Auntie SparkNotes: My Boyfriend's Mom Is All Over Our Relationship
I've been in a relationship with my wonderful boyfriend for over 6 months now, but I've noticed a problem: his mom.
His mother is a wonderful lady and treats me like the daughter she never had (my boyfriend's an only child), but she's also overprotective and clingy. She always has to be in contact with my boyfriend and is the essence of a "helicopter parent". And we're in COLLEGE. The other day we were out walking around campus together when he got a text from his mom asking why he wasn't at his computer to Skype with her. (My boyfriend groaned when this happened, so I'm obviously not the only one noticing the problem).
Since he's my other half, I'm naturally concerned about how this will impact him in the future (he's planning on going to med school, and I'm pretty sure there's no room for smothering in med school). And it's affecting our relationship as well: we were both raised in very conservative families, and we still hold conservative values ourselves when it comes to physical affection. But apparently we're either not conservative enough for his mom, or despite saying she trusts our decisions she really doesn't trust us, because she's been giving us lectures or throwing in remarks about unacceptable behavior. I know her intentions are good, but my boyfriend and I are starting to get annoyed and a little embarrassed about our private moments being scrutinized and even interrupted.
So Auntie, here's my plea: How in the world do we deal with this in a mature manner? Is it something that will pass with time once my boyfriend and I get older, or is it something we need to sit down and talk about with his mom? And if we do, what is the best way to do so (considering she has a very assertive personality and could potentially be my mother-in-law in the future)?
Well, for starters, the answer to your question—"How do we deal with this?"—is that "we" do not deal with it. He deals with it. Running interference when a parent is all up in an adult child's romantical business is the sole responsibility of that adult child—and not of the girl unlucky enough to be dating him. And if your boyfriend can't bring himself to hold a firm line with Mommy, particularly when she's sticking her nose into places a mother's nose should never be stuck (like, say, your bedroom), then you're a very unlucky girl indeed. Because unless a territorial Momster is stopped early and often, this nonsense never, ever ends.
So, for him, this means telling her to butt out of your relationship, setting boundaries as regards their level of contact, and then sticking to his guns on both fronts. And for you, it means quietly supporting him... except in the unlikely event that you find yourself personally on the receiving end of her interference, in which case you'll smile and say, as politely as possible, "I like and respect you, Boyfriend's Mom, but I'm not going to discuss our physical relationship with you. Your son and I are adults, and what we do together is our business. Please don't bring it up again."
...Would be the answer I'd give you if I thought this relationship had a chance in hell of working out.
But I'm not so sure about that.
Because save for his single groan at one intrusive text message, your boyfriend is exactly nowhere in this letter. It's all you. And if his mom is controlling, overbearing, and way too involved in her son's personal affairs? Then you, darling, appear to be on the very scary verge of becoming just like her. You're way overstepping your bounds on something that's really up to him to handle—especially when you've been dating him for all of six months, making any speculation about futures, or future mothers-in-law, particularly premature.
And given your guy's total absence from all of these big plans deal with his mom, I can only assume that he's either a) okay with her behavior, or b) not okay with it, but too spineless to say so. In either case, you end up with the same outcome: you and his mom in a miserable, never-ending tug-of-war over the milquetoast doormat you love. And in all likelihood, it's a war you're going to lose.
But hey, if I'm wrong, it'll be easy enough to find out. So tell your boyfriend that it's time he set some boundaries with Mom, and then, for the love of all that is holy, back off to let him handle it. (Also: Considering the still-new-ish status of your romance, try framing this as a privacy thing—i.e. "I'm not okay with having your mom this involved in our relationship"—and leave the "What if we get married?!" part out of it.)
And then, see what happens. If you're very lucky, his mom will heed the call to recalibrate her attitude and back off to an appropriate distance. If you're a little bit lucky, her behavior won't change but your boyfriend's will, and his firm boundary-setting will spare as much aggravation as possible.
And if you're not lucky at all, then... well, remember what I said about where this is going? Now might be a good time to cut your losses and run.
Ever had a conflict with your SO's parents? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.