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Mama knows best… or does she?
Your partner dances to her tune, talks to her every day, does everything for her, puts her first, and can’t make a decision without asking her.
Maybe he hasn’t yet flown the nest and still depends on his favorite roommate – his mother – for everything.
He might even expect you to treat him the same way she does. He might show you the clothes that she put out for him to wear to work, all cleaned, ironed, and in matching colors, and ask when you are going to do that for him, like that’s your job now too.
A mama’s boy is not simply a man who loves his mother. He is a grown-up man who should be self-reliant and independent at his age, but has an unhealthy attachment to his mom and depends on her in more ways than one.
This is the type of man that most women recognize instantly and run away from, but he still thinks that it’s better to be with his mother than a woman. Yes, it sounds weird, but that’s because it is.
Still, you care deeply about this man and you want to have a healthy relationship with him, but you find yourself wondering whether that’s even possible.
Well, nothing is impossible, but you can’t change a man unless he wants to change. And mama’s boys rarely acknowledge the problem, let alone work on it.
But don’t worry, there is still hope! Here are 20 ways to have a successful relationship with a mama’s boy.
1. Don’t make him choose.
First and foremost, don’t make your partner choose between you and his mother. He’s not ready for that, and you will just lose him or make things worse.
It’s important that, when dealing with a mama’s boy, you do it gently and carefully, without getting angry and lashing out at him.
If you take an aggressive approach, you will drive him back into his mommy’s arms because, from his perspective, it will look like you’re trying to turn him against her.
This shouldn’t be your goal. Your goal is only to stop him from being a mama’s boy, not from being his mama’s son and loving her.
He should love her, just not in an unhealthy way, and he probably isn’t aware of the unhealthy attachment he currently has to her. In fact, he likely believes that it’s the purest love there is.
2. Establish clear boundaries.
There are some things that can be tolerated, but sometimes you just need to draw the line, especially with mama’s boys.
For instance, you can let your partner know that visiting his mother is not a problem, but that the three of you aren’t going to live together, especially not happily ever after.
You can even draw the line with visits. While it’s not okay to forbid your partner from visiting his mother even if it’s the third time in a week, you can tell him that you’re not going to go with him again, and that you’re not okay with him spending so much more time with her than with you.
Take some time to think about the things that you can and cannot tolerate and establish clear boundaries accordingly.
For instance, while you don’t mind that your partner talks to his mother, you probably aren’t okay with him sharing your personal issues with her and letting her make decisions regarding your relationship.
You certainly aren’t going to do things like pick his clothes for him, and he should not expect that from his mother either at his age.
3. Encourage him to establish clear boundaries.
You should definitely establish clear boundaries with your partner, but when it comes to establishing boundaries with his mother, that is not your place to do.
He’s the one who needs to set those boundaries and become aware that it’s not okay for his mother to make all of his decision for him.
It might be tempting to just tell him that he’s not a baby anymore and that he needs to take care of himself, but the attachment he has developed with his mother has lasted much longer than the one he has with you. Therefore, you can’t expect him to detach so quickly and easily.
While it might sound simple to you, it’s not simple to him, but you can regularly encourage him to set those boundaries with his mother. Just do it gently; well, as a mother would.
4. Don’t live with his mother.
Do not move in with his mother or let her move in with you. Again, do NOT live with his mother, even if you don’t have any other options to live together right now.
Ideally, he shouldn’t be living with her without you either. It doesn’t have to be an issue when a grown man lives with his parents, but when he’s a mama’s boy, it’s a huge issue.
He needs to fly off from mama bird and get some space, but unfortunately, you can only encourage him to do that, not make him, and his mother is probably going to make it difficult anyway. After all, he’s not the only one with the unhealthy attachment.
But it’s not your place to get into conflicts with his mother. What you certainly can do, though, is refuse to live with him and his mother and insist that you live together as a couple, if you’ve reached that stage of your relationship.
5. Remind him of what it means to be an adult.
Adults are people who take responsibility for themselves and their actions. They are independent and self-reliant enough to take care of themselves and make decisions on their own.
They don’t need anyone to schedule their doctor’s appointments, feed them, dress them, take care of their finances, and dictate how they’ll live their life.
Or, at least, that’s how it should be, only your partner doesn’t seem to be aware of it.
He relies upon his mother to live his life for him, by treating him like a child. Unless a person actually is a child, they shouldn’t be that dependent and attached to their mother, and this is something your partner needs to be reminded of.
Again, telling him to man up and quit being such a baby isn’t going to work, no matter how nicely it sums things up. Unless you want him to run back to his mother, have this conversation in a gentle, loving tone, without getting aggressive.
Try to communicate about this like grown-ups and get him to realize his unhealthy pattern on his own, by giving him hints and encouraging him.
6. Encourage him to take care of himself alone.
Ask your partner whether he would like to keep acting like a child forever or have his own family one day.
