked with him about how you feel before things escalate into a full-blown argument? I suggest sitting down with him to have a heart to heart. Explain that you feel taken for granted and used, and tell him that although you enjoy taking care of him, he needs to show you love and appreciation in return. It might not mean that he'll do the laundry, or the marketing, but it's important for him to pitch in in his own way so you know he's doing his part. He's a very lucky man to have such a caring and loyal girlfriend, but at the end of the day, if his selfish attitude doesn't change, you just might have to put yourself first and move on with your life without him. You deserve to be with someone who loves and respects you, not someone who expects you to pull all the weight. Good luck.


Join The Conversation
Cynnie Cynnie 9 years
You see, you teach people how to treat you. The day you actually realize that this phrase is entirely true, you will live a very happy life. (talking from experience by the way...) By acting overly nice when he's upset nourrishes this bad habit of his. You're actually rewarding him for his actions. He knows he can cross the line because no matter what you'll forgive him and treat him no different. I'm not saying 'dump him'. I'm saying change the way you treat him. Take YOUR life back into your own hands and let him assume his own faults...It's not your place to pay for his mistakes or his past. If it doesn't change, than maybe you'll be better on your own.
jJuliet jJuliet 9 years
So what if his mother didn't know his favorite food or shirt size? That doesn't make her a bad mother. Obviously he was somehow cared for as a baby, since he is alive now. He must have gotten food and clothing somehow. Kids should pick out their own clothes and do their own laundry as soon as they are old enough anyway. I grew up cooking all my own meals too, because everyone in my family had different schedules and tastes in food. Your boyfriend is just whiny and spoiled. He thinks he is some sort of victim, and that you owe him the lazy life that he never got. Where did these ridiculous expectations come from? I have never heard of a grown man expecting someone else to take care of his basic needs like this.
Janine22 Janine22 9 years
He is emotionally abusing you and taking you for granted, and he is doing this because you are allowing him to do it. Your relationship is very codependent. He will not change, not enough for this situation to be worth it for you or healthy. The past is done, there is no way that you will be able to make up for what happened to him. He is an adult now, and should take responsibility for himself. If he didn't have you in his life he certainly would have to do so. He probably searched for a girl like you so that he could take out his anger about his mom onto a passive girl who would just take the abuse. He obviously resents women and I'm guessing you have some issues with your dad as well. I wish you luck, I hope you come to a healthy point in your life and start to learn to love yourself.
girlfriday girlfriday 9 years
This is an abusive relationship. And it is in NO WAY YOUR FAULT. You didn't do anything to bring this on. A few other posters seem to have suggested that you coddled him too much, thus making him expect too much. But I disagree. You did what loving people do in a relationship, which is take care of each other. He is abusing your love and abusing you. I think you need to get out of this. I know you may love him, but he has issues right now that prevent him from knowing how to love. Maybe he can go to therapy and work on these issues. But please, please move out before this escalates. I wish you luck. Big hugs!
Marci Marci 9 years
Most people grow up and repeat the relationships they had at home. So to take on someone who comes from this kind of upbringing almost guarantees you're going to get the same behavior. He doesn't know any other way.
alltherage alltherage 9 years
get out - he's not going to change. spoil someone who deserves it and appreciates it and will spoil u in return.
sass317 sass317 9 years
You are not his mother, you cannot make up for all the things his mother didnt do when he was a child, and I have to say its totally a cop out you blame his mother for all of his bad behavior. Youre giving him excuses for the crappy way he treats you- eventually you reach a point in your life where you have to grow up and take responsiblity for your own actions, not everything is mommy's fault. That being said, he sounds like a user and well on his way to abusing you in ways that are more than just verbal (and he IS abusing you verbally and emotionally) I mean really, screaming at you bc his laundry isnt done the way he likes it? give me a break. There is NO good excuse for that, crappy mom or not.
PJ-PJ-PJ PJ-PJ-PJ 9 years
People will treat you the way you allow them to treat you. It will not stop until you stop taking his shit & stop trying to be his "good mommy". Please respect yourself.
designerel designerel 9 years
he is being selfish and verbally abusive. you certainly do not deserve this treatment. but don't enable him. stop mothering him and giving into his demands. stand up for yourself. if he doesn't like it, leave him. get into counseling.
spazzydana spazzydana 9 years
if you want him to stop treating you like his mother, stop acting like one. cant he do his own laundry? pick out his own clothes? and if he cant handle that, then leave, dont take care of a baby
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
There comes a point in a relationship where you allow a man to treat you like dirt and you still stay, sorry but you can only blame yourself! You aren't even married to this man no kids are involved why would YOU subject yourself to this behavior. Where do YOU take responsibility for this situation. Any woman who allows someone to treat them like this is a fool.
lemassabielle lemassabielle 9 years
Putting it in simple terms: He has some screwed up mom issues. He is being passive aggressive and taking those feelings out on you. Next time he yells at you for something so damn mundane that is actually his responsibility tell him to go seek some damn counseling. It might hurt him but it will be an eye opener. I would be careful because it sounds like what he grew up around was abusive and sometimes that can make an abuser. I would be so hurt if my boyfriend called me boring. It seems like one of the worst insults in the book to me. Honestly, It sounds like a good idea to tell him he has issues he needs to work on and in the meantime pack your bags and get out of the situation.
