It is often said that you can gauge how a man will treat the woman in his life according to the way he behaves towards his mother. So when a man is caring and respectful with his mother and has an excellent or even a close relationship with her, it is great news for his wife/girlfriend/partner.
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The problem starts when the relationship is a little too close for comfort. When the hand that rocked his cradle, rules your world! And he turns out to be what is mockingly referred to as a ‘mama’s boy’. His mother’s word is law and while he may want to make you happy, he often follows his mother’s dictates, whether out of filial duty, a mistaken sense of obligation, or sheer force of habit.
Whatever is the background or the motivation, it is a surefire way of putting a spoke in the wheel of a potentially good relationship.
So why is it that women just don’t give a fig for mama’s boys?
1. Two is company, three’s a crowd
A relationship is about a man and a woman exploring the possibilities of love and togetherness. So it poses problems when it is no longer about two individuals but a third entity (his mother) looms large. Maybe not at the doorstep (reminiscent of ‘Everybody loves Raymond’), but always hovering on the horizon! It often feels suffocating and the relationship begins to suffer. It is a stifling feeling to have a third party, that too, an interfering one, poke her nose into all your affairs and be given credence.
2. Her wish is his command
A mama’s boy often rushes to do his mother’s bidding, sometimes to the exclusion of everyone and everything. This is often very hurtful and upsetting, especially when it begins to disrupt your life together. And what is more annoying is the way your mother-in-law takes it for granted that her every wish will be followed to the letter.
When important decisions have to be made, it is not just about what he and you feel that counts, his mother’s opinion is sought, and more often than not, she often gets to have the ultimate say. No woman likes to have her partner’s mother decide the color scheme for the kitchen or have too much of an opinion on everything from housekeeping to where the two of you should holiday.
4. The mother plays to the gallery
Sometimes there are some mama’s boys who are taken in by their mother’s pleas of loneliness (especially if they are widows), and ‘Nobody cares for me’. The simple truth is that she feels left out and excluded, now that her boy is not exclusively hers. And the mama’s boy will refuse to acknowledge that she’s just playing on his feelings and in the process interfering in your plans and your life.
5. You feel second best
Somehow it always seems that his mother gets priority over you - that her needs seem more important and you’re supposed to understand. But ultimately, every woman in a relationship would like to be top priority in her man’s life and the mama’s boy doesn’t make room for this need. For him, his mother is the center of his universe. Another angle to this is when he compares you to her and you come out poorly. You’re always found wanting, right from cooking to housekeeping.
6. He tells her everything
It can be extremely annoying, not to mention downright embarrassing, when his mother is privy to every intimate detail of your life together. He tells her about your fights and even complains to her because you make him tidy up his own mess or help out with the dishes. And worse, she takes you to task for it, hinting that you should keep him in the manner to which he is accustomed. Or rather, which she got him used to – putting his feet up and doing nothing around the house.
7. He defends her
Whatever his mother says or does to you, there’s always a justification for it. She can’t always be right, but that is beside the point. What hurts more is that the mama’s boy always empathizes with his mother, and his partner feels the total lack of support and understanding.
How to fix it
If you are a mama’s boy
If you find women are avoiding you, and you’ve been told in no uncertain terms that it's because you’re too cozy with your mommy, if you want a woman in your life other than your mother, you have to do something about it. It’s time you carved out an identity for yourself and stopped being guided by your mother’s every whim. You probably don’t want to hurt her and that is understandable, but by avoiding hurting her, you are inflicting damage on yourself and your chance at a good relationship.
The time has come to let your mother know that you will always appreciate what she has done for you and continues to, but she has to let you live your own life. And if you’re not capable of doing that, then you have to affirm to yourself that you will stop sidelining your partner’s role in your life. If you don’t want to hurt your mother by being frank with her, at least keep your partner happy by paying more attention to her and when push comes to shove and you have to choose, caste your vote in favor of your girlfriend more often.
And in case she doesn’t know it, make your mother aware that your girlfriend treats you well and is an important part of your life. And that in no way undermines what she has done for you or what she means to you.
If you are a woman in a relationship with a mama’s boy
Let him know in no uncertain terms, that your idea of a relationship involves two people – you and him. Tell him how you feel hurt and left out when he gives precedence to his mother, over and above everything.
Don’t criticize him too much, but provide him with constructive feedback for improvement. Let him understand what you expect from him and how he could help things to change. Tell him for instance, that if a decision has to be made, it should be between the two of you or that it’s not a crime to tell his mother, he has other plans and cannot adhere to her's, every once in a while.
If you can’t seem to get through to him and the mama’s boy is hampering the progress of your relationship, let him know it. He might not like being backed into a corner, and you might hesitate to give him an ultimatum but if your boyfriend is smart and has been told he’s a mama’s boy before, he’ll realize that neither a hot water bottle nor his mother’s unconditional love will keep him warm at night!