Ask him if he wants to spend the rest of his life with his mother as the only woman in it. Because if he doesn’t start acting like an adult and taking care of himself without asking for his mama’s help, she’s likely to stay the only woman in his life in the end.
If she is in charge of his money, his health, his happiness, his errands, and his decisions, she is in charge of his life, and he needs to realize that he’s the one who should be living it.
Let him know that it’s not okay if his mother cleans his room, takes him to the doctor, tells him what to tell his boss, and what he can and cannot buy. That is what mothers do for kids until they grow up. Then, it needs to stop, and he needs to be in charge of his life.
Even if he accepts that his mother shouldn’t be doing these things for him, he’ll probably assume that you’re the one who’ll do that from now on. So, he needs to become aware that no woman should treat him like that. No you. Not his mother.
7. Make decisions together without asking her.
Your partner could be calling his mother to ask where the two of you should go on vacation or what suit he should wear for a job interview.
Let him know that his mother can give him advice sometimes, but he is not obliged to follow that advice and she should certainly not be making decisions for him. At his age, he should be able to think for himself and make his own decisions.
When it comes to decisions regarding your relationship, the two of you should make them together, and no third person should be involved in them, let alone his mother.
When you need her advice, you should both agree to ask for it.
8. Don’t share too much with the mother.
How much does he share with his mother in general? While it’s certainly beautiful to have a loving relationship with a parent even in adulthood, telling them everything simply isn’t how things work.
His mother certainly shouldn’t be involved in his life as much as she used to when he was a child and a teenager. Since he is already a diagnosed mama’s boy, he definitely needs to get some space from her, in both literal and metaphorical sense.
Most importantly, he shouldn’t be sharing more with her than he does with you, especially regarding the things that you should be the first to know about as his partner.
Let him know that he can share with you, and that there are some things that you simply don’t talk about with your mother when you’re a grown-up.
You should both get some healthy distance from her, in every way, but slowly, and not so much that it seems like you’re trying to steal him away from her, which is how she’ll perceive it anyway.
9. Don’t include her in your problems.
Your relationships problems are something that are between the two of you, and it should stay between the two of you.
Venting to a friend from time to time is fine, but if your partner complains to his mother about you, your relationship will be doomed. He should instead talk about these issues with you and try to find a solution together.
Together means you and him, not him and his mother. Her involvement in your relationship should be as minimal as possible.
It would be best if he didn’t include her so much in non-relationship problems either. He probably always turns to her for a solution and she feels obliged to help him, even though she doesn’t always actually help.
His mother can’t fight his fights, and that needs to become clear to him. Let him know that you are there for him and want to help him, too, but also that there are some things that he should be capable of dealing with on his own.
10. Don’t let her have anything to do with your finances.
When you’re old enough to get a job, your mother shouldn’t have anything to do with your finances. She should not have insights into his bank accounts, his bills, and the ways he spends his money.
This is a problem when he is living with her and depends on her financially, but why is he in that situation to begin with? Maybe he can’t afford to move out right now, but he can certainly find ways to earn his own money and do with it what he pleases.
If he is living with his parents, he should pay them rent, but that’s entirely different from letting his mother handle his finances. Preferably, a mama’s boy should move out from his family home as soon as possible, but that’s not always simple, even if he is willing to do it.
However, he can still handle his own finances while working toward the goal of moving out.
11. Ask him to stop asking for her approval.
Can I go out with my girlfriend tonight? Is it okay that I ask my boss for a raise? Would it be a good idea to move out and get my own place?
These are not the questions a grown man should ask his mother.
Your manchild needs to stop asking for his mother’s approval, both literally and in a higher sense. In fact, he shouldn’t need anyone’s approval, unless the matter at hand affects the person he’s seeking approval from.
This doesn’t mean that he needs his mother’s permission to move out because it will make her sad; it means that he needs your permission if he is going to move in with you.
It’s as simple as that, but oh boy, can it get complicated…
He will probably need the help of a counselor to let go of his need for his mother’s approval, and you need to encourage him to acknowledge the problem and seek help.
12. Let him know that he doesn’t have to do everything for her.
Is her wish his command? Regardless of what you or he wants, when his mother needs him to drive her to the grocery store, move furniture, have dinner with her, or run an errand, he drops everything and does it.
Naturally, if his mother has an emergency, he should come to her aid, but is eating her home-cooked meal when you’ve already made plans to go to your favorite restaurant really an emergency?
He seems to always put her first and that shouldn’t happen. Does he always choose her over you and makes her a priority instead of your potential future together? It’s not surprising for a mama’s boy, but it shouldn’t be tolerated.
Remind him that he’s not the only one who can do those things for his mother, especially when he has more important things to do.
13. Don’t confront his mother and stay respectful.
When you’re thinking about your relationship with this mama’s boy, you’ll probably be tempted to resent and confront his mother.
This is a big no-no.