GratefulGrl80 GratefulGrl80 9 years
at least in my situation, i think that he feels everyone owes him for what he never had. there's a lot of anger there (towards his mother and father, and anyone else that treated him badly), and i find that he doesn't know how to let it go, except taking it out on me.
pumpkin81 pumpkin81 9 years
A couple of posters have also agree they had boyfriends who had mothers who didn't do things for them so now they expect those things to be done by their girlfriends. I guess this really doesn't make sense to me so I'm hoping for someone to elaborate. It seems like the opposite would be true - if his mother did EVERYTHING for him he would expect you to also. But, you say you don't do his laundry the way he likes it. Presumably, he's been doing his own laundry and fixing his own meals for years, unless he had the dough for takeout and a laundry service all the time. So why can't he do it now? Since he already knows how he likes it? You could each do your own laundry and he can cook dinners he likes for you and you can cook ones you like for him - so you show new things to each other and there is give/take. Sounds like he's an @$$ who just wants a maid who gives him sex. I'd leave if I were you (or MOVE OUT at the very least - make him be a boyfriend who takes you on dates, not a nightmare roommate) but if you want to stay, first of all STOP right now doing all this stuff for him. Eat meals separately if you have to and let him wallow in his own dirty clothes. Then, when he gets the message, tell him you're both adults and need to find a way to make a fair division of labor around the house. Come up with a list of chores that need to be done and assign them to each of you (the chores could rotate or always be the same). Then make sure he holds up his end of the bargain. Just think: men usually get worse behaved when you are married and out of the dating phase, if he's like this now, imagine 20 years from now, imagine when you have a job and kids and a husband who still won't help you at all. You deserve better. Trust me, my mom has this exact relationship and it sucks for me and it sucked for me as her kid having to watch this and the tension in the house. Move out and don't get pregnant unless he changes and stays changed for a significant period of time (at least 6 months, preferrably 1-2 years, anyone can change for a month or two - it's like dieting).
GratefulGrl80 GratefulGrl80 9 years
Asia84, I think that's a bit harsh....she's not responsible for how he acts, only for herself. if she is now able to see what's going on, or feels that she can no longer take it, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. it's not a game, it's her life. to deal with someone who is abusive, whether verbally or physically, is nothing to be taken lightly. better late than never, i say...
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
First off, you're dating someone with baggage. you knew from day one he was going to have social issues. but ya moved in with him anyways . . second, you love him SOOOO much that you wanna cater to him and make him feel like a King. but now you wonder why he's being a spoiled, inconsiderate brat? don't start nothing you can't finish. the signs were there, and you wanted to play the game. so play it.
KEG KEG 9 years
this sounds like domestic violence to me. he seemed perfect in the beginning, has turned into a controlling/angry/aggressive/scary jerk and is blaming his behavior on someone else... this is a textbook abuser. you should really evaluate your situation - lundy bancroft has some awesome books about how to identify domestic violence and how to deal with it. my advice is to get out before he starts hitting you, before you have kids and before it gets to a point where you are too scared to leave.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 9 years
He'll respect you more if you stop being nice when he's being an @ss. Put your foot down and refuse mistreatment and because you're setting a precedent in your relationship by being super nice while he's being an @sshole. Show by your action not just by 'words' that you're not accepting mistreatments. If he won't change his ways, this is the way he is, and you need to walk away as soon as you can.
DCRoamer DCRoamer 9 years
I'm sorry to be harsh, but it sounds like he treats you more like a maid than a girlfriend. You do his laundry and pick out his clothes? That behavior is fine if he is appreciative, but, honey, this guy treats you like crap.
nutmeg84 nutmeg84 9 years
I was in a very similar situation a couple of years ago. I did everything for my ex. I did feel like his mother, not his girlfriend. It affected every part of our relationship because I started to resent him so much for the way he treated me. So finally I confronted him about how I felt. He promised to change.... and like above, that only lasted a couple of days. Eventually I broke up with him and moved out. It was one of the best things I'd ever done! And now I live alone and couldn't be happier!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
wow he sounds like a keeper, please clone him and send me a matching pair.
ErieIndiana ErieIndiana 9 years
Sorry for your situation... but really parents can only be blamed so much. Kids will turn out the way that they want to. IMO, he needs counseling, to be by himself for a while, and a good kick in the butt. You need equality in your relationship or at the VEEERRRY least some appreciation and respect. Demand it.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
You can not make up for his mother not being a good mom so stop trying to. You both need to get into counselling and if you want to save this relationship.
ann418 ann418 9 years
I'm almost in the same position as you, OP. My boyfriend doesn't yell, but the "remind me" stuff and household chores sound all too familiar to me. He used to get mad at me when I complained about doing ALL of the work around the house until one day I told him that I'm not doing it anymore. That put a stop to the anger REALLY quickly because it made him appreciate what I was doing for him. I understand where you're coming from, I really do. My boyfriend's mom wasn't irresponsible, just really, really nonsupporting. He did all of his own stuff around the house, paid for his own braces, and the list goes on (but I won't get into that here!). This has affected him SO much in his adult life. And I know my doing stuff around the house makes up for that. But your boyfriend's anger needs to stop. It's not your fault that his mom was irresponsible. He's blaming you and trying to force you to make up for it. Going on strike helped me, and maybe it can be a first step for you before counseling.
GratefulGrl80 GratefulGrl80 9 years
I'm pretty much in the exact same situation....except we got married a year ago. You both need to go to counseling. I did, and he refuses, and I now have a really hard decision to make. You're enabling him to act this way, and you changing the way you act towards him or changing what you do for him is only half of the answer. If he doesn't get counseling it will continue with him only acting differently when he knows that you're at or close to your breaking point. That is no way to live, take it from me. I wish you the best of luck :)
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