Mamma’s Boy?

Are you in love with a “Mamma’s Boy?” Being number two in your relationship is a tough spot and bound to lead to real trouble.

The truth is that mother is pretty much every boy’s first love and may greatly influence — either positively or negatively — who he chooses for his mate. At some point however, the boy separates from his mother enough to make another woman his number one gal. Or so the gal hopes. But it doesn’t always go that way.

Some men retain an intense bond with their mother that doesn’t allow room for another and the reasons vary. Usually, however, it takes two to tango and both the man and the mom participate in this non-negotiable union. Some moms have great difficulty letting go — they feel they gave birth to him, they raised him, they loved and nurtured him and now he is theirs. They are easily threatened by his girlfriends and, heaven forbid, a wife. They are afraid he will abandon them and they are too insecure to tolerate being anything other than number one. They may hold on by being loving to a fault and when that fails, by making him feel guilty.

Of course no man can be tied to apron strings that he doesn’t hold onto. A mamma’s boy feels afraid to anger Mom or separate from her. He may feel truly dependent on her good will and love and feel that he honestly needs her to be okay. He believes he is a bad boy if he doesn’t put her first and fears the repercussions.

So where does this leave the girlfriend or wife? Not in a very good place. Being number two in your relationship is a tough spot and bound to lead to real trouble. There are always going to be disagreements and if he is going to side with his mother and not support you, chances are your resentment will build and your respect will dwindle. This tends to result in great hurt, loss of self esteem and disdain for him. Chances for a relationship surviving this way are low.

So what can you do?

If it is early in a relationship I suggest you point it out quickly and directly. If he leaves then you have saved yourself a lot of agony. But if he thinks it over and tries to change then you can make real progress and perhaps help him free himself from what is surely an unhealthy relationship. This does not mean abandoning Mom; it merely means him demonstrating his independence and priorities. In fact, the more embracing you can be of Mom while he is separating, the better for the long term relationship.

If you are farther along in your relationship, you should also have the talk: “You are my first priority. Where do I fit in your life?” Be clear you are not willing to be number two for life. You want a man who can make you number one. Again this doesn’t mean you are always right. It means he is willing to consider your feelings first, but that his mom will still matter greatly. You need to feel he supports you and that there is not a tug of war between you and his mother. Sometimes he may be trying his darndest, but Mom won’t let go at all. In this case, you have to support him in his efforts and demonstrate your appreciation for his attempts while maintaining that you cannot expect him to control Mom, but he needs to show you that you are his first priority, not her.

Some men really just need your help in making this transition and, in fact, they want to, but don’t know how. Again, make sure to be supportive of his mother rather than making her the enemy. This will make him feel less guilty and help him to make the transition.

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