Auntie SparkNotes: My Mom Thinks My Boyfriend Isn't Smart Enough For Me
I (of course) have been having a problem and am desperately seeking your advice here. I have been dating this guy for 9 months now, and I have been very happy throughout this entire relationship. He's my best friend, my confidant, and he just makes me really happy every time we're together. Our personalities are really similar, and when we disagree, we always work it out. So the problem is not us, it's... My mom.
Let me explain. I am an honors student. Or more like an above honors student. I have a really high ACT score , a 4.0, I'm taking several AP classes and other honors classes. However, my boyfriend is not taking any AP's, his ACTs are not close to mine (he's a really bad test-taker), and he has some B's. So, my mom keeps making comments about how he's not quite "smart" enough for me.
She's always saying things like, "Oh, he's just average," or "I like you with really smart guys, like (insert name here). Why don't you date (insert name here.)" or even "For future reference, your children's intelligence is based upon that of both the parents." She acts like she doesn't approve of my boyfriend all the time. As I said, I'm really happy in this relationship, and I plan on staying with him for a long time. So how do I get my mom to stop with her rude comments and accept my wonderful boyfriend for who he is?
You tell her to shut her stupid face, that’s how!
Er... diplomatically, of course, and not in so many words.
But before we get to the Exquisite Art of Stupid Face-Shutting, a question: is this sort of elitist asshattery the norm for your mom? Does she always judge people so narrowly, and scoff so readily at the ones who are “just average”? If so, then steel yourself—because in all likelihood, your boyfriend will be just the first in a long line of choices that your mom deems inadequate. And in that case, you’ll be setting boundaries (and implementing the technique I’m about to teach you) for the rest of your life.
But if not—if this sort of unsolicited nastiness is strange and out of character for a mom you can usually rely on to be fair and kind—then consider that your guy’s academic shortcomings may just be a convenient scapegoat for anxieties that aren’t as easy for her to express. Or in other words, it might be easier for her to invoke the terrifying spectre of (horrors!) less-than-bookish grandchildren than to own up to the truth that, for instance, she’s actually just terrified that you’re going to settle for a less-ambitious life in order to stay with him. Which doesn’t mean that what she's doing isn't awful (it is), or that she's going about it the right way (she isn't), but it does mean that you should be prepared to get hit with whatever her real concern is once you’ve dispensed with the fakey cover.
And now, let’s talk about the part where you tell her oh-so-diplomatically to stuff her comments where the sun don’t shine—by reacting to her next comment with your calmest, firmest, in-your-own-words-est version of the following response:
“Mom, I’m well aware that you don’t think Boyfriend is smart enough for me. I’m sorry you feel that way, but I don’t agree, and I’m also disappointed that you can’t understand that I enjoy being with him for reasons that have nothing to do with his ACT scores. So if you have some other reason you’re not telling me for disapproving of this relationship, then please say so, but otherwise I consider this subject closed and would appreciate you keeping any further comments to yourself.”
And then, be as good as your word. If she brings it up once, ignore her and change the subject. If she pushes, ask her firmly to please talk about something else. And if she won’t, then stand up, say, “Mom, we talked about this. I’m not having this discussion with you,” and then leave the room.
Because in truth, you can’t “get” your mom to accept your boyfriend for who he is; she may never. What matters is making it clear that you do—and that you don’t want to hear any more about it. Because in the end, her comments matter less than your reaction to them—and because smart people know that when someone won’t shut their stupid face, you can still always close your stupid ears.
Have you ever had to deal with a parent who not-so-quietly hated your S.O.? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.