He’s the one who needs to resolve his relationship with his mother, and you can’t do that for him.
In addition, you don’t want to turn his mother against you, or do it even more if you already have. No one can make you love her, and you certainly don’t have to, but you need to stay respectful and avoid conflicts with her.
He’s the one who needs to confront her, not you, and you can only encourage him by making him see that he needs to do that for himself, not for you.
Most importantly, don’t give her even more reasons to keep him to herself because she currently has much more power over him than you do, and she can cause the end of your relationship.
14. Don’t exclude her completely. Try to bond with her.
Mama’s boy or not, let’s not forget that this is the woman who bore and raised him that we’re talking about. They love each other, even if in an unhealthy way.
While she might not be so involved in his life once he works on his problem, she is still going to be a part of it for as long as she lives.
So, if you want to be a part of his life for as long you live, too, the two of you need to at least try to get along.
Don’t try to completely push her out of his life. Try bonding with her instead. Who knows, she might even be aware of her son’s unhealthy attachment toward her, and she wants to put an end to it too, but it’s just too difficult for her.
Whatever the case may be, you should try befriending her, and if that doesn’t work, that’s okay. Just don’t make her your enemy instead.
15. Let him know that you’re not his mother.
In the words of Jennifer Lopez, “I ain’t your mama…”
Don’t you just want to play that song to him and scream it to his face?
Well, mama’s boys often expect their partner to replace their mother and treat them the same way. Snapping your fingers in front of his face and letting him know that you “ain’t gon’ be cooking all day” might sound great and feel awesome if it would actually happen, but you’re not going to get a good reaction, nor results.
Yes, the lyrics are about right, and that’s what you need to tell him, but keep it calm and try to be understanding, so rephrase it and repeat it instead of singing it.
16. Let him know that you need to be a priority.
While his mother will forever be an important woman in his life, she can’t be a priority to him when he needs to be thinking about the mother of his children instead.
Maybe that person will be you, maybe it won’t, but someone will, and right now, you’re the closest to it he’s got, so he needs to behave accordingly.
You deserve to be your partner’s priority, and the potential future that you could have together should be more important to him than holding onto his mother’s apron strings.
Let him know that, by putting you first instead of his mother, he’s not giving all that attention to a woman who might walk away, while the other one would never leave.
He’s making himself a priority. It means investing in his future and working toward his goal of having a healthy relationship with the potential mother of his children, whether it will be you or not.
17. Be on his side when he confronts her.
You certainly shouldn’t interfere in the conflict that he will eventually have with his mother. However, be on his side when he confronts her.
This doesn’t mean that you should say things to her that you can’t unsay later, but encourage him and let him know that what he’s doing is not wrong once you’re alone together.
If you are in a situation where you must interfere, be on his side, but remain respectful toward his mother. Don’t forget that you can speak your mind once you’re alone together, and by doing it that way, you are making additional progress in keeping his mother out of your relationship.
18. Seek help from a professional.
As you are probably aware now (if you weren’t before reading this article), there is no short and simple answer to dealing with a mama’s boy.
Unhealthy attachments that get formed during childhood can’t be so easily resolved. All you can really do is help your man realize that he has a problem and that he should seek help to resolve it.
You can be by his side the entire time, but you probably won’t achieve the desired effect if you try to help him all on your own. There are people who specialize in these sorts of problems, and they have insights that others don’t.
Help your partner realize that he should use all the support he can get once he is finally willing to cut the cord and start developing healthy relationships, with everyone, including his mother.
Let him know that his relationship with his mother isn’t going to end; it is just going to be healthier, and it will allow him to have a healthier relationship with you, or any other partner he might have in the future.
19. Accept him the way he is.
On the other hand, what if your partner refuses to get help and work on his problem? Unfortunately, you can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change.
In this case, you will have to think about the situation that you are in and whether you can handle it. Can you accept him the way he is and settle for the fact that his mother is always going to be a big part of your relationship?
Think long and hard before you answer. If he refuses to change, things aren’t going to change, and you will have to accept him the way he is. Can you do that?
20. Consider ending the relationship.
Will you be happy with him if he can’t or doesn’t want to change?
Are happy now? Because things might not get better, and they can certainly get worse.
Can you live with a mama’s boy who refuses to change? Is this something you can look past because he’s an otherwise loving partner?
Or is your nightmare future one in which you are making his favorite childhood food with his mother in the house where you all live together?
Maybe it’s not that bad and he’s not such a big mama’s boy, but if this is bothering you so much and you’ve tried helping him but it didn’t work, consider ending the relationship.
Think of it this way, at least you’ll know what a mama’s boy is, how to recognize one, and how to avoid dating one in the future.
Still not sure what to do about your partner’s relationship with his mother? This is a very delicate situation and one that can easily come back to bite you if you go about it the wrong way. Which is why it can be helpful to have an experienced relationship expert to guide you. So why not chat online to one of the experts from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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